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Carlos Rodon Rumors
Chris Young‘s career turned on a 1,168-word email the Royals right-hander wrote to a St. Louis surgeon in 2013 where he diagnosed himself as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. Dr. Robert Thompson, director of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome concurred, and performed a decompression procedure to free the nerves in Young’s shoulder. “I feel better now at 35 than I did when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, because I was dealing with so much pain,” Young said. “I forgot what it was like to be healthy. Now I try to make up for lost time.” And that he has. Nearly two years after undergoing the career-saving operation, Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, has been a relevation for the Royals pitching to a 1.06 ERA in seven games (including one start) with a 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 17 innings of work.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- The next start for Tigers ace David Price will be pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to give his mild hamstring strain extra time to heal, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Price says he could have pitched on normal rest, so the move is simply precautionary.
- The Tigers have a need for a left-handed power bat off the bench, but risk losing out-of-options infielder Hernan Perez to waivers if they attempt such an move, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott.
- After throwing 108 pitches in winning his MLB debut as a starter, the White Sox remain coy on whether Carlos Rodon will remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “You’re also somewhat protecting the amount of usage you’re going to get out of him over the course of the year, so there’s some factors that go into it for him and his learning curve and things like that,” said manager Robin Ventura. “There’s more to it than he’s just ready to go.” If Rodon remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, Merkin calculates the left-hander will approach the team’s unofficial innings limit of 160.
- The Red Sox‘s July 2014 trade of John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly is looking worse and worse, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Craig performed poorly down the stretch in 2014 for the Red Sox and has been just as bad this year, and while Kelly’s radar gun readings have been impressive, his performance hasn’t (although his peripherals this season have been much better than his 5.72 ERA). Meanwhile, Lackey has pitched well for the Cardinals while making the league minimum salary.
The Brewers‘ recent firing of Ron Roenicke raises questions about how long they will retain GM Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin is in the final year of his contract, and while there have been no specific indications that owner Mark Attanasio won’t retain him, not much has worked out right for Melvin in the past eight months or so. The team collapsed down the stretch last season, and then a roster that featured most of last year’s key players got off to a terrible start in 2015. One significant move (the addition of Adam Lind) has gone well, and as I wrote this spring, the Brewers’ offseason strategy was mostly defensible, although that was partially because the team’s lack of ready or near-ready young talent would make an aggressive rebuild long and painful. Haudricourt notes that fans are speculating about the possibility that Attanasio and Melvin have already agreed on a new deal for Melvin, but they don’t want to announce it because of how unpopular such a move would be among many fans right now. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Reds hired Hall of Famer and former superstar Barry Larkin as a roving minor-league infield instructor, but Larkin isn’t looking to get into managing quite yet, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes (with a transcript of a recent chat with the press in Florida courtesy of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ Hook, Line and Sinker blog). “I interviewed for the Tampa Bay job. I talked to [general manager Dave] Dombrowski about the Tigers job last year,” says Larkin. “But I just don’t feel like I’m ready for that type of commitment. If I’m going to dive in, I need to be all in, and I’m just not quite at that point yet.” Larkin cites family commitments as a key reason for his reluctance.
- Third overall 2014 draft pick Carlos Rodon made his first big-league start Saturday night in the night game of a doubleheader for the White Sox against the Reds. Rodon was a bit wild, walking four in six innings, but he struck out eight and allowed just two earned runs while making a surprising 108 pitches. The White Sox plan to move Rodon back to the bullpen after tonight’s start in order to keep his innings count low, but tonight’s performance could be a promising indication of what’s to come.
We touched on injuries earlier this evening, but two significant situations have popped up since — both regarding rehabbing Athletics pitchers. First, righty A.J. Griffin was forced out early from his simulated game with shoulder soreness, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. Griffin’s injury was to his elbow, of course, and the club is hopeful that the shoulder pain only constitutes a minor setback. More troublingly, fellow Tommy John patient Jarrod Parker left his Triple-A rehab start in a scene that left observers seriously concerned about his arm, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Parker, who is said to have been overcome by pain after throwing a very wild pitch, walked off with assistance while clutching his surgically repaired right elbow — which is now on its third UCL. The Athletics‘ summer trade plans are virtually impossible to gauge anyway, but the inability of either of those pitchers to return to the rotation would certainly have an impact. Lefty Scott Kazmir has been talked about quite a bit as a possible trade candidate, though moving him could prove tough if the team is in contention and does not have replacements lined up.
- Another new arm issue cropped up for the Rays, too, who have placed lefty Drew Smyly on the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Smyly, the key piece in last summer’s David Price trade, had already missed time early this year with a shoulder issue, which enhances the level of concern.
