Arizona Diamondbacks – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-19T04:38:57Z WordPress Jason Martinez <![CDATA[The Top Minor League Performers Of 2018]]> 2018-09-19T01:00:00Z 2018-09-18T23:15:05Z Over at Roster Resource, I rank Minor Leaguers throughout the regular season using a formula that takes into account several statistics with age and level serving as important factors in how they are weighed. These are not prospect rankings!

This is how it works:

  • Hitters are mostly rated by total hits, outs, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
  • Pitchers are mostly rated by strikeouts, walks, earned runs, home runs and hits allowed per inning.
  • A few counting stats are included (IP, plate appearances, runs, RBI) to ensure that the players atop the list played a majority of the season.
  • The younger the player and the higher the level, the more weight each category is given. Therefore, a 19-year-old with an identical stat line as a 25-year-old at the same level will be ranked much higher. If a 23-year-old in Triple-A puts up an identical stat line as a 23-year-old in High-A, the player in Triple-A would be ranked much higher.

A player’s potential does not factor in to where they are ranked. If you’re wondering why a certain prospect who is rated highly by experts isn’t on the list, it’s likely because they missed time due to injury (see Victor Robles or Nick Senzel), MLB promotion (Juan Soto) or just weren’t productive enough. While there are plenty of recognizable names throughout the MiLB Power Rankings Top 200 list, it’s also full of players who were relatively unknown prior to the season and have seen their stock rise significantly due to their performance. Here’s a closer look at the Top 20.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Guerrero probably deserved to start his MLB career sometime between the debuts of NL Rookie of the Year candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. (April 25th) and Juan Soto (May 20th). All things being equal, that would’ve been the case.

But his call-up was delayed, mostly because third baseman Josh Donaldson was healthy in May and designated hitter Kendrys Morales was being given every opportunity to break out of an early season slump. As Guerrero’s path to regular playing time was becoming clearer, he suffered a knee injury in early June that kept him out of action for a month. When he returned, the Jays’ playoff chances had dwindled. Instead of adding him to the 40-man roster and starting his service time clock, they chose to delay his MLB debut until 2019.

You can hate the rule, but I’m certain Jays fans would rather have Guerrero under team control in 2025 as opposed to having him on the team for a few meaningless months in 2018 and headed for free agency after the 2024 season. And maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy seeing what kind of numbers a player can put up when he’s way too good for his competition. And all this 19-year-old kid did was slash .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR, 29 2B, 37 BB, 38 K in 408 plate appearances, mostly between Triple-A and Double-A (he had 14 PAs during a rehab stint in the low minors).  Thanks for providing us with that beautiful stat line, Vlad Jr.

2. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

Despite a slow start—he had 21 hits in his first 83 Triple-A at-bats with one homer and 20 strikeouts— the 21-year-old Tucker showed why the World Champions were willing to give him a chance to take their starting left field job and run with it in July.

Tucker wasn’t quite ready for the Big Leagues—he was 8-for-52 in two separate MLB stints prior to a recent third call-up—but his stock hasn’t dropped one bit after slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases over 465 plate appearances in his first season at the Triple-A level.

3. Luis Rengifo, SS, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

A 21-year-old shortstop just finished a Minor League season with 50 extra-base hits (7 HR, 30 2B, 13 3B), 41 stolen bases, as many walks as strikeouts (75 of each) and a .299/.399/.452 slash line. If the name Luis Rengifo doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. He kind of came out of nowhere.

The Mariners traded him to the Rays last August in a deal for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton. Nine months later, the Rays shipped him to the Angels as the PTBNL in the deal for C.J. Cron. Based on those two trades, I can say without hesitation that the Mariners and Rays did not think Rengifo was this good. Not even close.

4. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

Lowe’s breakout season mirrors Juan Soto’s in one way: They both posted an OPS above 1.000 at two different levels before a promotion to a third. Soto’s third stop was in Double-A, and it was a very short stint before heading to the Majors. After destroying High-A and Double-A pitching, Lowe’s final stop of 2018 was Triple-A, where he finally cooled off.

Still, the 23-year-old has put himself squarely on the Rays’ radar. After homering just 11 times in his first 757 plate appearances, all in the low minors, Lowe broke out with 27 homers and 32 doubles in 555 plate appearances in 2018. His overall .330/.416/.568 slash was exceptional.

5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Twins Depth Chart

We’re four seasons into the Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano era—both debuted during the 2015 season—and we can’t say for certain whether either player will even be penciled into the regular lineup in 2019. They could be still turn out to be perennial All-Stars someday. But you can’t blame Twins fans if they temper their expectations for the next great hitting star to come up through their farm system. And yet, that might be difficult with Kirilloff, a first-round draft pick in ’16, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, after the year each of them just had. Both are moving up the ladder quickly.

The 20-year-old Kirilloff, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was a hitting machine in his first full professional season. After slashing .333/.391/.607 with 13 homers in 65 games with Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .362 with seven homers and 24 doubles in 65 games with High-A Fort Myers. He also had 11 hits in the playoffs, including a 5-hit performance on September 5th.

6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

All Bichette did during his age-20 season was hit 43 doubles and steal 32 bases while manning shortstop for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the 2018 Eastern League Champions. It’s unlikely that he’ll join Vlad Jr. in the Majors early next season, but he might not be too far behind.

7. Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

Alonso’s monster season (.975 OPS, 36 HR, 31 2B, 119 RBI between AAA/AA) ended in disappointment when he was passed over for a September promotion. As was the case with Vlad Jr., it didn’t make much sense to start his service time clock and fill a valuable 40-man spot during the offseason—neither Guerrero or Alonso have to be protected from the next Rule 5 draft—while the team is playing meaningless games. The 23-year-old Alonso did establish, however, that he is the Mets’ first baseman of the very near future, and they’ll plan accordingly during the upcoming offseason.

8. Touki Toussaint, SP, Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

As tough as it will be to crack the Braves’ rotation in the coming years, the 22-year-old Toussaint has put himself in position to play a significant role in 2019 after posting a 2.38 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 24 starts between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s also starting meaningful MLB games down the stretch as the Braves try to seal their first division title since 2013. After spending last October in the Arizona Fall League, where he followed up an underwhelming 2017 season by allowing 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings, he could find himself on the Braves’ playoff roster.

9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

The highest-ranked player to spend the entire season in Low-A, the 20-year-old Brujan slashed .320/.403/.459 while stealing 55 bases in his first crack at a full season league (27 games in High-A; 95 games in Low-A). He’ll still be overshadowed a bit in a deep Tampa Bay farm system that includes two of the best young prospects in the game, Wander Franco and Jesus Sanchez, but it’s hard to ignore such a rare combination of speed and on-base ability displayed by a switch-hitting middle infielder.

10. Michael King, SP, New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

The Yankees’ offseason trade that sent two MLB-ready players, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith, to the Marlins cleared a pair of 40-man roster spots prior to the Rule 5 draft and brought back $250K in international bonus pool money. They also received King, who—whether anyone expected it or not—was about to have a breakout season.

After posting a 3.14 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 over 149 innings in Low-A in his age-22 season, numbers that typically indicate “possible future back-of-the-rotation workhorse,”  he looks to be much more than that after his 2018 performance. In 161 1/3 innings across Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, King posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. He was at his best once he reached Triple-A, posting a 1.15 ERA with only 20 hits and six walks allowed over 39 innings.

11. Taylor Widener, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

Unlike the trade to acquire King, the Yankees appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in a three-team, seven-player offseason deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay. They traded away Nick Solak to the Rays and Widener to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brandon Drury, who was supposed to fill a short-term need for infield depth.

While Drury was a bust in New York—he had nine hits in 51 at-bats before being traded to Toronto in a July deal for J.A. Happ—Solak, a second baseman/outfielder, put up terrific numbers in Double-A (.834 OPS, 19 HR, 21 SB) and Widener has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 over 137 1/6 innings with Double-A Jackson.

12. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart

The offseason signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer certainly didn’t bode well for Naylor’s future with the Padres. Whether he had an MLB future at all, however, was already in question. First base prospects can’t just be good hitters. They need to mash, which is far from what Naylor did in 2017 (.761 OPS, 10 HR between Double-A and High-A). But a 20-year-old holding his own in Double-A is still interesting, nevertheless. So it was worth paying attention when he hit .379 with seven homers, five doubles, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in April. He also spent most of his time in left field in 2018, adding a bit of versatility to his game.

Although April was his best month, by far, he still finished with an impressive .297/.383/.447 slash line. He’ll enter 2019 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A who has flashed some power (17 HR, 22 2B in 574 plate appearances) and above-average plate discipline (64 BB, 69 K).

13. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Unlike the Jays and Mets, who had multiple reasons to keep Guerrero and Alonso in the Minors until 2019, the Sox’s decision to bypass Jimenez for a September call-up was more questionable.

Already on the 40-man roster and without much to prove after slashing .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 28 doubles between Triple-A and Double-A, Jimenez’s MLB debut appeared imminent as September approached. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, citing Jimenez’s need to improve his defense, confirmed in early September that he would not be called up. Of course, the 21-year-old probably would’ve benefited greatly from playing left field in the Majors for 20-25 games in September. And, of course, Hahn is just doing a good job of not saying the quiet part out loud: Eloy under team control through 2025 > Eloy under team control through 2024.

14. Dean Kremer, SP, Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

After posting a 5.18 ERA in 2017, mostly as a relief pitcher in High-A, Kremer’s stock rose quickly with a full-time move to the starting rotation in 2018. In 16 starts for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA with a 13.0 K/9. After tossing seven shutout innings in his Double-A debut, the Dodgers included him as a key piece in the July trade for Manny Machado. Kremer continued to pitch well with Double-A Bowie (2.58 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 53 K) and now finds himself on track to help a rebuilding Orioles’ team in 2019.

15. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

Lopez started to turn some heads during last offseason’s Arizona Fall League, and it carried over into 2018 as he slashed .308/.382/.417 with nine homers, 15 stolen bases and more walks (60) than strikeouts (52) between Triple-A and Double-A.  It’s a sign that the 23-year-0ld’s bat is catching up with his stellar defense and that he’s closing in on the Majors, where he could team with Adalberto Mondesi to form one of the better young middle infield duos in the game.

16. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft didn’t disappoint in his first full professional season, posting an .853 OPS, nine homers, 23 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 75 Low-A games before a 2nd half promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t fare quite as well (.726 OPS, 5 HR, 6 SB in 46 games), but he did hit three homers in the playoffs to help his team win the Florida State League championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the if he reached Double-A early next season as a 19-year-old with a jump to the Majors in 2020 not out of the question.

17. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Throwing a 100 MPH fastball isn’t as rare as it used to be, but Kopech has reportedly touched 105 MPH, putting him in a class of his own. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old right-hander is expected to join a long list of pitchers who have had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery after he was recently diagnosed with a torn UCL.

The timing isn’t great, as Kopech had just arrived in the Majors in late August and would’ve likely been a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Still, he’ll only have to prove that he’s back to full health before he returns to the Majors—he should be ready to return early in the 2020 season— after making a strong impression in Triple-A with a 3.70 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 24 starts.

18. Kevin Smith, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Not only do Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely form the best trio of infield prospects in the game, two are sons of Hall of Famers—Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Craig Biggio, and Bichette’s dad, Dante, was also pretty good. And yet, another Blue Jays infield prospect with a very ordinary name and without MLB lineage managed to stand out. The 22-year-old finished the season with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 29 stolen bases and a cumulative .302/.358/.528 batting line between High-A and Low-A.

19. Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

The former first-round pick wasn’t overly impressive in his first full Minor League season in 2017, slashing .244/.331/.362 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases for Low-A Great Lakes. A move to the hitter-friendly California League in 2018, however, seemed sure to give his offensive numbers a boost. It did. Lux had a .916 OPS and 41 extra-base hits in 404 plate appearances, but he also didn’t slow down once he reached the upper minors late in the year.

In 28 regular season games with Double-A Tulsa, the 20-year-old Lux slashed .324/.408/.495 with four homers in 120 plate appearances. It didn’t end there. Over an eight-game playoff run, the left-handed batter went 14-for-33 with five multi-hit games.

20. Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

Acquiring the 21-year-old Sandoval from the Astros for free agent-to-be catcher Martin Maldonado could turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline. While the lefty didn’t stand out in Houston’s deep farm system, he was having a strong season at the High-A and Low-A levels at the time of the trade (2.56 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 88 innings). The change of scenery didn’t affect him one bit as he tossed 14 2/3 shutout innings in the California League before finishing the season with four impressive Double-A starts (19 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 27 K).

Power Ranking Leaders By Level

Hitter: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
Starting Pitcher: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Relief Pitcher: Ian Gibaut, Tampa Bay Rays

Hitter: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Starting Pitcher: Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks
Relief Pitcher: Matt Pierpont, Colorado Rockies

Hitter: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
Pitcher: Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Hitter: Chavez Young, Toronto Blue Jays
Pitcher: Jhonathan Diaz, Boston Red Sox

Short-Season A
Hitter: Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians
Pitcher: Jaison Vilera, New York Mets

Hitter: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Pitcher: Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres

Steve Adams <![CDATA[NL West Notes: Dozier, Belt, Diamondbacks, Black]]> 2018-09-16T14:56:57Z 2018-09-16T14:56:57Z Brian Dozier, mired in a dreadful slump after a hot first week with the Dodgers, spoke to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register about those struggles. Dozier played through a bone bruise in his knee earlier this season, and while he said the knee “feels great” now, he acknowledged that he developed some bad habits at the plate while trying to compensate for it at the time. The 31-year-old Dozier added that he doesn’t believe playing primarily in a platoon capacity has had an adverse impact on him. (The Dodgers’ constant lineup fluctuations based on matchups has been a source of frustration for many of their fans.) Dozier will be a free agent at season’s end, but the .218/.306/.391 slash he’s carrying isn’t likely to do him any favors — particularly when he’ll be heading into his age-32 season next year.

More from the division…

  • Brandon Belt underwent an MRI on his ailing knee, but the Giants aren’t planning to shut him down for the remainder of the season, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Belt is considered day-to-day for the time being, but he’ll start more games before season’s end. It’s been a disastrous summer for Belt — and, really, for most of the Giants’ offense — as his production has cratered after soaring to career-best levels in the season’s first half. Belt, 30, posted a ridiculous .307/.403/.547 batting line through June 1 before landing on the disabled list due to a bout of appendicitis. He never seemed to recover his footing after that, as he’s floundered at a miserable .203/.283/.290 pace since returning. Belt also missed a bit more than two weeks due to a hyperextended knee in late July and early August.
  • Clay Buchholz, whose season ended yesterday due to a flexor mass strain, tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he’d love to return to the Diamondbacks, but there have yet to be any discussions about a new contract between the two sides. Piecoro also chatted with Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, whom the Diamondbacks passed over in favor of Dansby Swanson back in the 2015 Draft. Bregman said he was thrilled to go to the Astros with the No. 2 overall pick but admitted that part of him was also “pissed,” because he’d hoped to be the top overall selection in the draft. He also relayed a story from the 2012 draft, when Arizona showed interest in him as a late first-rounder but instead drafted catcher Stryker Trahan. Arizona called him to see if he’d sign as a second-rounder, but Bregman informed the team he planned on attending college at Louisiana State University.
  • In a fun Sunday-morning read, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post walks through a typical day in the life of Rockies manager Bud Black during the team’s pennant race — covering everything from an early radio appearance to lineup planning, pre-game media sessions, in-game decisions and post-game work and rituals. Saunders also chats with catcher Chris Iannetta and lefty Kyle Freeland about Black’s managerial style and his teaching methods. “Buddy has a laid-back style, but even though it’s laid back, I wouldn’t say it’s relaxed,” says Iannetta of Black — his fifth big league manager. “…I think it’s the sign of a good manager when he knows when to be hands-on and when to take his hands off.” It’s obviously an extra-appealing read for Rox fans, though fans of any club will still appreciate the detailed look at the day-to-day operations of a big league skipper.
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Buchanan: D-backs Shoulder Consider Re-Signing Clay Buchholz ]]> 2018-09-16T03:32:29Z 2018-09-16T03:32:29Z
  • Like Hellickson, righty Clay Buchholz has been as an excellent value pickup in 2018. Arizona signed the longtime Boston hurler to a minors deal in early May, and he went on to throw 98 1/3 frames of 2.01 ERA/3.46 FIP ball as a Diamondback, also adding 7.41 K/9, 2.01 BB/9 and a 42.6 percent grounder rate. Buchholz’s season is now done, as he incurred a flexor mass strain in his right elbow, but his D-backs tenure shouldn’t necessarily be over, Zach Buchanan of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Arizona has enough questions in its rotation that it should consider a reunion with the pending free agent, details Buchanan, who argues Buchholz’s elbow issue doesn’t look severe enough that it should scare off the team. Rather, as a result of the injury, the Diamondbacks may be able to re-sign the 34-year-old at a reduced price. Whether the D-backs are interested in bringing Buchholz back is unclear, but Buchanan notes that the player has “enjoyed” his run with the club.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Clay Buchholz Out For Remainder Of Season]]> 2018-09-15T20:40:11Z 2018-09-15T20:40:18Z TODAY: Buchholz won’t undergo surgery, telling Buchanan (Twitter link) and other reporters that he will receive a PRP injection.  The right-hander expects to be ready to pitch by Spring Training.

