- The Tigers have cut ties with several minor league veterans, including catcher Humberto Quintero, via Eddy. Now 36, Quintero failed to crack the bigs last year after a dozen consecutive years in which he spet at least some time in the show. He was hitting .250/.297/.333 at Triple-A over 65 pate appearances.
Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran can block trades to 15 clubs under the terms of his limited no-trade clause, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, who explores the possibility of a deal involving the veteran. Among the teams to which Beltran could be dealt without consent are the Indians, Nationals, Royals, Cardinals, Rays, Tigers, and Dodgers, per the report.
Of course, it’s far from clear whether New York will end up entertaining such a move. The club has moved back to within striking distance in the AL East already, and there’s plenty of time left before the deadline.
Parting with Beltran wouldn’t necessarily mean abandoning hope for the present season, Olney suggests. Shipping him out would free up opportunities for highly-regarded young players such as Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge. They could be expected to provide value now while helping prepare for bigger roles in 2017 and beyond.
It’s fair to wonder just how much trade value Beltran would carry. On the one hand, he recently turned 39 and is a subpar outfielder (especially if one credits Defensive Runs Saved). On the other, he’s a highly respected veteran who is currently running out a productive .274/.299/.522 batting line, largely matching his overall production levels from last season (about 20% above league average).
Salary will certainly play a role, too, as Beltran is owed a healthy $15MM this season before reaching free agency at year’s end. Whether or not the market is receptive to that overall package remains to be seen, but presumably the Yankees won’t make a move unless they receive some kind of interesting return (barring a full-blown collapse in the next two months). That’s especially true given the uncertainty of Hicks and Judge as well as the fact that aging sluggers Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez come with their own blend of health, age, and performance questions.
- Jordan Zimmermann left during the sixth inning of today’s game with what has been diagnosed as a right groin strain. The Tigers ace underwent an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com’s Jason Beck and other media, and it isn’t yet known if Zimmermann will require a DL stint or even a missed start. Needless to say, losing Zimmermann to the DL would be a major blow to a Detroit rotation that entered Sunday with a 4.76 staff ERA, seventh-worst in all of baseball. Zimmermann has been the lone bright spot, and after today’s outing he has a 2.52 ERA over his first 60 2/3 innings as a Tiger. Slugger Miguel Cabrera also suffered a bruised left knee after being hit by a pitch during the same game, though Ausmus doesn’t expect that injury to be too serious.
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball:
- The Rays have promoted right-hander Tyler Sturdevant from Triple-A Durham and demoted righty Steve Geltz, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Sturdevant, who served a 50-game PED suspension last year, is now in position to make his big league debut after accumulating outstanding numbers over 318 1/3 frames in the minors (2.74 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9). Geltz gave up two earned runs in an inning of work Sunday and ran his ERA up to 6.06 in 16 1/3 innings with Tampa Bay this season.
- The Tigers have recalled right-hander Buck Farmer from Triple-A Toledo and optioned righty Drew VerHagen, per Jason Beck of MLB.com (Twitter link). Farmer has already accrued 8 1/3 impressive innings for the Tigers this season and logged a 2.16 ERA, 10.8 K/9 and 3.24 BB/9. VerHagen threw an inning for the club Sunday and allowed two earned runs, giving him a 7.11 ERA in 19 frames this year.
- The Angels have selected the contract of left-hander Lucas Luetge, who will fill Tim Lincecum’s roster spot, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Luetge, whom the Halos signed in November, owns a 4.35 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 89 major league innings.
- The Indians have recalled right-hander Austin Adams from Triple-A Columbus and sent southpaw Kyle Crockett down, according to Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link). Adams was lights-out over 16 1/3 frames with the Clippers prior to today, putting up a 1.10 ERA, 9.92 K/9 and 2.76 BB/9. He hasn’t been nearly that effective at the big league level, though, with a 4.69 ERA, 6.02 K/9 and 3.12 B/9 in 40 1/3 innings. The demotion of Crockett, who has given up a whopping six earned runs on seven hits in just 3 2/3 innings this season, will leave the Indians’ bullpen without a left-handed option.
