The D-backs announced that ace Zack Greinke left tonight’s game after two innings with tightness in his left oblique. The severity of the injury isn’t known, but the D-backs have already suffered quite a few injuries this season and can ill afford to lose Greinke for any substantial period of time. Since a rocky start to the season, Greinke has turned in a 2.58 ERA over 11 starts dating back to April 30. Arizona has already lost A.J. Pollock for much of the season (if not all of it) and also has Rubby De La Rosa, David Peralta, Chris Owings and Socrates Brito on the disabled list at this time.
The Giants announced after last night’s game that third baseman Matt Duffy is headed to the disabled list with a strained Achilles tendon in his left foot. As MLB.com’s Chris Haft writes, Duffy is headed for a second opinion on the injury right now, though the initial expectations don’t appear to forecast a lengthy absence for the 25-year-old. Duffy cautioned that he wants to avoid returning from the injury too soon and aggravating his Achilles, as it could lead to a more prolonged absence. Ramiro Pena and Conor Gillaspie figure to platoon at third base in his absence, writes Haft, with outfielder Mac Williamson a likely candidate to come up and tack Duffy’s roster spot in the interim. Asked whether top prospect Christian Arroyo, who can play either shortstop or third base, would be an option to replace Duffy, general manager Bobby Evans indicated that the organization feels that Arroyo requires more development time in the minor leagues.
More from the NL West…
- Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune spoke to scouts from both leagues to get their thoughts on a number of the Padres’ trade candidates, including Fernando Rodney, Jon Jay, Derek Norris, Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., Drew Pomeranz, Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte (injured right-handers Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner are notably absent). One scout noted how difficult it will be to convince a team to take on Kemp’s contract in his “arthritic condition,” and a second scout called both Kemp and Upton “dead weight” despite the latter’s reasonably solid offensive numbers the past two seasons. Regarding Myers and Pomeranz, Lin received a pair of replies saying it’d be prudent to hang onto the pair of controllable pieces, while another pair called out each player’s limited track record in questioning their overall value. As one scout put it, a “lot of people are lukewarm about [Myers] across the game” at this time.
- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood is among the most successful two-time Tommy John patients in history, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Chatwood is currently the only two-time TJ patient that is currently making regular starts at the Major League level, and he’s pitched to a 3.15 ERA in 85 2/3 innings for the Rockies thus far in 2016. Chatwood credits his success to a dedication to studying other elite pitchers and adopting a mix of pitches that he feels could be less stressful on his arm upon returning from his second surgery. Groke calls Chatwood the ace of the Rox’ staff, though I’d respectfully disagree and give that label to up-and-coming Jon Gray; while Gray’s ERA pales in comparison, his strikeout, walk and swinging-strike rates all point to improvement on the horizon. Regardless of one’s preference between the two, though, Gray and Chatwood represent a nice pair of arms for the Rockies to deploy in their rotation moving forward.
- D-backs outfielder David Peralta, who landed on the disabled list with a back strain yesterday, is getting an MRI today according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter). Neither Peralta nor the team believes the injury to be too serious in nature, so the test would appear to be fairly precautionary in nature.
- Pirates righty Ryan Vogelsong, who spent the 2011-15 seasons with the Giants, told reporters yesterday (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) that he would have loved to return to San Francisco but understood why the team elected not to pursue him this winter. “I kind of knew they were probably going after some front-line guys for the rotation to make it better and give them more innings and take a load of the bullpen,” Vogelsong explained. “It was never my intention to make it seem like I didn’t want to go back there. I would have loved to go back. It was a matter of a team progressing.” Vogelsong is currently recovering from a truly frightening eye injury suffered when he was hit in the face by a fastball. As he explained to Schulman, he feels fortunate that he’s able to see out of his left eye and is currently seeing with 20-20 vision and making throws of up to 90 feet.
In a series of roster moves, the D-Backs announced on Monday that right-hander Shelby Miller has been activated from the disabled list, while outfielder David Peralta has once again been placed on the 15-day DL — this time due to a lower back strain. Additionally, Arizona has optioned infielder/outfielder Brandon Drury to Triple-A Reno and recalled outfielder Socrates Brito in his place.
