The Rangers will activate outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. GM Jon Daniels has announced that Hamilton is “physically and game ready” per Wilson (via Twitter). The Angels are on the hook for most of the remaining salary on his contract. Hamilton is hoping to rebound from a couple sub-par seasons by his standards. Statistically, 2013 was his worst season on a rate basis, and he was still five percent better than the average hitter. His rehab work produced mixed results. He battered Double-A pitching (9-for-17), but scuffled in Triple-A action (7-for-29).
Ryan Howard has recovered some trade value after a hot month of hitting, writes Eric Seidman of CSN Philly. The Phillies‘ first baseman has hit 10 home runs with 21 RBI and a .303 average over his last 30 games. Seidman identifies three clubs as potential fits for Howard – the Angels, Rays, and Twins. The Angels have struggled mightily against right-handed pitching. They could easily insert Howard into the designated hitter slot to help solve that issue. The Rays and Twins have performed better overall, but both clubs have received poor production from their designated hitters. I happen to agree with Seidman’s analysis and even tabbed Minnesota as a potential fit for Howard earlier this evening.
Shohei Otani could be the next Japanese star to transition to the majors, writes Jim Caple of ESPN. The 20-year-old is still three to four seasons from being posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters. He owns a 2.71 ERA with 274 strikeouts in 259 innings. The righty can reach back for 100 mph heat, but he also displays solid ability at the plate. In between starts, he plays about three to four games a week in the field. In 485 plate appearances, he’s hit .253/.303/.445 with 15 home runs. Major league teams will be more interested in his triple-digit heater, but pitchers like Madison Bumgarner can tell you about the value of an offensive presence in the nine-hole.
Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang may soon join his ninth major league franchise, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Harang’s career trajectory includes a dominant, stable peak with the Reds followed by a multi-season reinvention with a handful of clubs. With the Phillies in rebuild mode, Harang is a prime trade candidate. His 1.82 ERA, 6.67 K/9, and 1.97 BB/9 would represent an upgrade for any club. However, it’s worth noting his 4.12 xFIP. Harang has allowed just two home runs despite a high fly ball rate. Kepner offers more detail about Harang’s transformation from power pitcher to crafty veteran.
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has experienced a setback with his left hip impingement, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Mesoraco indicated that this week would be “pivotal” in deciding if the condition required surgery. He hasn’t been in the lineup the last two days, but he might be available to pinch hit tomorrow. To this point, club and player have attempted to avoid the surgical option.
Dodgers catcher Yasmany Grandal has a “mild concussion,” writes Anthony Witrado of MLB.com. Last night, Grandal was hit in the jaw by a Yangervis Solarte backswing, and he took a Matt Kemp foul ball off the mask. The club expects him to be ready to resume baseball activities in a few days. He may only require the minimum seven day stay on the disabled list.
Shelby Miller has done well to make the Braves look good for trading Jason Heyward. However, Tyrell Jenkins is doing his best to improve the return for the Braves. The 22-year-old righty has performed strongly in Double-A. Scouts and players credit him with excellent makeup. He tore his lat in 2012 and 2013 which has delayed his development as a prospect. He’s now fully healthy for the first time in years and reaching 96 mph on the gun. Although he has a shiny 2.94 ERA, his 5.71 K/9 and 3.81 BB/9 could stand to improve.
The Padres are scouting the Brewers for a shortstop. They may lack the prospects to acquire Jean Segura, but San Diego GM A.J. Preller is familiar with Luis Sardinas from his days in the Rangers system. The Brewers are also taking calls on right-hander Mike Fiers, but they’re not interested in trading him.
The Angels have plenty of starting pitching depth to acquire offensive firepower. They could call upon Andrew Heaney if they trade a major leaguer pitcher. Alternatively, Heaney or Nick Tropeano could be offered in a swap. The Halos also have Tyler Skaggs and Sean Newcomb as long term options. Skaggs is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Newcomb is working his way through the system (currently in High-A) after being selected 15th overall last June.