- The Tigers will activate Cameron Maybin from the disabled list tomorrow, with Anthony Gose going to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Maybin suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand during Spring Training and is hitting .194/.313/.367 over 115 minor league plate appearances. Detroit acquired Maybin from the Braves last November, and the outfielder will join Steven Moya and Andrew Romine in the outfield mix alongside regulars Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez. A Maybin/Gose center field platoon seemed to be the initial plan over the winter, though Gose’s struggles earned him a demotion.
Orioles righty Yovani Gallardo will have a “light catch” over the weekend, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports on Twitter. Gallardo hit the DL on April 23rd but is only now apparently set to test out his bothersome shoulder. Even if he’s able to begin progressing back toward the mound, his timetable remains uncertain. And beyond that, Gallardo still will face questions about his ability to remain effective while exhibiting a rather significant velocity decline that apparently preceded his injury.
Here are a few more notes from the American League:
- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus acknowledges that he is “in the crosshairs” with his team struggling, writes MLive.com’s Aaron McMann. “I knew when I took this job, I was probably going to get fired before I walked away from it,” said Ausmus. “Not this job in particular, but just managing in general. How many managers walk away from a job?” The Tigers are off to a fairly disappointing 14-16 start and suffered through a disastrous bullpen meltdown on Sunday, when Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson combined to serve up seven runs in the eighth inning. Ausmus said he hasn’t heard anything either way from owner Mike Ilitch or GM Al Avila in terms of his job security.
- Rich Hill has been one of the best stories in the league this season with the A’s, but the Red Sox made an effort to keep around following his September renaissance last season, according to WEEI.com’s John Tomase. Boston offered Hill a one-year, Major League deal on the heels of his four brilliant starts down the stretch, but the money didn’t match up to Oakland’s $6MM, per Tomase’s sources. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wouldn’t get into any specific details, unsurprisingly, but he did acknowledge that his team made Hill what it felt to be a competitive offer. “We gave him what we felt was a solid offer,” said Dombrowski. “They did better. It’s always easier in hindsight. It’s a situation where we did like him enough to offer him a nice deal, we thought. Oakland really stepped up, and you tip your cap.”
- Tigers GM Al Avila admits that third baseman Nick Castellanos, who is in his third big league season despite just recently turning 24, may have been rushed to the Major Leagues, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest notes column. “Nick got to the big leagues very quickly, being a high-school draft [pick],” Avila told Rosenthal. “… I don’t think he really, fully understood the game. He got there because of his ability and an organizational need we had at the big-league level. … He ended up completing his development at the major-league level.” Avila’s comments come on the heels of what many believe could be the beginning of a breakout campaign for Castellanos, who is hitting a robust .378/.385/.589 this year. Castellanos’ production, though, is being propped up to a large extent by a .455 average on balls in play. That number figures to regress substantially, which will in turn magnify an unflattering 23-to-3 K/BB ratio through his first 96 plate appearances. Nonetheless, Castellanos has seen notable gains in his line-drive rate, hard-contact rate and homer-to-flyball ratio, so while some of the huge upswing in production is smoke and mirrors, there does appear to be some legitimate growth as well. He’ll still need to improve his discipline and still rates as a poor defender at third, but there is indeed reason for some optimism surrounding the former top prospect.
- The Tigers’ rotation costs more than five times that of the division-rival Indians’ rotation, observes MLive.com’s Chris Iott, who provides a breakdown of the cost of starting pitching throughout the AL Central. The significant sum that the team is spending isn’t lost on GM Al Avila, who implies to Iott that he’s focused on making that unit more cost-effective in the years to come. “It’s very important to develop your own pitching,” said Avila. “You can’t trade for a five-man rotation. You can’t sign five free agents. It’ll cost you an arm and a leg.” Those comments, some might say, run counter to the manner in which Avila acted this offseason when he signed Jordan Zimmerman (five years, $110MM) and Mike Pelfrey (two years, $16MM). However, Avila also revealed that he persistently received calls regarding prospects Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris this winter but was quick to turn away interested parties, believing each to be a key part of the organization’s future. “Those young pitchers are gold to us,” said Avila.
