- The belief is that the Astros’ front office has a high opinion of Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com relays. That’s hardly a shock, as most who follow the game think highly of Iglesias, but it’s notable considering the Astros are in the market for bullpen help. Iglesias would fit nicely into their relief corps or any other team’s, but the 28-year-old – a careerlong Red – would like to remain in Cincinnati. On the subject of trade rumors, Iglesias said through an interpreter: “I’m not paying attention at all to that. I want to stay here. I don’t want to go anywhere else, but I don’t control that. If I could control it, I would stay here and play here for all of my career.”
Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett made clear today that he does not anticipate being traded, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Rather, the first-time All-Star says he has been given indication that the team would prefer to make him a part of the long-term picture.
Indeed, Gennett’s comments seemingly suggest that there’s even some contemplation of a long-term arrangement. Sheldon writes that “no serious talks” have taken place to this point, but that “a line of communication has been opened.” Perhaps it’s possible that mid-season talks will be pursued in some earnest, but that’s not particularly clear at this time.
What is apparent is that Gennett believes he won’t be putting on a new uniform in the next few weeks. As he puts it:
“Just from the talks that I’ve had with the guys in control of all those things, I feel like they want me here. I feel like, just from what I’ve been told, they want me here for the long term. What I’m getting is [CEO Bob Castellini] wants me here for a while.”
That dovetails with what Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports hears — namely, that some “sources familiar with Reds [sic] are dubious that the team has any intent of dealing him.” The note regarding Castellini is particularly interesting, as his preferences are of obviously critical importance and have evidently come to bear directly in the recent past. Though GM Nick Krall certainly did not give anything away in his comments to Sheldon, he did emphasize how much the team values Gennett.
Gennett, of course, has thrived since landing in Cincinnati via waiver claim before the 2017 season. There was cause to doubt the sustainability of his output last year, but he has only boosted it thus far. Through 374 plate appearances this year, Gennett carries an outstanding .326/.372/.518 batting line with 15 home runs.
That being said, there’s still reason to believe some regression could be in store, as his .371 batting average on balls in play doesn’t seem sustainable. In particular, it’s tough to imagine Gennett will keep up his current pace against left-handed pitching while carrying only a 3.7% walk rate to go with a healthy .389 BABIP.
No matter precisely how one views the 28-year-old, there’s no question that he’s a valuable asset. For the Reds, both evident possibilities — trade or hold and try to extend — are surely tantalizing. Despite an injury-riddled year, infield prospect Nick Senzel still seems to be a key long-term asset, providing added impetus to the idea of making a move. Cashing in Gennett might help other areas — notably, a pitching staff that’s still in need of long-term pieces despite some promising signs of late. At the same time, a long-term deal with the Cincinnati native would no doubt prove popular with fans. With the team expressing growing confidence in its core group of talent and preparing to increase its MLB spending, perhaps Gennett will be worth more to this organization than any other.
July 13: The Yankees’ interest in Wheeler, at this point, is considered to be “mild,” Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports in a deeper look at the right-hander’s market. Scouts from at least eight teams watched Wheeler’s most recent start, and of that group, Ackert lists the Diamondbacks as a club that came away from the outing with interest in the righty. The Reds, despite their rebuilding status, are planning to watch him again this weekend.
The D-backs’ interest is easy to parse. Arizona has lost Taijuan Walker for the season and is now once again concerned over the right elbow of Shelby Miller, who only recently returned from Tommy John. The resurgent Clay Buchholz is currently on the disabled list as well. Beyond that, Arizona could lose Patrick Corbin to free agency this winter, and Miller’s future is currently anything but certain. Wheeler, controlled through 2019, would give them an affordable arm to add not just for this season but also next year.
As for the Reds, their inclusion is a bit more surprising. Cincinnati has played considerably better in recent months, but their rotation picture still looks to be largely a mess. President of baseball ops Dick Williams said recently, though, that the team plans to up its payroll in 2019. Adding Wheeler now could amount to doing a bit of their offseason shopping in advance, and his modest price tag would allow the team to pursue more costly rotation upgrades this winter, with the goal of pairing those arms with an increasingly encouraging core of position players.
