- The Dodgers have outrighted catcher Shawn Zarraga off their 40-man roster, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. LA called up Zarraga on Thursday, but he was only a temporary fill-in as the club awaited the arrival of the newly acquired Carlos Ruiz. Zarraga, 27, has never picked up a major league plate appearance, instead totaling 1,826 in the minors and hitting .282/.371/.367.
The Dodgers have placed outfielder Yasiel Puig on revocable trade waivers, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). While Rosenthal expects someone to claim Puig, he points out (on Twitter) that a trade is likelier to occur in the offseason. By waiting until then to deal Puig, the Dodgers would be able to negotiate with the rest of the league, whereas their market would be limited to only the claiming team this season.
After bursting on the scene in 2013 and providing superstar-caliber production through the 2014 campaign, Puig has regressed significantly over the past two seasons. This year has been especially difficult for Puig, whom the Dodgers optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Aug. 2. Prior to his demotion, Puig batted a disappointing .260/.320/.386 while posting a league-worst 25.3 percent infield fly rate in 303 plate appearances. He has since torn through Pacific Coast League pitching, having slashed .375/.420/.641 in 69 PAs, and his major league replacement – trade deadline acquisition Josh Reddick – has hit a terrible .141/.202/.154 this month. Nevertheless, there’s no indication that the Dodgers are going to recall Puig this year.
There have long been concerns about Puig’s clubhouse presence and maturity, though FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday that his behavior since going to Oklahoma City has drawn positive reviews.
“At some point, the talent, the maturity is going to take hold,” a Dodgers official told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe last week. “Someone will benefit from it. We hope it’s us, but it’s hard to envision it right now.”
Puig is only 25, so he could indeed regain form and benefit the Dodgers or another club down the line. Given his upside and reasonable contract, a deal seems likely by the offseason if the Dodgers decide they want no part of Puig at the major league level anymore. Puig is controllable for the next three seasons, and he’s set to earn at least $14MM through 2017. He also has the right to opt into arbitration, though his poor 2016 showing could prevent him from taking that route.
Before he joined Oakland on a one-year, $6MM deal last November, the Red Sox tried to re-sign left-hander Rich Hill as a reliever, while the Pirates made a similar offer to the A’s and wanted him to start, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Hill, who revived his career with four great starts as a member of the Red Sox last September, has carried his success into this year. Despite dealing with multiple injuries, the 36-year-old has put up a sterling 2.09 ERA, 10.21 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 49.5 percent ground-ball rate and 15.7 percent infield fly rate in 82 innings. The A’s dealt him and outfielder Josh Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, thereby turning a cheap investment into three well-regarded prospects.
- Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist next Thursday, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Van Slyke’s wrist has bothered him since last summer, notes Gurnick, and the 30-year-old batted a meek .225/.292/.314 with one home run in 113 plate appearances this season. From 2013-15, he slashed an impressive .261/.349/.455 with 24 homers in 651 PAs.
Before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers discussed a deal with the Brewers that would have sent outfielder Ryan Braun to Los Angeles, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). While Braun has since cleared waivers, meaning the Dodgers (or another team) could make a trade for him this month, that would require overcoming potential complications. For instance, any team acquiring Braun would likely want the Brewers to eat a significant portion of the $76MM left on his contract, says Rosenthal, who adds that Milwaukee might be hesitant to assist a high-revenue club like the Dodgers in paying the 32-year-old. If the Dodgers and Brewers aren’t able to swing a trade in August, they could revisit talks during the offseason.
- As of now, the Dodgers have not placed outfielder Yasiel Puig on revocable waivers this month, making him ineligible for a trade, notes Rosenthal (video link). Even if Puig does end up on waivers in the month’s final days, the Dodgers are likelier to move him during the offseason when they can negotiate with the rest of the league instead of just one team. LA demoted Puig to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Aug. 2 and is not currently planning to recall him when rosters expand Sept. 1. The right-handed hitter has slashed .386/.435/.667 in 62 minor league plate appearances, though, and could still factor into the Dodgers’ plans before the year is out.
- The Dodgers’ clubhouse was “like a cemetery” after the team traded backup catcher A.J. Ellis to Philadelphia for fellow reserve backstop Carlos Ruiz on Thursday, one LA player told Rosenthal. A rival executive added, “You never want to give players an excuse for failure,” implying that the loss of a beloved teammate like Ellis could sap the Dodgers of morale. Rosenthal is skeptical of Ellis’ departure sinking the likely playoff-bound club, though, considering he didn’t contribute much on the field.