The Twins aren’t yet buyers, but they’ll receive reinforcements when Ervin Santana and Casey Fien return to action. Santana is eligible to return from his PED suspension on July 4. Fien is currently on the disabled list. The club has received poor production from center field and designated hitter. They could stick with Aaron Hicks in center with Kennys Vargas as the primary designated hitter, but the addition of a “big bopper” would improve the overall outlook. My own speculation: I wonder if a combination of Ben Revere and Ryan Howard would make sense – assuming the Phillies ate enough cash.
Mets third baseman David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports. In a second tweet, Rosenthal notes that the condition can be treated via epidural or a “minimally invasive surgery.” Yesterday, he began his latest rehab attempt from hamstring and back issues, but he has already been shut down with the new diagnosis. Needless to say, the timetable for Wright’s return is now completely uncertain while he decides on treatment options. The franchise third baseman is owed $20MM in 2015 and $87MM through 2020.
The Yankees will promote left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He’ll take the place of Branden Pinder who threw three innings in today’s blow out loss. Lindgren was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft. He’s spent the 2015 campaign at Triple-A. In 22 innings, he has allowed a 1.23 ERA, 11.86 K/9, and 4.09 BB/9 in 22 innings. Lindgren is the third high profile pitcher from the most recent draft class to reach the majors. Brandon Finnegan and Carlos Rodon have also received their first taste of the big leagues, although Finnegan is currently in Triple-A.
Stephen Drew and Daniel Murphy are among twelve players who have hurt their free agent stock, writes Sherman for the New York Post. Drew has shown little evidence of rebounding from a horrific 2014 season. His batting average remains below the Mendoza line, and he’s in danger of losing his job to Robert Refsnyder. Meanwhile, Murphy is off to a slow start at the plate. Per Sherman, his hitting has always allowed the Mets to look past his mediocre defense. In the case of Murphy, a little patience may be in order. His contact rates and power remain within career norms. In fact, his current strikeout rate is a career best. An unusually low .252 BABIP is the obvious culprit for the poor production. Sherman also discusses 10 other non-New Yorkers who may be losing money.
The Mets will utilize a six-man rotation for at least one week, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Dillon Gee is set to return to action tomorrow afternoon. The rotation will remain in the normal order. Matt Harvey, who was spanked by the Pirates this afternoon, will appear next Saturday with two extra days of rest. While trade speculation will continue to surround Gee, he still has value to the Mets as a means to limit the workloads of Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom.
In late February, Jeff Todd asked MLBTR readers which team would sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano, and a bit more than a quarter of you thought he would end up with the Blue Jays. Almost three months later, the Scott Boras client remains a free agent, so now seems like a good time to revisit the question.
Near the beginning of the season, the Twins and Tigers each reportedly showed at least some interest, although perhaps not much. The Reds then ruled themselves out as candidates to sign Soriano. Later, the Mariners reportedly had at least some contact with Soriano. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman also suggested that the Indians, Dodgers and Pirates might also be possibilities, although those seemed speculative. It seems unlikely that the Dodgers would pursue Soriano now given how good their bullpen has been, and the Pirates don’t seem particularly likely given their strong interest in ground-ball pitchers. The Marlins were the next team to be connected to Soriano, although early last week it emerged that they had lost interest. By late last week, he’d been connected to the Cubs.
More speculatively, the Padres are a potential contender with a struggling bullpen, although they’re set at closer and could prefer the talent they have on hand. The Red Sox are in a somewhat similar boat, although calling them a “potential contender” might strike some of their fans as off base, even though they aren’t yet out of contention. The Diamondbacks are near .500 and recently bumped Addison Reed from their closer role. The Rangers also have an unsettled closer situation and are on the fringes of the AL Wild Card race at this early point in the season, although Shawn Tolleson got two saves this week and has pitched well all year, suggesting he might fit well at closer. The Rockies have a poorly performing bullpen and might be convinced to sign Soriano if he were cheap enough, but are far enough out of contention that the upside of such a move would be limited.
