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Colorado Rockies Rumors
Rockies starter Jordan Lyles has apparently escaped last night’s injury scare with nothing more than a significant bruise on his right hand, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Lyles says he hopes to make his next start, though it is probably too soon to tell whether he’ll miss some action. The 24-year-old was struck on his throwing hand by an Albert Pujols comebacker last night, with the subsequent swelling leading many to fear that he may have suffered a fracture. Lyles and Eddie Butler have arguably been the Rockies’ most consistent starters this season.
More from the NL West…
- Hector Olivera is expected to arrive in Los Angeles tonight, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Cuban infielder will take his physical and, presuming all is well, his agreement with the Dodgers will finally be official.
- James Shields is delivering on the mound and in the clubhouse for the Padres, leading USA Today’s Bob Nightengale to wonder if the several teams who passed on Shields this winter are now second-guessing their decision.
- Wil Myers has tendinitis in his left wrist as the Padres hope that a few days of rest will help the outfielder avoid a DL stint, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Myers underwent surgery on his right wrist last year, though he was dealing with an existing left wrist injury at that time as well.
- Don Mattingly deserves credit for keeping the Dodgers in first place despite several key injuries and some underperforming stars, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. There have been rumors that the team’s new front office could bring in their own manager after the season is over or if the Dodgers struggled, yet Sherman feels Mattingly is staking his claim as a long-term answer in the dugout.
- Despite the growing buzz surrounding Troy Tulowitzki‘s name, a source tells the Record’s Matt Ehalt that the Mets haven’t changed their thoughts on acquiring the longtime star shortstop. Ehalt cites Tulowitzki’s injury history, the money remaining on his contract and a repeated unwillingness from the Mets to part with top-tier pitching prospects. Wilmer Flores, who homered today, has shown good pop but questionable on-base skills and defense in his first extended look at shortstop in the Majors.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed the Rockies in his latest piece, writing that it’s “obvious to everyone” but Rockies owner Dick Monfort that the time to trade Tulowitzki has come. However, rather than look to begin moving pieces in the wake of a 10-game losing streak, the Rockies are still actively searching for starting pitching in hopes of improving the club. Rosenthal notes that the second wild card spot in each league can often act as “fool’s gold,” leading teams without legitimate hopes of contending to delay, or in some cases, refuse to sell off pieces with an eye toward the future.
Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles was forced to exit Wednesday evening’s start against the Angels after taking an Albert Pujols line drive off his pitching hand. Twitter reactions indicated that Lyles’ hand became visibly swollen in nearly instantaneous fashion (image via Vic Lombardi of CBS Denver on Twitter). Clearly, the struggling Rockies can ill afford to lose a reliable rotation arm such as Lyles for a significant amount of time. To date, the 24-year-old Lyles has a 4.30 ERA with a somewhat troublesome 21-to-17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings with the Rockies. He’s notched a characteristically strong 49.6 percent ground-ball rate as well. A serious injury would mark the second consecutive season in which a freak injury shelved Lyles, as last year he suffered a fracture in his non-throwing hand while covering home plate.
Here’s more on the Rockies and the rest of the division in what is an injury-tinted look at the NL West…
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post joined Sandy Clough and Scott Hastings of 104.3 The Fan in Denver (audio link) to discuss recent news in which Troy Tulowitzki‘s agent publicly mentioned that he and his client would consider requesting a trade. Saunders touches on the previous unwillingness of Rockies owner Dick Monfort to part with veteran players. Saunders offers a very candid take on his view of the state of the Rockies and how the team has handled Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez in the past, specifically wondering if the latter of the two has much of any trade value left. (At present, it would seem to me that he has very little, due to the remaining three years on his contract, his injury history and lack of productivity to begin the season.)
- Josh Johnson‘s return from Tommy John surgery had recently been slowed by some soreness, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the oft-injured righty has resumed throwing. The Padres are optimistic that Johnson can soon begin a rehab assignment, Morosi adds. Johnson returned to the Padres on a one-year, $1MM contract this winter after missing the entire 2014 season due to a torn UCL.
- Via FOX Sports Arizona’s Jack Magruder (Twitter link), Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said in a recent TV interview that the club is targeting a June 4 return for fallen ace Patrick Corbin, who, like Johnson, underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season.
- Yasiel Puig has experienced a setback in his recovery from a strained hamstring and isn’t expected to join the Dodgers anytime soon, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. An MRI taken Monday revealed that Puig’s hamstring strain has not yet healed, and Mattingly said that it would be “at least a couple weeks” that Puig will remain on the shelf. It seems fair to believe that Puig may be sidelined into June.
