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Drew Smyly Rumors
We’ve seen several recent cellar dwellers climb to contention this season, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Cubs, Mets, and Astros are playing meaningful August baseball for the first time in years. Davidoff looks ahead at five more struggling franchises that could surprise us all in 2016. Purely for enjoyment, my favorite picks are the Twins and Phillies. Minnesota hopes to surge on the young bats of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and recent breakout Aaron Hicks. They also have sneaky upside in their rotation although the bullpen could use work. Philadelphia is the obvious long shot. Their rebuilding phase is incomplete, but they’ve identified a few key building blocks. A couple surprise breakout performances and a handful of lucky wins could at least allow the club to perform similarly to the Braves.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Drew Smyly will start for the Rays on Sunday, tweets Bill Chastain of MLB.com. The 26-year-old southpaw has spent most of the 2015 season on the disabled list with a torn labrum. Since joining the Rays in the David Price trade last season, Smyly has a 1.96 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 64 and 1/3 innings. Although the Rays remain in the thick of the playoff race, expect them to proceed carefully with Smyly.
- We learned earlier tonight that the Angels still hope to acquire Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. The Giants remain involved with the bidding, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Giants GM Bobby Evans cleverly commented that “the Chase for Utley continues.” As Baggarly notes, every day is one closer to the return of Joe Panik. At that point, Utley may be redundant for San Francisco. It’s already been announced that Utley will rest tomorrow, so trade speculation should remain rampant.
- Padres starter Tyson Ross is happy to have remained with the club through the trade deadline, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Ross, 28, was a heavily rumored trade candidate. He’s in the midst of a solid season including a 3.40 ERA, 9.58 K/9, and 4.14 BB/9. Ross is glad the club made no moves at the deadline. He believes the current roster is “a good group” with “a lot of promise.” He’s controlled through the 2017 season.
Matt Wieters left the third inning of last night’s Orioles loss to the Mariners with a right hamstring strain, and he’ll be re-evaluated on Friday when the club is back in Baltimore. All parties are hopeful that Wieters can avoid the DL, and the catcher told reporters (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that “I think we caught it before it became a severe strain. The hamstring got tight and it was getting tighter. I think we stopped before we did any serious damage to it.” Losing Wieters would obviously be a blow to the Orioles’ postseason chances, and another DL stint also wouldn’t do any favors to Wieters’ free agent stock this offseason. The catcher already missed the first two months of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery but had been hitting well (.278/.305/.449 with five homers) in 167 PA since his return.
Some more from around the division…
- Chris Davis has rebounded from a miserable 2014 to have a big 2015 season, with improved health and better performance against fastballs as two major reasons for his resurgence, MLB.com’s Mike Petriello writes. With a thin market of free agent first basemen this winter, Petriello thinks Davis could make a big cash-in on the open market this offseason, perhaps even a contract topping the $100MM mark.
- Desmond Jennings and Drew Smyly are both slated to return from DL stints to the Rays this week, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Smyly’s return is the more tenuous of the two, as he didn’t pitch well in a recent rehab start. He’ll throw a bullpen session on Thursday to determine whether he’ll make his scheduled start against the Rangers on Sunday.
- With Koji Uehara done for the season, Joe Kelly could be the Red Sox answer at closer both for the rest of 2015 and maybe in the future, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Kelly, for his part, tells The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato that he has no interest in switching to a bullpen role.
- Has the Jacoby Ellsbury signing already been a bust for the Yankees? Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger poses the questions and breaks down both sides of the argument, concluding that it’s still too early to judge the seven-year, $153MM contract before even two full seasons have passed. Ellsbury’s underachieving, injury-plagued 2015 season, however, is a cause for concern for the Yankees, especially since Ellsbury was still expected to perform like a top-level player for at least the first few years of the deal.
Rays lefty Drew Smyly will make at least two more rehab starts before rejoining the club, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this week. The first of those outings will come today, with a second one perhaps coming on Tuesday of next week. As Topkin notes, the Rays won’t need a fifth starter until Aug. 18, at which point Smyly could conceivably join the rotation. His return should be a nice boost to the Rays, as Smyly’s season was in doubt due to a shoulder tear earlier this year. The Rays are in particular need of rotation help at the moment after optioning Matt Moore to Triple-A in an effort to get the talented lefty back on track following some post-Tommy-John struggles.
More from the AL East…
- The Rays felt they needed a veteran bat to boost the lineup versus right-handed pitching after trading David DeJesus, writes Topkin, which led to the team’s claim of Daniel Nava from the division-rival Red Sox yesterday. Part of the reason the Rays chose to act may be an upcoming stretch against primarily right-handed starters. “He does a nice job against right-handed pitching,” said manager Kevin Cash — a former teammate of Nava. “He makes pitchers work a lot.”
