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Inside Baseball — AL: Lindor has little incentive for extension

Jon Heyman



(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

News and notes from around the camps for each of the 15 American League teams.

Click here for National League notes. Click here for Inside Baseball’s power rankings.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Speedy outfielder Cedric Mullins opened some eyes.
  • Ping pong is all the rage in spring clubhouses, and word is, J.J. Hardy is MLB’s top ping ponger, with perhaps Clayton Kershaw next best.
  • Best to the family of Todd Frohwirth, the former Orioles pitcher who was working as a scout. Stomach cancer claimed him at 53.

Boston Red Sox

  • Tyler Thornburg’s shoulder impingement will land him on the DL, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reported first. According to Nick Cafardo, also of the Boston Globe, Thornburg had trouble adjusting to his new team’s throwing schedule after coming over from Milwaukee. GM Dave Dombrowski says they don’t absolutely have to do something to replace Thornburg, and that’s true. But of course, Dombrowski said the same about the rotation, before landing superstar Chris Sale.

Chicago White Sox

  • White Sox people believe the Astros and Pirates haven’t been aggressive enough – “passive” is a word that’s been heard – in efforts to land star starter Jose Quintana. He could be a difference maker for either team, it says here.
  • The price for Sale was higher. But Quintana has an extra year on his deal.
  • Yoan Moncada is said by a trainer to have eaten 85 Twinkies in a week. What is this, 1975?

Cleveland Indians

  • The Indians did make an attempt to lock up Francisco Lindor, but there never was any traction as Lindor has little incentive to do a deal now. He’s in the same boat as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Mookie Betts and other quick stars, who are assuming little risk by playing it year to year. Lindor, who is to make $579,000 this year, signed a big endorsement deal with New Balance, giving him another reason he doesn’t have to sign long-term. Brody Chernoff, the precocious 6-year-old son of GM Mike Chernoff, under questioning from Indians TV announcers, revealed that his dad would like to get Lindor to stay with the Indians seven more years. It turned out to be a funny bit. But did anyone really think they’d rush to sign Jose Ramirez without at least trying for Lindor first? Not possible.
  • Ramirez was anxious to stay, and thrilled to get $26 million over this year and the next four.
  • Austin Jackson looks like a good fit. He and Brandon Guyer, two righty bats, will back up an all lefty-hitting outfield.

Detroit Tigers

  • There’d been concern Miguel Cabrera might not make it back for Opening Day due to a back injury, but there he was, hitting on Sunday, with a week to go. His pain tolerance is “off the charts,’’ an admiring Tigers official noted. “Toughest in the game,” another said. I think they both may be right.
  • Justin Verlander called his matchup with Freddie Freeman “one of those cool spring training moments.”
  • Angel Pagan could fit, if they think he can still play center field.
  • Melvin Upton Jr. could fit, as well, though he didn’t play well the last time he and his brother Justin were on the same team, so that could be a detriment.
  • Bruce Rondon is only throwing in the mid 90s, a concern. He was going to be a bullpen star when he threw 102.
  • Congrats again to WBC Team USA manager Jim Leyland, who should make the Hall of fame someday.
  • Anibal Sanchez will start in the pen. Mike Pelfrey was released.
  • JaCoby Jones has made a big impression in Tigers camp for his superior defense in center.

Houston Astros

  • Alex Bregman keeps drawing raves.
  • Collin McHugh has a dead arm and will start on the D.L. allowing Mike Fiers to make the rotation.
  • Doug Fister was looking for an MLB deal, teams say. His agent Page Odle seems to have gone undercover.
  • Derek Fisher is 11 for 11 in steals this spring (h/t @jakemkaplan).

Kansas City Royals

  • KC got its wish and big prospect Raul Mondesi won the second base job. He’s seen as someone who could take over at shortstop for Alcides Escobar if the Royals fail to re-sign him in a year.
  • Ian Kennedy’s been about perfect this spring. Perhaps he could even become a candidate to opt out. He’s pitching that well.
  • Jorge Soler has an oblique injury after an awful spring. Cubs people had soured on him by the end, and maybe the nine-year deal won’t be looked at a blessing for long.

Los Angeles Angels

  •  J.C. Ramirez has had a big spring and has given the Angels something to think about for the rotation.
  • They are pleased by C.J. Cron’s improved approach. He hasn’t walked much in the past.
  • Dustin Ackley appears to be a month away.
  • Shortstop Royce Lewis from San Juan Capistrano is a big-time prospect for this June’s draft. He will go very high.