Here are a few reactions to the Phillies and Dodgers’ recent catcher swap, in which Carlos Ruiz headed to Los Angeles while A.J. Ellis, pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named or cash went to Philadelphia.
- The Phillies have two good catching prospects in Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, but GM Matt Klentak says it was still important that they receive the veteran Ellis in the deal, as Philly.com’s Matt Gelb writes. (Alfaro was recently promoted to the Majors, but is expected to return to the minors once Ellis arrives.) “It was important as this team parts ways with Carlos, who has been such an important leader for so long, that we add a player with a tremendous reputation as a leader and worker,” says Klentak. “We were adamant A.J. be in it.” Ellis is expected to back up Cameron Rupp in Philadelphia.
- Ruiz could have used his no-trade clause to block the deal, and he didn’t want to leave the Phillies, the team that signed him all the way back in 1998. But he says the possibility of competing for a championship was too tempting to pass up, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “My heart and everything was in Philly,” says Ruiz. “It was tough to make that decision. It’s sad to leave, but another part of me is happy, because I’ve got an opportunity to go to the postseason and the playoffs and have a chance to go back to the World Series.”
- From the Dodgers’ perspective, Ellis’ inclusion in the deal is confusing, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. With September callups approaching, one would think the Dodgers could have kept Ellis and still traded for Ruiz, assembling some other package that would have worked for the Phillies (Klentak’s protestation above notwithstanding). Instead, they traded Ellis, who doesn’t hit well but has a terrific clubhouse reputation, in a deal that appears to be a marginal upgrade — Ruiz, after all, will be a backup who will only get so many plate appearances down the stretch. If the Dodgers don’t succeed this year, it will be easy to blame their failures on Ellis’ departure, whether or not that’s fair.
- The Dodgers have demoted righty Kenta Maeda in order to gain an extra pitcher until his next start, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick tweets. The move appears to be procedural in nature. Maeda will be assigned to the club’s Rookie ball affiliate; with that season coming to a close, he can permissibly be brought back before the typical ten-day waiting period.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag’s latest notes column begins with a lengthy examination of a resilient Dodgers team. He also drops a note on the demoted Yasiel Puig, who is not only demolishing Triple-A pitching, but is drawing great reviews for his attitude. Heyman reported further on Puig earlier today, explaining that the Dodgers have fielded interest in trade talks, but mostly have been spurning efforts by rival organizations to get him on the cheap.
- The Dodgers are expected to attempt to bring back third baseman Justin Turner, who has been an incredibly productive player since coming to the organization on a minor league deal in 2014. Heyman does note that Turner’s age (he’ll turn 32 in November) could limit L.A.’s interest in a long-term deal with the pending free agent.
The Dodgers have added another Phillies stalwart, bringing in veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz via trade. In an interesting twist, Los Angeles will send its own long-time backstop, A.J. Ellis, back to Philly in the swap.
The Phillies will also pick up some other assets in the deal. Young righty Tommy Bergjans is on his way to Philadelphia, along with a player to be named later or cash considerations.
There’s a financial element to the deal, too. Ruiz’s $8.5MM salary still has about $1.85MM left to go on the year, while there’s a little less than $1MM owed Ellis in his final season of arbitration eligibility (which was costing the team $4.5MM). The Dodgers will presumably also be obligated to pay Ruiz a $500K buyout on his $4.5MM club option for 2017 — unless the team elects to pick it up.
Ruiz had spent all of his 17 professional seasons with the Philadelphia organization, including the last eleven at the major league level. The trade leaves Ryan Howard as the lone remaining member of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series-winning roster.
Now, Ruiz will join long-time Phillies teammates Chase Utley and Joe Blanton in Los Angeles in search of another playoff run. Ruiz will obviously still play a reserve role, befitting his age and the excellent play of Dodgers starter Yasmani Grandal. But the Dodgers will part with Ellis to facilitate the addition, ending his own 14-year tenure with the organization (with parts of nine campaigns in the bigs).
In terms of 2016 on-field results, it’s not hard to see the reasoning for the move from L.A.’s perspective — even if it comes with some risk given Ellis’s vaunted clubhouse status and relationship with ace Clayton Kershaw. The NL West-leading Dodgers have watched the 35-year-old Ellis limp to a .194/.285/.252 batting line over 161 plate appearances, marking the second time in the last three years that he has put up well-below-average offensive numbers.
