Orioles want Johan Santana to push back opt-out date ahead of possible mid-June call-up

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Johan Santana can opt out of his minor-league contract with the Orioles on June 1 and he’s clearly not ready to be called up to the majors yet, so the team is hoping that the two-time Cy Young winner is willing to push back to opt-out date to continue rehabbing from multiple shoulder surgeries.

Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports that the Orioles have presented Santana with a planned schedule in which he’d throw 85 pitches in an extended spring training game Monday and then begin a minor-league rehab assignment with starts at Triple-A on June 8 and Double-A on June 13.

Then, if those outings go well, he could be called up to join the Orioles’ starting rotation as soon as June 18.

There had been some talk of the Orioles prepping Santana to take on a bullpen role, in part because he might be better suited for that at this point in his career and in part because it would allow him to return to the majors more quickly. However, manager Buck Showalter told Dubroff that Santana is now being viewed as a starter option only and apparently the Orioles have liked what they’ve seen from him enough to think he can contribute pitching every fifth day.

Assuming that he agrees to stay in the minors for a while longer, that is.

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Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.