Minnesota Twins

  • People love Max Kepler’s swing. Could be a star.
  • Byung-ho Park is having a revival this spring.
  • Manager Paul Molitor on young lefty Taylor Rodgers: “He’s not afraid, I’ll tell you that.”

New York Yankees

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  • Greg Bird continues to draw raves for his swing. Looks like the Yankees may have a star at first base
  • The way Bird looks, you have to wonder how much Chris Carter will be used. At some point he could become a trade candidate. If he does, the Rays would make sense.
  • Joe Girardi is abandoning the speedy one-two lineup top of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner by moving Ellsbury down and batting Gary Sanchez second. Seems like a good idea. The original idea was to try to replicate the speedy lineup top of Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter during the Yankees’ late-90s heyday.
  • Masahiro Tanaka threw 18 2/3 scoreless innings this spring, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out 22. He can be pretty self critical though. He said after a recent start that he “was all over the place.”
  • Bryan Mitchell could wind up in the pen, though scouts say he has “good stuff.”
  • The decision to pick Aaron Judge went down to the wire. There are still concerns about swings and misses, but he had a good spring and earned the job
  • Jordan Montgomery was very good in a start Wednesday but Luis Severino could have the inside track for the fourth starting spot. Bernie Pleskoff compared Montgomery to Chris Sale.
  • There’s still hope for Didi Gregorius to return by May 1. Ronald Torreyes, who was solid in a utility role last year, could be the guy until then.
  • There’s been some talk there was a two-year attempt for Dellin Betances before his arbitration hearing. There was nothing longer than that, though.
  • Ruben Tejada does not appear to be in the mix for the temporary shortstop job.

Oakland Athletics

  • Big-time prospect Franklin Barreto looked good this spring, and while it’s tough to make up for Josh Donaldson, he looks like a potential star … Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle did a nice story in yonder Alonso’s trip back to Cuba this winter.
  • Dave Stewart is a great choice for the announcing team. And I guess Jose Canseco will draw viewers, kind of like a car accident does.

Seattle Mariners

  • Drew Smyly has an undisclosed arm concern, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com, which could add stress to their one real area of worry. Scott Servais described it as a “soggy arm.”
  • Shae Simmons (forearm) has backed off throwing program.
  • With Dan Vogelbach’s surprising demotion, some may wonder whether Pedro Alvarez could be a fit for this team.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • The Rays are looking for outfield help, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported, and they picked up Peter Bourjos, which fits. Could Pagan be a possibility for them? Sczcur is another one who could fit.
  • Derek Norris got $1.2 million plus $200K for 50, 75, 100 and 125 days on the roster (plus $250K if traded once). He was slated to get $4.2 million with the Nats but instead got $700K termination pay. The Nats got off easy. Word is, his agent tried to get $1 million more than that even though he hit .186 last year, before agreeing to the $4.2 million.
  • A couple times the Rays came close to locking up Alex Cobb in the past. He’s an interesting cat, and not the type to worry about money. He and his wife don’t have a set home; they are apt to pick up and move at anytime, though they liked Scottsdale enough that they’ve been there two straight years. Cobb has a touch of back tightness but seems to be OK
  • Rickie Weeks is good at the tryout. Made the D-Backs with a 1.264 spring OPS last year and did it again with Rays, at .999 this spring.

Texas Rangers

  • Odor’s representatives were preparing a counter offer when Rangers GM Jon Daniels informed them that the $49.5-million deal was of the “take it or leave it” variety. It isn’t known whether the Rangers’ stance was affected by Odor saying inside the Rangers clubhouse that the sides were “close” during this period, leaving the impression he would take it … Odor’s breakdown on his $49.5M deal: $2M signing bonus, salaries of $1M, $3M, $7.5M, $9M, $12M, $12M, team options of $12M and $12M with a $3M buyout. Agents: Cesar Suarez and Rick Thurman of Beverly Hills Sports Council
  • Nomar Mazara and the Rangers have talked contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network. But as of Wednesday at least, it didn’t appear there had been much progress. “Nothing substantive,” is the way it was put.
  • They are reportedly looking at Wily Peralta, who seems like a healthier version of Andrew Cashner, who has begun throwing.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • The Jays are going to be careful with young star Aaron Sanchez, and seem to be of a mind to limit his innings, even early.
  • There are reports Melvin Upton Jr. is on the bubble to make the team. The Tigers would fit, in a way.

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on FanRagSports.com every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from CBSSports.com, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.