- The Marlins announced that lefty Tim Berry, who was designated for assignment earlier this week, has been outrighted to Class-A Advanced Jupiter. The former Orioles farmhand had a dreadful first run between Class-A and Double-A this year, surrendering an astounding 22 earned runs on 35 hits and nine walks with 17 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. Berry showed some promise as starter in 2014 with the Orioles organization, but he struggled to repeat that success, and his troubles have continued even following a shift to the bullpen.
Marlins setup man Bryan Morris was placed on the disabled list today due to a herniated lumbar disc in his back, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, and the 29-year-old tells Spencer that he is considering season-ending surgery to repair the injury.
“At this point, surgery is the only option that can fix what is the issue,” Morris explained. “I can [also] take the route of taking cortisone injections and pitching through the season.” Morris said that he believes he could return by September if he elects to undergo surgery, though there’s certainly the possibility that the surgical route could bring his season to a close. Morris, however, said he feels as though he’s been pitching “at 60 percent” for most of the season.
Though the pain has been plaguing Morris, his bottom-line results on the season have been sound; Morris currently has a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 innings this year, though he’s also walked 10 batters and hit another in that time, demonstrating the weakest control of his career. Morris’ velocity is also down a full two miles per hour, as he’s averaging 93 mph on his heater this season as opposed to the 95 mph he averaged in 2015.
Morris was acquired by the Marlins from the Pirates in a 2014 trade that sent a Competitive Balance (Round A) pick to Pittsburgh, and he’s quietly been an outstanding member of the Miami bullpen over the past two calendar years. Since being acquired by Miami, Morris has pitched to a 2.30 ERA, averaging 7.1 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 to go along with a ground-ball rate near 56 percent. He agreed to a one-year, $1.35MM contract this offseason, avoiding an arbitration hearing as a first-time arb-eligible player. Miami controls him through the 2018 season.
The injury to Morris is the latest hit to a Miami relief corps that has already lost right-hander Carter Capps to Tommy John surgery and spent the bulk of the season without left-hander Mike Dunn. Miami was tied to bullpen help following the loss of Capps, and it stands to reason that the Fish could explore the trade market for help if Morris is indeed lost for most or all of the next four months. For the time being, Miami has recalled right-hander Nick Wittgren from Triple-A New Orleans to take his place.
MAY 25: Badler tweets that the Brewers, too, have now hosted a private workout for Hernandez.
MAY 23: Free-agent outfielder Yadiel Hernandez hosted a showcase for clubs last Wednesday, and Ben Badler of Baseball America now reports that the Marlins hosted a private workout for the 28-year-old at Marlins Park on Saturday, with president of baseball operations Michael Hill among those in attendance. Badler also lists the D-backs, Brewers and Rockies as teams that have been connected to Hernandez, who is exempt from international spending limitations due to his age and professional experience in Cuba.
Hernandez was recently declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and is free to sign at any time for any amount. He brings with him a career .324/.449/.487 batting line over the life of 2167 pro plate appearances in Cuba and is known for a discerning eye at the plate and excellent contact skills, though he does also possess some modest pop. (Badler recently noted that he felt Hernandez could hit 10 to 15 homers in a big league season.) Hernandez struck out in just 13 percent of his career plate appearances in Cuba and walked in 17.5 percent of his trips to the plate. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that one should expect similar rates in the Majors, where Hernandez will face higher-quality pitching. It’s not uncommon for even the most successful Cuban hitters to see their strikeout rates increase by five to eight percent upon jumping to MLB, and Hernandez isn’t as highly regarded as some recent success stories were during their free agencies (e.g. Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes).
The Marlins are somewhat of a curious fit for Hernandez unless they believe him to be more of a fourth outfielder than an everyday bat, as their long-term outfield is seemingly set with Christian Yelich in left field, Marcell Ozuna in center field and Giancarlo Stanton in right field. The D-backs, on paper, have a fairly set outfield rotation for the foreseeable future as well, with David Peralta, A.J. Pollock (once healthy) and Yasmany Tomas in addition to a pair of young infielders, Chris Owings and Brandon Drury, seeing time on the outfield grass, too. Beyond that, Arizona has a fairly promising outfield candidate in Socrates Brito in the upper minors.
Colorado and Milwaukee are a bit less settled, if for no other reason than the potential trade candidacy of star-caliber players Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Braun (more so Braun, given Colorado’s 21-21 start to the season). Both could see their names floated on the trade market this summer, although both organizations also have highly regarded outfield prospects of their own that are in reasonable proximity to the Majors (namely, David Dahl in Colorado and Brett Phillips in Milwaukee).
