Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-18T21:24:41Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Josh Donaldson]]> 2018-09-15T06:46:09Z 2018-09-15T06:46:09Z Josh Donaldson’s difficult season and recent trade have prompted plenty of looks in the rearview mirror to imagine what might have been. Now with the Indians for the tail end of an injury-plagued year, the veteran third bagger could instead have inked a long-term deal to stay in Toronto or been shipped elsewhere.

Multiple organizations reputedly sought to acquire Donaldson from the Blue Jays before the start of the season. Reports at the time pegged the Cardinals as a major pursuer, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today now reports on Twitter that the club was indeed serious about landing Donaldson. While he had only one year of contract control remaining, and a hefty $23MM salary, the St. Louis organization was evidently not shy about giving up significant talent to make a deal.

Indeed, per the report, the Cards offered up a two-player package that included young righty Jack Flaherty — the same hurler who might well be cruising to a National League Rookie-of-the-Year award were it not for the brilliance of two historic young hitters. Flaherty’s ongoing ability to suppress base hits — he’s allowing only a .248 BABIP — may reasonably be questioned. But his 132 1/3-inning showing (to this point) has been amply impressive even if it comes with some batted-ball fortune.

Unquestionably, the Jays would take a do-over on their decision not to accept that offer. But that’s based as much or more on the ensuing injuries to Donaldson as it is Flahrty’s emergence. And if we’re going to consider what-if’s, there’s another entire scenario that also could have occurred. In this case, the outcomes favor the Toronto ballclub.

It has long been known that the Blue Jays explored the possibility of an extension with Donaldson in advance of the 2018 season. Details, though, have not only been slow to emerge, but have come with no small amount of controversy.

Today, Jon Heyman of Fancred fired the latest shot in an ongoing back-and-forth with Donaldson’s agents regarding pre-2018 extension talks with the Blue Jays. Heyman argues that “the Jays and the Donaldson camp knew exactly where they stood” in terms of contract price last spring, citing some of the player’s own comments to support his reporting. And, he insists, the Blue Jays made clear they’d be willing to pay something at or over the three-year, $75MM level to make a deal, if not a bit more.

In Heyman’s telling, the Donaldson camp found that level insufficient — which, as Heyman notes, would certainly have been a fair position to take given Donaldson’s outstanding level of play in the preceding campaigns. The recently stated position of agent Dan Lozano, however, is that “the team never extended an offer” and that “no years or dollars were ever specifically discussed.”

Those interested in the topic will want to read all the materials and reach their own conclusions. Broadly, the post mortem on the end of Donaldson’s tenure in Toronto is interesting for a variety of reasons. But it’s clearly also not a subject that necessarily needs to feature winners and losers. Certainly, there was no known reason to think that Donaldson was headed for such a calamitous season — either for the Blue Jays or the player’s reps. Historians may debate the facts, but they won’t likely dispute that the player was warranted in seeking a massive payday and that the club was justified in demanding a big return via trade.

In any event, for the Indians the focus now is solely on what Donaldson can do on the field. He broke through with a home run today, a promising sign for the club as it seeks to get him up to full speed in advance of the postseason. When the season ends, the veteran will be able to choose his next uniform for himself.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Indians To Activate Josh Donaldson]]> 2018-09-10T21:46:19Z 2018-09-10T21:46:19Z The Indians announced their plans regarding recently acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson today, as’s Jordan Bastian was among those to cover (Twitter link). He’ll return to the active roster tomorrow and make his debut with his new new organization.

Donaldson, of course, has missed much of the season and only began a rehab assignment for a calf injury in late August. The Indians nevertheless struck a deal to acquire him from the Blue Jays just before the deadline to add postseason-eligible players from outside the organization. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the DL for some additional rehab work, a delicate dance that had some other organizations expressing skepticism.

The 32-year-old Donaldson is a pure rental piece for the Cleveland organization, which has already stamped its ticket to the postseason as a practical matter. In other words, the entirety of the transaction was about getting Donaldson up to full speed by the time the calendar flips to October.

As it turns out, the veteran third baseman with have an 18-game stretch of major-league playing time before he’s tasked with performing under the game’s brightest lights. The immediate plan is to put him in the lineup on Tuesday and then give him a bench spot the next game before bringing him back to the starting lineup on Friday. How things go from there remains to be seen.