- Injured Orioles shortstop Everth Cabrera, who has struggled for Baltimore, is no longer capable of being optioned without consent as he has reached five years of service, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun notes (Twitter link). With J.J. Hardy returning to action, Cabrera may not have an active roster spot when he returns, and his new service time status could well complicate the club’s decisionmaking.
- The Red Sox have hired away Carl Willis from the Indians to become their new pitching coach, Jim Massie of the Columbus Dispatch reports (h/t to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe). Willis had been the Triple-A pitching coach for Cleveland. He’ll be tasked with getting better production out of a starting staff that has struggled in the first five weeks of the season.
- Prized White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon is expected to receive only a spot start tomorrow, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reports. Manager Robin Ventura did leave some room open for Rodon to earn another start, however, saying: “the way it sits right now, he would still be back in the bullpen and getting us some innings there.” Regardless of how things progress in the near term, it seems that Chicago’s plan is to use Rodon in the pen to manage his innings, perhaps with the hope of having him as a starter down the stretch — assuming, at least, that the club can stay in the postseason picture.
Top White Sox prospect Carlos Rodon will make his first career big league start on Saturday. Rodon has pitched from the pen in the early going, but will get a chance to take the hill to open the game due to the five-game suspension of Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen what the team’s plans are the rest of the way with their highly-touted rookie, who was taken in last year’s draft out of N.C. State, but there seems to be at least a chance that he could pitch himself into a starting role given the struggles the team has had at the back end of the rotation.
- Speaking of interesting Saturday starters, the Indians will purchase the contract of journeyman lefty Bruce Chen to face the Twins this weekend, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Chen inked a minor league deal with Cleveland and chose to stay with the organization rather than opting out when he did not make the Opening Day roster. The team will need to clear space on both its 40-man and 25-man rosters.
- Of broader concern for the Indians, GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona are facing their biggest challenge of their combined tenure, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer explains. Expectations were high heading into the year, of course, and the club has roundly struggled thus far. The sense of urgency is evident, says Hoynes, as demonstrated by the team’s decision not to play center fielder Michael Bourn against lefties. As Hoynes rightly points out, the Bourn contract looked like a nice value when it was signed, but has hardly worked out for the Indians. Bourn has not only struggled offensively this year, but is not even providing the anticipated positive contribution in the field and on the bases. (Both UZR and DRS rate him as a negative in center over last year and this season’s early going.)
- Royals skipper Ned Yost says that he hopes outfielder Alex Rios will be back from his hand injury in about two weeks, per ESPN News Services. But the veteran just started swinging a bat again and does not have a precise timeline, per a tweet from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. His replacements — Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson — have actually been pretty good, at least if you buy into a short sample of defensive metrics. Both fWAR and rWAR value the pair at nearly one combined win above replacement.
Dodgers reliever David Aardsma has allowed his opt-out date to pass without exercising his clause, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. The 33-year-old has not thrown in the bigs since 2013, but was lights out at Triple-A last year and has continued that success into the current season. He looks like useful relief depth for Los Angeles.
Let’s round up the day’s news with a few more links:
- Giants executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean has been taking in the Mets‘ weekend series, ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports. Rubin cautions that it is not clear precisely why Sabean is on hand, though obviously San Francisco looks like a theoretical match for Daniel Murphy — who is slotting in at third base at present while New York awaits the return of David Wright. Of course, his young would-be replacement at second, Dilson Herrera, has looked somewhat overmatched in his first two games back in the bigs, with four strikeouts and an infield hit to show from eight plate appearances.
- The White Sox are still feeling out how they will use rookie lefty Carlos Rodon, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. Chicago is burning through Rodon’s service time while giving him relatively little action as the team tries to balance the need to introduce him to the bigs, keep him stretched out, and conserve his innings.
- Agent Scott Boras says he believes that the MLB rules should be loosened to allow the free trading of all draft picks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. “Trade picks, trade players — there should be a whole universe of options,” opined Boras. “I’m a believer that you want as many chips on the table so the intellect can operate and a master plan can be created from a variety of different avenues of trade, draft, scouting and development, free agency, all the structures.” Of course, as one executive notes to Piecoro, opening that avenue of trade activity could potentially transfer leverage to premium players who have a desire to influence their ultimate destination.
- Boras also rejected the idea of allowing teams expanded access to medical information, stating forcefully: “That’s not going to work.” Citing concern with players’ rights not to have their medical information spread broadly to every team, Boras previewed some of the difficulties in addressing what promises to be a tricky issue on which to build a consensus between the players and the league.
The Dodgers released closer Brian Wilson back in December, but he’s apparently kept himself busy, recently playing Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in a live reading of Major League as the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. Grantland’s Dave Schilling reports that the flamboyant Wilson dressed for the event in an ’80s Indians uniform and imitated Charlie Sheen’s delivery while reading for the part. Here are more quick notes from around baseball.
