- Speaking of relievers, the Mets, Giants and Blue Jays will look to fortify their bullpens as the season advances, per Rosenthal. Mets relievers have been outstanding this year, while the other two clubs’ bullpen production has been average or worse. Toronto will get in-house help there eventually in the form of starter Aaron Sanchez, whose innings limit will remove him from the team’s rotation, Rosenthal notes. Sanchez, who has been excellent in a starting role (2.59 ERA, 8.33 K/9, 2.87 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings), put up a 2.39 ERA with 19 strikeouts and seven walks in 26 1/3 frames out of the Jays’ bullpen last season.
- The Mets may ultimately need to consider moving Travis d’Arnaud out from behind the plate, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post suggests. If d’Arnaud misses an extended stretch, argues Davidoff, the organization ought at least to think about alternatives to full-time catching. Of course, while the 27-year-old hit well enough last year (.268/.340/.485 in 268 plate appearances) to play anywhere on the diamond, he’s yet to carry that kind of production over even a full season and — regardless — is most valuable as a backstop.
The Mets announced on Tuesday that they’ve placed catcher Travis d’Arnaud on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff and selected the contract of veteran backstop Rene Rivera from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his place on the roster. Right-hander Zack Wheeler was moved to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on what was a full 40-man roster, per the club’s press release.
Rivera, 32, is an excellent defensive catcher but was one of baseball’s worst hitters in 2015 when he batted .178/.213/.275 in 319 plate appearances with the Rays, who released him in Spring Training. With the exception of a very strong 2014 campaign in which he batted .252/.319/.432 in 329 PAs with the Padres, Rivera has never been much of a threat with the bat, and his lifetime .211/.258/.331 batting line speaks to that point. However, Rivera has also successfully thrown out 38 percent of attempted base-stealers in his big league career, and he consistently draws well-above-average framing marks from Baseball Prospectus and Statcorner.com, both of which ranked him as one of the absolute best in baseball in 2014.
For d’Arnaud, the shoulder ailment adds to a lengthy history of injuries. He’s been on the disabled list in the Major Leagues for a concussion, a broken hand and a hyperextended elbow prior to this, and that list doesn’t include a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his knee that cost him more than half of the 2012 season in the minors as well. At this time, it’s not clear precisely how long d’Arnaud will miss, though Newsday’s Marc Carig tweets that d’Arnaud himself doesn’t have a sense of how much time he will miss.
The Mets, though, are fortunate to have a backup of Kevin Plawecki’s quality that can step into d’Arnaud’s place in the lineup. In fact, reports have suggested that one of the reasons New York signed Rivera in the first place was to bring in a competent backup catcher that would allow them to option Plawecki to Triple-A to receive everyday at-bats. Instead, it’ll be an injury to d’Arnaud that allows him to get those at-bats at the Major League level rather than in Triple-A. Plawecki, 25, was the 35th pick in the 2012 draft and rated as a consensus Top 100 prospect entering last season. He’s a career .290/.364/.432 hitter in the minors but has managed just a .216/.282/.288 line through his first 278 MLB plate appearances.
- Like Darvish and Cobb, Mets lefty Josh Edgin is also coming back from 2015 Tommy John surgery. Edgin’s recovery is going well and it’s possible he’ll return to the majors next month, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. Edgin served as a shutdown option out of the Mets’ bullpen in 2014, compiling a 9.22 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 to accompany a stingy 1.32 ERA in 27 1/3 innings.
Here are the latest minor transactions from around baseball:
- The Twins have called up right-hander Tyler Duffey from Triple-A and optioned infielder Jorge Polanco, the team announced. Duffey will start the Twins’ game Sunday against the Nationals in place of Ervin Santana, who has back tightness. Duffey, 25, broke into the majors last season and was excellent for the Twins, throwing 58 innings of 3.10 ERA ball with an 8.22 K/9 and 3.10 BB/9. Duffey’s standout performance has continued this year in Triple-A Rochester, where he has pitched to a 1.72 ERA and 2.98 FIP in three starts. Polanco, who’s regarded as a top-100 prospect, got the call to Minnesota last week but didn’t last long. The 22-year-old logged only eight plate appearances, giving him 28 in the big leagues since 2014.
