Rangers To Release Kyuji Fujikawa

MAY 22: The Rangers have placed Fujikawa on unconditional release waivers, tweets John Blake, the club’s executive vice president of communications. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that Fujikawa wasn’t interested in pitching at Triple-A and was therefore granted his release.

MAY 17: The Rangers have designated Kyuji Fujikawa for assignment, according to John Blake of the Texas Rangers (on Twitter). Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reports the Rangers could not option Fujikawa to the minors without his consent before June 15 and the right-hander had indicated to the team he did not intend to accept such an option.

Fujikawa, 35 in July, has appeared in just two games for Texas this season and didn’t have a great amount of success. In a combine 1 and 2/3rds innings, he allowed three earned runs. He fared a little better better in eleven combined minor-league appearances this season. In 11 outings (ten at Triple-A, one at Double-A), the veteran pitched to a 4.35 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 7.8 BB/9.

The Rangers signed the reliever back in December to a one-year deal worth $1MM plus incentives. The contract also included a club option for $2MM that can be bought out for a modest $100K. Fujikawa threw only 25 innings between 2013 and 2014, with two stints sandwiched around a Tommy John procedure and rehab. The former Cub has never been a strong ERA buy, but he does own career averages of 10.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.

The Rangers now have ten days to trade, release, or outright Fujikawa to the minor leagues. The reliever is now is joined in DFA Limbo by Kevin Gregg, Nick MassetStolmy Pimentel, and Bruce Chen.  You can keep track of everyone’s status using MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club

Cuban right-hander Norge Ruiz has left the island and will seek a contract with a Major League club, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). The 21-year-old Ruiz is one of the top prospects in Cuba, so interest in him would figure to be substantial.

Baseball America’s Ben Badler ranked Ruiz as the No. 8 prospect in Cuba (subscription-only scouting report is highly recommended) less than one month ago, with all seven of the players ranked ahead of him being position players. Ruiz’s age will make him subject to international bonus pools, but as Badler notes in a second piece, he’ll be eligible to sign in the 2015-16 signing period once he establishes residency and applies for free agency with MLB.

That he’s apparently ticketed to sign in the upcoming signing period as opposed to the current period will remove several clubs from the mix. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, D-Backs and Angels have all exceeded their 2014-15 bonus pools by more than 15 percent, meaning none of those teams will be able to sign an international amateur for more than $300K. Given Ruiz’s prospect status, that limitation will assuredly preclude any of the aforementioned clubs from signing him.

In the scouting report referenced above, Badler notes that Ruiz was the 2012-13 Serie Nacional Rookie of the Year in Cuba and writes that he “stands out in a country thin on Major League pitching prospects.” Per Badler, he features a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 94 mph, which is complemented by a slider, changeup and splitter. At his best, Ruiz misses bats effectively and keeps the ball on the ground, as evidenced by a 62 percent ground-ball rate in 2014-15, according to Badler. He adds that Ruiz is a very good athlete and has feel for pitching beyond his years, giving him the potential to be a mid-rotation starter in the Majors.

While it’s early to know which teams will pursue Ruiz, it’s believed that the Dodgers are planning to go well over their pool and may already have a significant deal in place with Yadier Alvarez. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add Ruiz as well. The Blue Jays (Vlad Guerrero Jr.), Twins (Wander Javier) and Phillies (Jhailyn Ortiz) may all have deals that would put them at or over their international budgets in place, according to Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, though each of those clubs would have the ability to acquire enough international bonus money in trades to avoid incurring maximum penalties. (Teams can only acquire up to 50 percent of their originally allotted bonus pool via trade.) Additionally, the Cubs and Rangers will be able to spend aggressively again in the upcoming period and showed a strong willingness to do so in the 2013-14 period.


Blue Jays Notes: Hamels, Travis, Kawasaki, Norris

Earlier this afternoon, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Blue Jays have reached out to the Phillies and inquired on Cole Hamels, but Shi Davidi of Sportsnet hears from a source that those discussions occurred months ago. The gap in talks isn’t exactly surprising, given that the reported outcome was that Hamels was unwilling to waive his limited no-trade protection to approve a deal to Toronto. Davidi reports that GM Alex Anthopoulos is unlikely to subtract from the big league roster to add immediate help, and he seems unconvinced that the Blue Jays would seriously consider parting with either left-hander Daniel Norris or right-hander Jeff Hoffman, both of whom are deemed vital components of the club’s future. Toronto has $5-8MM of available payroll to make in-season additions, per Davidi, so even if Hamels had been comfortable with a trade, the teams would still have some hurdles to clear in terms of salary. Hamels is earning $23.5MM this season — of which about $17.46MM remains.

