Washington Nationals – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-04-24T18:01:04Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On MASN Dispute]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156878 2019-04-23T20:49:51Z 2019-04-23T20:49:51Z The Orioles and Nationals have long been embroiled in a dispute regarding TV rights fees from the jointly owned (but Orioles-controlled) Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. Sorting things out with finality has taken ages, but there are finally some new developments of note.

Another arbitration proceeding before MLB’s revenue sharing committee is finally in the books, though the results aren’t yet known, per Ben Strauss of the Washington Post (Twitter links). The Nats are seeking to have the results confirmed by the New York court that has overseen the related litigation between the ballclubs.

The sides originally went to court when the Orioles challenged the committee’s first award of rights fees to the Nats, successfully arguing that the D.C. organization’s counsel had a conflict of interest. Now, the revenue sharing committee has issued a new decision regarding what constitutes fair market value for the rights to televise Nationals games.

Typically, it’s quite difficult to upset an arbitration award in court, though that didn’t stop the Baltimore organization from securing a victory way back in the full of 2015. Whether and how the O’s will attack the new award isn’t known, but it seems likely that the club will keep up what has been an all-out battle until it has exhausted all its options.

Indeed, the Orioles recently opened up something of a new front, as Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter has covered (here and here). MASN began withholding “cash flow payments” to the Nats early in 2018, then balked at a MLB-run arbitration process. While that’s called for contractually, the Orioles have taken the position that the league has an interest in the dispute because it made the Nationals a $25MM advance to deal with the long-ongoing issue discussed above.

The Baltimore organization then launched a proceeding before the American Arbitration Association. Their unhappy partners to the south responded by putting the matter to the New York court. The initial decision was in favor of the O’s, but it’s of limited moment: the court determined that the AAA panel has the authority in the first instance to determine whether the matter is properly before it, since the contract contemplates a AAA proceeding in the event of a conflict of interest.

Head spinning yet? It should be, as this is all now several layers removed from the underlying issue: what’s fair market value for the Nats’ TV rights? The Orioles have successfully introduced quite a few procedural roadblocks to the D.C. organization’s ability to receive stepped-up pay-outs and even created some possibility of securing a friendlier forum to decide the matter. As things stand, there’s a competing arbitration proceeding even as an award has come down from the revenue sharing committee, with ongoing litigation overlaying things. When and how it’ll all be resolved remains anyone’s guess.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Assign Dan Jennings To Double-A]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156791 2019-04-23T02:49:52Z 2019-04-23T02:49:52Z
  • The Nationals have assigned just-inked southpaw Dan Jennings to the club’s Double-A affiliate, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post tweets. Heading to the penultimate stop of the minors doesn’t mean that the 32-year-old is far from the majors; to the contrary, it puts him much closer to Nationals Park — in Harrisburg, PA instead of the club’s Triple-A outpost in Fresno, CA. Jennings owns a 2.96 ERA over 344 career innings in the majors; given the present state of the Nats’ pen, he figures to be called up in fairly short order.
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    George Miller <![CDATA[Injury Notes: deGrom, Cano, Scherzer, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Sanchez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156762 2019-04-22T01:35:37Z 2019-04-22T01:35:37Z Following a recent elbow scareMets ace Jacob deGrom may not be headed for an MRI after all, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey. After being scratched from his most recent start and placed on the 10-day injured list with elbow soreness, deGrom was able to play catch on Saturday, with the pitcher saying that he felt “completely normal.” DeGrom cited his illness, which prevented him from maintaining his usual routine throughout last week, as the primary source of his soreness. Both deGrom and manager Mickey Callaway expressed little concern over the soreness, leading the Mets to reconsider the previous plan to schedule an MRI for Monday. To be sure, that remains on the table, as doctors will continue to monitor the 2018 Cy Young Award winner; however, the organization has expressed confidence that additional imaging will not be necessary, and deGrom has stated that he intends to start on Friday, when he can be activated from the IL.