Hernandez would almost certainly require some time in the minors to get comfortable in a game setting once again, whenever and wherever he ultimately chooses to sign. His last full season in Cuba came in 2014-15 (their season is played in the winter), so it’d be understandable if Hernandez came with a fair bit of rust. Those wishing to get a lengthier look at Hernandez can reference a full scouting report from Badler’s Top 20 Cuban prospects last season. A subscription is required, though with the 2016 Draft and the July 2 international free agent kickoff both looming, it’s well worth the price of admission for those seeking insight into the upcoming waves of amateur talent that will soon be available to MLB clubs.
Mets manager Terry Collins put a swift end to speculation on Matt Harvey’s immediate future, at least for the time being. The righty will make his next scheduled start, as Mike Puma of the New York Post was among those to report. “We saw some real positive things early in the game [Tuesday] night,” Collins told the media. “When he hit a wall in the fifth inning, I said I wasn’t surprised. I told Matt about it, I said I was proud of the fact the way he prepared for it and we saw some positive things early in the game.” Collins maintains that the Mets are focused on the big picture with Harvey, saying that the right-hander is “too big a piece to write him off” or to be put in the bullpen. MLBTR readers weighed in this morning on what the Mets should do, with a slight plurality preferring to see the club skip a Harvey start rather than maintaining the status quo or taking more drastic action.
A few more notes on the NL East…
- Yoenis Cespedes has been as good as anyone could have hoped since returning to the Mets, and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wonders whether there’s any chance of the sides getting back together on a new deal. Cespedes seems well on his way to returning to the open market via his opt-out clause, of course, having gotten off to a tremendous start to the season in advance of a considerably weaker free agent class than the one in which he found himself last winter. The 30-year-old is batting .309/.387/.678 and leading the National League in OPS, slugging percentage and RBIs while holding the MLB lead with 15 home runs. Assistant GM John Ricco said that there’s been no talk between the two sides about working out a new deal, though he also acknowledged: “There’ll be a time and place for that and I think when that time comes, we’ll see what happens.” Davidoff suggests multiple hypothetical offers the Mets could make to Cespedes now, though the slugging outfielder could ultimately find himself positioned as the top free agent on the market, especially now that division-rival Stephen Strasburg is off the market following a seven-year extension.
- Left-hander Joe Beimel had a visit with Dr. James Andrews after his recent minor league agreement with the Marlins fell through due to physical concerns, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (links to Twitter). Andrews gave Beimel’s shoulder and elbow a clean bill of health, though clearly there was something that gave Miami some degree of pause. Of course, for a 39-year-old veteran of 13 big league seasons, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some degree of wear and tear in his arm. Beimel has pitched well with the Mariners across the past two seasons, working to a combined 3.12 ERA in 92 1/3 innings and holding lefties to a .226/.281/.381 batting line and whiffing nearly 18 percent of the same-handed opponents he faced in that time.
- Nationals right-hander Shawn Kelley has quietly been one of the game’s most dominant relievers in recent years, writes MLB.com’s Mike Petriello. As Petriello notes, the Nationals’ new setup man, who signed a three-year contract in free agency this winter, has the lowest ERA in baseball across the past calendar year, and while some may think his dominance has come out of nowhere, he’s actually been strong dating back to 2013, Petriello points out. Only 11 pitchers registered a higher strikeout percentage in that time. Kelley is enjoying his best season yet, and while he hasn’t altered his pitch selection much, Petriello explains that Kelley has significantly improved the command of his fastball, moving the pitch more to the edge of the zone as opposed to the center of the plate, resulting in more strikeouts and more pop-ups. The bottom-line result for Kelley has been a 1.13 ERA with a 22-to-3 K/BB ratio in 16 innings this season
The Marlins and catcher Carlos Corporan have agreed to terms on a minor league contract, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 32-year-old MDR Sports Management client had recently been released from a minors pact with the Rays, where he’d batted .200/.246/.308 in 70 plate appearances.
Corporan has quite a bit of Major League experience under his belt, having spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues. He’s spent time with the Brewers, Astros and, most recently, the Rangers, combining to bat .218/.280/.342 in 780 trips to the plate as a Major Leaguer. Behind the plate, he’s caught 23 percent of attempted base thieves over the course of his career — a number that improves to 25.6 percent if one is willing to overlook some throwing struggles he had in his first extended look at the big league level back in 2011. He drew strong framing marks from Baseball Prospectus from 2011-14 but turned in slightly below-average numbers in that regard last season and again in his limited time at Triple-A this season.