Here’s more on the Blue Jays…

  • The Blue Jays announced last night that rookie sensation Devon Travis has been placed on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his shoulder. Travis’ DL stint is back-dated to when he last played on May 17. There’s no indication that Travis is slated to miss a large chunk of time, so it seems likely that he could return to the club in early June. In the meantime, Toronto has selected the contract of fan favorite utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki, who will join the club for tonight’s series opener in Seattle. The 33-year-old Kawasaki has batted .244/.327/.302 over the past two seasons in part-time duty with Toronto.
  • In a notebook piece from last night, Davidi writes that manager John Gibbons feels that Daniel Norris isn’t far from a return to the Majors. “His last outing was pretty good,” said Gibbons. “We just want to see that a couple of times, a few times maybe, for his own benefit. … We’re looking to get him back. He got here so quick, he started to struggle, you want to make sure what you did by sending him down was worthwhile, that he’s regrouped enough, instead of rushing him back.” Norris has a 2.50 ERA with 20 strikeouts against nine walks in 18 innings since his demotion to the minors.
  • Also of note on the prospect front for Jays fans, assistant GM Tony LaCava said that Jeff Hoffman’s pro debut was a success, as his fastball topped out at 99 mph and he was able to throw five innings in his first start. Hoffman, selected ninth overall in the 2014 draft, didn’t pitch for the Jays last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He was thought to be a potential No. 1 overall pick prior to his injury.
  • Davidi’s colleague, Ben Nicholson-Smith, hosted his weekly Blue Jays chat this afternoon and discussed a number of trade scenarios, R.A. Dickey‘s future with the team beyond 2015 and a the number at which Roberto Osuna‘s innings should be capped.


Heyman’s Latest: Hamels/Jays, Lucroy, Baez, Correa, Alvarez

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has published the latest installment of his weekly Inside Baseball column, and he kicks it off by reporting that the Blue Jays have inquired on Cole Hamels. However, Heyman hears that Hamels was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to allow a trade to Toronto, which is a blow for both clubs. The Jays desperately need help in both the rotation and the bullpen, and the Phillies, Heyman notes, would love to get their hands on young pitchers with the upside of Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. The Blue Jays have a bit of financial leeway after going with inexpensive options at second base, center field and left field, and Heyman writes that the Blue Jays are expected to look at other potential front-line starters this summer as they become available. (He speculatively mentions Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, though neither’s available just yet.) Additionally, Heyman notes that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ job is safe, as GM Alex Anthopoulos has a strong relationship with the skipper and recognizes that the team’s problems are roster-related and shouldn’t be pinned on Gibbons.

