AL West Notes: Bregman, Jackson, Mariners, Chirinos

There’s no defined timetable for when Alex Bregman will return to the Astros’ lineup, though the star third baseman tells Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that an MRI of his ailing right hamstring didn’t reveal anything similar to the 2016 issue that cost him a few weeks of the season. For the time being, Bregman is simply considered day to day, and there’s yet to be any indication that a trip to the injured list is a particular concern for him or the team.

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Here’s more from the division…

  • Edwin Jackson agreed to a minor league pact with the Athletics earlier tonight, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle sheds some light on why a reunion didn’t come together sooner. Jackson tossed 92 innings of 3.33 ERA ball in 17 starts for the A’s last season and entered the offseason seeking upwards of $8MM on a guaranteed contract, per Slusser. That price tag eventually came down to the point where the two sides talked about a minor league contract during Spring Training, but interest from another club that was weighing an MLB offer (which never materialized) delayed his path back to Oakland. The Athletics’ interest in Jackson seemingly took the form of multiple offers, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the A’s did make Jackson a Major League offer at some point in the winter before moving on and dedicating that roster spot to another player.
  • The Mariners’ analytics department identified the revamped changeup of right-hander Brandon Brennan as a pitch worth taking a chance on in the Rule 5 Draft, writes Greg Johns of MLB.com, and to this point the team’s investment has paid off nicely. Brennan has been unscored upon in 8 2/3 innings with a 7-to-2 K/BB ratio and a terrific 63.2 percent ground-ball rate. Brennan, who’ll turn 28 this summer, is older than most Rule 5 selections and spoke all the more appreciatively of the opportunity in his interview with Johns. Not only does he relish any big league opportunity as a 27-year-old rookie, but Brennan received the surreal experience of making his MLB debut in the same half-inning that Ichiro Suzuki was pulled from his final game to an uproarious standing ovation in his native Japan. The Mariners will have to carry Brennan all season or else expose him to waivers and, if he clears, offer him back to the White Sox for $50K. So far, he’s given Seattle no reason to do so.
  • Jake Kaplan of The Athletic takes a look at the changes Robinson Chirinos has made to his game since signing with the Astros (subscription required). Chirinos details the drills he worked on throughout Spring Training to change his setup behind the plate as well as the slight alteration to his throwing motion — made at the behest of pitching coach Brent Strom after noticing a mechanical flaw. The season is still extraordinarily young, but Chirinos has drawn slightly positive marks in pitch framing, per both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus, after ranking as one of the game’s worst in that regard for much of his career. He’s also halted two of the seven stolen-base attempts against him thus far after catching just 10 percent of thieves in 2018. Only time will tell if the changes yield quantifiable improvements, but that’ll be an interesting thread for both Astros and Rangers fans to follow over the course of the season.

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