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Rays’ Jake Odorizzi packed on weight this offseason
Jake Odorizzi gained 17 pounds this offseason. Jake Odorizzi claims he’s in the best pitching shape of his life. These facts are not contradictory.

At least, so says the right-hander, who told reporters that he gulped down “six or seven” meals each day—comprised chiefly of a mountain of protein—to reach his desired weight. He’s at 197 pounds now, up from around 180 last year (he was listed at 185, but that figure is a touch off from the numbers in the afore-linked story by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times), more in line with what might be expected of a 6-foot-2 hurler aiming to reach 200 innings for the first time in his major-league career.

While Odorizzi fell short of workhorse status in 2014, he racked up the strikeouts, notching 174 of those in 168 innings over 31 starts. That’s about 5 1/3 frames per outing, to save your calculator the trouble, which is part of the reason Odorizzi only finished eighth in a crowded American League Rookie of the Year race despite his punchout prowess. Another part?

Month

Innings

ERA

K/9

April

23 2/3

6.85

8.4

May

29

3.72

12.7

June

30

2.40

10.2

July

31

2.90

9.3

August

33 2/3

4.81

9.1

September

20 2/3

4.79

4.8

As the season wore on, Odorizzi’s strikeout rate tailed off, and his ERA hiked into the upper-4s. If strengthening his lower body enables the soon-to-be-25-year-old to maintain his performance through the summer this year, he could reach 200 innings, broach the 200-strikeout plateau, and improve considerably on his 2.4 WARP output in 2014.

And so did CC Sabathia
Joining Odorizzi in the weight-gain venture was Sabathia, a former 300-pounder who spent his extended offseason eating his way back toward that mark. Sabathia believes that slimming down to 275 adversely impacted his performance before he went on the disabled list and underwent season-ending knee surgery. With his velocity waning, he decided to see if returning to his previously rotund physique would help him rediscover his mechanics and turn back the clock to 2012.

As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News wrote in the story linked above, the more pressing concern about Sabathia remains his ailing right knee. The southpaw received three PRP injections in recent weeks and said he “feels good,” but it’s unknown whether the newly regained weight might become troublesome in that regard.

The Yankees, who are on the hook for $48 million through 2016 and might well have to pay Sabathia $25 million on a vesting option for 2017, can only hope that the familiar figure yields better results for their erstwhile ace.

Dioner Navarro requested trade, hasn't gotten it
Staying in the AL East and moving north to Toronto, catcher Dioner Navarro revealed to reporters on Monday that he requested a trade immediately after the Blue Jays signed Russell Martin. That should come as no surprise, considering that Navarro was relegated to backup duties and might’ve appealed to backstop-needy teams like the Diamondbacks. But here we are, more than three months later, still waiting for the Blue Jays to find a suitor willing to meet the price tag necessary to grant the veteran’s wish.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos should eventually be able to convince a club to take on Navarro’s $5 million paycheck for 2015, considering that he was a 1.4 WARP player last year. But the 31-year-old has spent most of the last three seasons in hitter-friendly environs—Great American Ball Park in 2012, Wrigley Field in 2013, and the Rogers Centre in 2014—so teams may be worried that he won’t hit enough to warrant regular playing time. A below-average framer and blocker, Navarro would be an expensive backup, something most clubs would consider a luxury.

Nonetheless, there’s a reasonable chance of a deal being struck between now and Opening Day, with Josh Thole available to back up Martin if Navarro goes elsewhere. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi heard last week that the Jays weren’t actively discussing the switch-hitter with any other teams, but an injury or reevaluation of needs could change that later this spring.

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JanFortyTwo
2/24
Good read, especially about CC Sabathia. Just one correction. Navarro played for the Cubs in 2013. So though he got to see U.S. Cellular during interleague games, he called Wrigley his home field and had considerable offensive success there.
Muboshgu
2/24
On the flip side of gaining weight, I'm also intrigued by Jesus Montero losing his weight. Dude looks trim, and he's always had the natural hitting ability he'd need to succeed even at 1B or DH. He could be a post-post-post-post hype prospect, though I may have left out a "post".
cubfan131
2/24
Navarro played for the Cubs in 2013 not the White Sox.
statsrath
2/24
Fixed, thanks
alwaxman
2/25
Note to CC : gaining weight does NOT help an ailing knee. Trust me on this.
Muboshgu
2/25
Generally I'd agree with that, but CC suggested that losing as much weight as he did as quickly as he did ruined his mechanics. And his location was all over the place before he got hurt last year. Maybe by gaining weight back, he'll have better feel for what he can do?
briankopec
2/25
Who knew that I was spending the winter improving my fastball? I can't wait to tell my doctor that one.