- While the Tigers aren’t ready to pull the plug on Mike Pelfrey’s rotation spot, GM Al Avila admitted that the club is concerned with the big righty’s early struggles, writes Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com. “Yeah, we are concerned because he has not pitched consistently,” said Avila. “This last outing, he did show some flashes of really, really good stuff, which is some of what scouts saw in him from previous years that we felt he could give us the innings we needed. All we need him to do is be a solid fifth starter and go five, five and two-thirds and every once in a while go six.” The Tigers will indeed be present to watch Lincecum throw, Wallner notes, though Avila chalked it up to due diligence more than a firm indicator that the club will embark on a serious pursuit of the former NL Cy Young winner. As Wallner notes, the Tigers do have internal alternatives to Pelfrey, including Michael Fulmer, Shane Greene (once he is healthy), Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd.
The Rangers have acquired catcher Bobby Wilson from the Tigers, per club announcements. Going back to Detroit in the deal is southpaw Chad Bell. To clear roster space, Texas has designated fellow receiver Chris Gimenez for assignment.
With both organizations dealing with injuries behind the plate, the Rangers and Tigers have exchanged multiple backstops this season. Just before camp opened, Wilson went north as part of the package that brought Bryan Holaday to Texas.
Now, Wilson will return to the club he joined as a minor league free agent over the winter, joining Holaday — at least momentarily. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explains, the team will have to decide whether to protect its depth and stick with that veteran duo, while optioning Brett Nicholas to Triple-A, or instead to keep Nicholas’s hot bat at the major league level. The latter approach would mean exposing Holaday to waivers, and he could well be claimed despite his tepid batting line.
Texas does still have Michael McKenry in the organization as well, and it remains to be seen whether Gimenez will end up at Triple-A. The 33-year-old Gimenez has been rehabbing from an ankle issue, and as Grant notes, doesn’t seem likely to be claimed given his $975K salary. He’d then have a chance to decline the assignment, but might stick around since he’d reportedly earn at an approximately $300K rate in the minors.
As for the Tigers, the return of James McCann made Wilson expendable. They’ll pick up the 27-year-old Bell in the deal. He’s worked in the rotation and the pen in his minor league career. Last season, he posted a 4.58 ERA in 141 1/3 Double-A frames with 7.5 K/9 vs. 2.7 BB/9. Bell is off to a nice start at Triple-A in 2016, though, with just three earned runs logged against him in 18 innings (split between two starts and three relief appearances). He has struck out 19 batters while issuing just five free passes.
While the Tigers picked up left-hander Justin Wilson in a trade this offseason with the Yankees, they weren’t the only AL Central club to attempt to acquire him. The Twins, too, made what they considered to be an aggressive offer to acquire Wilson and were surprised that their proposal was rejected in favor of Detroit’s package of right-handers Chad Green and Luis Cessa, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Twins GM Terry Ryan wouldn’t offer any details into his club’s pursuit, though he did confirm that he was well aware that Wilson was available prior to his trade. Of course, the Twins’ alternative has worked out quite well for them to date, Berardino notes. Minnesota picked up Fernando Abad on a minor league deal, and an improved changeup (Abad terms it a “super changeup,” as he’ll throw it as slow as 65 mph) has yielded dominant results: zero earned runs, four hits, three walks, 12 strikeouts and a 55 percent ground-ball rate in 9 2/3 innings. Here are more notes on American League pitchers.
- Yesterday, the Tigers placed righty Shane Greene on the 15-day DL with a blister on his right middle finger, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets. In four appearances this year, the 27-year-old Greene has continued to struggle as he did throughout much of the 2015 season, and he now has a 6.80 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 98 career innings since the Tigers acquired him in the three-team Didi Gregorius / Robbie Ray trade in the 2014-15 offseason. Top prospect Michael Fulmer started in Greene’s place yesterday.