[Related: Updated Arizona Diamondbacks depth chart]
Miller returns to the Diamondbacks after landing on the DL last month with a sprained index finger in his pitching hand. Both team and player will be hoping for markedly better results this time around, as Miller’s woeful start to the season was one of the most talked-about early slumps of the year. In 45 2/3 innings, the 25-year-old posted a dreadful 7.09 ERA and averaged just 5.9 K/9 against an alarming 5.7 BB/9 with a 40 percent ground-ball rate that represented a significant decrease from last season’s career-best 47.7 percent. Miller’s struggles have contributed to a 4.72 ERA from Arizona starters that is currently tied with the Royals for 23rd in the Majors. Certainly, that wasn’t the result that Arizona execs Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa were expecting when signing Zack Greinke and trading a king’s ransom for Miller this offseason, but an injury to Rubby De La Rosa and struggles from lefties Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin have all contributed to the problem.
Peralta’s trip to the disabled list will mark the second of the season for the 28-year-old. He’d previously missed about three weeks due to inflammation in his right wrist. It’s not immediately clear how long he’ll need to be out of action, but he’d been out of the lineup since last Wednesday as it is, and the D-backs seemingly no longer felt that they could play with a short bench. While he’s hitting just .259/.308/.442 on the season, Peralta’s injury further depletes the D-backs’ outfield depth, as A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings are each already on the disabled list.
A month ago, it might’ve seemed ridiculous to suggest that Drury would be optioned to the minors; as of May 20, he was hitting .309/.340/.547 and had forced his way into an everyday role — splitting time between the outfield, third base and, occasionally, second base. However, Drury has batted a paltry .200/.257/.262 since that time and, more troublesomely, struck out 21 times in 70 plate appearances (30 percent). The demotion will allow him to get everyday at-bats in the minors while giving Brito another crack at big-league pitching.
There are also some potential service time implications for Drury, who is up to 112 days of Major League service between his 2015 debut and 2016 season to date. He’ll need another 60 days on the big league roster to reach a full year of service, so the length of his stay in the minors will be worth monitoring. It’s also worth noting that the fact that Arizona chose to option Drury certainly doesn’t indicate that he’s fallen out of favor in any way; a report from just last night indicated that the versatile 23-year-old is held in high enough regard within the organization that the D-backs would likely ask the Mets for a controllable piece such as Zack Wheeler in a trade to acquire Drury.
As for Brito, his overall minor league batting line isn’t overly impressive, but he’s been on a tear over his past 20 games, batting .393/.409/.643 with a dozen extra-base hits (five doubles, five triples, two homers). From a service time standpoint, Brito would fall shy of a full year even if he sticks on the big league roster for the remainder of the season.
- The Diamondbacks’ Brandon Drury is a fit as a possible third base target for the Mets, though a source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that Arizona holds Drury in high value. For Drury, the D’Backs would likely ask the Mets for someone like Zack Wheeler in return, which Harper figures is way too high a price in a one-for-one trade. Drury was actually demoted today by the D’Backs in an effort to give him regular playing time rather than ride the bench on Arizona’s crowded roster. The 23-year-old has a .270/.310/.450 slash line and eight homers over 213 PA for the Snakes, numbers boosted by a huge performance over the first six weeks of the season.
- Shelby Miller will return to the major league hill for the Diamondbacks on Monday, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com tweets. Miller had been on the DL for a finger injury, though he was also looking to right the ship after an abysmal start to his career in Arizona. If the club has any hope of clawing back into the postseason picture, it’ll need Miller to turn things around.
The Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with Anfernee Grier, the team’s top draft pick, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). He’ll receive a $1.5MM bonus, which lands just shy of the $1,658,600 allocation for the 39th overall selection.
Arizona sacrificed its first-round selection to sign Zack Greinke over the winter, but made clear it wasn’t interested in punting its competitive balance lottery choice to add another qualifying offer-bound free agent. Grier represents the payoff for that decision.
An outfielder from Auburn University, Grier was widely viewed as one of the fifty best draft-eligible prospects coming into this year’s festivities. The ESPN.com team rated him highest, at No. 40, citing his improving mechanics at the plate and top-end athleticism. He’s a center fielder who could still grow into additional power, so there’s upside aplenty.
Of course, there’s also some reason for skepticism. Baseball America (which rated him 49th) and MLB.com (54th) were somewhat less willing to bet on Grier. He doesn’t have a lengthy and consistent track record of dominance at the college level, and doesn’t feature well-developed plate discipline.