- The Rays wasted no time sending top pitching prospect Blake Snell back to Triple-A after his stellar debut at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets. With Snell returning to Durham, the Rays have selected the contract of right-hander Jhan Marinez. Snell threw five innings of one-run ball in his first major league start, holding the Yankees to two hits and a walk while striking out six. Snell got a no-decision in the Rays’ 3-2 loss. Marinez, 27, could now make his first trip to a major league mound since he picked up 2 2/3 frames for the White Sox in 2012.
- The Blue Jays have optioned southpaw Chad Girodo to Triple-A to make room for right-hander Drew Hutchison, who will start their game Sunday against the A’s, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (Twitter link). Girodo has tossed two scoreless innings for the Jays this year. Hutchison racked up 62 appearances (60 starts) and 335 innings with the Jays from 2014-15, but he struggled to prevent runs (4.97 ERA) despite a quality K/9 (8.41) and decent BB/9 (2.79).
- The Marlins have placed third baseman Martin Prado on the paternity list and selected the contract of left-hander Cody Ege, per a club announcement. Ege, 24, will make his major league debut after recording stellar numbers in 161 2/3 minor league innings. Ege owns a 2.23 minors ERA to go with an 11.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
- The Diamondbacks have recalled right-hander Enrique Burgos from Triple-A and optioned righty Silvino Bracho, the team announced. Burgos accrued 27 innings out of the D-backs’ bullpen last season and put up a lofty ERA (4.67) that belied an impressive strikeout rate (13.0 per nine). Bracho threw just 1 2/3 innings for Arizona prior to the demotion, surrendering five hits and three earned runs.
- The Padres have placed utilityman Alexi Amarista on the 15-day DL (retroactive to April 20) with a right hamstring strain and recalled Cesar Vargas from Double-A, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). Amarista owns a career .229/.277/.325 batting line in 1,601 major league plate appearances, but he was off to a solid start this year (.333/.440/.333 in 26 PAs). Vargas will start the Padres’ game against the Cardinals tonight. The Mexico native could be a diamond in the rough, as Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs details.
- The Nationals signed righty Jaron Long to a minor league deal, the team announced. Jaron Long, the son of Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, spent 2013-15 working through the Yankees’ minor league system. Long, 24, has put up some solid totals in the minors (3.26 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9), but he hasn’t yet earned a call-up to the majors.
- The Tigers have claimed catcher John Hicks off waivers from the Twins, Anthony Fenecki of the Detroit Free Press was among those to report (on Twitter). Hicks owns a .279/.325/.408 line in 1,690 minor league PAs and has thrown out a whopping 48 percent of base stealers at various levels. The 26-year-old debuted in the majors last season with the Mariners, collecting only two hits and a walk in 34 trips to the plate.
- The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Arnold Leon cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A (Twitter link via Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com). Leon gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings with the Jays before they designated him for assignment April 13. He made his major league debut last year with Oakland and posted a 4.39 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. Leon induced an average amount of ground balls (45.9 percent) and averaged 6.4 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 during that time.
- The Royals have released minor league left-hander Brandon Zajac, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. Zajac was a 23rd-round pick of the Giants in 2013.
- The Braves have recalled lefty reliever Matt Marksberry from Double-A and optioned right-hander Casey Kelly to Triple-A, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The Braves needed a fresh arm in place of Kelly, who threw three innings of one-run ball for them on Friday. Marksberry, who has put up a 3.63 ERA over 203 1/3 career minor league innings, tossed 23 1/3 frames for the Braves last season. He compiled a 5.01 ERA to accompany an 8.1 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9.
- The Mets sent right-hander Rafael Montero to Triple-A to make room for the return of starter Jacob deGrom, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN. New York called up Montero on April 12 and he went on to surrender three earned runs on five hits, one walk and three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. DeGrom hasn’t pitched since April 8 because of right lat tightness and medical complications with his recently born son, Jaxon, who was released from the hospital Monday.