Unsurprisingly, the Indians also say they’ll use Donaldson at his accustomed hot corner. That means that star Jose Ramirez will move to second base, bumping Jason Kipnis into the center field mix. The expectation, per Francona, is that this will be a permanent positional shift (at least, that is, for the remainder of the season).

It all seems to be lining up nicely for the Indians, who may well have added a superstar-level performer to their lineup at a relative pittance of a price. Of course, that assumes that the fiery veteran is able not only to stay healthy but also to return to his once-lofty performance levels, which had trended down somewhat earlier in the year. He has certainly given every sign of life possible in his brief minor-league action. In 15 rehab plate appearances, Donaldson is hitting a cool .417/.533/.917 with two dingers, three walks, and nary a strikeout.

In other news out of Cleveland, righty Trevor Bauer — another key rehabbing player — may be ready to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. (Also via Bastian, on Twitter.) That could put him on track to be ready to go by the time the postseason gets underway, in a relief role at least, but it’s still a tight window.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Indians Activate Andrew Miller]]> 2018-09-10T19:18:27Z 2018-09-10T19:17:01Z Sept. 10: The Indians announced that Miller has indeed been activated from the disabled list.

Sept. 9: The Indians are planning to activate left-hander Andrew Miller from the 10-day DL on Monday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Twitter link).  This would make it slightly beyond a minimum stint for Miller, who originally hit the DL on August 29 due to an external impingement in his throwing shoulder.

Of course, this is also Miller’s third trip to the disabled list this season, as the southpaw has been limited to just 27 appearances (24 innings) due to previous absences dealing with hamstring and knee problems.  The knee inflammation was a particularly large issue, costing Miller over two months of the season.  It’s safe to say that these injury problems are a reason behind Miller’s numbers, as the reliever hasn’t quite been his usual dominant self, though most pitchers would be more than satisfied with a 3.38 ERA, 2.54 K/BB rate, and 12.4 K/BB.

A fully healthy and in-form Miller, however, is arguably the most dominant bullpen weapon in all of baseball, particularly given his ability to pitch multiple innings.  As the 2016 playoffs demonstrated, Miller can be an enormous force in a postseason series, so his return will be a huge boost to a Cleveland team that has been lacking in bullpen consistency all season.  (Though the Tribe’s relief numbers have improved lately, thanks to Oliver Perez’s continued late-career resurgence, and the acquisition of Brad Hand.)  A strong showing over the season’s last few weeks and into October would also go a long way to rebuilding Miller’s free agent value, as the 33-year-old hits the open market this winter.

Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Poll: Grading the Josh Donaldson Trade]]> 2018-09-09T21:26:23Z 2018-09-09T21:21:04Z Perhaps the most significant trade that took place on the day of the August postseason eligibility trade deadline was the one that sent Josh Donaldson to the Indians. The former AL MVP has endured an injury-plagued season owing to his shoulder and calf, but made it back to the field on a rehab assignment just in time to be put through trade waivers and ultimately sent to Cleveland in exchange for salary relief and a player to be named later.

At the beginning of the 2018 season, it would have seemed unfathomable that the Jays would get so little value as a result of Donaldson’s departure. Few expected them to seriously contend amidst a division that features the Red Sox and Yankees, but if they had been competitive enough to keep Donaldson through season’s end, most would have bet heavily on an outcome in which he’d receive and reject a qualifying offer. That would have netted the Jays a first-round pick had he signed for $50MM or more elsewhere, a scenario that the majority of baseball enthusiasts also would have put money on. And certainly if you’d have told a pundit back in March that Toronto would fall out of competition by late July, they’d have been wondering which team gave up a top prospect in order to acquire him ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline.

The actual outcome was an awful bout of bad fortune for both Donaldson and the Jays, of course. He only stayed on the field enough to accrue 159 plate appearances, and his performance was inconsistent with his track record. Most readers of MLBTR will by now recognize .234/.333/.423 as Donaldson’s batting line so far in 2018, a far cry from the numbers he’d previously put up over the course of his tenure in Canada.