The number of fits is unclear, then, and much could depend upon Soriano’s cost. There’s also the issue of his likely performance — the Marlins reportedly backed away because they felt Soriano wasn’t an upgrade. That might sound wrong for a pitcher who’s had 107 saves total over the past three seasons, but Soriano is 35 and posted a 6.48 ERA in the second half last season.
Reds ace Johnny Cueto will miss his start Sunday with elbow soreness, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Raisel Iglesias will start in his place. The Reds say Cueto’s soreness is not serious. “He pitched in Kansas City without any trouble,” says Reds manager Bryan Price. “In the days following … his [soreness has] been lingering a little longer. He’s our workhorse. He probably could pitch tomorrow if we had to have him.” An extended absence would, obviously, be a serious blow to the Reds. Cueto came in second in NL Cy Young balloting in 2014 while leading the NL in innings pitched (243 2/3), batters faced (961) and pitches thrown (3,659). Those are very crude measures of a pitcher’s injury risk, but an elbow issue is surely at least worth watching for a pitcher coming off such a high-impact year. Cueto is, of course, a free agent after the season. Here are more notes from the National League.
After a poor first month of his $155MM contract with the Cubs, Jon Lester is feeling more comfortable, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. “You definitely don’t want to be one of those guys that at the end of it you look at it as a bust,” Lester says. “You want everything to just fall into place. But sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes you have take a few beatings to get back to doing the things that you’re used to.” After posting a 6.23 ERA in April, Lester now has a 1.85 ERA in May after pitching seven strong innings against the Diamondbacks yesterday.
The Mets are still seeking to trade outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets. They designated Nieuwenhuis for assignment earlier this week, and his situation should be resolved by next weekend. Getting anything of value will likely be difficult — Nieuwenhuis had a terrible time in 40 plate appearances this season, hitting .079/.125/.132, and he’s out of options.
The Padres have announced that they’ve claimed lefty reliever Eury De La Rosa from the Dodgers and optioned him to Triple-A El Paso. To clear space on their 40-man roster, they moved righty Josh Johnson (elbow) to the 60-day disabled list. The Dodgers designated De La Rosa for assignment earlier this week.
De La Rosa, 25, continues to his fourth West division organization in six months. After he posted a 2.95 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 36 2/3 innings with Arizona in 2014, the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment in December and traded him to the Athletics. The A’s then designated him in April, at which point the Dodgers claimed him.
De La Rosa has pitched for Triple-A teams in both the Athletics and Dodgers organizations this season, striking out ten batters but walking nine and allowing eight runs, five earned, in 13 1/3 innings. Those aren’t inspiring numbers, obviously, and De La Rosa’s fastball generally doesn’t top 90 MPH, but he’s had some big-league success and can still be optioned, so it’s not surprising he’s attracted so much interest on the waiver wire.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
The Dodgers have signed righty Mickey Storey to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Storey will head to Double-A Tulsa. Storey pitched in the Blue Jays system in 2014 and began his 2015 season with five dominant starts for Somerset in the Atlantic League. The 29-year-old has a career 4.19 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 34 1/3 career big-league innings with the Astros and Blue Jays.
The Marlins have announced that they’ve selected the contract of Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A New Orleans and recalled fellow righty Andre Rienzo. The two pitchers will take the places of Henderson Alvarez (shoulder inflammation) and Mat Latos (knee inflammation) on the Marlins’ active roster as Alvarez and Latos both head to the 15-day DL. The 28-year-old Mazzaro pitched in only 10 1/3 big-league innings for the Pirates in 2014 despite an effective 2013 season in the Bucs’ bullpen. He had a 3.15 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 20 innings of relief at New Orleans this season. The Marlins won’t need another starter until Tuesday, with Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and David Phelps scheduled to pitch the next three days, so Mazzaro and Rienzo will likely provide bullpen help at least until then.
