MLB rumors: Jose Bautista hoping to return as two-way player; Red Sox haven’t discussed extension with Devers

Spring training is in full swing and Opening Day is a little more than three weeks away. Despite that, teams are not close to finalizing their 2020 roster. Here are some stray hot stove notes and rumors as Cactus League and Grapefruit League play continues.

Bautista hopes to return as two-way player

Free agent Jose Bautista, who did not play last year, is hoping to return as a two-way player, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Bautista will play first base for the Dominican Republic in an upcoming Olympics qualifying event, and he spent the offseason working out as a pitcher. Passan says Bautista touched 94 mph with his fastball and showed a promising slider.

Bautista, 39, hit .203/.348/.378 with 13 home runs in 122 games with three teams in 2018. His versatility — in addition to first base, he can play third base and the outfield — could make him an interesting bench guy in the 26-man roster era. If he could chip in a few innings in mop-up situations as well, it would only help his case. MLB teams figure to scout Bautista in during the Olympic qualifier before determining whether he’s worth a big league roster spot.

Red Sox, Devers have not discussed extension

The Red Sox and star third baseman Rafael Devers have not yet discussed a long-term contract extension, reports’s Chris Cotillo. “I’m not really focused on that right now … We haven’t had discussions about that yet. My agent hasn’t told me anything. As of now, I’m just focused on playing the game,” said Devers, who won’t become a free agent until after 2023.

Devers, 23, hit .311/.361/.555 with an MLB-leading 90 extra-base hits. Last year Alex Bregman signed a six-year extension worth $100 million at the same service time level Devers is at now. Bregman had an All-Star Game selection and a fifth place finish in the MVP voting to give him leverage (Devers has never been an All-Star and he finished 12th in the MVP voting last year), though it’s a reasonable starting point for negotiations.

Astros open to adding to rotation

After losing Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton to free agency in the last two offseasons, the Astros are open to adding to their rotation prior to Opening Day, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Chandler Rome. “We’ll always keep an ear to the ground and consider everything … I think we’re going to be very happy with what we have,” GM James Click said.

The Astros are set with Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke atop the rotation. Jose Urquidy is expected to get a rotation spot, ditto Lance McCullers Jr. has he returns from Tommy John surgery. The fifth spot is wide open, though Josh James has impressed early in camp. There is always a rash of small trades late in spring, mostly involving spare parts. Houston’s rotation likely will be what it is right now.

Morrison won’t report to Triple-A

Veteran slugger Logan Morrison will not report to Triple-A should he fail to make the Brewers’ Opening Day roster, he told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I know I’m not a Triple-A player. I don’t have anything to prove there anymore. So, I’m going to be somewhere in the big leagues this year. I hope it’s here,” Morrison said.

Morrison, 32, hit .200 with two home runs in 38 plate appearances with the Phillies last season. He spent most of the year in Triple-A, where he authored a .308/.369/.640 batting line with 18 homers in 61 games. Because he has more than six years of service time, Morrison can opt out of his minor league contract if the Brewers do not add him to their 26-man active roster at the end of spring training. Milwaukee currently has Ryan Braun and Justin Smoak at first base.

Three teams scouted Alvarez

The Marlins, Royals and Yankees scouted right-hander Henderson Alvarez during a recent throwing session, according to Marc Carig of The Athletic. Injuries, including a pair of shoulder surgeries, have dogged Alvarez since his 2014 All-Star season with Miami. He pitched to a 5.94 ERA in 53 innings with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate last year.

Alvarez, 29, has been very active on social media promoting his workouts and throwing sessions:

Given his injury history — Alvarez has thrown 37 big league innings since 2014 — Alvarez is certainly looking at a minor league contract this offseason. He’s still on the right side of 30 and apparently healthy. The performance could improve as he gets further away from his injuries, and since a minor league deal is zero risk, it’s likely some team will sign him and see what’s what.

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