- Michael Lorenzen will start the Reds’ game against the Brewers on Tuesday, interim manager Jim Riggleman told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer and other media. Lorenzen has pitched exclusively as a reliever from 2016-18, posting solid numbers as a setup man and multi-inning reliever out of the Reds’ bullpen. He has often expressed an interest in returning to starting pitching, however, and was stretched out as a starter last Spring Training before some poor numbers and a shoulder injury necessitated a return to the bullpen. “But we are looking at ’19 and who is going to be our starters,” Riggleman said. “We have an idea who some of them will be, but we will look at Mike here a little bit. It’ll be a very small sample, but we’ll get a little feel for it.”
- In other Reds news, president of baseball operations Dick Williams confirmed to reporters (including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Riggleman will receive an interview for the full-time managerial position. Besides that, Williams was short on details about the managerial search, other than to say that no interviews have yet taken place, and the Reds wouldn’t be publicly commenting on which people were or weren’t candidates. Fay speculates that the team will stick with Riggleman if they want an experienced “traditional pick” of a manager, though it remains to be seen what sort of more outside-the-box names (if any) could be considered.
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.
- Reds righty Homer Bailey has made 20 starts this season. The Reds have won just one of those outings, largely because of the 6.09 ERA the once-solid Bailey has put up over 106 1/3 innings. The club temporarily pulled the plug on Bailey’s time in its rotation Friday, removing him in favor of fellow righty Tyler Mahle, as Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer was among those to report. However, the Reds still owe the 32-year-old Bailey $23MM next season, so they don’t seem ready to give up on him. “Right now, he’s going to be just working on his mechanics and video and so forth to improve himself any way he can and be ready for the offseason,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “I don’t anticipate him pitching in games in the bullpen.” Whether Bailey will start or relieve in 2019 isn’t yet clear, nor is it a sure thing he’s equipped to work in relief after starting in all 212 career appearances to this point. Asked if a full offseason of preparation would leave him ready to come out of the Reds’ bullpen in 2019, Bailey told C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic (subscription required), “I don’t know.”
Even though the Reds are out of contention and right-hander Matt Harvey is a pending free agent, the club opted against trading him to the NL Central rival Brewers before last month’s waiver deadline. Milwaukee won the claim for Harvey, but it turns out the Brewers only offered “Triple-A non-prospects” for the 29-year-old, Jon Heyman of Fancred hears. Considering that, not to mention Reds owner Bob Castellini’s reported affinity for Harvey, Cincinnati kept the ex-Met and will likely try to prevent him from leaving via free agency. Pitching will be an area of focus in general for the Reds during the offseason, per Heyman, who adds they may also be on the lookout for one or two outfielders.
- Jim Riggleman hasn’t spoken to the Reds’ front office yet about shedding the interim label from his job title, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer recently wrote. Though Cincinnati has performed better under Riggleman than under Bryan Price earlier this season, Riggleman told Fay he still expects to be one of many candidates. “When the change was made, Dick [Williams] was the GM,” said Riggleman.“He basically said we’re going to interview a lot of people and have a long list. … My understanding is that’s what’s going to happen.” Fay notes that Riggleman is a favorite of team owner Bob Castellini, suggesting that if the Reds go with a more “old school” approach in the dugout, Riggleman is the favorite to stay with the Reds on a more permanent basis. The organization has become more analytical under the current front office regime, though, and it’s not clear what style of manager they’d prefer.
The Reds announced today that they have selected the contracts of catcher Tim Federowicz and outfielder Gabby Guerrero. To create 40-man space, the organization recalled righty Keury Mella and placed him on the 60-day DL.
That pair of newcomers to the MLB roster will be joined by righty Tyler Mahle. The well-regarded young hurler has already spent most of the season in the majors, of course.
Federowicz joined the Reds earlier this year on a minors pact after he was cut loose from the Astros. The 31-year-old will now have seen time with five MLB clubs over parts of seven seasons. Though he hasn’t hit all that well thus far at the Triple-A level in the Cincinnati organization, and is a marginal hitter in his limited experience at the game’s highest level, Federowicz will provide some welcome catching depth down the stretch. He’ll be eligible for arbitration at season’s end, though it stands to reason that he’ll be allowed to test the open market.
As for Guerrero, he originally came to the Cincinnati organization on a waiver claim, then was non-tendered and re-signed in the winter of 2016. Today’s news means that he’ll beat his cousin, elite Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., to the big leagues. Of course, Gabby is now 24 years of age, so he had more than a five-year head start. He earned his way up after a solid year in the upper minors, during which he slashed .293/.328/.474 with 19 home runs in 539 plate appearances.
Atlanta previously traded Tucker to Cincinnati as part of the teams’ July deal involving veteran outfielder Adam Duvall. The 28-year-old Tucker failed to impress during his brief time with the Reds, with only a .664 OPS over 42 plate appearances, and he was demoted to Triple-A earlier this week. Over the entire 2018 season, however, Tucker’s .240/.302/.419 slash line over 169 combined PA with the Braves and Reds this year is nearly league average (96 wRC+).
Tucker will provide the Braves with a bit more outfield depth as rosters expand in September, plus there is some late-bloomer potential given his strong career minor league numbers. Tucker does have 23 homers over his 636 career PA in the big leagues, though his overall production at the plate leaves much to be desired (.224/.281/.410).
A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…
- The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
- The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.
- The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.
- The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
- The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of MLB.com).
- The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
- The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
- After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
- The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
- The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
- The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
- The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
- The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
- The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
- The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
- The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
- The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
- The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
Weiss, 26, has never known any organization other than the Reds. The organization drafted him in the sixth round all the way back in 2013, and he’s come up through their system as a reliever. His only major-league appearance, however, was an unmitigated disaster. On April 12th, Weiss faced the Cardinals and allowed four earned runs on a pair of walks and a pair of homers without recording a single out.
Even in the minors, Weiss has exhibited extreme control issues. At Triple-A this season, he walked 15 batters in just 11 1/3 innings pitched en route to a 12.27 BB/9, while also allowing 11 earned runs in that span. There’s at least some cause for intrigue surrounding the righty, though, as he managed 11.89 K/9 across 28 Double-A innings last year. His ERA in that span came out to a respectable 2.89, and if Weiss can harness some of that ability at the major-league level, he’d certainly be a useful arm to a major-league club.
- The Reds announced this afternoon that lefty setup man Amir Garrett has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a bone bruise in his foot. Righty Jackson Stephens was activated from the 10-day DL and added to the roster in his place. As Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer examines, the situation illustrates just how far Brandon Finnegan’s standing within the organization has fallen. Interim skipper Jim Riggleman suggested to reporters that the team wouldn’t bring up a lefty in the short term and, asked specifically about Finnegan, wouldn’t commit firmly to a September call-up for the 25-year-old. Finnegan was very arguably the headliner of the 2015 trade that sent Johnny Cueto to Kansas City, but he’s struggled immensely in 2018 and, since being moved to the bullpen in Triple-A, has an ERA north of 7.00 with 19 walks against 20 strikeouts.