White Sox great Paul Konerko‘s number will be retired today, as Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com notes. Since retiring last season, Konerko says, he has watched the White Sox on occasion but hasn’t spent much time watching baseball. He did, however, attend Wayne Gretzky’s fantasy hockey camp, and he has three young children. “A lot of guys I talked to said, ‘Listen, you have to find things to do,'” says Konerko. “When you go home, they said, ‘You can only play so much golf.’ I definitely have a lot of stuff going on to keep me sharp.” Here’s more from the American League.
Of all the players who left the Blue Jays last winter, the one who would have helped the team the most is, improbably, J.A. Happ, Brendan Kennedy of TheStar.com writes. The Jays’ rotation has struggled this season, while Happ has produced a 3.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 for the Mariners. Happ had frequently been little more than a contingency plan in Toronto. “They must have felt like they had better options,” says Happ. “I just tried to take advantage of the opportunities when I got them, but I was definitely trying to fight for my cause.”
The Red Sox should at least consider firing John Farrell, writes Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. Since winning a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, Farrell has a .441 winning percentage as manager, and this year’s team is filled with expensive but struggling veterans. Nonetheless, the AL East hasn’t been a strong division this year, and the Red Sox could still win it. Smith suggests that might be difficult, though, if the Red Sox don’t dramatically improve or make changes.
The lack of clear front-line talent at the top of this year’s draft means there’s plenty of uncertainty, as John Manuel’s latest mock draft for Baseball America demonstrates. Manuel has the Diamondbacks choosing a new name with the top overall pick: that of Illinois lefty Tyler Jay. That would be a surprising selection, given that Jay is relatively small and a reliever, but many scouts believe he’s capable of starting, and one scouting director tells Manuel that Jay has terrific stuff and an easier delivery than Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer, another potential No. 1 overall pick. Here are more quick notes on the draft.
Cubs president Theo Epstein watched UCLA righty James Kaprielian in Oregon last night, FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets. The Cubs have the No. 9 overall pick. McDaniel notes that Kaprielian is attracting interest from other top-ten teams as well. MLB.com notes that Kaprielian throws a good changeup and likely projects as a mid-rotation type of pitcher.
This year’s potential draftees includes Mariano Rivera, Jr., son of the great Yankees closer, Paul Casella of MLB.com writes. The Yankees took the younger Rivera in the 29th round last season, but he headed back to Iona for another season and became the MAAC Pitcher of the Year. He should be drafted significantly earlier in 2015. Several other draft prospects also have pro baseball bloodlines, including outfielder Kyle Tucker (the brother of Preston Tucker of the Astros), outfielder Daz Cameron (Mike Cameron‘s son) and infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes (the son of Charlie Hayes).
The Orioles have agreed to a deal with Cuban lefty Ariel Miranda, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. It will be a minor-league contract, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (also on Twitter). The deal will is contingent upon a physical.
The 25-year-old Miranda pitched for seven seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, most recently posting a 3.24 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 13 starts with Mayabeque and Isla de la Juventud in 2013. Due to Miranda’s age and experience, his signing will not be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 168 pounds. Beyond that, there isn’t much information available in English about Miranda, although Sanchez listed him as a free agent to watch in February. Miranda had reportedly established residency in Haiti and was training in the Dominican Republic, according to Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald. Ebro also notes that Miranda is represented by Praver Shapiro.
While neither pitcher toed the rubber in tonight’s tilt, Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett and veteran Phillies starter Aaron Harang played an interesting role in the action by squaring off in a notable pre-game National Anthem stand-off. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post provides a nice account of the duel, which lasted until after the first pitch was thrown and ultimately mirrored the game itself in producing a tightly-fought victory for Washington.
