- Chris Tillman isn’t making excuses about his poor season and is maintaining that he’s 100 percent healthy, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Schmuck spoke with Tillman for a lengthy and candid interview that readers will want to check out in full, as it’s rife with frank, harsh self analysis from Tillman, who is his perhaps his own biggest critic. “I’ve been here before,” said the longtime Orioles right-hander. “Before 2012, I was god-awful. I was just as bad as I was this year, if not worse. We were able to figure it out.” Tillman attributes his early-career struggles to a “horrible” delivery and states that he’s had significant difficulty in repeating his delivery in 2017 as well. He also speaks fondly of the Orioles’ clubhouse and suggests that he’d be open to a return, though as Schmuck notes, the Orioles figure to be seeking some certainty in their rotation this winter.
Over at Fangraphs, David Laurila provides an interesting look at the concept of African-American ballplayers serving as role models. Angels prospect Jo Adell has expressed an inclination to be just that; Laurila asked a variety of professionals what advice they have for the recent draftee. The post is well worth a full read.
Here’s more from the American League:
- It’s not clear whether Zach Britton will pitch again for the Orioles this year. He’ll sit for at least three to five days after receiving an injection in his balky knee, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com was among those to tweet. With the O’s all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason race, there’s little reason to push a pitcher who has struggled all year long to gain traction. Instead, it seems likely the club will allow Britton to begin the healing process in hopes of a healthier and more productive 2018 season.
- While the Orioles can control lefty Wade Miley through a club option, and certainly need arms in the rotation, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com writes that it’s time to bid adieu. The 30-year-old has struggled for the bulk of the season, making the $12MM price tag seem steep. Instead, Connolly urges, the O’s ought to pay him a $500K buyout and go looking for alternatives.
- As the Athletics sort through their young position-player options, Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area writes, the club could consider giving Franklin Barreto some time in center field. Oakland seems to have a rather wide-open situation up the middle in the outfield grass. In the infield, though, there are several options at second base — including veteran Jed Lowrie, assuming he isn’t traded (and that his option is picked up, as appears likely). Stiglich runs through some other options; while there are a few internal players that may warrant consideration, it’s also conceivable that the team could use the opening to try an outside acquisition. (As I noted recently, Oakland could have a chance to take advantage of some outfield gluts in other organizations.) Regardless, as regards the 21-year-old Barreto, the key consideration is likely whether the team feels he’s best served taking on major league pitching or going back to Triple-A to iron out his strikeout issues.
- The Twins have been making some scouting and development changes, as do many teams this time of year. International scouting coordinator Howard Norsetter was fired, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports. Norsetter had run the team’s efforts to find amateur talent abroad, excepting Latin America. The club also added a new part-time scout in Japan, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
- Royals righty Peter Moylan tells Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star that he hopes to return to the organization next year. As Dodd explains, Moylan has been quite dominant against opposing right-handed hitters. He still generates tons of groundballs and throws his sidearm sinker at the same velocity. Given the seeming comfort level between player and team, and K.C.’s need for affordable roster pieces with a challenging offseason coming, a reunion wouldn’t be terribly surprising.
It has long been wondered just how long the Orioles would manage to keep their best player, superstar third baseman Manny Machado. As the team begins looking ahead to the offseason, his long-term status in Baltimore remains an open question. What’s clear, though, according to a report from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, is that the O’s won’t look to deal Machado in advance of the 2018 season.
That’s not all that surprising to hear at this point, as all signs from Baltimore have been that the organization will try to regroup and contend next year. But it’s nevertheless notable, as it would appear to take Machado out of serious trade consideration and also position the Orioles as a team that will look to add veteran talent over the offseason.
The Orioles will face quite a few roster questions. In particular, a dreadful performance from the bulk of the rotation will leave the club scrambling to fill a few openings. Doing so in a financially feasible way looks like quite the challenge.
While the organization has only $64MM or so in dedicated payroll for the coming season, that doesn’t include the massive arbitration outlay — Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach will be expensive — that will surely push the club past $100MM. That probably leaves room to add some salary for starters, but the team will surely be wary of commitments that extend past 2018. Machado, Britton, Brach, and Adam Jones will be free agents and the O’s have already committed quite a lot of cash to underperforming sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis.
So, could the club look to keep its core intact for a longer stretch by pursuing a new deal with Machado? Per Heyman, it’s not yet clear whether the Orioles will make such an attempt in earnest. The sides were fairly close in prior extension talks, though clearly the situation is quite a bit different now. Machado, who only just turned 25, is one of the game’s very best players and will be just one year away from a potential open-market bonanza. From an outside perspective, it remains difficult to imagine a deal coming together.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com analyzes the Orioles’ use of their minor-league system in recent years. The club has increasingly drawn upon players right out of Double-A Bowie, notes Kubatko, and it seems that’s somewhat by design. Skipper Buck Showalter says that top affiliates are increasingly utilized “almost like major-league taxi squads,” not as steps on the ladder to the majors. While every player’s situation must be handled on its own merits, says Showalter, the club is obviously generally comfortable with moving talented players right past the Triple-A level.