Some more highlights from the column, though it’s worth a read in its entirety…

  • The Braves are said to be disappointed in the play of Christian Bethancourt, even from a defensive standpoint, and recently inquired with the Brewers on Jonathan Lucroy. However, Atlanta executives were told by the Brewers that Lucroy isn’t available at this time. That the Brewers wouldn’t trade Lucroy isn’t a shock; he’s owed a very affordable $4MM in 2016 with a $5.25MM option for the 2017 season, so even if the team can’t quickly right the ship, he’d still have enormous trade value at the 2016 trade deadline. More interesting, to me, is that the Braves would so quickly look for an upgrade over Bethancourt and that they’re acting somewhat as buyers. Lucroy, of course, could be called a long-term piece that would be around to help the team when its rebuild is closer to completion. However, acquiring him would surely require the sting of parting with some of the key components of that rebuild.
  • Some rival execs feel that the Cubs are willing to part with Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach in trades, in part because each was drafted under the previous administration and is not held in as high a regard by the new front office. Each player comes with issues, however, as Baez is trying to cut down on his swing and improve his contact skills, while a scout described first baseman Vogelbach as a “30 fielder” to Heyman (in reference to the 20-80 scouting scale).
  • There are members of the Astros‘ field staff that want to see Carlos Correa with the team right now, but Houston will likely keep him in the minors for another month or so in order to lessen the risk of Correa achieving Super Two status. I’ll add that the Astros will have a more legitimate claim that Correa still needs minor league time than other teams in similar situations have had in the past. Correa is still just 20 years old and has only nine games of experience at the Triple-A level, though he’s continued his brilliant work at the plate there, hitting .326/.362/.558 with a pair of homers. Also of interest to Astros fans — or to fans of teams needing outfield help — the Astros are on the lookout for starting pitching upgrades, and outfield prospect Preston Tucker “seems to be available.” Tucker recently made his MLB debut and has a .963 OPS through 34 plate appearances to go along with a strong minor league track record.
  • Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Heyman. Some have described it as a “90 percent tear,” but he’s been able to pitch effectively in spite of the issue. Alvarez wouldn’t be the first to pitch through a UCL tear; Ervin Santana and Adam Wainwright are both recent examples of pitchers who pitched for many seasons with partially torn UCLs. Wainwright ultimately underwent Tommy John, though Santana’s is said to have healed and is no longer an issue. In another Marlins-related note, Heyman hears that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez is “under the microscope” with both Jarred Cosart and Steve Cishek struggling greatly in 2015.
  • Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza have little trade value due to their 2015 struggles, but Lohse’s lesser financial commitment and superior clubhouse reputation give him more value. The team is reluctant to trade not only Lucroy, but shortstop Jean Segura as well. The Brewers are a bit more open to dealing Carlos Gomez than that pair, as Gomez is closer to free agency (he’s controlled through 2016).
  • The Mets remain reluctant to trade any of their top arms, as they’ve seen on multiple occasions how quickly Tommy John surgery or other injuries can thin out a club’s depth. (Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all had TJ in their careers.) The Mets are also not rushing to find a shortstop, but they have indeed been “all over the map” in terms of trade possibilities with the Cubs.
  • Coco Crisp‘s neck injury is apparently quite serious, and there’s a fear that the oft-injured Athletics outfielder will ultimately require surgery that could bring his season to an end.
  • The Blue Jays would still like to extend both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but there have yet to be serious discussions with either slugger’s camp. Both players are controlled through the end of the 2016 season.

Cubs Among Teams Showing Interest In Rafael Soriano

Seeking to upgrade a relief corps that has struggled at times this season, the Cubs are among the teams to have kicked the tires on free agent right-hander Rafael Soriano, reports Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. Last week, Jon Heyman reported that the Cubs “may consider” Soriano at some point down the line.

Soriano, a Scott Boras client is training and facing live hitters in the Dominican Republic at this time, Mooney writes. Boras told reporters yesterday before the Cubs hosted the Padres at Wrigley Field that some teams are seeing him for the second and third time. “I think Soriano could help about 10 teams now,” Boras told reporters. “…Teams are reaching out. We’re pretty close to structuring a deal for him.” The Cubs aren’t quite motivated or desperate enough to pay top dollar for Soriano, Mooney hears.

Still, it’s not difficult to see why the Cubs would have some form of interest in a bullpen upgrade — particularly one that wouldn’t cost the team any prospects. Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and lefty Zac Rosscup have all pitched reasonably well this season, but beyond that group, there’s been little stability. Phil Coke has already been designated for assignment. Jason Motte‘s ERA is 5.17, and his peripherals aren’t much more encouraging. Edwin Jackson rattled off six scoreless appearances to open the season, but he’s surrendered five runs in his past 1 2/3 innings (spanning three appearances).

The listed relievers are the only ones who have thrown even 10 innings this season for a Cubs bullpen that has cycled through 12 relief options (13 if you include catcher David Ross throwing an inning of mop-up duty). James Russell has looked solid since re-signing with the Cubs shortly after his release from Atlanta, and the return of Justin Grimm from the disabled list is expected to be a boost. The loss of Neil Ramirez, though, is a blow to the bullpen, and the result of the unit’s collective effort has been a 4.20 ERA.

As Mooney notes, the Cubs have tried to fix the problem by bringing Russell back and designating Coke, and the team traded Welington Castillo to the Mariners in exchange for hard-throwing right-hander Yoervis Medina. That sequence would seem to indicate that the Cubs are indeed trying to upgrade their ‘pen, but the question that remains is whether or not Soriano would be an upgrade.