Corporan will provide the Fish with some depth and figures to head to Triple-A, where Tomas Telis (acquired from the Rangers in exchange for Sam Dyson last summer) and Adrian Nieto have split catching duties. While Telis has hit exceptionally well at the minor league level this season (.361/.430/.470), Nieto has batted .116/.244/.116 after struggling at the Double-A level last season. In the Majors, the Marlins have the quietly solid J.T. Realmuto handling the bulk of the work behind the dish. Veteran Jeff Mathis is his primary backup, though the 33-year-old is hitting just .152/.176/.212 in 34 plate appearances this season.
The Marlins announced that they’ve claimed right-hander Asher Wojciechowski off waivers from the Astros and optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, left-hander Tim Berry has been designated for assignment.
The 27-year-old Wojciechowski was long one of the more highly regarded prospects in the minor league system of the Astros and, prior to Houston, the Blue Jays. The Astros picked him up in a 10-player trade that included J.A. Happ (going to Toronto) and Francisco Cordero (going to the Astros). The South Carolina native was the 41st overall selection in the 2010 draft and ranged from seventh to 28th on Baseball America’s Top 30 prospect rankings between the two organizations from 2011 to 2015. Wojciechowski saw 16 1/3 innings of action at the Major League level last season, his sole big league experience, and yielded 13 runs on 23 hits and seven walks with 16 strikeouts. He has a considerably better track record at the Triple-A level, where he owns a 4.39 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in 350 2/3 innings, although he hasn’t truly excelled in Triple-A since 2013.
As for Berry, the former Orioles farmhand had been in his first season with the Marlins organization but struggled enormously between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, surrendering a combined 22 earned runs on 35 hits and nine walks with 17 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. Berry had a strong season in the Double-A rotation back in 2014 but endured similar struggles to those he’s experienced with the Marlins when repeating the Double-A level in 2015.
The Marlins announced that they’ve claimed right-hander Cody Hall off waivers from the D-backs and optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans. Arizona had designated the 28-year-old Hall for assignment over the weekend.
Hall’s stay with the Diamondbacks was rather brief, as he was picked up from the Giants just this past offseason, having spent the entirety of his career until that point with San Francisco. The former 19th-round draft pick had a solid season with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate last year, posting a 3.46 ERA in 67 2/3 innings, and he made his MLB debut in 2015 as well, working 8 1/3 innings out of the Giants’ bullpen. However, he’s struggled with the D-backs’ Triple-A club in Reno, surrendering 13 runs on 23 hits and seven walks with 10 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings of work.
MAY 17: The Marlins have changed course in regards to Beimel, it seems, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald now reports (via Twitter) that Miami has “decided to pass” on Beimel and did not ultimately complete the previously reported agreement. It’s not clear at this time what exactly led to Miami’s decision to pass on the deal.
MAY 12: The Marlins have signed veteran left-handed reliever Joe Beimel, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter). Presumably, the 39-year-old Frye McCann Sports client’s deal is of the minor league variety. He’ll report to extended Spring Training for the time being to get up to speed, per Frisaro. Beimel auditioned for clubs last week, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported at the time.
Beimel returned to the Majors in 2014 after a two-year absence and went on to deliver a pair of strong seasons out of the Seattle bullpen. Over that 2014-15 stretch with the Mariners, the southpaw worked to a 3.12 ERA with 4.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 45.9 percent ground-ball rate in 92 1/3 innings of work. While ERA estimators such as FIP and SIERA feel his ERA drastically overstates his performance in that time (due largely to a lack of strikeouts), Beimel’s numbers against left-handed batters were quite strong; lefties batted just .226/.281/.381 against him, and his 17.7 percent strikeout rate and 5.3 percent walk rate against lefties in that time were both fairly sound. Of course, Beimel also walked more right-handed batters than he struck out in that time and yielded a .275/.353/.432 line to hitters that held the platoon advantage, suggesting that he’s best-suited for a specialist role.
Yesterday’s DFA of Craig Breslow rendered the Marlins as the only club without a left-handed relief option at the Major League level, Frisaro pointed out last night (Twitter link), so the addition of a veteran depth option is perhaps unsurprising. It’s unclear how much time Beimel would need to ramp up and become an option for the Fish at the big league level, but he doesn’t seem likely to be available in the near future based on his initial assignment.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.
- The Marlins have placed right-hander Kendry Flores on the 15-day DL with a strained pitching shoulder, per a team announcement. Flores, whom the Marlins recalled from Triple-A prior to their Saturday doubleheader, left his start against the Nationals after three shutout innings because of the injury. It was the first big league action of the year for Flores, who threw 12 2/3 innings of 4.97 ERA ball, struck out nine and walked four with the Marlins last season.
