- Tampa Bay pulled off a surprise trade Friday when it sent reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to Seattle, and that won’t be be the end of the Rays’ moves, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times suggests. With Colome and Span gone, Topkin names Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, C.J. Cron, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Brad Miller, Sergio Romo, Matt Duffy, Chaz Roe, Nathan Eovaldi and Jonny Venters as candidates to wind up in other uniforms.
- Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski has drawn trade interest, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reported before the Mariners-Rays swap. It seems the Mariners tried for Jankowski prior to landing Span, but according to Divish, the Padres didn’t show much interest in the M’s low-ranked farm system. Known mostly for his speed and defense, the 26-year-old Jankowski has gotten off to a .313/.382/.400 start at the plate in 89 attempts this season. He’s controllable through the 2021 season.
Rays outfielder Carlos Gomez has been activated from the 10-day disabled list; he’d been sidelined since May 16th with a strained groin. The injury was thought to be minor at the time, and the fact that Gomez missed only the ten-day minimum leaves little room to doubt his health at this time. That doesn’t mean his performance comes without questions, though, as the veteran is slashing just .200/.252/.345 on the season. No corresponding move was required for Tampa Bay, as their roster was two men short following yesterday’s surprising trade with Seattle.
And now a flurry of other injury-related items from around the league…
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that Anibal Sanchez could be the Braves’ starter on Tuesday following a successful rehab start on Friday. Mark Bowman of MLB.com takes it a step further by quoting manager Brian Snitker, who reportedly said that Sanchez is indeed penciled in to start Tuesday’s game. Sanchez has a 1.29 ERA in three appearances (two starts) on the season.
- Adam Berry of MLB.com writes that Starling Marte will be activated from the DL by the Pirates today if he reports to the ballpark feeling ready to play. It’d be a remarkably quick return for the 29-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined with an oblique injury. Injuries of that type have a reputation for lingering and causing players to miss extended time. One has to wonder what Marte’s potential activation would mean for the red-hot Austin Meadows, who’s managed more homers in the big leagues thus far (3) than strikeouts (2).
- The Yankees have reinstated first baseman Greg Bird from the disabled list, optioning infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Marc Carig of The Athletic notes that the move makes plenty of sense considering the versatility of Gleyber Torres and the fact that a removal of Neil Walker from the roster isn’t reversible. Bird entered the season with plenty of hype surrounding him, but has yet to make his 2018 debut thanks to right foot surgery.
- In a move that was widely expected, the Marlins placed Martin Prado (hamstring) on the 10-day DL today, recalling J.T. Riddle from Triple-A to take his place on the roster. It’s the latest in an unfortunate series of injuries for the formerly-durable Prado, who made only 147 trips to the plate last year following eight straight seasons with at least 500 PA.
It seems that Marlins infielder Martin Prado has suffered a rather significant left hamstring injury, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. The 34-year-old has endured a run of significant problems with his hamstring muscles in the past year or so. Details aren’t yet known, but it certainly sounds as if Prado will be sidelined for a lengthy stretch. He’s owed $13.5MM this year and $15MM for the 2019 campaign. The long-productive infielder has struggled to a .169/.221/.180 batting line in 95 plate appearances on the season.
Here’s more on the injury front:
- The Nationals finally got some promising injury news, as they’ll send both Daniel Murphy and Brian Goodwin on rehab assignments beginning tomorrow. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted the news with regard to the former; Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweeted manager Davey Martinez’s announcement on both players. Murphy has yet to appear in the 2018 campaign after offseason microfracture surgery, while Goodwin has been slow to return from a wrist injury.
- It’s still unclear just how long the Cardinals will go without shortstop Paul DeJong, but he says he has been given a four-to-eight week estimate by the medical professionals, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. More than anything, it seems that broad range indicates that there’s not a lot of clarity at this point as to how long it’ll take to heal. All involved will obviously hope that it hues toward the earlier estimate, as the replacement options all have their warts as semi-regular shortstops.