- Agent Scott Boras was critical of the Cubs for their handling of the timing of Kris Bryant‘s promotion, but he has no such complaints about the White Sox promoting Carlos Rodon at a similar point in the season, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. Of course, the two situations are different — Bryant had a full year in the minors after being drafted and had significant time in Triple-A before reaching the Majors, whereas Rodon, who the White Sox picked third overall last June, had neither. And Boras says that he likes that the White Sox plan to be conservative with Rodon’s innings. “The Bryant situation and Carlos’ situation are very different because of the innings issue,” says Boras. “Because of the idea that frankly, you really want this process to get a foundation to it for a pitcher rather than building — because there’s no repetition in amateur baseball that prepares you for what Major League pitchers have to go through.” The White Sox are having Rodon begin his big-league career in the bullpen, much as they did with Chris Sale.
- Ross Detwiler has struggled to a 10.95 ERA through his first three starts with the Rangers, but manager Jeff Banister plans to stick with the slumping southpaw, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Detwiler feels he’s found a flaw in his delivery while watching video of Sunday’s start that will allow him to return to form. The Rangers picked up Detwiler in a trade that sent Chris Bostick and Abel De Los Santos to the Nationals this offseason, but his initial results are clearly not what the team expected.
The White Sox announced that they have designated right-hander Kyle Drabek for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for top prospect Carlos Rodon, whose contract has officially been selected from Triple-A Charlotte.
Chicago claimed the 27-year-old Drabek off waivers from the Blue Jays in late March, and the former top prospect secured a spot in the Sox bullpen to open the season. Drabek, who was one of the centerpieces of the trade that sent Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays to the Phillies, totaled 5 1/3 innings with the South Siders, allowing three runs on nine hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts.
Drabek was the 18th overall pick in the 2006 draft and, at one point ranked as high as 25th on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list and 14th on Baseball Prospectus’ version of that same list. Tommy John surgery in 2012 was among the injuries that have slowed the development of Drabek, and to date, his body of work at the Major League level is rather unimpressive. In 177 2/3 innings, he’s recorded a 5.27 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9.
The White Sox will promote left-hander Carlos Rodon, the third overall selection in last year’s draft, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Rodon will join the team tomorrow and will initially pitch out of the bullpen, according to Rosenthal. The White Sox will need to create both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Rodon.
The 22-year-old is considered the White Sox’s best prospect and, overall, one of baseball’s top prospects. The former NC State lefty is ranked eighth by FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 12th by ESPN’s Keith Law, 15th by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and 41st by Baseball Prospectus. Rodon made a steady rise through the Chicago organization after signing for a franchise-record $6.582MM bonus compiling a line of 2.96 ERA, 14.1 K/9, and 4.8 BB/9 in nine games (six starts) across three levels. This year, Rodon has struck out 13 against four walks in his two starts (10 innings) for Triple-A Charlotte after a strong camp in which he posted 21 strikeouts versus five bases on balls in 17 2/3 innings of work.
MLB.com praises Rodon as the best college left-hander since David Price and credits him with a wipeout slider that explodes on hitters with two-plane break. Baseball America also ranks Rodon’s slider as his top pitch rating it 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale (20 the lowest, 80 the highest, and 50 considered average).
News of Rodon’s promotion comes two days after the crosstown Cubs officially elevated their own prospect phenom and fellow Scott Boras client, Kris Bryant. Unlike Bryant, however, there was no hue and cry over Rodon’s failure to make the Opening Day roster (and resulting service time implications) as the White Sox shipped him to Triple-A to work on his fastball and changeup command. Also like Bryant, Rodon is now on track for Super Two status (assuming he is not returned to Charlotte) and will be eligible for arbitration four times, instead of the standard three, while qualifying for free agency after the 2021 season. The timing of Rodon’s call up, though, may be more about the schedule than service time considerations. MLB.com’s Phil Rogers tweets the White Sox’s next seven games are against division foes Cleveland and Kansas City and both teams have impact left-handed bats.
Of course, even though Rodon will begin working out of the bullpen, one would imagine that his move into the rotation is inevitable. John Danks and Hector Noesi currently occupy the final two spots in Chicago’s rotation, and while Danks’ contract may keep him in the starting mix, Noesi has struggled early on and already had a start skipped. The 28-year-old Noesi has a shaky track record, to say the least, and it’s not hard to envision a spot opening for Rodon sooner rather than later.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
While the season is still very young, the changes to Anthony Gose‘s swing are showing up in his results at the plate, and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wonders if his revamped mechanics will lead to a surprising offensive season from the 24-year-old speedster. Upon being traded to the Tigers, Gose and Detroit hitting coach Wally Joyner worked to lower the positioning of his hands prior to the swing, and Gose is also swinging with more of an upward plane. Sullivan also points out that Gose is doing a better job of keeping his weight back, and he provides GIF breakdowns of Gose’s former swing versus his new cut. It had become clear that the old version of Gose wasn’t ever going to hit much, Sullivan writes, and while the reworked swing may be little more than “a new way to fail,” he writes that Gose’s upside with the new mechanics is greater, and the team’s recent success with reclamation project J.D. Martinez lends further reason for optimism.