In no small part due to those factors, the receipt of a qualifying offer that once seemed a foregone conclusion for the 33-year-old became a decision clouded with doubt across the industry. The club certainly faced serious risk had they kept the slugger. A full return to form would have made it worth issuing him a one-year contract approaching $20MM, but a poor or even average performance would have forced the Blue Jays with a difficult choice: let their star third baseman walk for nothing or make him an exorbitant offer and thereby risk both a payroll albatross and 2019 roster crunch involving Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Evidently, the Jays decided that the Tribe’s offer to pay $1.3MM of his remaining salary and fork over a young player presented a better alternative to taking such a risk. Reportedly, they’ll receive right-hander Julian Merryweather, who ranked as the club’s 15th-best prospect headed into the season prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery. One could certainly argue that Merryweather holds more upside and less risk than a late-first-round pick in next year’s draft, but his recent injury would make that a tough sell.

For that reason, some fans and reporters have chided the Jays for “giving Donaldson away”. That’s not literally the case, as anyone who wanted the three-time All-Star could have simply claimed him on waivers; all 29 rival teams opted to pass on that front). Still, one could look at the scenario as Toronto paying the Indians over $2MM to take Donaldson off their hands (though they’d have to assume that Merryweather has no value).

On the other hand, it’s perhaps a positive thing that the Jays were able to get Donaldson back on the field in time to reap any value at all from him. Though he’s absolutely raked during his rehab assignment in Cleveland, Toronto could have very easily watched Donaldson re-injure himself and thus been criticized by some fans for keeping him through September.

What do you think? How do you rate this trade from the Blue Jays’ perspective? (Poll link for app users)

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[AL Rivals Have Questions About Donaldson Trade]]> 2018-09-09T18:36:35Z 2018-09-09T16:46:23Z
  • Several teams, including contenders in the American League, contacted the league office in regards to the Josh Donaldson trade “either to express their dismay with the circumstances of the deal or seek clarification on why baseball allowed it,” The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required).  The particular issue was Donaldson’s uncertain health status and the timing of his activation from the disabled list as a Blue Jay and his latest DL placement after joining the Indians, without any return to the field in between.  Prior to the deal, teams interested in Donaldson were issued a “buyer beware” warning by the league about his possible injured status, which stemmed from concerns Donaldson himself had about his bothersome calf, which he expressed to the MLBPA (via his agent).  After the union passed these concerns onto the league, Rosenthal reports that MLBPA officials also wondered how the trade was completed.  Donaldson’s worries, however, were alleviated after speaking to the Tribe on August 31, as Cleveland was given permission by the league to speak to the player once the general framework of the trade had been settled.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Could Activate Josh Donaldson On Tuesday]]> 2018-09-08T18:52:13Z 2018-09-08T18:51:08Z Injured third baseman Josh Donaldson appears to be closing in on his Cleveland debut. If all goes well for Donaldson over the next few days, expectations are that the Indians will activate him from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday, Paul Hoynes of reports. In the meantime, the plan is for Donaldson to play third at the Double-A level on Saturday and then go through a workout prior to the Indians’ series in Tampa Bay, which begins Monday.

    Not only has a calf strain kept Donaldson off a major league diamond since May 28, but it has prevented him from garnering much rehab work in minor league games. He has only totaled 15 minor league plate appearances this year, three of which have come with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate.

    Because Donaldson has barely seen the field over the past three-plus months, his trade value prior to the non-waiver deadline in July and the waiver version in August significantly diminished. As a result, the Blue Jays nearly ended up retaining Donaldson through the season but ultimately dealt the former MVP (and cash considerations) right before last month’s deadline. Toronto parted with Donaldson for a player to be named later – reportedly Indians minor league right-hander Julian Merryweather – in lieu of keeping the pending free agent and issuing him a qualifying offer in the offseason.

    If he’s able to avoid a setback in the coming days and return to the field for Cleveland, it’s anyone’s guess what Donaldson will provide the soon-to-be AL Central champions. The 32-year-old was a superstar-caliber player from 2013-17, but along with his injury woes this season, he has dealt with a decline in production. Donaldson has batted an unspectacular .234/.333/.423 in 2018, though that output has come over a small sample of 158 plate appearances.

