Major League Baseball is likely to punish Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes during the upcoming week for a violation of its domestic violence policy, reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Reyes’ status with the league has been in limbo for several months as a result of his arrest on domestic violence charges in November. Criminal charges were dropped in March because Reyes’ wife – the alleged victim – was unwilling to cooperate in the case, but punishment from the league has been expected all along. The situation has dragged in part because the league doesn’t have a presence in Hawaii, where the alleged incident took place, according to Groke. Reyes has been on paid administrative leave since February and has collected upward of $3MM from the Rockies to not play. The club will recoup some of the money owed to Reyes when the league punishes him, but it’s unknown whether the 32-year-old will play for the Rockies (or anyone else) again. Reyes was primed to collect $48MM, including a $4MM buyout in 2018, over the final three seasons of his contract before his off-field issues arose. Thanks to Trevor Story’s early season breakout, the Rockies haven’t missed Reyes at all on the field.
The Rockies have already burned through much of their rotation depth, Nick Groke and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post write. Injuries, poor performance, and roster pressures have conspired to leave the club scrambling for arms despite seemingly entering the year with plenty of volume (to go with plenty of questions, of course). It remains to be seen whether former top prospect Eddie Butler will get a crack at a starting gig, as he’s slated for pen duty initially, but he’ll be one of several arms that the Rockies will need to contribute if the club is to stay in contention.
- Opposing pitchers have exhibited a new approach to breakout Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes. After initially testing him on the inner half, with memorable results, hurlers are now attacking him away. While he’ll obviously have a chance to respond in the cat-and-mouse game, Story’s production has fallen off significantly. He still owns a rather productive .247/.306/.649 overall slash, but his 36.5% strikeout rate and recent lack of pull-side power opportunities certainly rate as concerns looking forward.
The Rockies have optioned righty Jordan Lyles to Triple-A, per a club announcement. Things have not gone as hoped for the 25-year-old, who missed much of last season with a toe injury. Through four starts, he’s lasted only 17 2/3 innings while allowing 11 earned runs on 22 hits and 11 walks, with just eight strikeouts on his ledger. To be fair, Lyles has been hurt badly by a sub-50% strand rate, and he’s still hovering around 50/50 in terms of generating grounders on balls in play. But his swinging strike rate is sitting at a career-worst 5.2% despite a career-high 92.9 mph average four-seamer, and advanced metrics haven’t seen much cause for optimism. (Lyles owns at a 4.85 FIP, 5.50 xFIP, and 5.73 SIERA.) Colorado will hope that Lyles can turn things around at Triple-A; otherwise, he could be headed for a non-tender. It’s worth noting that the right-hander entered the season with 4.060 years of service to his credit, so he could fall shy of reaching his final year of arb eligibility if he doesn’t return for a sufficient stretch of major league action. Lyles is earning $2.98MM in 2016.
The Orioles have claimed righty David Hale off waivers from the Rockies, Baltimore announced. Hale was exposed to waivers after being designated for assignment recently.
With the move, the O’s have added yet another piece of pitching depth. Hale will head right to Triple-A on optional assignment, and will provide an option if a need arises in the rotation or the bullpen.
Hale, 28, had a solid run with the Braves in 2014, but hasn’t been very effective in Colorado. Over the last two seasons, he’s carrying a 6.27 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 80 1/3 innings. That’s not terribly promising, but some advanced metrics put a more positive spin on Hale’s work last season, as he carried a 4.04 SIERA and 4.02 xFIP in 2015.
The Rockies and visiting teams have tried several run-prevention strategies at Coors Field over the years with little success, though ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription-only column) suggests a novel idea — what if the Rockies and others used a fourth outfielder? The idea, which stemmed from a chat with Jake Peavy, would be a natural extension of the defensive shifts that have become more common in recent years. Here’s more from around the baseball world…
Colorado also announced several other pitching moves. Starter Jon Gray has been activated from the DL, as expected, and will make his first start of the year tonight. Heading onto the DL is young reliever Miguel Castro, who is suffering from shoulder soreness that isn’t reportedly a significant concern, per Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Righty Carlos Estevez is moving up to the active roster to take the place of lefty Jason Gurka, who will remain on the 40-man on optional assignment.
Hale came to the Rockies via trade before the 2015 campaign. The 28-year-old had allowed three earned runs in his two innings of relief work on the year. He also struggled at the major league level last year, when he functioned as a swingman.
