- With the Twins open to talking about pretty much any veteran on their roster, Sherman adds Kyle Gibson to the list of potential trade chips. Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, seemingly enjoyed a breakout season in 2015 before scuffling the next two years, though he has rebounded for what looks like the best season of his six-year career. The right-hander has a 3.42 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 46.5% grounder rate, and 2.48 K/BB rate through 115 2/3 IP this season. Gibson could garner one of the largest returns of any Twins player in a deal, as he is controlled through the 2019 season via his final year of arbitration.
In a recent podcast with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer suggested he’d only take one-year deals for the remainder of his career (partially due to the high stakes of a bet with a childhood friend). Although that seems radical and somewhat irresponsible on the surface, Eno Sarris dives into the subject in a piece for The Athletic and discovers that maybe the idea isn’t really all that bad. Although Bauer would be giving up a lot of security, he’d likely earn a significant bump in average annual value. Bauer has never had health issues, so in his case the health risks might not be as severe as other players seeking long-term deals to lock up the most total dollars possible. All in all, Sarris comes to the conclusion that the contract strategy could feasibly benefit Bauer in the long run.
Here are some other pitcher-related notes from around baseball…
- The Twins placed righty Aaron Slegers on the disabled list today with shoulder inflammation, and plan to recall rookie Fernando Romero to make a start in his stead. Slegers had a rough go of it in three appearances (two starts) this season, allowing eight earned runs in 12 2/3 innings with just five strikeouts. Romero, on the other hand, has made ten starts this season and turned in a reasonable performance thus far ( 4.38 ERA).
- Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy is rehabbing his knee injury, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, but oddly enough he’s doing it at his home in Arizona with his own physical therapist. Obviously that’s far from the norm at this point in the season, particularly given Atlanta’s status as a contending team in the NL East. McCarthy came to Atlanta in a financially-motivated trade with the Dodgers, but has barely managed to exceed five innings per start in his tenure with the Braves thus far, and has posted an ugly 4.92 ERA.
- Another Rangers prospect has gone down with the dreaded ulnar collateral ligament injury, and will require Tommy John surgery, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. This time, it’s right-hander Kyle Cody, who had been attempting rest and rehab as an alternative to surgery. Cody was shut down for an extended period after experiencing issues during spring training; he’ll now go under the knife and likely be out until the beginning of 2020. The towering 6’7″ hurler was a sixth-round pick of the Rangers back in 2016.
The Rockies recalled Jon Gray tonight to start tonight’s game against the Mariners. Gray’s 5.77 ERA across 17 starts this season seemed like reasonable cause for a demotion, but it always seemed as though he wouldn’t spend too long in the minors. After all, he was striking out 29% of opposing hitters, and by measures of FIP (3.12), xFIP (2.82) and SIERA (3.19), he was having an absolutely fantastic season. As MLBTR’s Connor Byrne mentioned at the time, his .386 BABIP and 63.1% strand rate pointed to a horrific amount of bad luck. In two starts at the Triple-A level, Gray managed to strike out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings while allowing four runs.
In a corresponding move, the Rockies optioned fellow young right-hander Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A. Also a former top prospect, Hoffman hasn’t managed to find his footing in the majors yet, and has allowed more than a run per inning on average while pitching out of the Rockies’ bullpen. He’s also walked more batters than he’s struck out, and spent time on the DL with a shoulder injury.
Here are some notable developments from around MLB…
- The Indians have recalled Francisco Mejia to make a start at DH tonight against the Yankees; it’s his 2018 MLB debut. The young switch-hitter is not only universally believed to be the Tribe’s top prospect, but he’s also considered the best catching prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately for him, he’s been blocked in the majors by a solid defensive tandem of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, both of whom are signed to contracts that stretch a couple of years beyond 2018.
- Another former top prospect, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, can’t seem to catch a break this season. He’s apparently suffered a left wrist strain at Triple-A, and will head to the 7-day minor league disabled list (hat tip to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com). After posting a horrific wRC+ of -3 (yes, negative), Buxton has put up a .219/.288/.356 batting line at Triple-A and will now have to wait at least another week before he has a chance to get on track.
- More from Sherman, who reports that Twins righty Jake Odorizzi is “very available.” The Twins acquired Odorizzi fom the Rays during the winter, when they had designs on a second straight playoff trip, but Minnesota has since struggled to a 43-49 record. Odorizzi hasn’t really been part of the solution, having logged a 4.54 ERA/4.63 FIP through 101 innings, but he is controllable beyond this season. The 28-year-old’s on a $6.3MM salary now and has a season of arbitration eligibility remaining.
With the All-Star break at hand, we may well continue to see more disabled list placements than usual as teams attempt to get players extended rest, with a minimal number of actual games missed, to address minor ailments. Here are the day’s notable placements:
- The Twins added first baseman/DH Logan Morrison to the 10-day DL owing to a left hip impingement. The seriousness of the injury isn’t yet clear, but it surely won’t help Morrison’s trade value — not that there was much likelihood of him being moved by the upcoming non-waiver deadline. He has struggled to a .193/.287/.367 batting line through exactly three hundred plate appearances this year while earning $5.5MM under a deal that includes a $1MM buyout on a 2019 option. Perhaps there’s still a chance that Morrison could be dealt in August if he gets healthy and finds his stroke at the plate. Infielder Ehire Adrianza has been activated from the DL to take the open roster spot.