- In other Dodgers injury news, righty reliever Pedro Baez was forced to leave tonight’s game after he felt something in his right pectoral muscle, tweets the L.A. News Group’s J.P. Hoornstra. Baez is slated to undergo an MRI tomorrow. He’s been a highly useful member of the Dodgers’ bullpen, entering play Wednesday with a 1.88 ERA and a 19-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings.
- Giants right-hander Matt Cain threw his first bullpen session since his elbow surgery yesterday, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll have another session on Friday and will need three to four in total before moving onto facing liver hitters, Shea adds.
8:35pm: Tulowitzki spoke with Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post about Cohen’s comments stating that he hasn’t read them, but he routinely meets with his agent whenever he is in Los Angeles. Tulo did somewhat nebulously address the topic when asked what the future holds, however:
“I really don’t have a clue — honestly. I just know that I don’t want all of this hanging over my head every day I come to the ballpark. This game is hard enough as it is. … It’s a tough topic to talk about, but if it’s being thrown around there, it’s something I need to get addressed, because the last thing I want is to come to the field every day with that hanging over my head.”
6:21pm: With the Rockies mired in a nine-game losing streak, agent Paul Cohen, who represents Troy Tulowitzki, tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he and his client will meet on Thursday and discuss, among other issues, whether or not the star shortstop should request a trade.
Cohen tells Sherman that it would be “silly” to suggest that a trade isn’t a possibility, adding that he and Tulowitzki spent quite a bit of time discussing the scenario in the offseason. It’s not hard to see why Tulowitzki would entertain the idea of asking for a trade, given the team’s struggles, Cohen says, and he also sees value in acting early for the organization. From Sherman’s piece:
“It could get to the point for [owner] Dick Monfort and GM Jeff [Bridich] that the storyline every day with the team is when is Tulowitzki being traded,” Cohen said. “That is negative for the franchise as the idea of trading the face of the franchise. They are smart enough to recognize they don’t want that going forward.”
While there’s certainly logic behind Cohen’s reasoning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Rockies aren’t yet ready to pursue a trade of Tulowitzki (Twitter link). The team would like to add some pitching, but their preference is a much lower cost of acquisition than dealing away the face of their franchise.
The frustration with Tulowitzki does seem palpable, however. Sherman said he spoke to two people that are close to Tulowitzki who said that he is frustrated with four losing seasons and wants out of Colorado. (Cohen declined to comment on his client’s mindset, per Sherman.) In the wake of the team’s latest loss on Sunday, Tulowitzki told Nick Groke of the Denver Post this weekend: “I’m sitting in my chair here and trying to think of one positive thing and there are not many. It’s tough, but what are you going to do?”
Sherman lists the Padres, Mets, Pirates and Mariners as speculative teams with needs at the shortstop position, adding that the Yankees remain unlikely to make a play for Tulowitzki. The Yankees, according to Sherman, are emphasizing defense and to limit long-term risk. Some scouts and officials to whom Sherman has spoken feel that Tulowitzki may not be long for shortstop given his age and history with injuries.
Tulowitzki, 30, is hitting .307/.317/.495 this season with a pair of homers but a troubling 23-to-2 K/BB ratio in 104 plate appearances. Owed $118MM from 2015-20, Tulowitzki’s contract also contains a $15MM club option for the 2021 season and provides him with a $2MM bonus and full no-trade protection in the event that he is traded. The four-time All-Star’s 2014 season ended prematurely when he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. Over the past five years, Tulowitzki has averaged just 106 games per season, though some of his injuries — including a broken hamate bone suffered when he was hit by a pitch — have been fluky in nature.
The Phillies announced that Cody Asche will be optioned to Triple-A and converted into an outfielder. That move seems all but certain to herald the return of top prospect Maikel Franco, a third baseman. As Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets, Philadelphia will wait until at least Friday to formally move Franco up, which will ensure that the club will add an additional year of control.
- Meanwhile, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that the club is continuing to talk with other clubs, as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com tweets. “We’ve been in dialogue about a lot of things,” said Amaro. “That really hasn’t stopped since the offseason.” Obviously, with Philadelphia having long been established as a seller, plenty of homework and groundwork has already been accomplished heading into the summer.
- Jung-ho Kang continues to produce at the plate for the Pirates, and Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says that it isn’t too soon to increase his workload. The Pittsburgh front office and field staff is favorably impressed with Kang’s effort to adapt to his new environment, both on and off the field. Colleague Adam Bittner, meanwhile, offers a counterpoint, arguing that both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer have enough of a track record and promise in their peripherals to warrant continued patience.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich addressed his club’s pronounced struggles, as MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. “We have a good collection of players,” said Bridich. “And at this point, meaning the last two weeks of the season, they’ve added up to a bad team.” Colorado’s head baseball decisionmaker went on to discuss the fundamental problems he sees, such as a failure to move runners and hit when runners do reach scoring position (on the offensive side) and issuing too many walks while failing to attack the strike zone (for the club’s pitchers). While there may be plenty of truth in that assessment, and while it would surely be hard for Bridich to say much else at this stage, the fact remains that a broader roster shake-up looks like an increasingly strong option for the front office to consider.