As for Germen, who is also 28, he’ll look to stick on the staff this time around after being moved as much as any player in baseball in recent years. He contributed 32 2/3 frames out of the Colorado pen last year, sporting a decent 3.86 ERA but also posting 6.9 K/9 against 5.8 BB/9, but is off to a nice start at Triple-A. Over his six innings, Germen has yet to allow an earned run and has seven strikeouts against just one walk.
The Athletics announced following tonight’s game that third baseman Danny Valencia will be placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a hamstring injury suffered in yesterday’s contest. Valencia, though, tells reporters that he doesn’t consider the issue to be serious and doesn’t anticipate missing more than the minimum amount of time (Twitter link via the Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey). “I will be very upset not to be in [the] lineup,” said Valencia in reference to the end of his 15-day DL window. The A’s didn’t announce a corresponding roster move, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that it’s “clear” that the versatile Tyler Ladendorf will be recalled from Triple-A.
A few more notes from the game’s Western divisions…
- The Padres have placed left-hander Robbie Erlin on the 15-day DL and recalled right-hander Leonel Campos from Triple-A El Paso, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. “He’s had some tightness in his forearm,” manager Andy Green said of Erlin. “He’d pitched through it, was capable of continuing to pitch through it. … We just thought it best at this point in time to shut him down for a couple weeks and get on top of it.” The Padres haven’t announced a replacement yet, but Lin tweets that Double-A right-hander Cesar Vargas was scratched from his start tonight and does not have an injury, making him a definite possibility. The Friars gave Vargas a big league contract and put him on the 40-man roster this offseason despite the fact that he’s never pitched in the Majors. Vargas has a 1.42 ERA through his first two starts this season and has a career 2.58 ERA at that level.
- Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs tells MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez that he’s throwing his fastball between 90 and 94 mph and is ready for a return to the Majors. However, Skaggs is still building up his endurance and says he understands the Halos’ cautious approach to his return. “I haven’t had any input or anything,” said Skaggs. “They said they want to save my innings for the end of the year, which completely makes sense. It’s frustrating for me because I want to pitch more. But it’s a good thing that they care about me, care about my future, about my health.” A healthy Skaggs could be a boon to an Angels rotation that is without C.J. Wilson and is going to be without Andrew Heaney for an indefinite amount of time. Heaney went on the disabled list with a forearm strain and, as of earlier this week, was said by manager Mike Scioscia to have “plateaued” in his rehab from the injury.
- Rockies right-hander Miguel Castro is dealing with shoulder inflammation and could land on the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. The hard-throwing 21-year-old, acquired in last summer’s Troy Tulowitzki blockbuster, has been outstanding for the Rockies early in the 2016 season, allowing just one run on two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in six innings pitched.
- The Mariners’ revamped bullpen has delivered excellent results early in the season, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Incredibly, as Dutton points out, none of the seven relief pitchers that are currently in manager Scott Servais’ bullpen were on the Mariners’ Opening Day roster in 2015. GM Jerry Dipoto acquired four of the club’s current relievers (Steve Cishek, Joaquin Benoit, Joel Peralta and Nick Vincent — this offseason, but Dipoto explained to Dutton that he’s all too aware of how fleeting the success could be. “I spent my entire major-league career pitching 400 pitched games in the bullpen,” said Dipoto. “Never did anything else. If you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. The bullpen is about as unpredictable as it gets.”
The Rockies have acquired first baseman Cody Decker from the Royals, according to announcements from both teams. Cash considerations are going back in return.
Decker, 29, has minimal major league experience but was long a solid producer in the upper minors in the Padres’ organization — where he spent his entire career before signing with the Royals as a minor league free agent. Best known for his entertaining antics — particularly those involving former teammate Jeff Francoeur — Decker is also a quality hitter. Indeed, he’s been quite consistent, posting OPS tallies ranging between .819 and .865 in every MiLB season dating back to 2010.
There’s a fair bit of swing and miss to his game, but Decker has also shown a strong walk rate and good power, with several twenty home run campaigns under his belt. The issue, of course, is that he’s limited defensively. Though Decker has filled in at times at third base and the corner outfield in recent years, he’s spent the vast majority of his time at first base.
- There’s a good chance Jose Reyes has played his last game for the Rockies, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes as part of a reader mailbag piece. Saunders postulates that the team will wait until Reyes completes his probable suspension under MLB’s domestic violence policy and then release him outright. The suspension will erase some of the $46.25MM still owed to Reyes through the 2017 season (counting the $4MM buyout of his club option for 2018) and Saunders believes the Rockies will simply then eat the rest of the money in order to sever ties with the troubled shortstop.