    The Indians are left to hope the previous version of Donaldson will reappear over the next several weeks, and if he’s healthy enough to stay in their lineup, third baseman/MVP candidate Jose Ramirez will shift to second base and second baseman Jason Kipnis will move to the outfield. And Donaldson, in addition to trying to help the Indians win a World Series, will attempt to up his stock as a trip to the open market looms.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Andrew Miller Optimistic Of Return]]> 2018-09-07T05:01:45Z 2018-09-07T04:06:40Z
  • There’s good news for the Indians on the progress of southpaw Andrew Miller, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. The key reliever says he’s feeling good after a well-placed cortisone shot to his shoulder. That has given all involved some optimism that he’ll not only return late in the season, but will hit the ground running in time to prepare for the postseason. As Miller puts it: “I do feel it’s all in line right now and we’re getting ready to take off.” Of course, Miller’s showing the rest of the way will also be a major factor in deciding the outcome of his forthcoming trip onto the open market.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 9/5/18]]> 2018-09-06T02:04:22Z 2018-09-06T02:03:41Z We’ll track Wednesday’s moves from around the league here…

    • After recently being designated for assignment, lefty Danny Coulombe was outrighted today by the Athletics. The 28-year-old has generated 9.9 K/9 on the year, while generating a strong 13.5% swinging-strike rate, but has also allowed 4.2 walks and 1.9 home runs per nine innings. He has surrendered a dozen earned runs in his 23 2/3 frames, but the more concerning number is the batting line posted this year by opposing southpaw hitters: .317/.364/.512.

    Earlier Moves

    • The Mariners announced that right-hander Rob Whalen has been outrighted off the 40-man roster following his DFA on Saturday. The 24-year-old tossed four shutout innings for the Mariners this season but carries an ugly 5.16 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 0.45 HR/9 in 99 1/3 innings with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. The former Mets/Braves farmhand has a career 5.75 ERA in 36 big league innings.
    • The Phillies announced that infielder Jesmuel Valentin has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment and been sent outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 24-year-old switch-hitter managed just a .177/.258/.304 slash through 89 plate appearances in the Majors this season and turned in a fairly underwhelming .240/.346/.341 slash in Triple-A prior to being removed from the 40-man roster. Valentin’s bat has wilted as he’s climbed the minor league ranks and faced more advanced competition, and he’s not considered a strong enough defender up the middle to be a glove-first utility option.
    • Right-hander Evan Marshall has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus by the Indians, the team announced. Marshall threw well in 24 Triple-A innings this season (1.13 ERA, 21-to-3 K/BB ratio, 66.2 percent grounder rate) and picked up nine punchouts with a 56.5 percent ground-ball rate in the big league ’pen. He missed time earlier in the year with a right elbow issue, though, and has been hampered by numerous other issues in the past — most notably a terrifying, near-fatal skull fracture suffered in 2015 when he was struck in the head by a line-drive comebacker while pitching for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. If he doesn’t return to the Majors this season, the 28-year-old should find plenty of interest as a minor league free agent over the winter, given his strong showing in Triple-A and a lengthy track record of inducing grounders (55.9 percent in 92 2/3 MLB innings) and missing bats (career 12.5 percent swinging-strike rate).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Will Reportedly Acquire Julian Merryweather As PTBNL In Josh Donaldson Trade]]> 2018-09-05T03:04:31Z 2018-09-05T03:04:31Z The Blue Jays will acquire right-hander Julian Merryweather as the player to be named later in the Josh Donaldson trade, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman. Paul Hoynes of tweeted at the time of the deal that Merryweather “was rumored” to eventually be Toronto-bound, while Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweeted more recently that Merryweather “is expected” to eventually be announced as the PTBNL.

    An official announcement doesn’t seem likely to happen until after the season. The 26-year-old Merryweather underwent Tommy John surgery during Spring Training and has spent the season on the minor league disabled list. Because he’s not healthy enough to begin a rehab assignment, he won’t be passed through waivers before the end of the season, so it seems that a formal announcement could yet be more than a month away.

    Prior to the 2018 season, Baseball America ranked Merryweather 17th among Indians farmhands, praising a fastball that reaches 97 mph with regularity, an above-average but inconsistent changeup and another pair of potentially average breaking pitches (slider, curve).

