Cardinals sign Lance Lynn to three-year, $22 million deal

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Lance Lynn, who was arbitration eligible this offseason for the first time, has agreed to a three-year contract with the Cardinals that covers the entirety of his arbitration eligibility. Jon Heyman says it’s worth $22 million.

Lynn joined St. Louis’ rotation full-time as a 25-year-old in 2012 and has gone 48-26 with a 3.48 ERA in 97 starts while proving to be very durable. This past season he logged a career-high 204 innings with a career-best 2.74 ERA, striking out 181 batters and allowing just 13 home runs.

Now the 2008 first-round draft pick is signed through age 30, although the contract does not change the length of the Cardinals’ pre-free agency team control. If he continues to perform at his 2012-2014 levels Lynn will be a tremendous bargain to the Cardinals in 2016 and 2017, but in the meantime he gets enough money to be set for life and guard against injury.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.