Shane Victorino is “top target” for Reds

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We continue to hear chatter that the Reds are interested in Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that his teammate Shane Victorino is actually the club’s “top target” as they continue their search for a leadoff hitter.

As of now, the Reds refuse to meet the Phillies’ asking price for the Hawaiian outfielder. For what it’s worth, Paul Daugherty the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week that the Reds turned down a deal that would have sent right-handed reliever Logan Ondrusek to Philadelphia for Victorino. If word of the nixed offer is accurate, that doesn’t sound like a very high asking price.

Victorino, an impending free agent, is hitting .261/.324/.401 with nine home runs, 40 RBI, 24 stolen bases and a .724 OPS in 101 games played this season. The Dodgers and Pirates are among the other teams who have reportedly expressed interest.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.