    YESTERDAY: Diamondbacks righty Clay Buchholz will not return to the club in 2018, skipper Torey Lovullo tells reporters including Zach Buchanan of The Athletic (Twitter links). Buchholz has been diagnosed with a flexor mass strain in his right elbow.

    While the D-Backs won tonight, their postseason hopes are fading regardless of the status of Buchholz. Still, it’s another blow to a team that has collapsed late in the season.

    The news is a bigger problem, perhaps, for the veteran hurler. He has had plenty of arm troubles in the past, which helps explain how he ended up in Arizona on a minors deal. Buchholz originally signed this year with the Royals but was allowed to depart rather than being added to the MLB roster.

    The Snakes were rewarded handsomely for the decision to bring Buchholz in, even if he won’t be able to finish out the season. He not only filled 98 1/3 innings, but allowed just 2.01 earned runs per nine along the way while recording 81 strikeouts against 22 walks.

    That showing seemed to set the veteran up for a more successful return to the open market. There were some issues, to be sure, including the fact that he’s averaging about two miles per hour less on his fastball than he did in his most recent full seasons. But that didn’t stop Buchholz from posting a 9.7% swinging-strike rate that raised his career average.

    Still-unknown details of the injury certainly remain the key to this story, as the true severity of the injury isn’t really clear. It’s certainly possible that Buchholz will be able to get back up to full strength with some offseason rest and rehab. Regardless, it’s a disappointing way for an otherwise encouraging campaign to wrap up.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Select Randall Delgado’s Contract, Place Clay Buchholz On DL]]> 2018-09-15T20:02:30Z 2018-09-15T19:51:35Z The Diamondbacks have selected the contract of right-hander Randall Delgado from Triple-A, as per a team press release.  In a corresponding move, righty Clay Buchholz has been placed on the disabled list with a flexor mass strain in his throwing elbow, an injury we learned last night will end his 2018 season.

    Delgado will make his return to Arizona’s big league roster after a turbulent season.  He missed the first three months with an oblique injury, only to post a 5.14 ERA over seven innings in relief work, and then get designated for assignment in late July.  That DFA placement led to Delgado being released entirely, only for the D’Backs to re-sign him to a minor league contract in late August.

    It was quite the unwelcome turn of events for a pitcher who was one of the most valuable members of Arizona’s roster in 2017, when Delgado posted a 3.59 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and 4.29 K/BB rate over 62 2/3 innings working as a swingman (five starts and 21 relief appearances).  Delgado’s durability also led to 147 innings in 2015-16 working almost exclusively as a reliever.

    In five games and 9 2/3 innings for Triple-A Reno, Delgado seemed to be in good form, allowing just a single run and recording seven strikeouts against just one walk.  It seems likely that the D’Backs will again use Delgado as a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen, as they try to patch holes in both their rotation and bullpen while fighting to remain in the NL playoff race.  The Diamondbacks have just seven wins in their last 21 games, putting them 3.5 games out of first place in the NL West and three games back of a wild card slot.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On T.J. McFarland]]> 2018-09-15T18:20:45Z 2018-09-15T18:20:12Z The Cubs got some good news on Brandon Morrow today, as the closer felt good after throwing a 19-pitch simulated game.  (The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma and the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan were among those who reported the news.)  Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 15 due to biceps inflammation, and as recently as 10 days ago, manager Joe Maddon expressed some doubt that Morrow would be able to pitch again this season.  In the wake of today’s simulated outing, Morrow could potentially be activated from the DL in time for at least part of the Cubs’ series against the Diamondbacks, which begins on Monday.  Morrow won’t be used as a closer right away, Maddon said, as the team will ease the righty back into action by keeping him on pitch counts and avoiding using him in back-to-back games.  Even in this limited capacity, Morrow’s impending return is nice boost for the Cubs’ postseason chances, as the veteran had a sterling 1.47 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 3.44 K/BB rate over his first 30 2/3 innings in a Chicago uniform.