There are varying reports about the visa status of Dodgers signees Hector Olivera and Pablo Fernandez. Several reporters say the pair have received their work visas and are en route to the United States to begin their careers. (Baseball Essential’s Robert Murray reports that Olivera had his visa, and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets that Fernandez had secured his.) However, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets that it still remains unclear when the visas will be obtained. The Dodgers spent a combined $70.5MM on the pair, with $62.5MM of that coming in the form of a six-year, Major League contract for Olivera. It’s not clear which to which minor league affiliate either would report. As Murray notes, Olivera still needs to take his physical, which could potentially reveal significant damage in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament. If that is indeed the case, and extra year will be added to Olivera’s contract at the price of just $1MM.
Elsewhere in the Senior Circuit’s Western division…
- The Diamondbacks have reached out to prep catcher Taylor Stephenson, prep outfielders Daz Cameron and Garrett Whitley and other high school prospects about potential under-slot deals with the first overall pick in the draft, reports Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel (All links to McDaniel’s Twitter). The industry belief, however, is that the D-Backs are still leaning toward a college player at 1-1 and are using this method to determine potential over-slot targets with the Nos. 43 and 76 picks in the draft. The Diamondbacks are in line to save between $2.5MM and $5MM on the first pick, which comes with an $8.6169MM slot value, per McDaniel, which would allow them to call players that are on the board in the mid-first round and inform them they’re able to offer significantly above slot later in the draft. This type of incident happened multiple times in the 2014 draft, McDaniel adds.
- If the Rockies do ultimately decide to trade Troy Tulowitzki this summer or in the offseason, the resurgence of former prospect Trevor Story has given them a viable internal replacement, Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs argues. Mitchell notes that Story’s prospect status took a nosedive when his strikeouts became unmanageable and his overall offensive results suffered as a result. However, he’s striking out at his lowest rate since 2012 thus far, and he’s also showing considerably better power than he did during his swift decline. Mitchell uses his own projection system and likens Story’s production to seasons of previous minor league shortstops and finds a number of potentially favorable comparables, including Eugenio Suarez and Trevor Plouffe. He notes that Story isn’t likely to develop into an above-average Major League hitter in spite of the turnaround, but shortstops needn’t be plus hitters as long as they can handle their own from a defensive standpoint, which Story seems capable of doing. A league-average bat at shortstop is indeed a valuable commodity, and of course, Story’s extra time at Coors Field would surely bolster his numbers, even if park-adjusted metrics like wRC+ and OPS+ painted him in a less favorable light.
3:55 pm: The Orioles have confirmed the claim and announced they cleared a 40-man roster for Rondon by placing Matt Wieters on the 60-day disabled list.
2:37 pm: The Orioles have claimed right-hander Jorge Rondon off waivers from the Rockies, tweets CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. The Orioles will option Rondon, who was designated by the Rockies last Sunday, to Triple-A.
Rondon has had an up-and-down 2015. He was sparkling in five relief outings (6 2/3 innings) for Triple-A Albuquerque pitching to a 1.35 ERA, 5.4 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9. However, the 27-year-old’s two-game stint with the parent Rockies was nothing short of horrific including an appearance against the Padres where he failed to record an out while allowing seven earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks. Rondon’s skewed 2015 ERA reads 90.00 after being charged with a total of ten earned runs in just one official inning pitched for Colorado.
The Orioles may be tempted by Rondon’s velocity (an average of 95 mph touching 100 mph) and his career Triple-A line of 3.03, 6.9 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9 over four seasons in the Colorado and St. Louis organizations.
The Dodgers paid the Marlins to take on Dan Haren‘s salary and traded Dee Gordon in part to get Howie Kendrick, and Gordon has been one of baseball’s best players so far this season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. “I think this is kind of a fresh start for him,” says Haren. “I’ve been traded many times. You always kind of get a chip on your shoulder. You want to prove the other team wrong.” Gordon is hitting a ridiculous .437/.461/.521. Obviously, he won’t bat .437 or post a .491 BABIP over the course of a season, and May 9 isn’t the best time to judge offseason trades. But Gordon’s start would have helped the Dodgers (although Kendrick has played well), and Haren would have been a useful part in what’s been a banged-up rotation. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Recent injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin show why the Athletics acquired so much starting pitching this offseason, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes. The A’s got Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman in the Josh Donaldson deal, Jesse Hahn in the Derek Norris trade and Chris Bassitt in the Jeff Samardzija trade. Hahn is the only one of the four who’s made a significant impression so far, but the Parker and Griffin injuries could create opportunities for the other three.
