- “There are rumblings that the Brewers will try to flip” Jonathan Schoop after the season, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. If a trade partner can’t be found, Milwaukee might just non-tender Schoop. The middle infielder earned $8.5MM this season and, despite his struggles, will be due a raise in 2019 in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility. Schoop has posted just a .384 OPS over 50 PA this joining the Brewers, and he has only started two of Milwaukee’s last five games. Barring a turn-around, it’s hard to see Schoop generating much interest on the trade front.
- After being designated for assignment by the Indians in the 2016-17 offseason, Jesus Aguilar told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that he considered leaving MLB due to overseas interest. “I even was thinking about Korea and Japan,” Aguilar said. “When they put me on waivers, my agent was talking to me: ’They got people there. They want me there, too.’ ” This career crossroads ended when Aguilar was claimed by the Brewers, and the first baseman blossomed after receiving more playing time, hitting .280/.366/.579 with 29 homers and a league-best 89 RBI over 413 plate appearances this season.
- While Brewers GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell indicated Wednesday that Jimmy Nelson probably won’t pitch this year, the righty said Saturday that he still hopes to return in 2018 (via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com). “I’m still doing everything in my power,” said Nelson, who hasn’t taken a major league mound since Sept. 8, 2017, because of shoulder problems. Nelson’s absence has robbed the Brewers of someone who was seemingly turning into a front-line starter before he went down, but they’ve still managed a 68-56 record and a half-game lead on a wild-card spot without him this season.
We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post …
- The Brewers announced that Alec Asher was outrighted after recently being designated for assignment. That’s the second time this year the Milwaukee organization has sent Asher to Triple-A after he cleared waivers. He can choose instead to go into free agency now or at the end of the season. Asher, 26, has spent most of 2018 at Triple-A, where he owns a 5.42 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 32 walks in 88 innings.
- Likewise, the Yankees say they outrighted veteran righty George Kontos, who was also in DFA limbo. As with Asher, he can elect the open market now or later. Kontos has seen time with three MLB teams this year, most recently making only a single appearance in New York. The eight-year veteran carries a 4.39 ERA with 5.1 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 26 2/3 innings in the majors this season.
Brewers GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell indicated today that righty Jimmy Nelson is unlikely to make it back to the hill for the club this season, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was among those to report (Twitter links: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5).
That conclusion was largely evident from the fact that Nelson had not yet begun a rehab assignment. Stearns acknowledged today what was becoming clear, saying that time is running short. Further comments from Counsell removed any remaining doubt as to the team’s expectations. While neither man would rule out the possibility that Nelson will make a surprising late-season return, it seems there’s not much reason at all to think that’ll take place.
Nelson, 28, turned in a strong 2017 effort before succumbing to a shoulder injury that required surgery. He spun 175 1/3 frames of 3.49 ERA ball with 10.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, and a 50.3% grounder rate. Despite the season-ending procedure, Nelson’s big year allowed him to command a $3.7MM salary in his first trip through arbitration, a sum the Brewers were glad to pay in hopes that he’d be able to return in 2018 and in order to retain their rights over his 2019 and 2020 campaigns. (He’ll surely command the same amount in arbitration this fall.)
Since Nelson underwent shoulder surgery last September, the organization has expressed varying degrees of optimism that he’d at least potentially be ready to return at some point in 2018. There seemed to be quite a bit of promise in the run-up to camp, with a June return presented as a potential target. Unfortunately, his anticipated mound work continued to be pushed back. As recently as late June, Stearns said the team expected Nelson to appear this season, but the final strides have evidently yet to be made.
As Counsell explains, Nelson’s early rehab work increased expectations. Unfortunately, that did not carry forward to a ramped-up timetable. But the skipper says the goal all along was never to get Nelson back on the mound this year so much as it was to get him back to full health at whatever pace the process would allow.
There isn’t any setback to blame for the fact that Nelson likely won’t return to the MLB roster this year, per Counsell. Rather, the club’s top uniformed decisionmaker says, “it’s just that where we are in the schedule, [Nelson is] not going to get [to] pitch in major-league games.” The goal at this point seems to have shifted to putting Nelson “in a competitive situation” before he takes a breather over the offseason. It’s also possible the righty could appear in winter ball or some kind of instructional league, per Stearns.
Observers have long wondered if Nelson’s absence would lead the Brewers to seek a significant rotation upgrade. The organization has foregone any major moves to this point, though, expressing confidence in a unit made up of preexisting internal options and a few modest additions (namely, Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley). Results have been solid thus far, though the starting staff could still represent an area to improve later this month and in the offseason to come. While the team surely maintains hope that Nelson will be ready to go when camp opens next spring, Stearns & co. will have to weigh the ongoing uncertainty in tweaking the roster over the winter.