    • Diamondbacks southpaw T.J. McFarland hasn’t pitched since September 8 due to elbow soreness, though the problem appears to be only a bone spur rather than a more serious UCL issue, FOX Sports Arizona’s Jody Jackson reports (via Twitter).  McFarland is back to playing catch with the hopes of a return to the mound.  The left-hander has been a force for the D’Backs this season, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 67.9% grounder rate over 72 relief innings.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Notes: Harper, D-Backs, Buchholz, Senzel, DeGrom]]> 2018-09-14T05:31:33Z 2018-09-14T05:31:33Z As ever, there’s plenty of water-cooler chatter about the eventual destination of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who — had you not heard? — is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Particularly for fans of a Nats organization that is just weeks away from wrapping up a brutally disappointing campaign, it’s a subject of much attention. So eyebrows were raised recently at comments from Harper and, especially, club president of baseball ops/GM Mike Rizzo that could be interpreted as hinting at a reunion. In an appearance on MLB Network (Twitter link), Harper at least acknowledged a reunion is possible, saying that “it’s going to be an exciting future for the Nationals, and we’ll see if I’m in those plans.” Innocuous enough, to be sure, but perhaps the line could be interpreted as a wink toward contract talks. As for Rizzo, Chris Lingebach of 106.7 The Fan rounded things up. Those interested in parsing the words fully should click the link, but the key phrase at issue from Rizzo is his statement that he “won’t discuss [negotiations with Harper’s camp] until there’s something to announce.” Did the tight-lipped, hard-nosed GM tip his hand? It’s at most an arguable point.

    From this vantage point, there’s enough here to make you think, but hardly a clear indication as to how Harper’s fascinating free agency will turn out. Here’s the latest from the National League:

    • The Diamondbacks had held a strong position in the postseason race for much of the season, but as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes, they’re now left hoping for a memorable late-season comeback to get in. “[B]reakdowns occurring in every facet of their game,” Piecoro writes, have spurred a ghastly 4-16 run that has reversed the team’s fortunes. Unfortunately, odds are that the Arizona club will head back to the drawing board at season’s end — while watching two significant players (A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin) hit the open market. Still, it’s notable that the club has largely followed up on its successful 2017 campaign, as the thought in some quarters entering the year was that there wasn’t really enough talent to keep pace.
    • As is also covered in the above-linked piece, the D-Backs suffered an unwelcome blow in advance of tonight’s loss when they were forced to scratch righty Clay Buchholz. The veteran hurler has been an immense asset for Arizona, throwing 98 1/3 innings of 2.01 ERA ball since joining the club in mid-season as a minor-league signee. He’s now headed to Phoenix for testing, though the hope still seems to be that he’ll return this year. Regardless, it’s unfortunate news for the team but even more disappointing for the 34-year-old, who has dealt with plenty of health problems of late and will be reentering the open market at season’s end.
    • It has long been wondered what the Reds Baseball America points outwill do when they are ready to call up top prospect Nick Senzel, who’s blocked at his natural position of third base. We may be seeing the hints of an answer; as , Senzel is listed as an outfielder in the organization’s instructional league roster. That hardly guarantees anything, of course, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Senzel — who’s opportunity for a late-2018 callup was taken by a finger injury — come into camp in 2019 looking to crack the roster in the corner outfield. Just how it’ll all play out, though, remains to be seen.
    • Speaking of top prospects … among his many notes today, Jon Heyman of Fancred writes that the Mets took a targeted approach to discussions with other teams regarding ace righty Jacob deGrom. As Heyman puts it, the New York organization “focused” on the handful of clubs it deemed to have assets worth haggling over. When those teams weren’t willing to give up their best young assets, talks sputtered. Heyman cites “the Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Yankees, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Brewers” as clubs that were engaged. But the ultra-premium prospects and young MLB players in those organizations simply weren’t on offer. It’s hard to argue with the Mets’ rationale; deGrom reached a new level this season, after all, and certainly shouldn’t be parted with by a major-market club for less than a compelling return.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Won't Use Set Bullpen Roles For Rest Of Season]]> 2018-09-13T00:40:11Z 2018-09-13T00:40:11Z The Diamondbacks have elected to not only remove Brad Boxberger from the closer’s role but also to do away with set bullpen roles entirely for the remainder of the season, manager Torey Lovullo explained to reporters this week (link via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic). Rather than deploy a set closer (Boxberger) and setup man (Archie Bradley), the D-backs’ late-inning decisions will be determined primarily based on matchups. Boxberger, Bradley, Andrew Chafin, Brad Ziegler and T.J. McFarland will be among the matchup options sharing late-inning duties, per Piecoro. The 30-year-old Boxberger has a 4.41 ERA and has averaged five walks per nine innings this season, but he’s also racked up 32 saves and fanned 68 hitters in just 49 innings of work. He’s struggled in particular as of late, surrendering a dozen runs in his past 11 2/3 innings of work. Boxberger will be arbitration-eligible for the final time this offseason after earning $1.85MM in 2018.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Revisiting Diamondbacks' Attempt To Sign Ronald Acuna]]> 2018-09-08T17:37:50Z 2018-09-08T17:30:44Z
  • Twenty-year-old Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna may be on his way to joining Trout as an elite player, which is a difficult reality for the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic explains. The Venezuelan-born Acuna signed with the Braves for a $100K bonus four years ago, but before that, the Diamondbacks believed they were on the verge of adding him for $80K. Junior Noboa, the Diamondbacks’ vice president of Latin American operations, revealed to Piecoro that the two sides reached an agreement in the Dominican Republic. However, rules state a player must officially sign in his home country, and by the time Acuna returned to Venezuela, the Braves had made a stronger offer, according to Noboa. “They accepted it before I could come back with another offer,” Noboa said of Acuna’s camp. Acuna disagrees with Noboa’s version of the story, as he said through an interpreter Thursday: “There was a difference between what was promised and what was eventually settled upon. They gave me an initial number and then afterwards that wasn’t it. That’s why I wasn’t on board with signing.” Regardless, as Piecoro notes, Acuna was not a superstar prospect when he chose Atlanta over Arizona. Thus, whether he’d have developed into the player he is now had he signed with a different team is anyone’s guess.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[2018-19 Opt-Out & Player Option Decisions]]> 2018-09-07T16:59:55Z 2018-09-07T16:53:25Z With Major League teams increasingly adding opt-out provisions to free-agent contracts as a means of incentivizing players to sign, there are now a handful of those decisions that impact the free-agent market every offseason. With nearly 90 percent of the season already in the books, many of the opt-out decisions/player option decisions look pretty clear cut.