- Red Sox DH David Ortiz is just 10 plate appearances shy of locking in a $10MM salary for the 2016 season by way of vesting option, writes WEEI.com’s John Tomase. As Tomase notes, Ortiz got off to a slow start in 2015, again sparking some debate about how much he had left in the tank. However, he’s homered 15 times in 45 games since June 10 and is hitting .273/.378/.588 in that time. “You know how it is with myself,” said Ortiz to Tomase. “Whenever I have a slow start, or things aren’t going my way, people start criticizing and saying things. But I guess that’s how it’s going to be. I can put up with that. I know what I’m capable of doing.” Ortiz expressed pride in having earned another year at the big league level due to his performance as opposed to simply having the guarantee built into his contract. “That’s the way we pretty much agreed to do things,” said Ortiz of his incentive-laden deal. “…I agreed to do it that way, because if I don’t put up numbers, what would be the reason to continue playing?”
- While many have advocated for the Red Sox to hire Dave Dombrowski as the team president to work in conjunction with GM Ben Cherington, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe feels that’s an awkward situation. If the Sox are going to go that route, they might as well fire Cherington, Abraham writes, as Dombrowski would want input in the staff working underneath him anyhow. Cherington has the trust of owner John Henry, Abraham continues, so such a scenario isn’t likely to play out. He does, however, need some help in the form of better scouts and analysts in the front office. As Abraham concludes, Cherington hasn’t been the sole driving force behind the acquisitions of Joe Kelly, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson, and the team has had poor results in developing pitching despite selecting five arms in the first round from 2008-12.
- Though the Blue Jays traded away an enormous amount of prospect capital prior to this year’s trade deadline, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes that they’re still positioned to contend beyond the 2015 season. The Blue Jays have a strong core of position players that will return next season, with the primary question marks coming from the pitching staff. David Price, Mark Buehrle, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey (who has a club option), LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe are all free agents this offseason. The club does have Marcus Stroman returning, but there will still be holes to fill. Davidi takes a position-by-position look at the Jays, examining their current Major League options as well as the depth pieces at each position in the minors.
Here’s the latest out of baseball’s eastern divisions:
- New York remains in contact with the Athletics on the versatile Ben Zobrist, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. The fit is obvious, and the teams have long said to be in contact, but Ackert says that things have progressed to the point that Oakland has made a specific prospect ask. Nevertheless, no deal is imminent, per the report.
- The Mets are loath to part with outfielder Michael Conforto or shortstop Amed Rosario to add a bat, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears (Twitter link), echoing a recent report. But the team is still certainly after a hitter, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets that Michael Cuddyer‘s injury situation has led to a “seismic shift” in the ballclub’s deadline approach. We had heard earlier in the summer that the team was interested in offense even before Cuddyer’s knee troubles worsened, but at the time the focus seemed more on the infield.
- Lefty Josh Smoker has opened eyes in the Mets organization, Mike Puma of the New York Post notes on Twitter. The 26-year-old was a first-round pick of the Nationals, but never gained much traction. Now, he’s said to be bringing big heat at Double-A and could be a candidate to see time in the New York pen.
- The Blue Jays are primarily focused on adding a starter and are not presently discussing reliever Jonathan Papelbon with the Phillies, Heyman adds on Twitter. It could be that Toronto is allowing the development of its rotation plans drive the bus on whether (and how) it acts on the relief market.
- The Red Sox have already made some moves focused on giving MLB time to younger players, notes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, who argues that Boston ought to do more of the same the rest of the way. One forward-looking deadline move, says Lauber, would be to resume pursuit of Cole Hamels, who per the report would not be inclined to trigger his no-trade clause just because an acquiring team is not in contention.
- Rays lefty Drew Smyly is making good on reports indicating that he’d try to throw again, as Josh Vitale of the Charlotte Sun reports (Twitter links). After emerging from a 40-pitch live BP feeling well, Smyly says he’s hopeful of beginning a rehab stint soon. It remains to be seen how long he’ll take to work back to the big leagues, particularly with Tampa Bay likely to exercise quite a bit of caution with an important asset.
Rays GM Matthew Silverman says that he remains confident in his club despite its recent slide, and indicated that he does not see the need for significant deadline additions, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. “If we’re a healthy team there isn’t a glaring need for us at the deadline,” said Silverman.