    Here’s the latest on other injuries from around baseball…

    • DeGrom’s teammate Robinson Cano exited Sunday’s matchup with the Cardinals after he was hit in the hand with an Andrew Miller pitch. X-rays returned negative results, but Healey notes that Cano was wearing a cast after the game and will likely undergo further testing to determine the seriousness of the injury. Off to a slow start with his new club, Cano certainly does not need an injury to complicate an already challenging April.
    • Nationals ace Max Scherzer suffered an unusual injury earlier today when he tweaked his left intercostal while dodging a foul ball that found its way to the Nats’ dugout. Per Byron Kerr of MASN, Scherzer is optimistic that the injury will only keep him out of commission for a couple of days and will not require an IL stint. Scherzer started Saturday’s game in Miami, so such a time frame would not require the righty to miss any scheduled starts.
    • According to Pedro Moura of The Athletic, the Dodgers will activate southpaw Rich Hill and catcher Russell Martin this weekend when the Pirates visit Dodger Stadium. Both veterans are currently on the 10-day IL, with Martin suffering from lower back inflammation and Hill, who has yet to make his 2019 debut, recovering from a left knee sprain. The Dodgers’ rotation has excelled even without Hill, but the club will certainly welcome the 38-year-old back into the fold, further strengthening the pitching staff.
    • Bad news for the Blue Jays’ rotation continues to pile up, with right-hander Aaron Sanchez exiting Sunday’s game due to a broken fingernail on his right middle finger. Notably, Sanchez has a history of finger issues, which have led to IL stints in each of the previous two seasons. However, manager Charlie Montoyo told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link) that he is hopeful the injury will not force Sanchez to miss any starts.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[X-Rays Negative On Anthony Rendon's Elbow]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156683 2019-04-21T03:46:46Z 2019-04-21T03:46:46Z Third baseman Anthony Rendon departed the Nationals’ loss to the Marlins on Saturday after taking a 95 mph Jose Urena fastball off the left elbow. Fortunately for Rendon and the Nationals, X-rays came back negative, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post tweets. It’s unclear whether Rendon will avoid the injured list, though, as manager Dave Martinez said the Nats will reevaluate the 28-year-old Sunday morning. An IL stint would be another unlucky development for the Nationals, who are already missing injured shortstop Trea Turner along the left side of their infield. They’ve gone just 9-10 thanks in part to Turner’s absence, though Rendon has tried his best to lift the team with an all-world showing thus far. Rendon’s consistently great output in Washington may help him land a contract extension.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals, Anthony Rendon Resume Extension Talks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156377 2019-04-18T17:52:54Z 2019-04-18T17:50:30Z April 18: There’s still a “decent-sized gap” between Rendon’s asking price and what the Nationals are willing to offer, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). That said, the very fact that talks have continued into the season serves as a point of encouragement for Nats fans who are hoping to see Rendon locked up to a long-term pact.

    April 16: The Nationals and third baseman Anthony Rendon met prior to tonight’s game to once again discuss a contract extension, MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman first reported. Rendon met with not only general manager Mike Rizo but also managing principal owner Mark Lerner, per the report.

    Like several other stars who’ve signed extensions over the past few months, Rendon is slated to reach free agency at season’s end. The increasingly prolonged nature of the free-agent process and colder-than-expected markets for even some of the game’s brightest stars have begun to push many players toward forgoing the entire process, however. Rendon would be the latest example, joining a list that includes the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale and Nolan Arenado.

    Rendon, 28, is off to an otherworldly start to his 2019 campaign, entering play Tuesday with a .400/.460/.873 batting line. He’s already clubbed six homers and eight doubles in just 63 trips to the plate, and he’s walked nearly as many times as he’s punched out (six and eight, respectively).

    The Nationals and Rendon avoided arbitration this winter by agreeing to an $18.8MM salary for his final season of club control. Any extension would figure to come with a substantial raise in terms of annual value; Rendon may not quite reach the heights attained by Arenado (seven years, $234MM) or fellow third baseman Manny Machado (10 years, $300MM), but those lofty investments nonetheless underscore that a merely modest raise isn’t likely to dissuade Rendon from exploring free agency. Rendon is two years older than Machado but is only 10 months older than Arenado, so perhaps the length of Arenado’s extension will serve as a potential comp in renewed negotiations.