A few more notes from the AL Central…
- Shaun Marcum accepted his outright assignment to the Indians‘ Triple-A affiliate earlier today, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, and the veteran knew at the time of the call-up that he’d likely only be on the roster for one day. “He knew coming in that it was going to be one [game],” manager Terry Francona told Bastian. “After he pitched so well, we were trying to figure out maybe a way to get around [designating him]. I think after talking through it, it’s not a fun thing to do, but I think it’s probably the right thing to do.” Marcum fired five innings of one-run ball Sunday for Cleveland, striking out four hitters against three walks (although two of the free passes were intentional). Those five frames marked his first big league work since 2013, and by accepting an outright to Columbus, Marcum will be able to serve as depth for the Indians again in the future should a need arise.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan again expressed disappointment when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press about Ervin Santana‘s suspension. “People are going to test positive because kids are kids and men are men,” said Ryan. “…You shouldn’t make that mistake. … If they take something, they ought to know what it is. That’s all, regardless of where you bought it or if it came from a reputable drug store or nutrition store or wherever. They’ve been educated pretty well about this program, and they know they’re going to get tested. They ought to know what’s going in (their bodies).”
- The White Sox haven’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s contest yet, but before South Side fans get excited, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports that the nod will not be going to top prospect Carlos Rodon. Manager Robin Ventura has said someone on the active roster will make the start. While Hector Noesi has made just one outing, off-days have allowed the Sox the opportunity to skip him in the rotation, with Jose Quintana taking his spot. Of course, the fact that Noesi struggled badly in his lone start — six walks and four hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Twins — and may be skipped in the rotation suggests that his grasp on a rotation spot isn’t necessarily all that firm. For what it’s worth, Rodon whiffed nine hitters against two walks in five innings of two-run ball in his Triple-A debut this season.
While Kris Bryant‘s situation is grabbing all of the headlines in Chicago (and nationally, for that matter), Jon Morosi of FOX Sports believes that another Chicago phenom — White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon — is making a strong case for the Opening Day roster as well. Morosi argues that the ChiSox are running out of reasons not to bring last year’s No. 3 overall pick north with the team, as the lefty has whiffed 19 hitters in 12 1/3 innings thus far and recently struck out nine of 16 Royals hitters in a four-inning effort. The Sox will need a pitching boost early in the season, he adds, with Chris Sale unavailable for Opening Day and veterans such as John Danks and Brad Penny struggling. Starting Rodon’s service clock early isn’t as problematic as it would be in the case of Bryant (or any position player), Morosi writes, because the Sox could use the All-Star break as a means of limiting his innings and also regaining enough service time to delay his free agency by a year. Rodon could strategically be optioned to Triple-A in advance of his final first-half start, then have his second-half debut delayed as late as possible.
- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters, including MLive.com’s James Schmehl, that there’s no competition for the closer job, which firmly belongs to Joe Nathan. The 40-year-old Nathan is coming off perhaps his worst season since becoming a closer and has struggled further this spring, while setup man Joakim Soria has been excellent, but no change is imminent. Soria spoke to Schmehl about pitching in a setup capacity and admitted that he’s “not excited” about not being a closer, though he added that pitching the eighth inning isn’t much different, and he’ll be happy pitching in any role. MLBTR will again be tracking all closer-related situations with our @Closernews Twitter account this season, for those who play fantasy baseball and want to stay current.
- Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while most believed Danny Salazar was capable of breaking camp in the Indians’ rotation, the right-hander has done nothing to deserve that spot and should be passed over for Zach McAllister, at least in the short term. McAllister is out of Minor League options and was believed to be ticketed for bullpen duty, but using him in the rotation early on would give Salazar some much-needed time to regroup at Triple-A. Manager Terry Francona voiced disappointment in Salazar’s spring thus far, Pluto writes, noting that his stuff is still electric, but the results and control haven’t been there.
- Non-roster invitee Shane Robinson has made a good impression on the Twins in camp thus far, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 30-year-old Robinson is battling for an outfield job with the Twins and has batted .257/.333/.371 in 39 plate appearances. He’d likely only make the team in the event that both Aaron Hicks and Eddie Rosario were optioned to Triple-A, however, Berardino notes. Robinson tells Berardino that a number of teams called him once he became a Minor League free agent this winter, but a very candid 25-minute phone conversation with GM Terry Ryan and the Twins’ strong early interest led him to select Minnesota. The former Cardinal has an April 2 opt-out date and would earn $550K in the Majors, Berardino reports.