Yordano Ventura feels healthy enough to start Thursday

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Yordano Ventura is scheduled to start Thursday against the Cardinals, which means the Royals were (thankfully) right about the flamethrowing right-hander missing just one or two starts with “lateral elbow discomfort.”

Ventura exited his May 26 start in the third inning with elbow soreness, causing lots of people to panic that he’d be the latest young stud pitcher to need Tommy John surgery, but instead he’s been able to avoid the disabled list.

That doesn’t mean Ventura is out of the woods yet, of course, and certainly all eyes will be on the 23-year-old right-hander the next few times he takes the mound. Still, in a season full of high-upside young arms going under the knife it’s nice to see one of the highest-upside guys around get some positive news.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

A.J. Pollock may be the Dodgers’ next free agent target

A.J. Pollock
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Free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock has landed on the Dodgers’ radar, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says the two appear to be in discussions regarding a deal for 2019. Terms of any prospective deal have not been released, but interest is presumed to be fairly high as he checks two boxes on their wish list: that of a right-handed hitter and an experienced centerfielder.

Pollock, 31, rounded out a seven-year career with the Diamondbacks in 2018. While he was sidelined for nearly seven weeks after fracturing his left thumb on a dive gone wrong, he finished the season batting a hearty .257/.316/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs, 13 steals (in 15 chances), and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He received a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the club at the end of the year and elected to enter free agency in hopes of a better deal, which some have estimated at five years and $80 million.

So far, it’s not clear whether teams are willing to meet those terms. Pollock profiles as both a solid hitter and defender, but he hasn’t played a season in full health since 2015, which may be a deal-breaker for those in search of long-term talent. Even with that caveat, however, the Dodgers are far from the only club willing to enter negotiations with the outfielder this winter. The Braves have been linked to Pollock since December, and the Mets and Reds have expressed varying levels of interest as well.