July 12: Though Yankees fans might prefer a different target from the Mets’ rotation, the Bronx Bombers have “recently inquired” into the availability of right-hander Zack Wheeler, according to Marc Carig of The Athletic (via Twitter). While Carig cautions that the contact may mostly be a matter of conducting due diligence, it’s still a notable potential connection between these infrequent trade partners.
The thought long has been that the Yankees would pursue starters, but the level of quality they’ll ultimately end up achieving is still in doubt. Many would argue that the team needs to chase a top-end arm to pair with Luis Severino at the top of its staff in order to take down the rival Red Sox and make a lengthy postseason run.
With no rental arms available that meet that description — unless buyers are fully ready to believe in Nathan Eovaldi, at least — the attention has been on more controllable pitchers. That may suit the Yanks just fine, as they could well end up considering rotation upgrades at season’s end regardless.
That said, the asking prices for the very best assets figure to be astronomical. That’s no doubt the case for Wheeler’s teammate, Jacob deGrom, whose name has already made the rounds in the rumor mill as a crosstown trade candidate. His complete dominance — 1.68 ERA in 123 1/3 innings — and two remaining seasons of arbitration control make deGrom arguably the very top deadline pitching target in the game. Though indications are that the Mets will at least be open-minded, they’ll understandably be holding out for a truly compelling trade package.
Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising to learn that the Yankees are at least taking a closer look at Wheeler. True, Wheeler owns only a modest 4.42 ERA over his 99 2/3 innings on the year. But he’s carrying a solid 8.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 and, more importantly, has shown some other interesting trends.
Wheeler is working at the top of his career velocity levels (96.2 mph average fastball), getting more swings and strikes (11.0%) than ever, and permitting an average exit velocity lower than all but seven other pitchers in baseball. And the results have improved quite a bit of late, coinciding with a rise in Wheeler’s velocity and a steady reduction of his fastball usage in favor of his slider.
The 28-year-old would not necessarily be an instant upgrade to the team’s anticipated playoff rotation, though perhaps there’d be some hope that he’d further establish himself down the stretch. Regardless, there would clearly be value in having him on hand to help a tough AL East battle. And even if he doesn’t currently project to be a postseason ace, Wheeler might be an interesting arm to deploy creatively — say, in a pairing with veteran lefty CC Sabathia, to offer one hypothetical possibility.
There’s added value in Wheeler’s contract rights, though that’s also countered by his spotty health history. He’s earning just $1.9MM this season before qualifying for arbitration a final time this coming offseason. The low cost may also be a factor as the Yankees contemplate other upgrades — including, perhaps, other hurlers — as it’d leave plenty of room left to work with under the luxury tax line.
Reds president of baseball operations and general manager Dick Williams indicated today that his club’s “internal plan” is to boost MLB spending in 2019, as Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
“What we’ve said is that we’ve always tried to put as much of (the payroll) on the field as we can,” said Williams. “We now feel like the last couple of years, we’ve taken a lot of our resources and allocated them into the amateur draft, the international market. We hope that can shift back toward Major League payroll.”
While he did not commit to specifics, Williams certainly indicated that the organization is hoping to build off of some recent positive momentum on the field. He said that the club “believe[s] that we’re creating a good core to invest around.”
Though the Reds remain buried in the NL Central, the club has played much better of late. In addition to receiving solid contributions from much of the lineup, the pitching staff has shown some promise after years of struggles.
Among the organization’s building blocks are several players already signed to long-term deals, including star first baseman Joey Votto, third bagger Eugenio Suarez, and catcher Tucker Barnhart. In addition to some major strides from the bullpen, starters Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano have turned in improved results over the last month or so.
It’s interesting to note, of course, that the Reds remain in an obvious selling position at the trade deadline. That said, starter Matt Harvey is perhaps the team’s only truly marketable pending free agent. And the intended future course could counsel against significant moves involving controllable players, even those who aren’t under club control for the long haul. Second baseman Scooter Gennett, outfielder Billy Hamilton, and veteran relievers Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes, and David Hernandez are among the names that surely have or will come up in trade chatter. But none of those players will qualify for free agency at season’s end, and most of the rest of the roster comes with even lengthier control.
