AL East Notes: LeMahieu, Yankees, Orioles, Bello


DJ LeMahieu continues to make progress in his recovery from a foot fracture, and based on the infielder’s offseason workouts, “it looks like there was never a problem,” Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson said.  Though LeMahieu has yet to face live pitching, Lawson told the New York Post’s Dan Martin that the infielder is “able to do everything he needs to do, whether [the pitch] is inside, outside, up or down,” whereas when LeMahieu was battling his injury late last season, “sometimes when he came out there for batting practice, he’d have to come off his back side and couldn’t really rotate into the ball.”

Assuming LeMahieu is healthy and productive, the Yankees will pencil him into the lineup every day, whether at third, second, or first base.  It is also possible that if the team is entirely confident LeMahieu is healthy, another infielder might be traded to make some extra space in the infield picture.  Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggests that in addition to trying to trade Josh Donaldson and his hefty contract, the Yankees also at least explored trying to move Gleyber Torres or Isiah Kiner-Falefa, though obviously no deals transpired.  Kiner-Falefa is expected to compete with star prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe for everyday shortstop duty, while Torres is expected to be the starting second baseman.  If Torres was dealt, New York could cover second base with some combination of LeMahieu, Peraza, Volpe, Kiner-Falefa, and Oswaldo Cabrera.

More from around the AL East…

  • The Orioles have interest in acquiring “a defensive-minded corner outfielder who can be trusted in left field,” Roch Kubatko of writes.  Austin Hays and Anthony Santander are slated to be the starters in the corners for Baltimore next season (with Hays in left field and Santander in right) and defensive metrics are somewhat split on the glovework for both players.  The Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 metrics like Hays’ left field work quite a bit, though he is rated as a subpar defender by Outs Above Average.  Presumably the Orioles are looking for more of a veteran glove-first player for their outfield mix, which also includes such less-experienced names as Ryan McKenna, Kyle Stowers, and top prospect Colton CowserFranchy Cordero and Nomar Mazara will also be in camp on minor league deals, though neither are known for their glovework.
  • Earlier this week, Triston Casas said the Red Sox hadn’t yet broached the subject of an early-career contract extension, but he would be open to discussing such a deal.  The same is true for another up-and-coming Sox star, as Brayan Bello told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and his representatives and the Red Sox “haven’t had that conversation yet, [but] I would definitely listen.”  Like Casas, Bello is 23 years old and made his MLB debut last season, with the right-hander delivering a 4.71 ERA over his first 57 1/3 innings in the Show.  Bello doesn’t have Casas’ status as a staple of top-100 prospect lists, but he is still a well-regarded young pitcher, and perhaps even more important to Boston’s long-term plans given the organization’s recent struggles at developing homegrown arms.  Though a long-term extension might limit Bello’s earning potential if he grows into being a consistent big league-caliber pitcher, he might also have interest in locking in the first guaranteed payday of his pro career, as Bello received only a $28K bonus as an international prospect in 2017.

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