The Marlins recently expressed interest in Soriano but backed off rather abruptly, with followup reports indicating that their interest dissipated not due to financial reasons, but because evaluators didn’t feel that Soriano was an upgrade over the team’s internal options. Late in the offseason, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that some scouts felt that Soriano’s stuff evaporated late in the season, which was the reason for his drastic decline at season’s end. Though Soriano’s 3.19 ERA and 59-to-19 K/BB ratio in last year’s 62 innings look solid, he wilted in the second half, registering a 6.48 ERA.

The bullpen was one of many Cubs-related issues that Mooney discussed with Jeff Todd in a guest appearance on yesterday’s MLBTR Podcast.


Indians Notes: Gomes, House, Marcum, Murphy

Injured catcher Yan Gomes will be activated from the disabled list and start just his sixth game of the season for the Indians on Sunday, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A sprained medial collateral ligament in Gomes’ right knee caused him to miss roughly six weeks of action, and the loss of one of the game’s most valuable (and underrated) catchers has likely contributed to Cleveland’s slow start, to an extent. With Gomes nearing activation, Hoynes notes that one of Roberto Perez or Brett Hayes will have to go to make room. Neither has hit for much in terms of average, but Hayes has shown more power in a smaller sample, whereas Perez has shown more in terms of on-base skills, walking at a surprising 17.5 percent clip in 97 plate appearances. Manager Terry Francona feels the team has been fortunate to have Perez and Hayes fill in. “They haven’t hit for average, but each have hit three homers and done a pretty good job behind the plate,” said Francona. The 26-year-old Perez has options remaining, whereas Hayes does not and would have to clear waivers before he could be sent back to the minors.

A bit more from Cleveland…

  • Within the linked piece above, Hoynes notes that T.J. House has been activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A, leaving Shaun Marcum as the owner of the No. 5 spot in Cleveland’s rotation. House has struggled nearly all season, and he has an option remaining. Marcum does not. “The reality of it was who should we get rid of?” Francona asked rhetorically. “Would it have been fair to say to Shaun Marcum, “Hey, man, thanks for the seven dazzling innings.'” Marcum made his first Major League start since 2013 earlier this week and fired 6 2/3 innings with just two runs allowed on four hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
  • In a separate article from earlier this week, Hoynes looks at how David Murphy has seemingly gone from expendable trade chip to indispensable asset. When the Indians acquired Brandon Moss this offseason, it created a logjam in the outfield with Moss, Murphy and Nick Swisher all appearing to cut into each others’ roles. However, Murphy has been one of the team’s most consistent bats against right-handed pitching this season after struggling in 2014, and he’s playing better defense this season as well.

Cubs Notes: Baez, Bryant, Russell, Maddon, Castro

Earlier today, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago appeared with host Jeff Todd on this week’s edition of the MLBTR Podcast, and the two discussed a variety of Cubs topics, from the Welington Castillo trade to Starlin Castro and the team’s rotation. For Cubs fans (and others) who have already checked that out, though, here are a few more notes on the team that sits four games back in the NL Central and currently leads the Padres 3-0…

  • Infielder Javier Baez has hit well at Triple-A this season, posting a .296/.375/.423 batting line in 80 plate appearances, but there doesn’t seem to be any rush to get him back to the big leagues at this time. Via David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (on Twitter), GM Jed Hoyer said that the Cubs “…want to take our time on Javy Baez. He is playing well, but we want to let him continue to keep working right now.” Addison Russell has seen most of the time at second base, where many thought Baez would play this season. After some early struggles, Russell has settled in and is hitting .273/.333/.455 over a 22-game stretch.
  • Speaking of Russell, agent Scott Boras, who represents both Russell and Kris Bryant, praised the Cubs organization prior to tonight’s game, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Boras feels that both Bryant and Russell have “dramatically” improved since joining the team, leading him to praise the organization’s developmental techniques. Boras said that his main gripe in Spring Training was that he wanted Bryant to know that his fate wasn’t pre-determined (presumably, that is, to know that he wouldn’t be reassigned to minor league camp at the end of Spring Training). He also praised manager Joe Maddon for his communication skills and work with young players. “Joe Maddon is a talent,” said Boras. “He’s very good at giving the players a focus at a variety of levels of their careers. And that has a lot to do with why they’re performing so well in their careers.”
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports feels that the Cubs should think twice before considering a trade of Castro. Rosenthal spoke to a number of Castro’s teammates as well as Maddon, assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske and president Theo Epstein — all of whom feel that the 25-year-old has made strides in terms of maturity, preparedness and defense this season. Rosenthal notes that with $37MM owed to Castro from 2016-19, his contract is highly affordable as well. Of course, Castro has struggled at the plate early this year, as even after a pair of singles tonight he’s hitting .272/.304/.346, which translates to a wRC+ of just 76 (24 percent worse than the league average).