- The Red Sox recalled left-handler Roenis Elias on Friday and sent righty William Cuevas to Triple-A, per the Boston Herald. Elias, whom Boston acquired from Seattle during the offseason in the Wade Miley/Carson Smith trade, will work out of the Red Sox’s bullpen. Elias has made a pair of starts for Pawtucket this year after totaling 49 as a Mariner the previous two seasons. During that time frame, Elias combined for 277 2/3 innings of 3.99 ERA ball to go with a 7.75 K/9 and 3.47 BB/9. Cuevas, who has been in the Boston organization since 2008, made his major league debut this season to poor results before the demotion. The 25-year-old allowed five base runners (three hits and two walks) and two earned runs in 2 1/3 frames.
- Another player facing potential free agency after the season is Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets, who has the chance to opt out of his three-year deal and re-enter the market. While his overall batting line has been strong in the early going, ESPN.com’s Mark Simon observes that the veteran outfielder’s strikeout rate is way up (currently, 35.3%, with a 15.5% swinging strike rate). The issue, in large part, is that Cespedes is chasing breaking balls out of the zone. Needless to say, there’s plenty of time for him to turn that around, and it’s good to see that he’s producing despite the swings and misses — aided by a .400 BABIP driven by loads of hard contact, as well as an improved 7.8% walk rate — but it’s certainly an area for improvement.
The Mets placed right-hander Jacob deGrom on the MLB bereavement/family medical emergency list Saturday because of “complications” with his newborn son, and manager Terry Collins described it as a “real-life situation.” In an encouraging update, deGrom told Collins last night that the baby, Jaxon, is doing “better” (Twitter link via Mike Puma of the New York Post). deGrom, who’s on the mend from a lat issue, is now throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session in Port St. Lucie, per Adam Rubin of ESPN.com.
- Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud left Saturday’s loss to the Indians after getting hit on his left elbow by a 93 mph Zach McAllister fastball, but X-rays came back negative. The Mets diagnosed d’Arnaud with a bruise, and he’s now day to day, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “It’s going to probably be pretty sore the next couple days,” said manager Terry Collins. “He had a little trouble straightening his elbow, bending it. So we’ll keep an eye on it.”
Mets star righty Matt Harvey’s early season issues continued in a 7-5 loss to the Indians on Saturday. Harvey allowed three-plus runs for the third straight start, which is the first time that has happened in the fourth-year man’s career. In total, Harvey surrendered five earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, adding four strikeouts against three walks. So far this season, Harvey has put up an ugly 5.71 ERA to go along with a 4.67 K/9 and 3.63 BB/9. Those numbers look nothing like his tremendous career totals (2.59 ERA, 9.31 K/9, 2.01 BB/9), but Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen doesn’t expect Harvey’s struggles to last. Warthen expressed belief after the game Saturday that Harvey has a mechanical problem that’s easily fixable, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com was among those to report (Twitter link). Warthen elaborated, saying that Harvey is hurting his consistency by collapsing his back leg in the stretch (Twitter link via Marc Carig of Newsday). Harvey was outstanding from the windup Saturday, allowing just one hit in 14 at-bats. On the other hand, Indians hitters teed off on him when he was in the stretch, going 5 for 8 with two doubles, three walks and a pair of steals, per Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (via Twitter). Harvey’s next scheduled start is against the lowly Braves on Friday. Both facing Atlanta and making the right adjustments in the meantime could put Harvey in position to revisit his dominant form for the first time this year.
The Mets have placed righty Jacob deGrom on the MLB bereavement/family medical emergency list due to “complications” with his son Jaxon, according to various reporters, including the New York Daily News’ Kristie Ackert. Jaxon was born Monday. Mets manager Terry Collins did not offer specifics on deGrom’s son, but described the matter as a “real-life situation.” We at MLBTR wish deGrom and family the best. We’ll provide updates as the story develops.
- It’s been a rough season so far for the Braves, who only won their first game yesterday. But GM John Coppolella isn’t making excuses for his team’s poor start in an interview with MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Coppolella points out that many teams that have enjoyed recent success went through tough times before emerging as winning teams. “I’m sure the fans of the Royals, Pirates, Cubs, Astros and Mets were frustrated a few years ago,” says Coppolella. “It took Kansas City nine years to reach the playoffs, and the Royals started out 3-14 in 2012, but they stayed patient and were ultimately rewarded.”