The Diamondbacks are currently 11.5 games out of first place in the NL West and seven games back due to their 29-38 record on the season, prompting speculation that the team could emerge as a seller this summer (as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently noted in profiling the top trade candidates in the game). However, while GM Dave Stewart acknowledged to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (links to Twitter) that he’s getting calls on right-handers Daniel Hudson and Brad Ziegler, both of whom are free agents at season’s end, he added that the D-backs will consider extensions for each player in advance of their arrival on the open market.
Stewart says that he plans to meet with ownership to determine how to proceed with the relievers, so there’s nothing set in stone. Certainly, the possibility exists that Stewart’s hope is to bolster the trade value of each reliever by feigning interest in a new deal. However, the D-backs have operated largely in a win-now capacity since Stewart, Tony La Russa and De Jon Watson have been positioned atop the front office, with a series of costly additions (including reliever Tyler Clippard, who also looks like a plausible trade candidate).
It’s fair to wonder whether it’s sensible for Arizona to pursue new contracts with the right-handers at this juncture. Ziegler is 36, and his 2.93 ERA isn’t fully supported by the peripherals; in particular, he has probably been fortunate not to surrender a home run on the year. He’s still a groundball machine, and is unquestionably a useful reliever, but it may be an opportune time to cash him in. You could say the same of Hudson, who is pumping 95 but remains a long-term injury question mark due to his string of Tommy John surgeries. Any opportunity to build out farm depth would surely be welcome for a team that has parted with some significant young assets in recent years, and Arizona has long said that it’s high on some minor league arms.
On the other hand, there is some potential logic in a holding strategy — at least if there’s a reasonable plan in place to make these hurlers part of a hopeful contender for 2017. Teams know their own players better than others, of course, and there could be some cost savings to be had by agreeing to terms before Ziegler and Hudson reach the open market at the end of the season. This brings to mind the Rockies’ decision not to trade LaTroy Hawkins back in 2014. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, the return on a less-than-premium reliever may not always be worth parting with a player you hope to have on hand for the following season. In that particular case, Hawkins provided value in the ensuing campaign and ultimately was shipped out as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how things shake out. The greatest appeal to an extension might be the chance to avoid an overly lengthy commitment to either pitcher. But Arizona surely ought to at least check and see whether another organization is willing to cough up anything of interest in a trade scenario.
- The Diamondbacks have agreed to sign fourth-rounder Curtis Taylor for $496K, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports (Twitter link). The bonus is just barely under slot for the 119th overall pick, which carries a $496.7K value. Taylor is a 6’6″, 225-pound right-hander from the University of British Columbia who was ranked 130th on Baseball America’s top 500 list of draft prospects. BA’s scouting report (available to subscribers) says Taylor has touched 96mph with his fastball.
- Reliever Daniel Hudson, a pending free agent, could be a hot commodity around the trade deadline if the Diamondbacks decide to sell. The right-handed flame-thrower has tossed 24 2/3 innings this year and logged a 1.82 ERA, 8.03 K/9 and 2.19 BB/9, also inducing ground balls 49.2 percent of the time.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball:
- The Cubs have announced the signing of free agent infielder Josh Silver to a minor league pact. The 26-year-old has been playing for River City of the independent Frontier League since last season and has hit .320/.392/.442 with six homers in 306 PAs.
- The Diamondbacks have signed free agent third baseman Travis Denker to a minor league deal, per a club announcement. Denker last spent time with a major league organization in 2012, when he appeared in 64 games with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate. His only big league action came in 2008 as a member of the Giants, with whom he hit .243/.333/.486 in 42 plate appearances. Denker has bounced around multiple independent leagues and the Mexican League in recent years.
- The Cubs have claimed right-handed reliever R.J. Alvarez off waivers from the Athletics and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com was among those to report (Twitter link). Alvarez has impressively struck out 32 hitters in 28 career major league innings, but the 2012 third-round pick has offset that by walking 18 and registering a 7.39 ERA. The 25-year-old is currently working his way back from March surgery on his right elbow.
- The Marlins have signed free agent righty Travis Ballew to a minor league contract, the team announced. The reliever spent 2012-15 with the Astros organization after going in the 23rd round of the draft, though Houston never promoted him to the big leagues. Ballew, 25, opened this season pitching for Fargo-Moorhead of the independent American Association. In 221 career minor league innings, Ballew has posted a 4.03 ERA, 9.5 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.