    Merryweather breezed through Double-A last year as a 25-year-old, pitching to a 3.38 ERA with a 52-to-10 K/BB ratio and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate in 50 2/3 innings. He was too homer-prone in a later stint at Triple-A, leading to a 6.58 ERA, but his K/BB numbers and ground-ball tendencies remained strong. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote shortly after his promotion to Triple-A last year that both his changeup and curveball could be plus offerings, calling Merryweather a potential mid-rotation starter.

    While the Blue Jays will assuredly exercise caution when working Merryweather back from Tommy John surgery next spring, he’ll give the team an arm that could help either in the bullpen or in the rotation as soon as next summer. And, because Merryweather didn’t spent the 2018 season on the Major League disabled list, he didn’t accrue any MLB service time and will thus remain controllable through at least the 2024 season — if not the 2025 campaign.

    That proximity to the Majors, it seems, was enough for the Jays to deem Merryweather a more appealing and more valuable piece than the draft pick they’d have received upon extending a qualifying offer to Donaldson and allowing him to test free agency. (Indeed, GM Ross Atkins told Sportsnet’s Arash Madani that the PTBNL is someone the organization considers to be an “exciting upper-level talent.”) It’s also possible, perhaps even likely, that the team simply didn’t feel comfortable making that type of offer to Donaldson on the heels of his injury-ruined season — especially with wunderkind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. waiting in the wings to hold down third base for the foreseeable future.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Select Brandon Barnes, Adam Rosales]]> 2018-09-04T21:49:56Z 2018-09-04T21:49:56Z The Indians announced that they’ve selected the contracts of outfielder Brandon Barnes and infielder Adam Rosales from Triple-A Columbus. To open roster space for the pair of veterans, outfielder Tyler Naquin and right-hander James Hoyt were placed on the 60-day DL. (Hoyt was first recalled from Triple-A before that move to the big league DL.)

    Barnes, 32, hasn’t been in the Majors since a 2016 run with the Rockies but has enjoyed a very nice season in Triple-A, making the International League All-Star team and hitting .273/.347/.444 with 14 homers and 19 steals through 566 plate appearances.

    Barnes has never hit much in the Majors but, at his best, was capable of providing significant value at all three outfield spots and on the basepaths. He’ll add another name to the Indians’ piecemeal approach to patching over an injury-ravaged outfield mix that also features Melky Cabrera, Greg Allen, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer and Michael Brantley (with Jason Kipnis potentially headed there as well once Josh Donaldson is healthy).

    Rosales, 35, has now appeared in the Majors in each season since 2008, though he’s never topped last season’s total of 312 plate appearances. He’s a career .227/.292/.365 hitter who has played all four infield positions and both outfield corners. Like Barnes, he’s a right-handed bat, and while he’s had more success against lefties throughout his career, Rosales’ year-to-year results have been highly inconsistent. He batted .239/.313/.445 with 18 homers and roughly even platoon splits in 428 Triple-A plate appearances this season.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Indians Place Josh Donaldson On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-09-03T16:24:24Z 2018-09-03T16:13:43Z 11:13am: The Indians have announced the move. Donaldson will begin a rehab stint with Triple-A Columbus on Monday.

    10:35am: The Indians are planning to place just-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson on the 10-day disabled list, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The move, which is retroactive to Sept. 1, will enable the injured Donaldson to go on a rehab assignment as he continues working his way back from a strained calf.

    Cleveland landed Donaldson in a trade with Toronto last week, though the Tribe knew then that it was unclear when Donaldson would be able to make an impact at the major league level. Donaldson’s calf injury has kept him off a big league diamond since the end of May, and as Rosenthal notes, he has only played 11 minor league innings over the past three months. Nevertheless, the Indians were confident enough in Donaldson’s health to take a gamble on the former MVP at the waiver trade deadline.

    The Indians are paying Donaldson just $1.3MM of his remaining $4MM salary. Aside from that money, adding Donaldson will only cost the Indians a player to be named later, albeit one “with some value,” as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported at the time of the deal. The hope for Cleveland is that it’ll catch lightning in a bottle with Donaldson, who was an elite player from 2013-17, as it heads toward the playoffs.