- It might now be next to impossible for the Rockies to trade Carlos Gonzalez, FanGraphs’ Paul Swydan writes. Gonzalez’s ability to hit for power appears to have dwindled, and it will be difficult to interest other teams in a “broken down player” who will make $16MM this year and a total of $37MM in 2016 and 2017. Gonzalez will also receive a $1MM bonus if the Rockies trade him.
Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game, including several pitchers who will face 12-16 months of recovery time from Tommy John surgery…
- Alex Cobb discussed his injury situation with reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) and the Rays righty admitted that he is “still going back and forth on what to do.” Cobb received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow and will wait a few weeks before testing, though if the procedure doesn’t take, Cobb will have to undergo TJ surgery. If he waits and has to get the surgery anyway, however, Cobb risks missing all of 2016, whereas if he gets the surgery now, he believes he’ll be able to return late next season.
- Right-hander Matt Magill will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, according to the Reds‘ official Twitter feed. Magill’s Major League career consists of six starts for the Dodgers in 2013 that saw him post a 6.51 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 28 walks over 27 2/3 innings. A 31st-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2008 draft, Magill owns a 3.99 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 700 2/3 minor league innings. He was traded from Los Angeles to Cincinnati in December in exchange for outfielder Chris Heisey.
- From that same Reds tweet, Homer Bailey will also undergo his own Tommy John surgery tomorrow.
- Rockies closer Adam Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery this morning, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Ottavino was going to get a second opinion to be sure, yet was fully expecting to get the operation to repair his partially torn UCL.
Some minor transactions from around the league and the independent circuit…
- The Cubs have released right-hander Blake Parker, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Parker, designated for assignment yesterday, had not appeared in the big leagues this year. In his 3 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, Parker permitted one earned run to score while striking out one and walking three batters. He does own a 3.68 career ERA in the majors, with a healthy 10.4 K/9 against just 2.9 BB/9.
- Righty Daniel Cabrera has been released by the Reds, the club’s Triple-A affiliate tweets. The 33-year-old has not appeared in the big leagues since 2009, and spent each of the last two seasons playing in Japan. He made just one appearance at Louisville this season, going three innings and allowing one earned run but issuing four free passes and striking out only one opposing batter.
- The Dodgers have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, who had been pitching with the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers, reports Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Walters should join L.A.’s Minor League ranks following the move. Though Walters has posted just a 6.28 ERA in parts of five Major League seasons with the Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays, he does have a lifetime 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in Triple-A.
- Former Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez has signed a contract with the independent St. Paul Saints, the team announced. Hernandez was acquired along with Eduardo Escobar in the 2012 trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox. The now-26-year-old Hernandez struggled to a 7.33 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 26 walks in 66 1/3 Major League innings with the Sox, Twins and Rockies from 2012-14. He posted solid, if unspectacular numbers throughout much of his Minor League career until reaching the Triple-A level.
- Right-hander Robert Stock‘s contract has been purchased by the Pirates, according to a tweet from the Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League. The 25-year-old hit the indy circuit after posting a 4.12 ERA with 43 strikeouts against 46 walks in 63 1/3 innings between the Cardinals’ Class-A and Class-A Advanced affiliates in 2014.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Cabrera | Eduardo Escobar | Francisco Liriano | Los Angeles Dodgers | Minnesota Twins | P.J. Walters | Pedro Hernandez | Pittsburgh Pirates | St. Louis Cardinals | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions
4:40pm: Ottavino says he is resigned to undergoing a UCL replacement, but will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, Groke further reports.
Entering the year, Ottavino was coming off of two straight seasons of quality production — over 143 1/3 innings in 2013-14, he owns a 3.08 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 — making him an obvious candidate to take over 9th inning duties. He earned the chance with an excellent start to the year, and had just been installed as the Colorado closer when he went down with triceps soreness.
In his 10 1/3 frames thus far in 2015, the 29-year-old righty allowed just three hits and two walks (and, unsurprisingly, no runs). On the other side of the ledger, he had already racked up 13 strikeouts.
It is unlikely that the Rockies will move to replace Ottavino with an outside addition, though perhaps a bullpen move could be made over the summer if the team is in the hunt. If Ottavino does in fact undergo the TJ procedure, Colorado will be without him until at least next summer.
The timing couldn’t be much worse for all involved. That includes, especially, Ottavino, who took home a relatively modest $1.3MM in arbitration this year. He would have stood to capture a big raise had he continued to dominate and rack up saves. For the Rockies, the loss takes away a big piece of their pen as well as a potentially significant trade chip. It also potentially sets the club up for a tough arbitration question next winter, though it seems likely that Ottavino’s price tag will be cheap enough — and his upside (including another year of control) great enough — to warrant a tender.