    Things could change over the final month, but here’s a look at where things currently stand…

    Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Two years, $65MM remaining): Truthfully, Kershaw is the only player with an opt-out provision in 2018 who could be called likely to exercise the clause at present. While he hasn’t been quite as dominant as usual and has spent time on the DL for a third straight year (back issues, biceps tendinitis), it’s difficult to imagine him having to take less than that $65MM sum in free agency.

    In 131 1/3 innings this season, Kershaw is sporting a 2.40 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. He hasn’t topped 200 innings since 2015, but he’s still a clearly elite starter. If he does formally opt out, the Dodgers can issue a qualifying offer, though perhaps the easiest scenario would be for Los Angeles to simply extend Kershaw’s current contract to prolong his already historic Dodgers career.

    David Price, Red Sox (Four years, $127MM remaining): Price is having his best season with the Red Sox, having notched a 3.60 ERA with a strikeout per inning and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched through 152 1/3 frames. His results have been solid, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where he exceeds $127MM in free agency at the age of 33. Price’s Boston tenure has been rocky at times, but it seems likely that he’ll be back in the rotation next season.

    [Related: Club option decisions on starting pitchers, relievers and position players]

    Jason Heyward, Cubs (Five years, $106MM remaining): Declining to opt out is little more than a formality for Heyward at this point, as he hasn’t come close to living up to his $184MM contract in Chicago through the first three seasons. To his credit, though the 29-year-old has had a nice rebound effort, hitting .275/.342/.399 with above-average defense in right field. That might make the Cubs feel better about his contract moving forward, but it won’t be enough to prompt Heyward to test free agency. His contract contains a second opt-out clause following the 2019 season, at which point he’ll have four years and $86MM remaining, but that also seems like a long shot.

    Elvis Andrus, Rangers (Four years, $58MM): Andrus could be considered more of a borderline call than some on this list, but he seems likelier to stay with Texas than to opt out. The 30-year-old hasn’t had a bad season, hitting .270/.322/.396 with quality defense, but his bat hasn’t been as potent as it was in 2016-17 when he hit a combined .299/.348/.457. The downturn in offensive output might not be entirely Andrus’ fault; he did incur a broken elbow when he was hit by a pitch earlier this season — an injury that caused him to miss just over two months of action. It’s easy to imagine that injury having a lingering effect on Andrus’ swing, too.

    Like Heyward, Andrus has a second opt-out clause in his contract after the 2019 season. At that point, he’ll have three years and $43MM remaining on his contract. If his bat returns to its 2016-17 levels, surpassing that $43MM mark in free agency could be plausible. If Andrus opted out, he’d certainly be issued a qualifying offer — there’s no reason for the team to worry about him taking a one-year deal worth about $18MM when he just walked away from $58MM — which would only further hinder his earning power.

    Yasmany Tomas, D-backs (Two years, $32.5MM remaining): Tomas clubbed 31 homers with the 2016 Diamondbacks but did so with a .315 on-base percentage and some of the worst defensive ratings of any player in the Majors — regardless of position. He’s since been outrighted off the 40-man roster and, in 371 Triple-A plate appearances this season, has 101 strikeouts against 11 walks with a .280 OBP. Suffice it to say: he’s not going anywhere.

    Mark Melancon, Giants (Two years, $28MM remaining): Injuries have ruined Melancon’s first two seasons with the Giants, though he’s been excellent since returning in 2018: 2.64 ERA, 7.9K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 30 2/3 innings. That performance is encouraging for the Giants as they look to 2019, but it won’t be enough to make Melancon’s camp think he can top $28MM heading into his age-34 season.