    As of late spring, Rendon was somewhat candid in telling NBC Sports’ Todd Dybas that negotiations had “kind of come to a halt” and that the Nationals’ offer “wasn’t to where we thought we should be.” The exact size of contract that Rendon and agent Scott Boras are seeking isn’t clear. Boras clients have a reputation for testing the market rather than inking long-term deals before reaching free agency, though it’s worth noting that the aforementioned Bogaerts extension represents a notable exception to that line of thinking. So, too, does Rendon’s teammate Stephen Strasburg, who signed a $175MM extension with the Nats just under three years ago — at a time time when he was also in his final season of club control.

    The Nats have been luxury-tax offenders in each of the past two seasons, but the outlook in that regard is substantially more clear in 2020. Bryce Harper’s decision to sign with the division-rival Phillies and the potential departure of Ryan Zimmerman next winter clear large numbers off the books; the Nationals will also likely see Brian Dozier, Howie Kendrick, Matt Adams, Jeremy Hellickson and Tony Sipp become free agents at season’s end. Trea Turner represents their only significant arbitration raise on the horizon.

    Presently, the Nats only have about $110MM worth of 2020 salary counting against the luxury tax, leaving them nearly $100MM south of the barrier. That’d leave ample room not only for a Rendon extension but for additional offseason maneuverings next winter.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals, Dan Jennings Agree To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156280 2019-04-15T19:12:50Z 2019-04-15T19:09:33Z The Nationals are in agreement with left-hander Dan Jennings on a minor league contract, MLBTR has confirmed. Roster Roundup first tweeted that the two sides were nearing a deal.

    Jennings, a client of ISE Baseball, struggled through a poor spring with the Angels and was ultimately cut loose at the end of camp. The well-traveled lefty, however, has a history of quality results at the MLB level, most recently having tossed 64 1/3 innings of 3.22 ERA ball with the Brewers in 2018. He’ll turn 32 later this week.

    Jennings has logged parts of seven seasons in the big leagues and never posted an ERA of 4.00 or higher. He doesn’t miss bats at a particularly high rate (7.1 K/9) or possess pristine control (3.9 BB/9), but he’s been a durable arm that can retire both left- and right-handed hitters throughout his MLB career (although righties gave him some trouble last season). It’s also difficult to elevate the ball against Jennings, as evidenced by his 58.5 percent ground-ball rate and 0.66 HR/9 mark in 244 innings dating back to 2015.

    For the Nats, it’s only logical to tack on some veteran depth in the upper minors. No team in baseball has seen its bullpen post a worst ERA than the Nationals’ collective 7.75 mark in 2019, and while there’s been some degree of poor fortune attached to the extent of that eyesore, the bullpen’s 5.22 FIP, 5.34 xFIP and 4.55 SIERA all support the notion that the overall performance has been legitimately ugly. Beyond closer Sean Doolittle, the Nats’ other two lefties — Tony Sipp and Matt Grace — have each struggled so far.

    Jennings isn’t the first veteran arm to pique the organization’s interest in recent days; Washignton reportedly had a near-agreement with Bud Norris fall through last week, and the team will surely continue to explore what’s left in free agency and monitor the waiver wire. At present, Doolittle and Kyle Barraclough are the only Nationals relievers who have an ERA under 5.68, and there’s particular concern surrounding Trevor Rosenthal, who has allowed 12 of the 15 men he’s faced to reach base (seven via walk plus a hit batsman) in his first season back from 2017 Tommy John surgery.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nats Place Justin Miller On 10-Day IL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156118 2019-04-13T17:00:57Z 2019-04-13T17:00:57Z The Nationals have placed right-hander Justin Miller on the 10-day IL due to a lower back strain.  Righty Austen Williams has been called up to take Miller’s spot on the 25-man roster.  Miller has a 5.68 ERA over 6 1/3 frames out of Washington’s bullpen this season, with all of that damage coming from runs allowed in each of his last three appearances.  Miller’s absence is yet another problem for the beleaguered Nats bullpen, which has a league-worst 8.12 cumulative ERA this season.  The Nationals were seemingly close to a deal with Bud Norris before that rumored contract fell through, so the team is actively looking for ways to upgrade its relief core.  There’s certainly opportunity here for a new face like Williams to make an impact, as the 26-year-old had an outstanding Spring Training and has turned in good results out of the bullpen at the minor league level since becoming a full-time reliever last season.  Williams made his MLB debut in 2018, tossing 9 2/3 innings over 10 games with the Nats.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Previewing 2019-20’s Opt-Out Clause Decisions]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156059 2019-04-13T00:26:41Z 2019-04-13T00:26:41Z Some few contracts include provisions giving the player control over one or more seasons by affording the chance to opt out of the remainder of the deal. Take the bird in hand or see how many you can net from the free-agent bush? Market changes have impacted the math for some players, but the open market still has riches to offer. We don’t know how things will look for any given player at season’s end, but here’s how it’s shaping up at the outset of the 2019 campaign:

    Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers: Three years, $43MM: The 2016-17 version of Andrus — and the one we saw through the season’s first two weeks in 2018 — looked every bit like a player who would exercise the first of two opt-out clauses in his contract (which came at the end of the 2018 season). From Opening Day 2016 through April 11 last year, Andrus posted a terrific .301/.352/.459 batting line with 30 homers, 78 doubles, 11 triples and 49 steals through 1318 plate appearances. Paired with his glovework at shortstop, he looked very capable of topping the remaining four years and $58MM on his contract. Unfortunately, he suffered an elbow fracture, missed two months, and returned to hit only .245/.289/.347 in his final 367 plate appearances. An offseason of rest looks to have done him some good, as he’s hitting .380/.392/.500 through 51 PAs. Unlike several players on this list, there’s an actual chance that Andrus could test the open market, though free agency hasn’t been kind to players on the wrong side of 30 in recent years.

    Jake Arrieta, RHP, Phillies: One year, $20MM (unless Phillies exercise two-year, $40MM option for 2021-22): Arrieta’s first season with the Phils was solid, if unremarkable. He tallied 172 2/3 innings and gave the team a 3.96 ERA with fielding-independent metrics that didn’t stray too far from that ERA (4.26 FIP, 4.08 xFIP, 4.29 SIERA). The former Cy Young winner’s velocity is down a couple miles per hour from its peak levels, and while Arrieta showed good control and ground-ball tendencies in 2018, he no longer appears to be a strikeout pitcher. Given that he’ll pitch next season at age 34, it doesn’t seem all that likely that the Phillies will sign up to tack on another pair of $20MM seasons. With a strong 2019 effort, it’s possible that Arrieta positions himself to land a two-year deal with a larger guarantee but lower annual rate (e.g. two years, $30MM), so it’s not out of the question that he’d opt out at season’s end, even if seems unlikely at present.

    Yu Darvish, RHP, Cubs: Four years, $81MM: Darvish’s first season in Chicago was an unmitigated disaster, as a series of arm injuries limited him to just 40 innings of work. His velocity isn’t where it was in previous seasons, and in this season’s small sample of three starts, he’s walked more batters than he’s punched out. It’s hard to envision any scenario in which Darvish opts out of his contract; even if he stormed back to ace status and won an NL Cy Young Award, I’m not sure he’d top $81MM as a 33-year-old free agent with a qualifying offer hanging over his head. The Cubs appear stuck with the contract and will need to simply hope for a rebound.

    Jason Heyward, OF, Cubs: Four years, $86MM (assuming he makes 550 PAs): Heyward has had a scalding hot start to the season, mashing at a .351/.444/.676 pace. Through 45 plate appearances, he’s already halfway to his home run total from a 2018 season in which he came to he plate 489 times. Even if Heyward’s bat proves to be rejuvenated to its 2015 levels, however, it’s virtually unfathomable that he’d walk away from the remaining $86MM on this contract. His poor results in his first three seasons with the Cubs still loom large enough that a monster year at the dish would be met with a heavy dose of skepticism, and he’ll turn 30 in August.

    Kenley Jansen, RHP, Dodgers: Two years, $38MM: After seven seasons as a near-unstoppable force in the Dodgers’ bullpen, Jansen looked mortal in 2018 when he logged a 3.01 ERA (his first time ever topping 3.00) and 10.3 K/9 (his first time south of 13.0). A strong enough rebound campaign could embolden Jansen to seek out a three-year deal at a lower annual salary than the $19MM remaining on his contract; the Rockies gave Wade Davis a total of $52MM for the same three-year age span that Jansen will be entering (32-34). He’s already rejected one qualifying offer in his career, so he wouldn’t be eligible to receive a second one (even though he landed with the same team that winter).