The Brewers have acquired right-hander Jake Thompson from the Phillies in exchange for cash, the Phillies announced Tuesday. Right-hander Alec Asher has been designated for assignment to open roster space, and the Brewers have optioned Thompson to Triple-A, per an announcement of their own.
Thompson, 24, was once considered to be among the game’s best pitching prospects, entering both the 2015 and 2016 season as a consensus Top 100 prospect. Originally a draft pick of the Tigers, he was traded to the Rangers alongside Corey Knebel in exchange for Joakim Soria and then traded from Texas to Philadelphia in the Cole Hamels blockbuster. In somewhat amusing and ironic fashion, the Brewers now hold all three pieces of that 2014 Tigers/Rangers swap in Knebel, Soria and Thompson.
[Related: Updated Milwaukee Brewers depth chart]
Of course, Thompson hasn’t exactly delivered on his considerable prospect status. He’s tallied 116 1/3 innings at the Major League level across the past three seasons, all with the Phillies, and pitched to a lackluster 4.87 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 1.55 HR/9 and a 46.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Phillies had been using Thompson primarily in a relief role with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, so he could conceivably give Milwaukee some depth either in the rotation or in the bullpen. Thompson has one option year remaining after 2018, so the Brewers will have some flexibility with him in 2019 as well, if he sticks on the 40-man roster for that long.
As if the sequence connecting Knebel, Soria and Thompson wasn’t strange enough, the Brewers are opening room on the roster by designating one of the players alongside whom Thompson was traded from Texas to Philadelphia in that Hamels blockbuster. Both Thompson and Asher went from Texas to Philadelphia in that deal, and Thompson’s addition to the Brewers’ roster will come at the expense of his former teammate.
Asher, 26, has tossed three scoreless innings for the Brewers this season but owns an ugly 5.42 ERA with a 39-to-32 K/BB ratio through 88 innings of Triple-A work between the affiliates for Milwaukee and the Dodgers. That 5.42 mark is a dead match for his career ERA through 119 2/3 Major League innings, the majority of which have come as a member of the Phillies. Milwaukee has a week to trade Asher or try to run him through outright waivers in hopes of retaining him as a non-roster player.
- The Mets are considering Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava and Rays special assistant Bobby Heck as candidates to be their next general manager, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Neither man has been a GM before, though both LaCava and Heck have a wealth of front office experience, particularly in the areas of scouting and player development. LaCava has been with the Blue Jays since 2002, when J.P. Ricciardi (now a Mets special advisor) was Toronto’s GM. Heck has been with the Rays since 2012, following lengthy stints with the Astros and Brewers that saw him play a notable role as both those clubs amassed a strong collection of young talent.
- Brewers right-hander Zach Davies hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 29, owing to shoulder and back problems, and there’s still no timetable for his return, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But Davies’ absence hasn’t been crippling for the Brewers, as Haudricourt writes that they’ve “been satisfied” with the current members of their rotation. Further, after serving as a solid starter from 2016-17 (his first two full seasons), Davies came out of the gates slowly this year with a 5.23 ERA/5.29 FIP in 43 innings.
Joakim Soria suffered a mild right groin strain during the Brewers’ ninth-inning meltdown against the Padres today. Soria walked off the mound with an apparent injury after allowing a go-ahead grand slam to Hunter Renfroe. According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, the malady was later described as a mild right groin strain. There’s no official word on the severity of the injury yet, so it’s not known at this time whether Soria will need to miss any games. The right-hander came over from the White Sox just prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers: left-hander Kodi Medeiros and right-hander Wilber Perez.
Here are a few other small items from around the league this evening…
- Speaking of Renfroe, the Padres outfielder has been on a tear of late. Including tonight’s grand slam off Soria, Renfroe’s slugged four homers in his past four games. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Tribune suggests that Renfroe’s performance could solidify an everyday spot in the lineup even after Wil Myers returns from the disabled list. That’s good news for the 26-year-old in the wake of today’s news that some of the young Padres outfielders are being intensely evaluated, but it’s also worth noting that Franmil Reyes also homered tonight; his third in his past four games. It will be interesting to see how the Padres address their corner outfield logjam this offseason, or if they choose to at all (Reyes and Renfroe both have minor league options remaining and can be stashed at Triple-A).