    Brandon Kintzler, Cubs ($5MM player option): Kintzler’s contract technically contains a $10MM club option or a $5MM player option, but it’s clear given his dismal performance since being traded to Chicago that the team won’t be opting for that $10MM sum. Kintzler was very good with the Twins and Nationals from 2016 through this past July, but his typically excellent control has evaporated in Chicago while his hard-contact rate has skyrocketed. It’s only a sample of 11 2/3 innings, but his struggles make the option seem a fairly straightforward decision.

    Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox ($5MM player option): Nunez’s deal comes with a $2MM buyout, making this effectively a $3MM decision for his camp. He’s struggled to the point that he may not even want to take that risk, though, hitting just .258/.282/.384 through 473 trips to the plate.

    Rob Bradford of reported this week that Nunez’s option increased from $4MM to $5MM once he reached 400 plate appearances. Bradford spoke to Nunez, who acknowledged that the knee that gave out on him in the postseason last year has been a problem for him throughout 2018, though he believes he’s finally “close” to 100 percent. Perhaps a strong month and a big postseason could prompt him to again test the open market, but his overall production to this point makes the player option seem a likelier outcome.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Acquire Patrick Kivlehan; Jarrod Dyson Undergoes Surgery]]> 2018-09-07T00:57:42Z 2018-09-06T21:49:51Z 5:41pm: It emerged after the move that Dyson has undergone a core muscle procedure similar to the one that ended his 2017 season, as Steve Gilbert of was among those to report (links to Twitter). It does not sound as if there’s much hope that the speedy outfielder will be able to return in 2018, though skipper Torey Lovullo says he expects Dyson to be ready to go for Spring Training in 2019.

    Dyson has never really gotten going this year. In 237 plate appearances, he owns only a .189/.282/.257 slash with 16 steals. He’s slated to earn $3.5MM next season, the second and final campaign covered by his free-agent contract.

    4:49pm: The Diamondbacks announced that they have acquired corner infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan from the Mets. Cash considerations will head to New York in return.

    Kivlehan will head onto the MLB roster, the D-Backs also announced. To create 40-man roster space, the club shifted outfielder Jarrod Dyson to the 60-day DL.

    The 28-year-old Kivlehan landed with the Mets organization earlier this year after being cut loose by the Reds. He has turned in a big season at the plate since arriving in Triple-A Las Vegas, slashing .314/.372/.588 with twenty home runs in 390 plate appearances.

    Of course, Kivlehan has at times shown solid pop and put up appealing numbers in the upper minors. But he has still yet to receive much of an opportunity at the game’s highest level. In his 228 total plate appearances, spread over 123 games in parts of two seasons, he has posted a .206/.303/.392 batting line.

    Having been acquired after the end of August, Kivlehan will not be eligible to appear in the postseason should the Snakes qualify. He will, however, be able to help his new club try to get there and can be retained on the 40-man roster beyond the present season if the organization wishes.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Diamondbacks To Promote Yoan Lopez]]> 2018-09-03T20:33:57Z 2018-09-03T20:17:23Z 3:17pm: Arizona has announced Lopez’s promotion, and it made room for him by transferring third baseman Jake Lamb to the 60-day disabled list. Lamb underwent season-ending left shoulder surgery last month.

    1:37pm: The Diamondbacks will promote right-hander Yoan Lopez from Double-A Jackson, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Lopez is not on the D-backs’ 40-man roster, which is currently full, so they’ll need to make a corresponding move.

    Lopez, a holdover from the Diamondbacks’ ill-fated Dave Stewart/Tony La Russa/De Jon Watson regime, is finally coming to the majors three years after the team signed him out of Cuba. Arizona gave Lopez a whopping $8.27MM bonus, and in doing so, it paid a 100 percent overage tax and limited itself in future international markets. As a result of the Lopez signing, the Diamondbacks were barred from adding any international prospect for more than $300K over the next two signing periods. The club happened to have the majors’ largest bonus pool in 2015-16, making the Lopez-caused limitations all the more costly.

    Of course, had Lopez developed into the front-line starter the Diamondbacks thought they were getting, there would be little to no criticism of the signing. Lopez’s tenure with the organization has been rocky at times, however, and he initially had such a difficult time adjusting to his new surroundings that he considered giving up baseball. However, Lopez – now 25 years old – persevered and may have put himself in position to make an impact with the D-backs. While he’s no longer a starter, the hard-throwing Lopez impressed as a Double-A reliever this season, recording a 2.92 ERA/2.85 FIP with 12.7 K/9 against 3.79 BB/9 in 61 2/3 innings.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners Notes: Gonzales, Segura, Haniger, Cruz]]> 2018-09-02T23:24:08Z 2018-09-02T23:23:47Z Here’s the latest from the city of Jimi Hendrix and Frasier Crane…