Smyly Will Not Have Surgery, Is Confident He Can Pitch In 2015

Rays left-hander Drew Smyly tells reporters, including Matt Stein of Sports Talk Florida, that he will not undergo surgery on his left shoulder, as had previously been reported to be likely. Instead, Smyly will undergo an eight-week rehab program that doctors feel will allow him to pitch again this season.

Smyly’s rehab program would have the lefty — acquired as one of the key pieces in last July’s three-team David Price/Austin Jackson blockbuster — playing catch again within a week or two, Stein writes. Doctors have told Smyly that the tear he has in his labrum is not significant and were nothing but positive about the results of his MRI. Surgery “isn’t even an option” at this time, per Stein.

That, of course, doesn’t preclude surgery entirely; as Stein notes, the end result of the injury could be that Smyly is forced to go under the knife. Smyly pointed to former college teammate (and current Dodgers right-hander) Mike Bolsinger as a reason to be optimistic. Bolsinger had a similar situation in his right shoulder in college but rehabbed the slight tear, Smyly says, and never wound up undergoing surgery to repair the issue. Smyly feels that it’s possible for him to return to the Rays in July or August. “I’m hopeful and confident that I’ll pitch again this year,” he said.

If Smyly is to avoid surgery altogether, it could be a major boon to the Rays’ playoff chances. The team currently sits with a 22-19 record — tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead. (They’re also leading the A’s 1-0 as of this writing.) If Smyly can return, he would join a rotation that has lost Alex Cobb but hopes to be bolstered by a returning Matt Moore next month. Chris Archer has taken a step forward in 2015, pitching like a No. 1 starter, while Jake Odorizzi has been excellent and Nathan Karns has come around after a slow start. A rotation of Archer, Odorizzi, Moore, Smyly and Karns would look formidable down the stretch, health permitting, and it could allow Alex Colome to shift to the bullpen, where his 94 mph fastball could play up even further.


Astros Release Darin Downs

The Astros have released left-handed reliever Darin Downs, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 30-year-old was claimed off waivers out of the Tigers organization in 2013 but was outrighted to Triple-A following the 2014 season.

Downs spent significant time in the Houston bullpen last season but struggled to a 5.45 ERA with a 27-to-19 K/BB ratio with a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in 34 2/3 innings of work. The cumulative result of Downs’ efforts in parts of three seasons at the Major League level is a 4.76 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 43.5 percent ground-ball rate. Downs’ overall numbers aren’t particularly eye-catching, but he’s held left-handed hitters in check quite well as a big leaguer, allowing just a .202/.291/.310 batting line in 189 plate appearances. Downs has a 4.96 ERA with 11 strikeouts against three walks in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level this season.


Brewers Outright Jim Henderson

The Brewers announced today that they have outrighted reliever Jim Henderson to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The right-hander, who formerly served as the club’s closer in the 2013 season, has struggled with shoulder injuries since that time, however.

Henderson, 32, is a former 26th-round pick of the Expos (2003) that didn’t surface in the Majors until his age-29 campaign. He’s totaled 102 innings at the Major League level and posted a solid 3.44 ERA with 12.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 32.5 percent ground-ball rate in that time, also accumulating 31 saves. He’s spent the 2015 season getting up to speed after labrum and rotator cuff debridement surgery in 2014. Henderson has reached the Triple-A level again, but he’s allowed four runs on seven hits and five walks with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings there.

That he’s been outrighted means that he’s already cleared waivers, so every club in the Majors passed on an opportunity to claim the 6’5″ righty. With this move, Milwaukee opens a spot on their 40-man roster, which now has 39 players.