- The Mariners moved Dee Gordon all the way down to ninth in the batting order in tonight’s game. That’s largely due to the speedster’s incredibly pedestrian offensive performance on the season. He’s hitting .280, but with just a .300 on-base and .343 slugging percentage. The biggest culprit to his lackluster showing is a paltry 1.5% walk rate that’s by far the lowest in the majors and approximately half the size of the next player on that list (Salvador Perez of the Royals). Though the plan right now seems to be for Robinson Cano to usurp some playing time from Ryon Healy when he returns from his suspension, it’s fair to wonder whether Gordon could rest in favor of Cano on occasion down the stretch, if he can’t figure out how to show more patience.
- With his 121.7 MPH homer tonight off Rangers starter Ariel Jurado, Giancarlo Stanton broke a Statcast record. The Yankees’ headline offseason acquisition drilled the ball at a launch angle of 17 degrees, propelling it an estimated 449 feet. It’s officially the hardest-hit homer that Statcast has ever tracked. It’s part of a larger trend for Stanton, who has heated up after a somewhat average start to the season. The right-hander’s .308/.363/.561 batting line since the start of June is much more in line with what the Bombers had imagined when they took on the lion’s share of his contract from the Marlins this offseason.
- The Brewers were “thought to be” vying for then-Tigers right-hander Mike Fiers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Fiers didn’t end up going to the the Brewers or any other team that day; instead, he ultimately headed to Oakland, which Fenech notes was the only team competing with Milwaukee for his services at the deadline, in a deal on Monday. Had he gone to the Brewers, it would have represented a homecoming of sorts for the 33-year-old Fiers, whom Milwaukee drafted in the 22nd round in 2009 and who later pitched with the team from 2011-15.
A trio of pitchers have hit the disabled list this afternoon… here are the details.
- The Braves have placed Max Fried on the DL with a left groin strain, the club announced. It’s a notable loss for a pennant-chasing Atlanta club, as Fried’s been excellent in four starts (nine total appearances) so far this season. Despite walking a whopping 16 batters in just 26 2/3 innings, Fried’s managed to post a tidy 3.38 ERA thanks in part to 34 strikeouts and a 50.8% ground ball rate. He’s benefitted from an 80.5% strand rate, but his whopping 23.1% HR/FB rate suggests a bit of bad luck in that department. Fried’s injury suggest that Atlanta will likely return to a traditional five-man rotation for the time being, utilizing Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Anibal Sanchez and the newly-acquired Kevin Gausman.
- Simultaneously, the Braves have lost a valuable righty reliever to the DL in the form of Shane Carle (shoulder inflammation). Carle’s been fantastic out of the bullpen this season, posting a 2.53 ERA across 53 1/3 innings. The righty’s been used for four or more outs a whopping 14 times in 2018, so the club will surely miss his ability to eat late innings for the time being. In the absence of Fried and Carle, the Braves have recalled lefty Adam McCreery and righty Wes Parsons from Triple-A Gwinett.
- The Brewers have unsurprisingly added righty reliever Matt Albers to their disabled list, owing to a left hamstring issue. It’s been clear that something isn’t right with the 35-year-old veteran, as he’s allowed a cataclysmic 18 earned runs across his past eight appearances spanning 5 1/3 innings dating back to the start of June. In the season’s first two months, though, Albers had allowed just three earned runs across 25 innings; the club will hope to get him right in time for him to make an impact out of their ’pen down the stretch. Recently-acquired right-hander Jordan Lyles will take Albers’ place on the active roster for the time being.
Biasi, 22, has only been a professional ballplayer for about a year; he was selected by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2017 draft. Though he managed ERA outputs below 2.50 at each of his first two stops throughout the minors, there was cause for skepticism based on his FIP figures (both above 4.00). Biasi hasn’t had the good fortune of out-pitching his peripherals at the A level; he’s been hit hard to the tune of a 5.08 ERA despite a 9.70 K/9 across 42 2/3 innings pitched so far on the season. Biasi’s pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, making 27 appearances.
Perrin, 25, is a towering 6’5″ righty who’s split the 2018 season between the Brew Crew’s Double-A and Triple-A levels. He’s chucked 47 1/3 innings thus far across 28 appearances (one start), and allowed 20 earned runs while notching 44 strikeouts against 20 walks. Despite that gaudy walk total, Perrin’s actually exhibited great control at previous levels of the minors. He’s never known any team other than the Brewers, who selected him in the 27th round of the 2015 draft.
Neither player is on the club’s 40-man roster, so this swap isn’t subject to the limitations beyond the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. However, it’s not outlandish to think that the teams made this trade with major-league roster ideas in mind. Perrin, after all, has proven capable of limiting runs at the minors’ highest level, and the Kansas City bullpen isn’t exactly overflowing with high-end talent. Perhaps we’ll see Perrin get a look in the majors at some point down the stretch, though that’s obviously no certainty. For the Brewers, they’ll get something back for a player who’d have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft in the offseason to come.