- The Rays expect to welcome back both outfielder Desmond Jennings and lefty Drew Smyly in August, Silverman added. While the former has been expected to return this year, it was not at all clear that Smyly would do so. Per a Topkin tweet, there is some chance that the labrum tear identified in Smyly’s pitching shoulder is an old injury, and the team is reasonably optimistic of getting him back in 2015.
- Among the teams watching Johnny Cueto throw yesterday were three AL East clubs — the Yankees, Orioles, and Blue Jays — per a tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post. All three line up as possible acquirers of pitchers, of course, so it’s not at all surprising to hear that they would be interested in taking a look at the prized righty (as, no doubt, are plenty of other teams). Who’ll land Cueto remains a hot topic; be sure to check out MLBTR’s Instagram post on just that topic.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos continues to publicly address his teams’ needs with some regularity, this time in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca; Twitter links). Anthopoulos certainly did not leave the impression that he is plotting a run at Cueto, saying that the market for pure rental players is “the last aisle that I’d want to shop in.” Rather than going after a single player, it seems, Toronto is exploring a number of possible options. “Anybody that’s going to be out there in trades, we’re going to have interest in,” he said.
- Mike Napoli increasingly looks like an odd man out with the Red Sox, but it’s far too soon to tell where things are headed. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes that the first baseman has already lost time with the team playing David Ortiz and rookie Travis Shaw at first, while colleague Brian MacPherson explains the appeal of utilizing Ortiz at first in order to slot Hanley Ramirez as the DH. Manager John Farrell says that he is “not turning from” Napoli, as WEEI.com’s Justin Pallenik reports. And Ortiz himself hardly seems interested in anything more than spot duty in the infield, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. While it remains at least theoretically possible that Boston could look to move Napoli, his $16MM annual salary and lack of an obvious replacement make that a complicated proposition.
The Royals had little obvious need for veteran righty Chris Young heading into the season, but GM Dayton Moore had the team sign him anyway, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes. The Royals offered a big-league deal just as Young was strongly considering a minor-league offer from the Dodgers, even though the Royals didn’t have a clear spot for Young in either their rotation or their bullpen. “The analytical guys can’t understand me, either,” says Moore. Moore’s “impulse,” as McCullough puts it, has paid off so far — Young has performed better than anyone else in the Royals rotation, except perhaps Edinson Volquez. Young’s contract calls for a base salary of just $675K, but he’s already reached some roster benchmarks, and he looks likely to collect incentives that should get him close to a maximum $6MM. Here’s more from the American League.
- Red Sox righty Jonathan Aro‘s path to the big leagues was an unlikely one, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes. As a teenager, Aro twice contracted Dengue fever. He was already contemplating his life after baseball before finally signing at 20, a late age for a Dominican player, and for just $10K. “First of all, I signed as a 20-year-old. Secondly, I signed as a $10,000 guy. Thirdly, all the guys who signed in my class were high-dollar guys. I thought I was at the low end of the priority list,” says Aro through a translator. “So, in short, no — I didn’t think this was attainable.” Aro gradually made his way through the minors, though, and excelled for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this year, posting a combined 2.22 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 44 2/3 innings. He made his big-league debut Thursday.
- Rays lefty Drew Smyly will pitch from a mound for the first time on Saturday since heading to the disabled list in May with a torn labrum, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. In early May, it looked like Smyly was headed for season-ending surgery, but he currently appears set to rejoin the Rays at some point late this season.
- In other Rays injury news, DH John Jaso will start a rehab assignment Saturday with the Class A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs, Topkin tweets. Jaso has missed much of the season with a wrist injury. Jaso should provide the Rays with another reliable bat, although they’ve done well at DH this season, with Joey Butler and David DeJesus taking most the available plate appearances.
Rays left-hander Drew Smyly tells reporters, including Matt Stein of Sports Talk Florida, that he will not undergo surgery on his left shoulder, as had previously been reported to be likely. Instead, Smyly will undergo an eight-week rehab program that doctors feel will allow him to pitch again this season.
Smyly’s rehab program would have the lefty — acquired as one of the key pieces in last July’s three-team David Price/Austin Jackson blockbuster — playing catch again within a week or two, Stein writes. Doctors have told Smyly that the tear he has in his labrum is not significant and were nothing but positive about the results of his MRI. Surgery “isn’t even an option” at this time, per Stein.
That, of course, doesn’t preclude surgery entirely; as Stein notes, the end result of the injury could be that Smyly is forced to go under the knife. Smyly pointed to former college teammate (and current Dodgers right-hander) Mike Bolsinger as a reason to be optimistic. Bolsinger had a similar situation in his right shoulder in college but rehabbed the slight tear, Smyly says, and never wound up undergoing surgery to repair the issue. Smyly feels that it’s possible for him to return to the Rays in July or August. “I’m hopeful and confident that I’ll pitch again this year,” he said.