- Also hitting the shelf is Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, who’ll be replaced by Tzu-Wei Lin. The official cause of the placement for Devers is left shoulder inflammation, though it doesn’t seem there’s much reason to anticipate that he’s at risk of a more significant underlying problem. Still just 21 years of age, Devers has compiled 367 plate appearances of .241/.292/.424 hitting this year. He had been heating up over the month of June but is back in a lull through eight games in July, which perhaps helped motivate the club to give him a rest.
- Unsurprisingly, the Diamondbacks have moved righty Shelby Miller to the DL with inflammation in his pitching elbow. Joining him is reliever T.J. McFarland, who has a strained neck. They’ll be replaced by Matt Koch and Silvino Bracho. There’s still no indication as to the results of Miller’s medical evaluation today.
- The Brewers have been in contact with the Twins about infielders Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com. There’s no indication that talks are serious or have extended beyond preliminary stages, though the Milwaukee middle infield has been a weak point in 2018. Brewers second basemen entered play hitting a combined .248/.299/.376, while their shortstops have batted just .202/.255/.300. Milwaukee has been heavily linked to Manny Machado, of course, but either Minnesota slugger would represent a less expensive option — both in terms of prospect capital and salary. Reports have suggested that the Twins are open to selling off pieces, but the Twins have also won six of their past seven and play in a weak division.
- To that end, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN chatted with Minnesota GM Thad Levine about the team’s deadline strategy (Twitter link, with video). Levine acknowledges that the Twins have received interest on numerous players, which he says is to be expected given the number of expiring contracts on the club. However, he doesn’t definitively state that the Twins will be active sellers on the market. If anything, the Twins may move some short-term pieces while also looking to acquire some big league players controllable beyond the current campaign. Levine concedes that “there’ll be opportunities for [the Twins] to make some deals.” Levine also notes, though, that trading pending free agents only creates new holes to fill. “We have numerous times to try to address some of those holes,” he says. “It’s now at this deadline, and it’s this offseason and it’s next Spring Training. We may try to do some of that across all three platforms so we don’t have to do all of our heavy lifting this offseason.”
4:20pm: An MRI revealed an impingement in Reed’s right elbow, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter links). The Twins don’t believe there to be any structural damage in the elbow, but it’s not clear just when they expect Reed will be recovered and return to the bullpen.
Reed is said to be dealing with right triceps tightness. It’s not clear at this point whether this is a worrying injury for the veteran reliever. He certainly has not been himself of late.
It seemed entering the season that the Twins had done quite nicely to land Reed for only a $16.75MM guarantee over two seasons. And through the month of May, he had more than held up his end of the bargain, despite disappointing overall results for the team.
Since the calendar flipped to June, though, Reed’s numbers are well off their typical levels. In ten outings that month, he allowed nine earned runs and recorded just four strikeouts against four walks. He made two solid appearances to open July but has surrendered four more runs — including a pair of long balls — in his two most recent outings. Along the way, he has exhibited some worrying velocity trends.
That poor run may already have taken Reed out of trade consideration, though his track record is good enough that teams surely would have considered him if he had bounced back. Now, even if Reed is able to return to action before the end of July, he’ll be carrying quite a bit more uncertainty.
The Twins have released backstop Cameron Rupp, per an announcement from the team’s top affiliate. He had been playing at Triple-A Rochester after agreeing to a minor-league deal with the organization.
Rupp had an opt-out opportunity coming up on the 15th, so that may well have been a factor in the timing of the decision. Evidently, the Twins remain content with their current MLB pairing of Mitch Garver and Bobby Wilson. The club also currently features a utility piece in Willians Astudillo who can get behind the dish, though he has yet to do so in the majors.
The 29-year-old Rupp has struggled at the plate since arriving at Rochester. Through 76 plate appearances there, he owns only a .141/.263/.281 slash, though he was swinging the stick much better earlier in the year at Triple-A with the Rangers. Over five MLB campaigns, all with the Phillies, Rupp owns a .234/.298/.407 slash.
The Twins have released and re-signed right-hander Felix Jorge, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to Report (Twitter links). Jorge had recently been designated for assignment.
Typically, of course, a player in this situation — being removed from the 40-man roster for the first time — would simply be outrighted after clearing waivers. As Berardino explains, though, there’s a slight twist and an obscure rule at play here. Because Jorge was on the disabled list upon his DFA, he had to be activated or released.
In any event, the result is the same, as the Twins will hang onto the 24-year-old prospect. That’s a positive for the club. Though Jorge was hit hard in a very brief MLB debut last year and has been out for all of 2018 due to injury, he has long been considered a quality starting pitching prospect.
As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained at some length upon the Twins’ decision to designate Jorge, there has long been hope that Jorge had a future as a back-of-the-rotation starter at the game’s highest level. Last year, at the Double-A level, he put up 134 2/3 innings of 3.54 ERA ball with 6.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, along with a 50.2% groundball rate.
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.