With half of the 2018 season still yet to be played, of course, the plans could still undergo some change. Williams cautioned that “it’s too early to know for sure” just what course the Reds will chart. He noted that “support we get from the fans” will play a role, perhaps hinting at the fact that attendance is down quite a bit in Cincinnati, as Nightengale explains.
The hope and expectation, though, seems to be that there’ll be added funds available for some additions. What types of players might be targeted will surely also be a function of how things shape up over the coming months, though pitching promises to be a focal point. As things stand, though, Williams foresees a “nice increase” in payroll. The club began the present season at just over $100MM after falling shy of that mark in the prior two campaigns. The team’s Opening Day record, of $115MM and change, came in 2015.
The Dodgers are widely rumored to be a major suitor for Orioles star Manny Machado. But they are also looking at multiple other possibilities for improving their lineup, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
Per the report, the Los Angeles organization has not only “stepped up” its efforts to boost its infield mix, but has inquired into at least three specific options beyond Machado. Passan links the Dodgers to the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, the Twins’ Brian Dozier, and the Mets’ Asdrubal Cabrera. And Josh Harrison of the Pirates is also of some interest, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link). (He also notes that the Dodgers are interested in some of Minnesota’s veteran relievers.)
The precise interest level in each of those players isn’t clear. Needless to say, the Dodgers are not limiting themselves to a single option — or, really, even a single type of player. While Machado has spent his entire career on the left side of the infield, the other players now reportedly in the mix could fit in at second base.
Indeed, both Gennett and Dozier have more or less exclusively played at second in the majors. Though the latter did break in as a shortstop, he hasn’t lined up there since 2012. Cabrera has more extensive time at short and third, while Harrison has also played all over. Gennett swings from the left side, Dozier and Harrison the right. Cabrera is a switch-hitter. Both Dozier and Cabrera will be free agents after the season, while Gennett and Harrison can be controlled for one and two additional years, respectively.
This slate of candidates includes quite a lot of MLB experience, of course. All are relatively low-strikeout, contact-oriented hitters. Gennett and Cabrera have outproduced the others offensively this year, but there are other things for the L.A. brass to consider. Dozier has an excellent track record, a history of second-half productivity, and an explanation (.247 BABIP) for some of his woes. Harrison is surely the least-accomplished hitter of the bunch, but adds more value on the bases and in the field.
All things considered, it’s not strictly evident just what the Dodgers are most interested in finding beyond adding a player they like to their infield mix. The team has not received much from Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley, but those two have combined to take the lion’s share of time at second. Adding Machado might well mean bumping Chris Taylor to the other side of the bag, or to the outfield. If that fails, a different addition intended to address second base more directly could instead be pursued.
Of course, it’s somewhat debatable whether this is even an area the Dodgers really ought to be focused, even with Corey Seager gone for the year. Forsythe and Utley haven’t been great, true, but the entire rest of the lineup (excepting backup catcher Austin Barnes) has been excellent. Ensuring there’s a place for Max Muncy’s bat to play is perhaps the more pressing need. Most recently, he has slotted in at second, though perhaps that’s not the club’s ultimate preference. In any event, it seems the L.A. front office is interested not only in maximizing depth, but also in guarding against any downturns in its potent lineup.
- Aroldis Chapman will likely be dealing with his current left knee issue for the rest of the season, Yankees skipper Aaron Boone said before yesterday’s game (link via George A. King III of the New York Post). Chapman has been playing through a minor bout of tedinitis in his left knee and was held out of yesterday’s game even when the Yankees found themselves with a late 2-1 lead. Boone explained that he wanted to stay away from Chapman and Dellin Betances, instead turning to David Robertson to nail down the save. With a doubleheader set for Monday, it makes some sense to give Chapman that extra day of rest. King also notes that the Reds, Rangers and Royals were all among the rebuilding teams scouting the Triple-A tilt between the Yankees and Red Sox’ top affiliates yesterday. Several contending clubs were on hand as well, though, including the Indians, Phillies and D-backs.