- It seems the Athletics will go without reliever Santiago Casilla for a stretch. He has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports (Twitter links). Details of his anticipated absence are not yet available, but it’s said to be likely that Casilla will end up on the DL. At the same time, he says he does not believe it’s a serious malady. The veteran entered play today with an ugly 14:13 K/BB ratio, but had allowed eight runs on only 11 hits in his 21 innings of action.
- Though he seemingly avoided a more concerning fate, Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo will likely head to the DL to rest his ailing right knee, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com was among those to report (Twitter links). Trumbo was diagnosed with a fairly significant case of arthritis, which won’t necessarily put him on the shelf for long but also probably isn’t the best news for a defensively limited player who’s owed $12.5MM this year and $13.5MM next. He has been productive thus far in 2018, though, with a .309/.317/.469 slash through 82 plate appearances. On the other hand, it’s somewhat worrisome that he has managed only a pair of home runs and a single walk in that span.
- In other AL East news … so long as there are no surprises in the interim, Nate Eovaldi will finally start for the Rays on Tuesday, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Yankees announced that reliever Tommy Kahnle is back from the DL, which represents a promising development given the uncertainty that surrounded him when he went on the shelf. And while the Blue Jays still aren’t planning on a near-term return from Troy Tulowitzki, skipper John Gibbons says the veteran shortstop is at least ready to begin running, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets.
- While the Padres had hoped to welcome back catcher Austin Hedges in relatively short order, he’s now halting his rehab after his problematic right elbow flared up, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell writes. It still seems there’s little reason to fear that Hedges is dealing with a real structural problem, though surely it’s frustrating for the organization that he hasn’t yet fully turned the corner.
- Meanwhile, the Angels provided an update on hurler Matt Shoemaker, though it mostly suggests ongoing uncertainty with regard to the root of his arm issues. As the club announced, and MLB.com’s Maria Guardado tweets, the latest examination “ruled out peripheral nerve involvement” but “showed mild edema in the forearm.” Shoemaker is also said to have undergone a bone scan. The results of that weren’t specifically cited, but it seems to suggest that the organization is looking at quite a lot of possibilities to figure out what’s really causing problems for the starter.
7:24pm: The Mariners will receive $4.75MM from the Rays, per Tim Booth of the Associated Press (via Twitter), an amount that rather significantly alters the math of the trade.
5:16pm: In a stunning early-season swap, the Mariners have acquired reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times originally reported on Twitter. Righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero will go to Tampa Bay in return, as Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter) first reported.
An as-yet-unknown amount of cash is also going to Seattle in the swap. Reliever David Phelps, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, was moved to the 60-day DL to open a roster spot.
M’s GM Jerry Dipoto has overseen his fair share of surprising swaps since taking the helm in Seattle, and this certainly rates near the top of the list. The club is off to a nice start (29-20), but just lost Robinson Cano for eighty games (and the postseason) due to a suspension and Dee Gordon for a stretch due to a broken toe.
Of course, the Cano suspension also freed up around $11MM in cash for the organization to deploy elsewhere. The new additions are earning $11MM (Span) and $5.3MM (Colome) for the season, so they are owed almost exactly that amount (around $11.2MM) the rest of the way. (There could still be some Cano savings left over, as we don’t yet know how much cash the Rays will send in the deal.)
Colome is surely the headliner of this deal. He has served as the closer in Tampa Bay for the past three seasons, racking up 95 saves in that span. He’ll be eligible for arbitration one final time over the offseason, so there’s some future value here for the M’s.
When he moved to the bullpen full-time in 2016, Colome looked like a star. But he wasn’t quite as exciting last year, when he carried a 3.24 ERA but managed only 7.8 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 for the year. Of particular note, his swinging-strike rate dropped to a less-than-dominant 11.6% level.
It has been something of the opposite story thus far in 2018. Colome sports only a 4.15 ERA but has struck out 9.6 and walked 3.3 batters per nine while carrying a 54.5% groundball rate. A low strand rate (65.4%) and high BABIP-against (.354) help explain the discord.