    J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, Red Sox: Three years, $62.5MM: The general expectation in the 2017-18 offseason was that Martinez’s 2017 season (.303/.376/.690, 45 home runs) would be a peak year. Instead, he turned in an arguably even more productive 2018 season with the Red Sox, hitting a ridiculous .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs in 649 PAs — the second-highest total of his career. Martinez is off to another strong start in 2019, and despite a frosty climate for free agents, one can only wonder if he’d be tempted to once again test free agency if he can post a third consecutive season of 40-plus homers with an OPS north of 1.000. One wrinkle to consider is that barring an unexpected midseason trade, Martinez would have a qualifying offer attached to him this time around; that wasn’t true of his last trip through free agency, as he’d been traded from Detroit to Arizona midseason.

    Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals: Four years, $100MM: Strasburg is still a strikeout machine who posts big totals in swinging-strike and opponents’ chase rates, but his 93.1 mph average fastball in 2019 is well south of last year’s 94.5 mph (to say nothing of his career 95.3). The former No. 1 pick was a big part of the Nats’ rotation in 2018 and should be again this year, but he was more good than great last year (130 innings, 3.74 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 43.6 GB%). Moreover, Darvish and a much younger Patrick Corbin are the only two pitchers who have topped $100MM in guarantees over the past two offseasons. Strasburg would be hit with a qualifying offer if he opted out, and he’d be betting against recent trends as a 31-year-old pitcher looking to cash in on a nine-figure contract. He can ask Dallas Keuchel how well that strategy works.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals’ Potential Deal With Bud Norris Falls Through]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156003 2019-04-11T17:10:43Z 2019-04-11T17:10:43Z The Nationals’ potential agreement with free-agent righty Bud Norris has fallen through, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The organization felt that the 34-year-old veteran was as much as a month away from MLB readiness, and the team’s preference is to find bullpen help that is more immediately available.

    Norris was in camp with the Blue Jays on a minor league contract and received a $100K retention bonus to remain in the organization’s minor league ranks beyond the end of Spring Training. However, the two side agreed to a release last week due to what appears to be similar circumstances; Norris reportedly felt ready to join the Jays’ big league club sooner rather than later, but the Toronto organization wanted him to continue building arm strength in extended Spring Training.

    With his hopes of signing in D.C. dashed, Norris will remain on the free-agent market as he seeks a different opportunity. With two clubs deeming him unready for near-term MLB action, it seems likely that he’ll need to build up strength somewhere before he ultimately returns to a Major League mound. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reported in early April that Norris, who averaged 94.6 mph on his fastball in 2018, was sitting in the 90-91 mph during workouts.

    If and when Norris does work up to his previous velocity levels, he should be able to help out the majority of big league bullpens. While his career as a starter took a southward turn in 2016, he’s posted strong results over the past two seasons as a reliever. Dating back to Opening Day 2017, Norris has a 3.91 ERA with 10.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9 and a 44 percent ground-ball rate. He’s also posted a swinging-strike rate north of 12 percent over that two-year span — easily a career best — and last season also set a new highwater mark with a hefty 35.9 percent opponents’ chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals, Bud Norris Discussing Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155867 2019-04-10T18:33:44Z 2019-04-10T18:32:29Z TODAY: The team is evaluating the results of an MRI that Norris underwent today, Ghiroli tweets. If it comes back clean, the agreement will go into effect; otherwise, the club will potentially reconsider.

    YESTERDAY, 3:52pm: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells reporters that there’s no agreement between the two sides, but Norris is headed to the team’s spring complex to evaluate him (Twitter link via Zuckerman). If the team deems him physically ready, a minor league agreement will be completed.

    3:32pm: There’s no agreement in place between the two sides just yet, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post tweets. There’s mutual interest between the two sides, but Dougherty notes that the Nats “need to be convinced that Norris is healthy enough to be effective.”

    Norris and the Jays agreed to part ways last week due to the fact that he felt ready to pitch at the MLB level while the Toronto organization wanted him to continue building arm strength, so perhaps there’s a similar dynamic at play here.