Dodgers Suspend Erisbel Arruebarrena For Season

5:23pm: The Dodgers say that Arruebarrena has been suspended for the season due to “repeated failures to comply with his contract,” per J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group (Twitter link).

3:47pm: The Dodgers have indefinitely suspended Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, reports Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman confirmed to Plunkett that the 25-year-old Arruebarrena is suspended but declined to give further detail, referring to the situation as an “internal matter.” As Plunkett points out, that would suggest that Arruebarrena has not done something that would warrant a league-mandated suspension (e.g. PED usage, drug of abuse).

Arruebarrena won’t collect any of his guaranteed salary while he is on the restricted list. The defensive-minded shortstop signed a five-year, $25MM contract with the Dodgers in February 2014 that contained a $7.5MM signing bonus and called for annual salaries of $1.5MM (2014), $3MM (2015), $4MM (2016-17) and $5MM (2018). The Dodgers’ new front office — headed by Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and senior vice president Josh Byrnes — clearly was never as enamored with Arruebarrena as the preceding group; Arruebarrena was designated for assignment this offseason and outrighted off the 40-man roster after clearing waivers.

Arruebarrena received a cup of coffee with the Dodgers last year, hitting .195/.244/.220 in just 45 plate appearances at the big league level. His minor league work was more impressive, with his best work coming in 95 PAs at the Triple-A level. Overall, in 272 minor league PAs, Arruebarrena slashed .259/.304/.417 with six homers and a pair of stolen bases. As Plunkett reminds, however, he was also seen as the catalyst in a brawl between the Triple-A affiliates for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, and his role in that tussle netted him a five-game suspension from the Pacific Coast League.

Friedman declined to indicate exactly how long Arruebarrena would be suspended, but he’s yet to play a single game for the Dodgers at any level in 2015.


Minor Moves: Joe Paterson, Dan Hennigan

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Royals have released left-hander Joe Paterson from his minor league contract, tweets Matt DeFranks of FOX Sports Kansas City. Paterson, who turned 29 two days ago, was a non-roster invitee and had a solid Spring Training that put him in consideration for a roster spot. However, he’s struggled at Triple-A this season, yielding eight runs on 14 hits and five unintentional walks with 12 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. Paterson has yet to replicate the strong numbers he put up in his 2011 rookie season with the D-Backs.
  • The Dodgers announced that they’ve signed infielder Dan Hennigan to a minor league contract and assigned him to Class-A Great Lakes, the team announced (on Twitter). The 25-year-old was a non-drafted free agent and had been playing with the independent Camden RiverSharks of the Atlantic League.

Phillies Notes: Revere, Utley, Howard, Nola

Ben Revere‘s name has begun to surface in trade rumors, but the speedy outfielder tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he isn’t fazed by seeing his name floated as a trade candidate. Revere says that the talk isn’t distracting, characterizing it as something that every player has to deal with at some point. (I’d imagine that having been traded once in the past has prepared him somewhat as well.) “This is a business,” Revere says. “When [Cody] Asche and [Domonic Brown] come back we’re going to have a lot of outfielders and someone might be out. I just have to prepare to help my team win whether it’s here or somewhere else. Just bust my tail and try to stay in the lineup.” Salisbury adds that he, like others, hears that the Angels have indeed discussed Revere with the Phillies.

Some more Phillies notes…

  • Continuing to play Ryan Howard and Chase Utley could actually help the Phillies’ rebuild, opines MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Zolecki points out that in mid-April, fans wanted Howard to be benched, if not released, but he’s hitting .292/.346/.615 with eight homers in 27 games dating back to April 21. By demonstrating that level of production, Zolecki notes, Howard can only have helped his trade value. The same could eventually be said of Utley, who is struggling badly this year. The Phils have little to lose by continuing to run Utley out there, however, he argues. The club will have plenty of time to see Cesar Hernandez play in the coming years, and Utley isn’t blocking a top-tier prospect. While some are worried about triggering Utley’s vesting option, Zolecki notes that if he’s still hitting well below .200 come July, the team can very easily alter that pace in the second half of the season.
  • General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and president Pat Gillick were on hand for yesterday’s Double-A Reading game, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News, and the two saw a masterful performance by 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola. The Phillies’ top decision-makers saw Nola fire seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and a walk against seven strikeouts in an effort that dropped his ERA to 1.54 through 52 2/3 innings. However, Amaro said that the team is not yet ready to give Nola a look at the Major League level, Lawrence writes. “There are some things he needs to work on still,” said Amaro. “There’s some areas he’s continuing to work on. We continue to discuss and put together a plan for him. We’re in the middle of formulating that plan.” Amaro wouldn’t say what specific areas Nola needed to improve, but the GM did say that it was certainly within the realm of possibility that Nola would pitch in the Major Leagues this season.