Here are the latest notes from the eastern seaboard:
The Mets continue to fall back in the standings, but have at least received solid initial returns on prized righty Noah Syndergaard, who was something of a tough-luck loser tonight but owns a 3.63 ERA with 16 strikeouts and five walks in 17 1/3 innings. As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports, the team intends to keep Syndergaard on the active roster when righty Dillon Gee is activated this weekend. In fact, the club may utilize a six-man rotation of some kind for a stretch. That’s good news for Syndergaard, who profiles as a likely Super Two qualifier if he can stick in the big leagues the rest of the way.
One of the few bright spots for the Mets on the offensive side of the equation is first baseman Lucas Duda, as Craig Edwards of Fangraphs explains. Duda’s big numbers last year came in spite of struggles against left-handed pitching, but Edwards writes that his overall body of work in that area, including excellent early numbers this year, show promise that he can be a strong everyday option at first.
Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo told reporters before today’s game that he does not expect to be a savior for the scuffling club, as John Tomase of WEEI.com reports. “Obviously, I’m very excited, but right now it’s just important to keep in mind the job at hand and try to keep the same momentum I had at Triple-A,” said Castillo. His first appearance in 2015 was not a memorable one for him or his team, but Castillo does look like he could be an important piece as Boston tries to work a turnaround.
While the Red Sox outfield logjam perhaps no longer holds quite the promise of abundance it once did, managing the roster remains a challenge — and a story to watch as the trade market begins to take form. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter, manager John Farrell says that he plans to rotate Castillo in at both center and right in some kind of time share with Mookie Betts and Shane Victorino. All three hit right-handed, as does left fielder Hanley Ramirez, seemingly leaving at least some role for the switch-hitting Daniel Nava, particularly with Ramirez and Victorino nursing injuries.
The game is in need of greater minority representation in its most visible non-playing role, that of manager, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists twenty excellent candidates who ought to receive strong consideration from those clubs that are in need of new dugout leaders after the season.
It’s no secret, of course, that Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman would draw intense interest on the trade market if they are made available. Writing for FOX Sports, Jeff Sullivan analyzes just how much they could bring back this summer. In spite of his excellence, Cueto might most realistically be expected to bring back a very good prospect rather than a great one, says Sullivan, while Chapman probably has somewhat more value given his nearly-unmatched dominance and extra year of control. As Sullivan notes, the possibility of jointly marketing the two in search of more premium talent in less player seems interesting, though perhaps something of a long shot.
The Twins have decided to move top-100 pitching prospect Alex Meyer into the Triple-A bullpen, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. It appears that the team is doing so more with the idea of getting him back on track than preparing him for MLB bullpen work — Meyer has struggled mightily, especially with his control — but it would not be surprising to see him appear as a late-inning arm if he can turn things around and Minnesota can stay in the hunt.
Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who is set to miss the rest of the year with shoulder surgery, told reporters that he has been pitching with a labrum tear at least since he signed with the club, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group tweets. Ryu says that his MRI back in 2013 revealed the slight tear, which has not worsened — but is apparently now a much greater problem — since that time.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers will not attempt to void the contract of infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets. While the club felt justified in suspending Arruebarrena for the entire rest of the year for disciplinary reasons, Saxon says that the still-unreported transgressions were not considered significant enough to warrant yet more drastic action.
Surkamp, 27, has not found much big league success over the years; he owns a 6.20 ERA with 5.5 K/9 against 5.0 BB/9 over 53 2/3 career innings. That included a middling output last year in the White Sox bullpen, which he joined after spending most of his career as a starter in the Giants organization.
Surkamp passed through waivers this spring, but has been rather excellent since. Over 25 2/3 Triple-A innings (in just 11 appearances, including one start), he has fanned 30 hitters while walking only nine and permitting eight earned runs.
For Los Angeles, the move represents yet another pitching depth move. Presumably, Surkamp will continue in a relief capacity, though his long history as a starter makes him at least a spot option in the rotation.
Smith, also 27, had been working at Double-A for the L.A. organization. Only recently converted from an outfielder to a reliever, Smith has racked up 16 2/3 innings of 1.62 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 against 4.9 BB/9 this year in Tulsa.