    2:23pm: The Nationals have agreed to a deal with right-hander Bud Norris, according to Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic (via Twitter). It’ll be a minors pact if completed, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com tweets. Norris will first need to pass a physical before a deal is finalized.

    Norris will not head directly onto the active roster, but may not be far from joining a team that’s badly in need of relief. The Nats bullpen has been a mess in the early going, with all but two members of the unit carrying earned run averages north of 5 per nine.

    The veteran Norris could offer a key stabilizing presence. The 34-year-old has been a solid performer since moving into a full-time relief role. Over the past two seasons, he owns a 3.91 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over 119 2/3 innings. Norris has compiled 47 saves in that span as well, though he won’t be expected to handle the ninth in D.C.

    Norris had been expected to crack the Blue Jays pen after surprisingly settling for a minor-league deal. The Toronto org paid him a $100K retention bonus late in camp to keep him around, but ultimately released him right at the start of the season. It seems that Norris believed he was ready for the majors, while the club wanted him to keep throwing in extended camp to build his arm strength.

    It’s not known how the Nats feel about the matter of Norris’s readiness. He has worked in the mid-nineties with his fastball in recent years. Like most pitchers, Norris is likelier to be successful if he has the velocity when he wants it. But the D.C. org is also in no position to turn up its nose at an experienced pitcher who isn’t quite on top of his game. Presumably, they’ll bring him onto the active roster in relatively short order so long as Norris seems mostly himself.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Turner "Tentatively" Out Another Three To Five Weeks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155889 2019-04-09T22:42:40Z 2019-04-09T22:42:40Z
  • Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic tweets that there’s a “tentative” timeline of four to six weeks for Nationals star Trea Turner (from the time of his injury). Turner landed on the injured list with a fractured index finger last week. Light-hitting Wilmer Difo has filled in for Turner since he exited last Tuesday’s game after injuring his right (throwing) hand on a bunt attempt in his first plate appearance.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Bud Norris]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155835 2019-04-09T15:47:31Z 2019-04-09T12:38:00Z The Nationals are showing interest in free agent reliever Bud Norris, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). Per the report, the club would still like to stay beneath the luxury tax line with any new additions.

    With bullpen issues jumping up right out of the gate this year, the Nationals are understandably looking to find reinforcements. While superstar closer Craig Kimbrel remains available, he’ll still cost quite a bit. Otherwise, the market is largely devoid of appealing options outside of old friend Ryan Madson, who never seemed to be pursuing a contract in earnest.

    Norris dealt with some forearm fatigue this spring after signing late. He was cut loose recently by the Blue Jays when he and the team did not see eye to eye on his readiness for MLB action. He had signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto organization — quite a surprising result after he turned in a solid 2018 season.

    Working as the Cardinals closer for much of the ’18 campaign, Norris pitched to a 3.59 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 57 2/3 innings. He sat at 95 with his four-seam fastball and carried a 12%+ swinging-strike rate for the second consecutive season.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Trevor Rosenthal's Disastrous Start Continues]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155762 2019-04-08T02:03:47Z 2019-04-08T02:03:47Z Nationals reliever Trevor Rosenthal’s hellish early season start continued Sunday when he failed to retire either Met he faced, walking one and hitting another. Rosenthal also threw a pair of wild pitches and totaled just one strike during his seven-pitch outing. Worse, the 28-year-old hasn’t recorded an out against any of the nine batters he has gone against this season, making him the first pitcher since 1995 to achieve that ignominious feat, Jon Heyman of MLB Network notes. Rosenthal, who missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, expressed confidence in his health Sunday and his chances of eventually escaping this slump, per Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com. Meanwhile, asked if the Nationals can continue to put Rosenthal on the mound, manager Dave Martinez said: “We have to come up with something. We have to figure something out for him. We tried to tweak something with his mechanics, but we’ve got to keep working on it.”