- The Orioles, like other teams, have plenty of players on hand. But the club doesn’t seem to have much inclination to back off of righty Dylan Bundy, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Though he has had significant past health problems and is already 60 innings past his prior career-high from a year ago, Showalter says the key hurler is feeling good and throwing well. Though Bundy’s last two starts have ended poorly and the O’s are all but buried in the postseason race, the skipper says it’s “not at that point yet” where Bundy needs to be shut down for the rest of the year.
Miguel Elias Gonzalez, a minor-league pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system, died in a car accident this past Saturday in the Dominican Republic, according to a press release from the organization. Gonzalez has no relation to the Rangers pitcher of the same first and last name who once pitched with the Baltimore organization.
The Orioles held a moment of silence to honor Gonzalez before tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox. Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, gave a somber statement on the passing of the 21 year-old:
“Our organization is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Miguel Gonzalez. Miguel was beloved by his teammates and coaches in the Dominican Republic. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this very difficult time.”
Gonzalez was signed as an international free agent in 2014. He had pitched exclusively in the Dominican Summer League in his young career, showing some potential with a fastball that reached the mid-90s on the radar gun.
The tragic passing of Gonzalez is, unfortunately, not the first to occur on the roads of the Dominican Republic. In recent years, prominent Dominican players Yordano Ventura, Oscar Taveras, and Andy Marte have all perished in traffic accidents in their home country.
MLBTR joins those around the game in extending its condolences to Gonzalez’s family, friends, and teammates.
1:13pm: Rodriguez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Norfolk, per an announcement from Baltimore.
The 27-year-old Rodriguez, who’s in his third season with the Baltimore organization, got his first taste of major league action in 2017. It didn’t go well, as Rodriguez allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits and three walks, with three strikeouts, over 5 2/3 innings. He was far better across 70 2/3 frames this year at Triple-A Norfolk, where he pitched to a sparkling 2.42 ERA and logged 10.19 K/9 against 2.29 BB/9. Rodriguez was similarly effective at the Triple-A level in each of the previous two seasons.
A sixth-round pick in 2014, the hard-throwing Scott has developed into one of the Orioles’ top prospects. MLB.com ranks the 23-year-old sixth among Baltimore’s farmhands and suggests that he has the potential to become an excellent major league reliever. Scott worked out of the rotation with Bowie this season, but with just 69 innings in 24 starts, he averaged fewer than three frames per appearance. Along the way, Scott overcame a bloated walk rate (6.00 BB/9) with an 11.17 K/9, to go with a 52.1 percent groundball rate, en route to a 2.22 ERA.
- The Orioles, Yankees and Blue Jays have seen Rays righty Alex Cobb up close in recent seasons, and they’ll be interested when he hits the market this winter, writes Cafardo. Cobb will also attract plenty of interest from outside the AL East as well, as he’ll be a good and more affordable alternative to a free agent ace.
With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:
It isn’t official yet, but these
- Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
- Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
- Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
- Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
- Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.
Still In Limbo
- Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
- Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
- Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
- Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.
Kept By Other Means
- Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.
- Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
- Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
- Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
- Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
- Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
- Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
- Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
- Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that he’s spoken at length with pitching coach Roger McDowell to develop a plan for young right-hander Miguel Castro. While Castro has delivered solid run-prevention numbers in a multi-inning relief role, Showalter acknowledged that there’s been “a lot” of thought put into the possibility of Castro starting. “Like all of young pitchers, they are precious commodities and we want to make good decisions about them,” said Showalter. “Because we don’t have many to pick from right now.” Since a scoreless six-inning relief appearance on Aug. 3, Castro has posted a pristine 2.37 ERA through 30 1/3 innings. He’s limited opponents to a meager 18.8 percent hard-contact rate in that time but has also logged an ugly 19-to-15 K/BB ratio.
We’ll track the day’s minor MLB transactions here:
- The Orioles have announced that lefty Andrew Faulkner has been outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers. Faulkner, who turned 25 yesterday, was set to participate in the Arizona Fall League for the O’s before he was designated for assignment recently. He threw 38 2/3 frames on the year at the Triple-A level, posting a 2.79 ERA but also coughing up 5.6 BB/9 to go with 8.1 K/9. The southpaw previously appeared at the MLB level with the Rangers in the prior two campaigns, carrying a 4.41 ERA in twenty appearances, but didn’t crack the bigs this year with Baltimore.