Hyun-jin Ryu Undergoes Season-Ending Shoulder Surgery

Dodgers left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu underwent shoulder surgery today that revealed damage in his labrum, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group (Twitter link). The labral repair surgery will end Ryu’s 2015 season without throwing a pitch, though Mattingly told reporters that the team’s expectation is that Ryu will be ready to pitch in Spring Training 2016.

The 28-year-old Ryu is earning $4MM in 2015 — the third season of a six-year, $36MM contract signed in the 2012-13 offseason. He’ll join right-hander Brandon McCarthy on the shelf for the duration of the season, leaving the Dodgers with just 60 percent of their projected rotation available for the rest of the year on May 21.

Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Brett Anderson will front the rotation moving forward, but Anderson’s injury history is among the lengthiest of any active pitcher in the league, so the Dodgers have to be at least somewhat concerned with their rotation depth moving forward. To this point, both Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias have pitched well as substitutes, but neither has any sort of track record in the Major Leagues.

Ryu projected as the Dodgers’ No. 3 starter this season after adjusting from the Korea Baseball Organization to Major League Baseball quite well from 2013-14. In those two seasons, Ryu worked to a combined 3.17 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 49.2 percent ground-ball rate. However, he failed to reach 200 frames in either of those campaigns, and he bothered by shoulder troubles in 2014, spending time on the 15-day DL early in the season and seeing his season end on Sept. 12 due to shoulder fatigue.

The Dodgers have a rich farm system that should afford them the ability to trade for rotation help if they see fit. Given the fact that the only starters who are guaranteed to return in 2016 are Kershaw, Ryu and McCarthy — Anderson is on a one-year deal, whereas Greinke has the ability to opt out of his contract’s remaining three years after the season — Los Angeles could is a speculative fit not only for rental pitchers such as Scott Kazmir, but for longer-term assets like Cole Hamels (if, of course, it is determined that trades are the best route).

The Dodgers have steadfastly refused to include Corey Seager, Julio Urias or breakout rookie Joc Pederson in trades to this point, and I’d imagine that will continue to be the case as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Nonetheless, the team has enough depth in the farm system that it will have a number of realistic targets to explore if president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and VP Josh Byrnes elect to engage other clubs in trade talks.


NL East Notes: Revere, MASN, Espinosa

The Phillies have indeed been talking about a deal involving outfielder Ben Revere with the Angels, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. With Philadelphia moving Cody Asche to a corner role and presumably prepared to give Domonic Brown another shot at the big league level, Revere figures to find himself without a role. Revere is earning a relatively steep $4.1MM salary in 2014 and will be eligible to be tendered arbitration contracts each of the next two seasons.

A bit more from the NL East…

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred left little doubt where he stands on the still-pending legal dispute between the Nationals and Orioles regarding television fees, as Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports (Twitter links). “Sooner or later MASN is going to be required to pay those rights fees,” said Manfred of the increased payouts awarded to the Nationals by the league’s Revenue Sharing Decisions Committee. Technically, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is the plaintiff in the lawsuit; it is jointly owned by both clubs but controlled by Baltimore, which holds a majority share. That validity of that panel’s decision is the immediate matter at issue in the suit.
  • Danny Espinosa has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationals, but his turnaround is due more to a lack of trying too hard than to any intentional adjustments, as James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. While Espinosa spent the spring hitting exclusively from the right side of the plate, he returned to a switch-hitting approach during the season and has suddenly thrived from the left side. The 28-year-old middle infielder is playing on a $1.8MM contract this year, and can be controlled for two more years via arbitration. Washington gained an extra season of arb control when it demoted him early in 2013. Espinosa has long been talked about as a trade candidate, but with Anthony Rendon injured and Ian Desmond struggling in his final contract year, that increasingly seems unlikely — despite the fact that Espinosa’s value is higher now than it has been in some time.