    Martinez added the Nationals are “going to need Rosey,” who was their most noteworthy bullpen addition of the offseason. Thanks to a successful run with the Cardinals from 2012-17, Rosenthal’s earning a guaranteed $7MM this season with Washington, which took a chance on him in the wake of his injury. His return has gone about as poorly as possible thus far, of course, though Rosenthal’s hardly the lone problem in the Nationals’ bullpen. The unit entered Sunday with a league-worst 10.02 ERA and nearly blew a 12-1 lead before hanging on for a 12-9 win.

    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Rehab Notes: Polanco, Kershaw, Taylor]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155643 2019-04-06T21:09:49Z 2019-04-06T21:09:49Z A grueling seven-month rehab process is finally nearing its end for Gregory Polanco, reports MLB.com’s Adam Berry, as the Pirates outfielder is set to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow for High-A Bradenton. The initial rehab outlook for the torn labrum on Polanco’s left shoulder was seven to nine months, so even a full 20-day rehab stay will have him set to return on the short end of the timeframe. The 27-year-old’s imminent return will be manna from the proverbial heaven for the run-starved Pirates, who’ve already lost outfielders Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall to injuries at the season’s outset. Polanco’s status as a perennial breakout candidate finally came to fruition last year, as the big lefty slashed a career-best .254/.340/.499 (123 wRC+) in 130 games before suffering the injury in early September. His hard-hit rate, which had dipped to a shockingly pedestrian 25.9% in 2017, jumped nearly nine percentage points, and the newfound plate discipline he exhibited reaped huge benefits.

    In further rehab news from around the game…

    • Clayton Kershaw’s dominant rehab performance on minor-league Opening Night doesn’t mean he’s ready for the show, writes Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. The three-time Cy Young award winner will need at least another rehab outing – this one in the 75-80 pitch range – before rejoining the big club in the coming weeks. Dampening the much-needed flames throughout the outing were the stadium’s radar gun readouts, which reportedly had the seven-time all-star sitting at a frightening 88-91 MPH with the fastball. A career-low 90.9 MPH average fastball velocity in ’18 led to the lefty’s lowest strikeout rate since his rookie season of 2008, and the once-untouchable ace was again vulnerable to the longball. The club may not need a halcyon Kershaw to contend for the pennant, and may not need him at all to run through a sloppy NL West. Still, even a compromised version of the lefty should be quite effective, and the Dodgers, who doubled down on their substantial investment this offseason, will continue to hold out out hope for the ace of seasons past.
    • Per Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor will play seven innings in a rehab game today. It’s good news for the Nationals, who expected the extra OF to miss “significant time” after he sprained his knee and hip mid-March. There seems to be precious little playing time in the Nats outfield for Taylor, who followed up a solid 2017 season with a .227/.287/.357 stinker last year. Strikeouts have long been an issue for the speedy centerfielder, who’s posted a K rate of 30% or higher in each of his four major-league seasons.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Trea Turner Diagnosed With Fractured Index Finger]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155404 2019-04-03T14:41:58Z 2019-04-03T14:41:31Z TODAY: Turner is officially going on the 10-day injured list. Infielder Adrian Sanchez will take his spot on the active roster for the time being. Since Sanchez already has a 40-man spot, no further moves will be necessary.

    YESTERDAY: The Nationals received bad news on shortstop Trea Turner tonight, as X-rays revealed that he sustained a fractured right index finger on a bunt attempt, manager Dave Martinez revealed following tonight’s loss (Twitter link via ESPN’s Buster Olney). He’ll be out for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.

    Turner, looking to bunt his way aboard in the first inning of tonight’s game, left too much of his hand exposed and caught the brunt of a 92 mph Zach Eflin fastball on his right index finger. He was replaced by Wilmer Difo without finishing the at-bat and could very well be replaced by Difo for the foreseeable future with a trip to the injured list surely around the corner. Alternatively, the Nats have one of the game’s best infield prospects in Carter Kieboom, though the 21-year-old is not yet on the 40-man roster and has only played in 62 games above A-ball.

    The loss of Turner comes at time when the Nats have opened the season 1-3 and been outscored by opponents at a 26-16 clip. Swapping out Turner, one of the team’s best offensive players, for the light-hitting Difo won’t do the lineup any favors. There’s little available on the open market at present, though the A’s did just cut veteran middle infielder Cliff Pennington loose if Washington is eyeing some veteran minor league depth from outside the organization.