    Assuming Donaldson does return to the majors this year, he’ll bump AL MVP candidate Jose Ramirez from third to second, thus sending second baseman Jason Kipnis to the outfield. In the process, Donaldson will try to rebuild some of his stock as he nears a trip to free agency in the offseason, when he won’t be saddled with a qualifying offer.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reactions To Josh Donaldson Trade]]> 2018-09-02T19:56:56Z 2018-09-02T19:54:32Z It’s expected that Indians right-hander Julian Merryweather will be the player they eventually send to the Blue Jays to complete this week’s Josh Donaldson trade, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports. There’s plenty of time for a resolution here, as the sides have until Jan. 30, 2019, to determine the PTBNL. If it proves to be Merryweather, Toronto will be getting a soon-to-be 27-year-old who does not rank among the Indians’ top 30 prospects at right now – likely because he underwent Tommy John surgery in March and hasn’t pitched this season. Merryweather did rank as the Tribe’s 16th-best farmhand at after last season.

    • Like Merryweather, Donaldson has endured an injury-ravaged 2018. Calf problems have kept the third baseman out since the end of May, and Indians president Chris Antonetti said Sunday that it remains unclear when he’ll debut with his new team (via Davidi). It’s possible the Indians will place Donaldson back on the 10-day disabled list and have him join one of their minor league affiliates for a rehab assignment, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says (video link). Meanwhile, they’ll prepare third baseman Jose Ramirez to play second base and second baseman Jason Kipnis to head to the outfield. Ramirez – who’s having an MVP-caliber season – does not want to constantly toggle between second and third, per Rosenthal, so Cleveland will have to be certain Donaldson’s healthy before inserting him into its lineup.
    • The Blue Jays didn’t commit to trading Donaldson until “late in the day” on Aug. 31, the waiver deadline, general manager Ross Atkins tells Arash Madani of Sportsnet (video link). Asked why the Jays didn’t simply keep Donaldson and issue the pending free agent an ~$18MM qualifying offer after the season, Atkins suggested the player they’ll receive for him is more useful than the pick they’d have gotten had Donaldson rejected the QO. Atkins believes the player’s “an exciting upper-level talent” who will have a near-future impact in the majors.
    • Donaldson grew into a leader as a Blue Jay and wanted to sign a long-term pact with the team, but the feeling wasn’t necessarily mutual, John Lott of The Athletic explains (subscription required). While Donaldson and the Jays discussed an extension last offseason, the team’s offer was “significantly” lower than Donaldson’s asking price – particularly with respect to contract length – Lott reports. Still, despite whatever issues he may have had with the franchise, Donaldson didn’t want to be traded, according to Lott.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Heyman: Indians Were Main Players For Bryce Harper At Non-Waiver Deadline]]> 2018-09-02T18:57:10Z 2018-09-02T18:57:10Z
  • The Indians were the most aggressive pursuers of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper at the non-waiver trade deadline in July, according to Heyman. However, the Indians were unwilling to trade high-end pitching prospect Triston McKenzie for Harper – who’ll be a free agent at season’s end – and general manager Mike Rizzo didn’t want to deal Harper anyhow. Expectations are that the Rizzo-led Nats will do their best to re-sign Harper, Heyman suggests.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[September Call-Ups: 9/1/18]]> 2018-09-01T22:38:55Z 2018-09-01T21:24:34Z 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
    • 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.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Indians Designate Evan Marshall]]> 2018-09-01T19:22:46Z 2018-09-01T19:22:46Z Amidst a flurry of September 1st moves, the Indians announced that they’ve opted to designated right-hander Evan Marshall for assignment in order to make room for fellow righty Jon Edwards, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Columbus.

    Marshall, 28, was part of the Tribe’s infamous early-season bullpen shuffle as the club sorted through a host of relievers in order to find some semblance of stability in a bullpen that was then one of the worst in baseball. Of course, Marshall was more a part of the problem than he was a part of the solution for the Indians, as he allowed six earned runs in seven innings for the MLB club. He also walked a quartet of hitters during that time.

    There was a reason the Cleveland organization gave him a look, though. His track record at Triple-A was nearly flawless; Marshall posted a sparkling 2.51 FIP across 24 innings with the Columbus Clippers, with an ERA that came out to less than half that figure. However, they apparently didn’t feel it would be worth the opportunity to allow him to sort things out in the majors during September, and he’ll now be available for another club to take a chance on as active roster allotments expand to 40.