Ruiz, meanwhile, is every bit the respected leader that Ellis is. But he has also been far more productive in what is his age-37 campaign, slashing a sturdy .261/.368/.352 while striking out just 28 times against 24 walks. (Ellis, it should be noted, also still delivers impeccable plate discipline.)
All told, a swap of reserve backstops hardly constitutes the most impactful mid-season move we’ve seen as contending teams re-shape their rosters for the stretch run. But it’s a unique trade involving two players who were among the most familiar faces in their respective organizations, and may conceivably carry implications that aren’t immediately evident on the stat sheet.
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer first reported the trade (via Twitter).
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Dodgers announced that they’ve placed left-handers Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson on the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Josh Fields to Triple-A Oklahoma City. In a series of corresponding moves, the team has recalled infielder Charlie Culberson, left-hander Luis Avilan and right-hander Ross Stripling from Triple-A.
Reports earlier today suggested that Kazmir was headed for an evaluation of his ailing back and neck, and the Dodgers’ press release announcing the moves lists the reason for his DL trip as neck inflammation. Anderson, meanwhile, was forced to exit his most recent start early due to a blister on his left index finger. Kazmir’s DL placement, incredibly, pushes the Dodgers into a tie for the Major League record with 27 different players placed on the disabled list in a single regular season, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
The list of pitchers the Dodgers currently have on the disabled list is deeper and more talented than most teams’ entire rotations. Kazmir and Anderson will join Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu and Rich Hill on the DL, though Hill is lined up to make his Dodgers debut tomorrow. This latest pair of injuries means the Dodgers will rely on Hill, Kenta Maeda, Bud Norris and perhaps rookie Julio Urias in the next trip through the rotation, with Stripling, Brock Stewart and Carlos Frias each representing options for the vacant fifth spot.
The 28-year-old Anderson missed the first four-plus months of the season due to a back operation that he underwent in Spring Training, and he’s been roughed up for 11 earned runs in just four innings across two appearances since returning earlier this month. Certainly, he’ll hope for a minimal stay on the disabled list, both so he can return and help his club for the September postseason push and so that he can demonstrate at least some semblance of health prior to his arrival on the open market as a free agent this winter.
Kazmir, meanwhile, has been perhaps surprisingly durable for the Dodgers this year after signing a three-year, $48MM contract with an opt-out clause after the first year. The 32-year-old’s 25 starts lead the team, but he’ll soon cede that honor to Maeda. In 135 1/3 innings this year, Kazmir has posted a sub-par 4.59 ERA, and this injury presumably makes it less likely that he’ll be willing to roll the dice and opt out of his contract even with a weak market that is lacking in the way of top tier competition.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw tossed a 40-pitch bullpen session today and is slated to throw a 60-pitch simulated game against live hitters later this week, writes J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group. There was talk of Kershaw making a pair of rehab starts, manager Dave Roberts tells Hoornstra, but that number has been dropped to one. Kershaw could head out on a minor league rehab assignment in the next week or two, Hoornstra writes. Kershaw himself said that he felt comfortable between simulated innings — a positive step from where he was prior to his placement on the DL. Hoornstra’s piece includes a series of video clips of Kershaw discussing his health and rehab, for those who wish to hear a first-hand account of his progress.
More from the NL West…
- The Giants announced today that outfielder Gregor Blanco has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an impingement in his right shoulder. Blanco tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he initially injured his shoulder all the way back in May, but it’s become so painful that it’s even impacting his ability to run (links to Twitter). The second half of the season has been a tremendous struggle for Blanco, who is hitting just .130/.203/.148 in 59 plate appearances since the All-Star break.
- In his latest Rockies mailbag, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post addresses the reasons behind the Rockies’ decision to hang onto trade candidates Boone Logan and Jorge De La Rosa. There was plenty of interest in Logan, per Saunders, but GM Jeff Bridich elected to hold onto the southpaw because the Rockies were still within arm’s reach of the playoffs and were playing quite well. Saunders adds that he heard very little in the way of interest in De La Rosa, who has performed admirably since returning to the rotation earlier this summer. The 35-year-old De La Rosa has a 3.56 ERA over his past 13 starts (78 1/3 innings) and, like Logan, is a free agent at season’s end. Both left-handers are logical trade candidates over the final eight days of the month, now that the Rockies are out of the playoff picture.