With Colome having returned to a healthier 13.9% swinging-strike rate and continuing to deliver his typical 95.5 mph heater and ~89 to 90 mph cutter, the Mariners will bet that he returns to more dominant results in a high-leverage role. Of course, they won’t ask him to handle the ninth, which will likely remain the domain of young fireballer Edwin Diaz.
Span has now been dealt twice in the final year of his contract. The 34-year-old no longer moves as well as he once did, but is still a polished hitter. He is off to an interesting start to the 2018 season, carrying a whopping 16.2% walk rate (well above his career average) and a typically stingy 13.9% strikeout rate. He’s producing at a solid .238/.364/.385 rate despite carrying a meager .259 batting average on balls in play and quality of contact estimates (.359 xwOBA vs. .332 wOBA) that suggest some poor fortune.
On the other side of the agreement, the Rays have again acted to shave a fair bit of salary obligations. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the ability to move Span’s contract — which itself was acquired only to offset partially the money the Giants took on in the offseason’s Evan Longoria swap — was a strong motivating factor.
Still, they’ll also recoup some talent here. Moore, 23, has had plenty of success in the minors and reached the big leagues last year. He’s not really regarded as a high-ceiling hurler, but could be a near-term option that fits the Rays’ current model that relies upon multi-inning relievers. Moore owns a 3.04 ERA in 50 1/3 innings this year at Double-A, allowing six home runs on 38 total hits while maintaining a 47:14 K/BB ratio.
Romero, 20, was a 15th-round pick last year. But he has shown well thus far as a professional. In his 44 innings in the current campaign, which have come over nine starts at the Class A level, Romero owns a 2.45 ERA with 11.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Font had recently been designated for assignment by the A’s. His stop there hasn’t been any better than his opening to the season was with the Dodgers. In 17 innings this year, Font has allowed 24 earned runs on 31 hits.
Optimists will note that Font has managed 16 strikeouts to go with just five walks on the year. Those figures line up more with Font’s promising showing at Triple-A last year, when he worked to 3.42 ERA in 134 1/3 innings with 11.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.
Ultimately, it’s tough to look past the fact that opposing hitters have somehow managed to drive the ball out of the park a dozen times in Font’s first 24 MLB innings. But the Rays certainly have a need for arms and don’t mind taking the risk, so they’ll see if they can get the 28-year-old on track.
3:10pm: Rays manager Kevin Cash revealed that Faria will be out for a fairly substantial amount of time, with an absence of six to eight weeks likely being on the short end of his realistic timeline to return (Twitter link via Topkin). He could be sidelined into August, Topkin adds.
2:24pm: Nathan Eovaldi is going on the 60-day DL to create 40-man space, Topkin tweets. Since he has been out all year, Eovaldi will still be eligible to come back on May 28th.
11:37am: The Rays will make a pitching change today, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Righty Jake Faria will hit the 10-day DL after suffering an oblique injury, while the club will select the contract of lefty Vidal Nuno to replace him.
It’s still not known what the Rays will do to create a 40-man roster opening, but one will be needed to accommodate Nuno. The southpaw signed a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay over the winter.
Faria, 24, has struggled a 5.48 ERA over his 47 2/3 innings through ten starts on the year. He’s averaging 7.0 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9, both of which represent steps back from his more promising debut effort in 2017. Faria has also overseen a steep decline in his swinging-strike rate, from 12.0% to 8.6%.
Hopefully, then, his time on the DL will also afford an opportunity to pursue some solutions to his troubles on the mound. It is not yet known how severe the oblique injury is; depending upon the extent of the damage, Faria may require anything from a relatively brief to a rather lengthy stint on the shelf.
As for the 30-year-old Nuno, he has plenty of experience over the past five MLB campaigns, over which he has thrown 344 innings of 4.29 ERA ball. He struggled quite a bit last year with the Orioles, but has been more effective thus far in 2018 at Triple-A. In his 40 1/3 innings at Durham, Nuno owns a 3.57 ERA with 37 strikeouts against just three walks.
