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AL Notes: Salazar, Carrasco, Smoak, Didi

Indians righty Danny Salazar is slated to begin throwing next month, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti tells MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). At the moment, the club isn’t certain whether it’ll utilize the hurler as a starter or reliever, though it does sound as if the plan is to tender him a contract. Salazar will almost certainly command the same $5MM salary he did this year after sitting out all of 2018 with shoulder issues. That’s a decent bit of payroll to stake on a return to form, though Salazar has real upside on the mound and will also remain controllable for the 2020 season.

Here’s more from Cleveland and the rest of the American League …

  • Speaking of payroll planning, the Indians will need to budget for a slight boost to the salary for fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco. As Bastian notes on Twitter, the value on the club option in Carrasco’s extension rose by $750K (to $9.75MM) due to his fourth-place placement in the 2017 Cy Young voting. It’s not entirely clear from what’s known of Carrasco’s contract whether that prior voting performance also operates to boost the value of his 2020 option, which comes at a $9.5MM base price point.
  • It’s also worth noting that the Blue Jays will have to open their wallets a bit wider to hang onto first baseman Justin Smoak. By virtue of topping 1,100 total plate appearances over the past two seasons, he has boosted his 2019 club option value from $6MM to $8MM. That still seems to be a reasonable rate of pay for a switch-hitter who has carried a .256/.353/.495 batting line and launched 63 home runs since the start of the 2017 campaign. Smoak could well profile as a trade candidate, depending upon how the Toronto front office decides to approach the offseason.
  • Elsewhere in the AL East, the Yankees face a tough question on a player entering his final season of control. Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues that the team ought to strongly consider working out an extension with shortstop Didi Gregorius. Sherman wonders whether the recent Jean Segura contract (five years, $70MM plus option) might serve as a starting point in talks, rightly suggesting that it may well cost a bit more to lock up Gregorius. The 28-year-old is projected to earn $12.4MM in his final trip through arbitration and is a half-season closer to free agency than was Segura. He’s also fresh off of his best season, having posted a .268/.335/.494 slash with 27 home runs in 569 plate appearances. Outfielder Aaron Hicks and reliever Dellin Betances could also be considered for long-term deals, Sherman opines.

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