    • Marco Gonzales is hopeful that he can return from the disabled list to start during the Mariners’ series with the Yankees this weekend,’s Greg Johns was among those to report.  A cervical neck muscle strain forced Gonzales to the 10-day DL on August 27, though the left-hander had no issues while playing catch today.  Gonzales will throw a light bullpen session Monday and another later in the week with an eye towards starting against New York.  “The silver lining” of the absence, Gonzales told Johns and other reporters, is that he has had time to rest his arm and perhaps get a bit of a reset after struggling badly over his last four outings.
    • The November 2016 deal that brought Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger to Seattle has turned into one of the best trades in recent Mariners history, with the two both quickly becoming cornerstone players for the M’s.  The Athletic’s Corey Brock (subscription required) looks back at the trade with GM Jerry Dipoto, who broke down some of the talks between he and Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen, and how Segura and Haniger were identified as targets.
    • In a mailbag piece for the Seattle Times, Ryan Divish notes that the two biggest questions surrounding the Mariners’ offseason will be whether or not to re-sign Nelson Cruz, and what position Dee Gordon will play in 2019.  The two questions go hand-in-hand, particularly in regards to Robinson Cano — if Cruz leaves, Cano will see more DH time and Gordon could play more at his natural second base position.  If Cruz stays as the full-time DH, however, Cano will see regular time at second while Gordon could return to the outfield.  Ryon Healy’s future with the team is also a factor, as Cano could also be deployed at first base.  It will be an interesting positional juggle for the M’s, plus we can’t rule out Dipoto trying another unconventional solution (i.e. the decision to acquire Gordon and use him as a center fielder in the first place).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[International Notes & Signings: D-Backs, Angels, Orioles, Royals]]> 2018-08-31T13:07:53Z 2018-08-31T13:07:53Z Here’s the latest news from the international scene:

    • Major League Baseball announced on Thursday the launch of a new Trainer Partnership Program that will strive to combat PED use among international amateurs prior to their signing with MLB organizations. The new partnership, per the league’s formal announcement, will require participating trainers to “enroll their players in MLB’s drug testing program, submit themselves and their employees to background checks, keep updated records of amateur players in their care, and comply with MLB rules regarding international players.” In exchange for that level of transparency, MLB will provide enrolled trainers and their players with “enhanced scouting opportunities.” The league will also promote trainers who are enrolled in the Partnership Program to Latin American players and their families.
    • It’s obviously good to hear of an initiative that holds out the promise of improving the health and wellness of young amateur players, though of course many have argued that the trainers (generally known as “buscones” in Latin America) have themselves played a major role in creating the problematic conditions in the first place. MLB’s engagement with this shadowy world has long been a point of controversy without clear solutions. It seems that this agreement represents quite a notable step toward a more formalized relationship between the league and at least certain trainers, though no doubt there’ll still be quite a lot to sort out along the way.
    • In Japan, meanwhile, MLB teams interact with amateur and professional talent under quite different circumstances. Generally, young Japanese players spend quite a bit of time playing professionally in their home country before the possibility of hopping the Pacific is entertained. But there have been notable exceptions — specifically, Junichi Tazawa — and now the Diamondbacks have potentially upset the apple cart by reportedly agreeing to terms with a 23-year-old amateur Japanese hurler named Shumpei Yoshikawa. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says there is indeed an agreement in place, as Japanese media reports had indicated, with a $650K bonus going to Yoshikawa if it is finalized. As Piecoro explains, that signing seemingly violates the norms of player movement between Japan and the majors. While in this case the player in question was pitching in the Industrial League after previously being bypassed in the Nippon Professional Baseball draft, he had emerged as a significant NPB draft target. It’s certainly an interesting development; those who wish to learn more on the subject should read the full article.
    • While many teams have already done the bulk of their heavy lifting on the international prospect market, additional signings will nonetheless filter in between now and next June. A few that have surfaced over the past couple of days …
    • The Angels have signed Dominican outfield prospect Alexander Ramirez, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Ramirez, who took home a $1MM bonus according to Ben Badler of Baseball America (also via Twitter), ranked 24th on’s rankings of this year’s international prospects and 25th on Badler’s rankings over at BA. He had to wait until his 16th birthday (yesterday) for the signing to become official. Badler noted that Ramirez has average tools across the board, adding that scouts who like him the most are highest on his hit tool.
    • Elsewhere, the Orioles announced another pair of international signings this week, adding 16-year-old infielder Moises Ramirez and right-hander Carlos Del Rosario — both out of the Dominican Republic. Neither was considered among the top 50 amateurs on this offseason’s class, per Baseball America’s rankings, though it’s nonetheless notable to see Baltimore continue to make some additions from a market they’d previously avoided almost entirely. Then again, the O’s did still dish out $750K of their 2018-19 pool in order to acquire first-base prospect Jack Zoellner — a 23-year-old 2017 ninth-rounder still in Rookie ball — in a trade with the Phillies earlier this week. And the Royals have signed right-hander Jin Woo-young — a high school righty out of South Korea (h/t: Dan Kurtz of, on Twitter). Naver Sports reports that he received a bonus of $150K.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[D-Backs Acquire Chris Stewart]]> 2018-08-31T00:15:01Z 2018-08-30T22:27:42Z 7:14pm: The deal is official. Arizona will send cash considerations in the deal.

    5:27pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a deal to acquire veteran catcher Chris Stewart from the Braves, per Robert Murray of The Athletic (via Twitter). Cash or a player to be named later will head to Atlanta in return, The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan tweets.

    Stewart had been designated for assignment recently. He had briefly returned to the majors after being designated and outrighted earlier in the season. When the Braves acquired third catcher Rene Rivera yesterday, it became clear that Stewart wasn’t in their plans down the stretch.

    While the D-Backs already have three catchers on their active roster, this’ll represent another depth piece for an organization that obviously values having options behind the dish. Stewart is not on the 40-man roster at present, but would need to be added to join the active roster.

    Though he has rarely hit much at all in the majors, the 36-year-old is valued for his work behind the dish and in managing a staff. He has spent most of the present season at Triple-A, where he carries a .219/.299/.277 slash in 156 plate appearances.