- Catcher Michael McKenry has opted out of his minor-league deal with the Rangers, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. McKenry was batting .220/.389/.341 for Triple-A Round Rock after agreeing to terms on a minor-league deal in December. He hasn’t yet played in the big leagues this season even as the Rangers have used four different catchers at the Major League level. McKenry, now 31, is a career .239/.319/.407 hitter in parts of six seasons with the Rockies and Pirates.
- The Braves have released minor-league catcher Ryan Lavarnway, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The Braves’ recent acquisition of Anthony Recker likely meant the Braves had less playing time for Lavarnway, but given Lavarnway’s career .374 minor-league OBP, he should be able to find work elsewhere. He has appeared in the last five big-league seasons, spending time with Boston and Baltimore in addition to Atlanta.
- The Indians have announced that they’ve selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Michael Martinez, who also played briefly for them last season. The five-year MLB vet was batting .288/.351/.442 for Triple-A Columbus. Martinez will take the place of Michael Brantley, who is heading to the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation. Brantley had surgery on the shoulder in the offseason. Via MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (on Twitter), however, a recent shoulder MRI didn’t reveal any serious problems. Brantley was off to a slow start this season, batting just .231/.279/.282 since making his season debut in late April. To clear space for Martinez on their 40-man roster, the Indians transferred catcher Roberto Perez (hand) to the 60-day DL.
- The Dodgers have released utilityman Elian Herrera to give him an opportunity to play in Japan, Alex Freedman of the Oklahoma City Dodgers tweets. Herrera was hitting .218/.308/.238 for Oklahoma City while playing shortstop, second, third and left field. He batted .242/.290/.395 with the Brewers last season before signing a minor-league deal with the Dodgers last winter.
- The Twins have signed utilityman Thomas Field, as Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Field has been assigned to Triple-A Rochester. The 29-year-old has played sparingly in parts of four seasons in the big leagues. He began the season with the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, but he was released after playing just 15 games there. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers system, batting .247/.347/.439 over 435 plate appearances and playing second base, shortstop and the corner outfield positions.
Tim Lincecum has yet to sign following last Friday’s showcase, which was attended by roughly two-thirds of the league, but a handful of reports today has at least eliminated a few teams from consideration. Per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter), both the Padres and Mariners are out of the mix on Lincecum at this point. While some San Diego fans speculated that the Friars’ claim of Hector Sanchez, who caught Lincecum during the pair’s San Francisco days, could be related, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune squashed that notion in relatively short order last night, tweeting that the Sanchez claim was unrelated to any pursuit of Lincecum and was instead merely about adding catching depth to the organization.
Beyond all of that, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins, too, are unlikely to make a play for the right-hander at this time. Those reports join previous word out of Baltimore and Arizona that the Orioles and D-backs, respectively, aren’t expected to pursue Lincecum, either.
Rosenthal adds (Twitter link) that the Angels, Giants and White Sox currently have the most interest in Lincecum, which is the same list of clubs reported to be most intrigued this past weekend, with the notable exclusion of the D-backs. Per Rosenthal, no decision is close. Any of the three make sense as a landing spot, though Giants manager Bruce Bochy said last week that the club was only interested in a relief role for Lincecum, and fallen ace Matt Cain delivered a strong showing in his most recent start, by dominating the Blue Jays over eight innings. The Angels, meanwhile, picked up one arm yesterday by acquiring Jhoulys Chacin from the Braves, and while it’s hard to imagine that lone pickup leaving the Halos feeling like they have sufficient depth in the rotation in the wake of all the injuries they’ve incurred, it probably does curb some of the urgency to seek further rotation help.
As for the White Sox, they have some options to replace the recently released John Danks (former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez is getting the first crack at the fifth spot), but the rotation is suspect beyond Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Mat Latos started the year strong, but his lack of strikeouts and considerable fortune on balls in play made him a clear regression candidate through his first several starts, and the wheels have begun to come off as of late.
Amid the considerable Lincecum chatter, it seems worth addressing that it’s been five years since he posted an ERA south of 4.00 in a season, making it likelier that he stabilizes the back end of a rotation than emerges as a revitalized top-of-the-rotation force. Lincecum did post a 4.37 ERA and come within arm’s reach of 200 innings as recently as 2013 even while averaging 90.4 mph on his fastball, so there’s certainly reason to express optimism that he can help a club in 2016 with the aid of improved health. However, fans hoping for a return to the levels displayed in his Cy Young heyday are probably overreaching.