If Smyly is to avoid surgery altogether, it could be a major boon to the Rays’ playoff chances. The team currently sits with a 22-19 record — tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead. (They’re also leading the A’s 1-0 as of this writing.) If Smyly can return, he would join a rotation that has lost Alex Cobb but hopes to be bolstered by a returning Matt Moore next month. Chris Archer has taken a step forward in 2015, pitching like a No. 1 starter, while Jake Odorizzi has been excellent and Nathan Karns has come around after a slow start. A rotation of Archer, Odorizzi, Moore, Smyly and Karns would look formidable down the stretch, health permitting, and it could allow Alex Colome to shift to the bullpen, where his 94 mph fastball could play up even further.
It is by now well-documented that Allen Craig of the Red Sox has experienced a significant decline at the plate, leading to his outright off of the 40-man roster. But as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explains, the fall-off has been so steep that it actually has historical dimensions. Looking at other players who posted consistently strong batting lines in their age-26 to 28 seasons, Speier shows that no other player has fallen as far as has Craig (62 OPS+) in the following two years. There could, of course, still be some hope of a turnaround given the complicated role that injuries in his struggles and the fact that he is still only 30.
- Rays lefty Drew Smyly appears to be reconsidering the surgical route and could instead attempt to rest and then rehab his ailing left shoulder, ESPN.com reports. It’s not clear what precipitated the changed approach, but manager Kevin Cash says that the current plan may allow Smyly to return later this year. “We’re optimistic,” Cash said. “We’re hearing good things.” While any return to action would, at this point, presumably be rather late in the year — Smyly was just placed on the 60-day DL and would obviously require a lengthy resting and rebuilding process — the realistic possibility of a return could impact the team’s summer trade market plans.
- The Yankees good news on Jacoby Ellsbury, who will not need surgery on his just-injured right knee, as Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reports. “It is not anything that requires surgery so we are not holding anything that is doom or gloom,” said manager Joe Girardi. “We just have to see how he responds over the next few days and see what [team doctor Chris] Ahmad says.”
- Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are still set to be without outfielder Michael Saunders for three to five weeks, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisolm reports. Saunders says he suffered a bone bruise in his left knee that arose out of his recent surgery to remove his meniscus. The Jays are still bringing up the rear in the division, of course, and will hope that Saunders can return to action sooner rather than later.
The Rays have announced that the team claimed righty Preston Guilmet off waivers from the Blue Jays (via Matt Stein of Sports Talk Florida, Twitter links). To create a 40-man roster spot, Tampa moved lefty Drew Smyly to the 60-day DL.
Guilmet was designated by Toronto on Sunday in a roster shuffle. He had worked at the Triple-A level this year, posting a 1.26 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. In the majors last year with the Orioles, Guilmet struck out twelve and walked only two in 10 1/3 innings, but surrendered six earned runs in the process.
The most impactful element of this news, of course, is the fact that Smyly is now confirmed to miss significant time with his shoulder injury. Indeed, the club says that Smyly has a torn labrum. Surgery is not yet inevitable, as a rehab option is still being explored.
Acquired last summer as a critical piece of the David Price deal, Smyly has been excellent for Tampa when healthy — he owns a 2.70 ERA with 11.3 K/9 against just 1.6 BB/9 over 16 1/3 thus far in 2015. But a labrum tear is a major concern for his future value, whether or not he goes under the knife. Just 25, Smyly took home a $2.65MM salary as a Super Two this year and comes with three seasons of future control via arbitration.
MAY 11: Smyly underwent his second MRI yesterday in order to get a second opinion on his injured shoulder, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Team officials stressed yesterday that no decision has been made in regards to surgery.
MAY 9: Rays starter Drew Smyly has a labrum tear and will probably require season-ending surgery, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Topkin also notes it’s possible the Rays could try to address the injury through rehab before resorting to surgery. Smyly will have an MRI on Monday. The Rays had already placed him on the disabled list on Friday with shoulder tightness. Erasmo Ramirez will likely take Smyly’s spot in the rotation.
Losing Smyly would be another wound for a Rays rotation that has also lost Alex Cobb and Burch Smith to Tommy John surgery. The team is also still waiting on the return of Matt Moore, who had Tommy John surgery last year.
Smyly, 25, was one of the keys to the Rays’ end of last summer’s David Price trade. He was off to a good start this season, posting a 2.70 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 16 1/3 innings. He also pitched very well in down the stretch for the Rays in 2014, posting a 1.70 ERA while striking out four times as many batters as he walked.