We at MLBTR would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez, whose 25-year-old brother, Brandy, was stabbed and killed earlier today in Volquez’s native Dominican Republic, per a report from Emmanuel Rosario of QuisqueyanoSports.com and this one from ESPN. A suspect is reportedly in custody. It’s been a rough couple of years for Volquez and his family, as Volquez’s father passed away just prior to his son’s start for the Royals in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series.
As we keep Volquez and his family in our thoughts, here are a few more notes from the NL East…
- Recent agreements by the Blue Jays (Jose Bautista) and Phillies (Michael Saunders) have caused the Mets’ potential trade options for right fielder Jay Bruce to dwindle, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. (I’d also note the Orioles’ acquisition of Seth Smith in that list of deterrents to a Bruce swap.) The Giants and Rangers could be the only two remaining plausible landing spots for Bruce, Puma continues, noting that each team has had previous interest in Bruce. However, according to Puma, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has not yet shown a willingness to absorb any of Bruce’s $13MM salary in a trade, which only further exacerbates the difficulty of trading him in a market flooded with cheaper corner options. Puma speculates that the Mets may be forced to open the season with Bruce on the roster and look to move him early in the regular season, as they did with Ike Davis back in 2014.
- Braves general manager John Coppolella spoke to David Laurila of Fangraphs about his slew of trades this offseason, discussing topics such as longstanding interest in the prospects acquired by Atlanta, moving Alex Jackson back to catcher, and negotiating trades with Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto. Coppolella says that the Braves had a folder on left-hander Thomas Burrows, acquired in last week’s Mallex Smith trade, on their table on draft day before he was selected by the Mariners in the fourth round. “…[W]e literally had our pockets picked by Seattle,” Coppolella said. He also acknowledged interest in lefty Luiz Gohara dating back to his amateur days in 2012 before Gohara agreed to sign in Seattle. Of Dipoto, Coppolella offered high praise. “It’s worth noting that Jerry is extremely professional about returning calls and texts, open to ideas, and not afraid to make moves, particularly in terms of trading prospects,” he said. “It’s amazing how many conversations get shot down almost immediately, but Jerry will listen and engage.” I’d highly recommend a full read-through not just for Braves and Mariners fans but for any fans that want a bit of a behind-the-scenes look on the player movement.
- Right-hander Aaron Nola tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that he’s healthy and ready to go for Spring Training. The Phillies aren’t placing any restrictions on the former No. 7 overall pick, Zolecki adds, which is certainly good news for Phils fans after Nola’s season ended prematurely due to a “low grade” UCL and flexor strain. Nola, 23, was in the midst of an excellent year before his performance rapidly declined in early June. Through June 5, Nola had turned in a 2.65 ERA with 9.8 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 53.9 percent ground-ball rate in 78 innings (12 starts). Over his next (and final) eight starts, though, Nola logged a ghastly 9.82 ERA in just 33 innings. His walk rate more than doubled over those eight starts (3.8 BB/9), and Nola also hit five batters in that short time frame as well. If healthy in 2017, he figures to be a critical component to a Phillies rotation that’ll also feature Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, the returning Jeremy Hellickson and the newly acquired Clay Buchholz.