Ten teams were reportedly in attendance on Sunday to watch Rays right-hander Nathan Eovaldi pitch in New York, and he didn’t disappoint. Eovaldi delivered seven near-perfect innings against the Mets, striking out nine (against no walks) and allowing one hit. The Yankees, Diamondbacks, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Giants, Reds and Marlins had scouts on hand to witness the performance, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, though he notes that all of them aren’t necessarily interested in Eovaldi. The Yanks and Marlins are already familiar with Eovaldi, who has pitched for both teams in the past. Miami’s not going to buy Eovaldi, though, as it’s well out of contention and he’s a pending free agent. But the Yankees are World Series hopefuls who need a starter, so perhaps they’d consider a reunion with Eovaldi. The 28-year-old has returned from 2016 Tommy John surgery to post a 3.35 ERA with 8.19 K/9, 1.12 BB/9 and a 48.8 percent grounder rate over 48 1/3 innings.
- At 39-50, Cincinnati sits below Pittsburgh in the NL Central. But the two teams have been going in opposite directions in recent months, with the Reds having played respectable ball of late. As a result, they’re not necessarily inclined to sell this summer unless returns are compelling, president Dick Williams told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “Really, almost the whole 25-man roster is controlled beyond this year other than (Matt) Harvey,” Williams said. “That puts us in a good position of not feeling like you have to do anything with guys. You can be opportunistic. We want to have a very successful second half. We believe we’ll have the players here to keep this momentum going.” And even though the Reds have turned things around since firing manager Bryan Price on April 19 and replacing him with interim skipper Jim Riggleman, they’re not ready to hand the reins to Riggleman on a full-time basis, per Williams.
The Reds announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Dilson Herrera from Triple-A Louisville. It’ll mark not only the Reds debut for the 24-year-old, but his first MLB action since a 2015 trial run with the Mets. Left-hander Cody Reed was optioned to Louisville in a corresponding move.
Herrera came to the Reds alongside left-hander Max Wotell (who was released yesterday) in the 2016 trade that sent Jay Bruce to the Mets. While Herrera was once viewed as a premium prospect, shoulder troubles have slowed his development in recent years — to the point where Herrera actually went unclaimed on waivers last year and was outrighted off Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.
So far in 2018, however, Herrera has made great strides in rebuilding his stock. He opened the season at Class-A Advanced as he eased his way back into things following 2017 shoulder surgery but quickly proved ready for a greater challenge, hitting .298/.359/.429 through 21 games in the Florida State League. The Reds then bumped Herrera back up to Triple-A, where he’s batted .297/.367/.465 with seven homers and 10 doubles through 208 plate appearances.
It’s been a long road back to the Majors for Herrera, and while there’s no immediate opening for him to receive everyday at-bats in Cincinnati with Scooter Gennett at second base and Eugenio Suarez at third base, that could change in the coming weeks. Gennett, after all, is a potential trade candidate given that he has just a season and a half remaining until reaching free agency. Herrera could also simply function as a bench piece, spelling both Gennett and Suarez occasionally while serving as a pinch-hitting option late in games. Whatever his role, Herrera will at the very least deepen the Cincinnati bench for the time being as he hopes to play is way into more prominent standing with the organization down the road.
- The Reds’ Rookie-level affiliate announced today that lefty Max Wotell has been released by the organization. The 21-year-old Wotell was traded alongside Dilson Herrera from the Mets to the Reds in exchange for Jay Bruce back in 2016, but his control evaporated immediately upon being dealt to the Reds. At the time of the swap, Wotell had a 3.94 ERA with a respectable 31-to-12 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings in Rookie ball. He walked seven batters in six innings to close out that season with the Reds, and the following year, he walked 14 batters in just 17 1/3 innings between two levels. This season, Wotell had a combined 10.45 ERA with 17 walks against 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings between A-ball and Rookie ball.
- The Yankees are known to be exploring the starting pitching market but Matt Harvey isn’t a big target for the team, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Harvey has recovered a bit of his former value by pitching well over 10 starts for the Reds, though the Yankees are wary of the right-hander due to the “potential circus” of extra media attention that would accompany Harvey’s return to New York.