It’s not yet clear just how the Rays will deploy their new hurler, but the loss of Faria only deepens the intrigue surrounding the club’s unorthodox pitching strategies. Chris Archer and Blake Snell will presumably continue to be utilized mostly as traditional starters, but beyond that it may largely be a patchwork effort.
- The Rays suffered through a tough third inning tonight, as starter Jake Faria left the game with a strained left oblique and catcher Wilson Ramos departed later in the frame with a left hand contusion after an Austin Pruitt pitch deflected off the ground and hit Ramos in the top of the hand. The Faria injury seems like the more immediately serious injury of the two, as oblique strains usually require at least a few weeks to recuperate; manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin) that Faria will “miss some time” with the injury. Faria has struggled to a 5.48 ERA over 47 2/3 frames this season, though his absence would further tax a Rays pitching staff that is already putting a heavy load on its relievers due to the team’s unique usage of relievers. As for Ramos, he tells Topkin that he doesn’t believe he’ll require a DL stint, though his hand is still swollen.
Adames has long been billed as a high-end prospect, though he was relatively unknown when he was shipped to Tampa Bay as a key piece in the 2014 David Price swap. At the time, he was an intriguing 18-year-old. Since, his profile has risen steadily.
Entering each of the past two campaigns, Adames was generally ranked by prospect hounds among the twenty-five or so best pre-MLB players leaguewide. In response, he has delivered an impressive forty-game stretch at the highest level of the minors. Thus far in 2018, Adames has compiled a .311/.387/.466 slash line with four home runs in 173 plate appearances for Durham.
Of course, Adames had already shown that he could produce at Triple-A. And that output falls in line with what Adames has done in prior seasons. He has long been a consistently quality producer at the plate, with good average, a solid walk rate, and manageable strikeout numbers. While he has yet to break out in the power department, evaluators generally expect there could be some added pop in the tank.
There’s good reason, then, to think that Adames is ready to contribute right out of the gates. He’s considered a polished defender at shortstop with quality makeup, so the expectation will surely be that he’ll be able to step into the everyday lineup if that’s what’s asked.
The Rays’ plans, though, aren’t yet clear. With Adeiny Hechavarria on the 10-day DL, Adames could receive regular time at shortstop, with the team reassessing its options once Hechavarria returns. On the other hand, the youngster may also just be up for a brief visit; after all, his active roster spot is coming from the placement of Joey Wendle on the paternity list, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets and the team has since confirmed.
- Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to Rays general manager Erik Neander about the team’s weekend usage of Sergio Romo as a “starter,” though that role was in name only (subscription link). Tampa Bay has regularly used bullpen days in lieu of a conventional fifth starter this season, but Romo’s role was different — particularly on Saturday. With several righties stacked atop the Angels’ lineup (most notably, of course, Mike Trout and Justin Upton), the Rays gave Romo the start before turning the ball over to lefty Ryan Yarbrough for 6 1/3 innings of “relief.” Romo has been notoriously difficult on righties throughout his career, so the decision amounted to simply playing matchups early in the game rather than late in the game, before then turning the ball over to Yarbrough to work a starter’s workload (with one fewer matchup against Trout and Upton). Neander speaks about the importance of first ensuring that a veteran such as Romo — or any pitcher who is used unconventionally — “buys in” to the organization’s plan and is on board with a new role before embarking on such a change. “There is a certain level of humility that we need to have as we go through this,” said Neander. “…We’re not exactly sure where this is going to take us. We’re just trying to be responsive as we get into it in practice and learn more.”
- Though Jonny Venters has the service time to decline a minor league demotion, the southpaw agreed to a consent form that allows the Rays to send Venters to the minors during a 45-day window that began when he made the 25-man roster, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Since Venters’ contract was purchased on April 25, that 45-day period is up on June 8. With a 1.13 ERA over his first eight innings, it doesn’t seem Venters is a candidate for demotion, though the Rays’ unique deployment of their pitchers requires a lot of roster shuffling. Venters is in the midst of a remarkable comeback, returning to a big league mound for the first time since 2012 after his career was thought to be over following three Tommy John surgeries and another UCL procedure.