MLB Spring Training 2019: Latest Rumors and Injury News

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in Game 3 of the World Series baseball game on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Major League Baseball season hasn't started yet, but injuries are already starting to take their toll on a handful of rosters. 

With Opening Day just over a week away for most franchises, some projected rosters will be unexpectedly adjusted because of issues that have occurred during Spring Training. 

The good news for teams suffering from the injury bug is there are still a few free agents left on the market who could be immediate upgrades. 

Given how slowly the free-agent market developed this offseason, though, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a few unsigned players wait until right before Opening Day to find the perfect match.


Latest Rumors

Keuchel Receiving Offers While Working Out in California

The top starting pitcher on the market is working out in California while his agent takes offers.

Dallas Keuchel, who spent his entire career with the Houston Astros, is going through his own Spring Training workouts at the facility owned by agent Scott Boras. 

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the Atlanta Braves have monitored the market for the left-handed pitcher, and it makes sense for them to keep an eye on Keuchel with Mike Foltynewicz sitting out the start of the season with an elbow injury. 

The Astros have also made offers of one and two years to Keuchel, according to MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal (h/t Morosi). 

A long-term deal might be hard to come by for the 31-year-old, as only Patrick Corbin in Washington and Nathan Eovaldi in Boston have received contracts of four years or more on the free-agent market. 

It's understandable if teams don't want to give Keuchel a lengthy deal since he's coming off a 12-11 season in which he recorded a 3.74 ERA. 

It's possible he returns to his 20-win form from 2015, but given how close the regular season is to starting, it might not make sense for any team to give him more than a two-year contract.


Kimbrel Talking With Brewers

Craig Kimbrel made the American League All-Star team in each of the last three seasons and won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, but he still isn't signed. 

According to Rosenthal and Robert Murray for The Athletic, the Milwaukee Brewers have been talking to the 30-year-old closer. 

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

#Brewers talking to free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, sources tell me and @ByRobertMurray.

Kimbrel's free-agent status is surprising given how well he pitched for the Red Sox a year ago, when he picked up 42 saves and struck out 96 batters. 

Whichever contender locks him up before the season should take an immediate jump up the list of World Series contenders. 

If the Brewers are able to add Kimbrel to a bullpen that already includes Josh Hader, they'd make an addition that could take them far in the postseason, especially with a strong lineup already in place. 


Injury News

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw won't be on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Opening Day for the first time since 2010.

According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Timeshe will start the season on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation. 

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Kershaw hasn't faced hitters at Spring Training for a month, and he'll get back to that Wednesday, per Castillo. 

As long as the 31-year-old progresses throughout his recovery, he should be fine for most of the season, which is why it's wise to slowly work him back into the Dodgers rotation. 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hasn't decided on his Opening Day starter yet, with Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda being the options. 


Michael Fulmer

The Detroit Tigers received news no team wants to hear at any point in the season Tuesday, as pitcher Michael Fulmer suffered elbow soreness that led to a recommendation for Tommy John surgery. 

Detroit Tigers @tigers

An update on Michael Fulmer: https://t.co/i01SrPy2iB

The 26-year-old, who has a pair of 10-win seasons in his three-year MLB career, is set to miss the 2019 season as he recovers from the procedure.

Everyone in the Tigers organization, including manager Ron Gardenhire, were upset for Fulmer when news of his injury dropped, per Jason Beck of MLB.com: 

Jason Beck @beckjason

Gardenhire: "Right now it's more about thinking about Fulmer than anything else. We'll take care of the baseball part and fill in a hole or whatever. I feel bad for him right now more than anything else."

The news was even more devastating for the pitcher since he was working his way back from knee surgery in September. 

Replacing Fulmer won't be easy, but the Tigers will call on either Spencer Turnbull or Daniel Norris to take his spot in the rotation. 

Norris is the more experienced played of the two, as he has 53 career starts compared to Turnbull's three


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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference