NL Notes: Reds, Phillies, Nationals

The Reds continue to run out a remarkable string of rookie starters, as Jonah Keri of Grantland explains. Cincinnati is testing that group out against major league hitters now due both to necessity and to take advantage of the opportunity to challenge its young arms. In the process, it’s set records for most consecutive rookie starts and most total rookie starts in a season. “When we went into this, we didn’t think about breaking any records,” said GM Walt Jocketty. We’re just trying to finish off the season with our young starting pitchers of the future. [Going with all rookie starters] gives us a better idea of who those pitchers might be now, [compared to] what we had a couple years ago.”

Here are a few more notes from the National League:

  • The Phillies will likely kick their GM search into high gear after the regular season is completed,’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Philadelphia could ramp up its interviews at that time, he suggests, though a complete hiring timeline remains unclear.
  • Whoever takes over for the Phillies will, of course, have plenty of long-term decisions to make, but things will start with management of the team’s big league assets. Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer looks at every current member of the 40-man roster, breaking down some possible outcomes.
  • The Nationals have parted ways with two front office members, as Bill Ladson of reports. Director of international scouting Bill Singer and advance scout Bob Johnson have both been let go.

AL East Notes: Davis, Orioles, Hill

Orioles first baseman/outfielder Chris Davis said today that he was disappointed that the club never approached him to discuss a new contract during the season, as Steve Melewski of reports on Twitter. The 29-year-old has frequently mentioned his interest in returning to Baltimore, though a recent report indicates that his representatives and the team did not progress very far when extension talks were last broached. Regardless, it seems as if the O’s would have a good shot at wooing back the league’s home run leader — if, that is, they are willing to play at (or at least near) the top of what figures to be a lively market for his services. Davis called the lack of contact “a little frustrating,” but said that he doesn’t “have hard feelings” as free agency nears.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • This winter could be one of great change for the Orioles, and manager Buck Showalter notes that it may not come just from the players reaching free agency, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. The organization has a host of players set to qualify for arbitration, and not all of them are obvious tender candidates. “A lot of decisions,” Showalter said. “I’m sure our guys have it wired about the order in which those decisions need to be made.”
  • Red Sox lefty Rich Hill has spun an interesting storyline late in the season, allowing just five earned runs over 29 innings in which he owns an outstanding 36:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. (He was also quite good in Triple-A this year, though it should be noted that he carried a more typical 4.6 BB/9 walk rate.) The 35-year-old tells’s Rob Bradford that he’s ready to hit the open market this winter with vigor. “I’ve never spoke like this before in the past because for me to be humble is extremely important,” he explained. “But in this part of the game you have to go out and stand up for yourself and that’s something I’m looking forward to doing in the offseason. It’s confidence. It’s going out there and saying, ‘I can pitch for anybody, against anybody, anytime, anywhere.’ I feel very [full of conviction].” Hill says he is looking for a guaranteed big league deal and a legitimate shot to earn a rotation spot. It’s nearly impossible to gauge what kind of market he’ll have, but that is precisely what will make him so interesting to follow in free agency. The piece is well worth a read to see the veteran’s thoughts after an excellent and unexpected run in the Boston rotation.

NL West Notes: Leake, Kennedy, Anderson

Reports have already indicated that the Giants will have interest in retaining Mike Leake beyond this season, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today adds a division rival to the mix of teams expected to pursue the right-hander (Twitter link). Per Nightengale, the D-Backs, in addition to the Giants, will show interest in Leake as a free agent once the season ends. Arizona is known to be on the hunt for rotation upgrades, and Leake would certainly add some stability; he’s shown the ability to thrive in a homer-friendly setting in Cincinnati, thanks in part to strong ground-ball tendencies, and he of course is familiar with Arizona, having played his college ball at ASU. Leake wouldn’t be the top-of-the-rotation fix the D-Backs have previously mentioned, but he’d be a nice source of 30-plus starts and about 200 innings to pencil into the rotation behind Patrick Corbin. Leake said Wednesday evening that he hopes to make a quick decision in free agency rather than spend a lengthy period of time feeling out the market. He did call it a “strong possibility” that he’d have interest in returning to the Giants, though he stopped short of saying he considered them an early favorite in free agency.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Yesterday might have marked Ian Kennedy‘s final start as a member of the Padres, and if it did, he ended his San Diego tenure with a flourish, writes’s Corey Brock. Kennedy, a free agent after the season, allowed one run on five hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts in six innings versus the Brewers. “There’s plenty of opportunities to talk,” Kennedy replied when asked about his potential departure from the Padres. “I think [general manager] A.J. [Preller] and [agent Scott Boras] have a good relationship. I feel I have the same relationship with him [Preller].” Kennedy will likely be the recipient of a qualifying offer, per Brock, and I can’t personally envision him accepting the one-year deal. Kennedy added that he thoroughly enjoyed his time in San Diego but is “excited” to see what awaits on the open market. As Brock notes, he’s the lone pitcher in the NL to make 30-plus starts in each of the past six seasons, and he also posted a 2.63 ERA over his final 17 starts, so interest in Kennedy should be strong.
  • Brett Anderson‘s final start of the season was also a strong one, writes the O.C. Register’s Bill Plunkett. And, in making that final start, he positioned himself to be added to the Dodgers‘ postseason rotation after some recent struggles and earned himself some extra cash, as Anderson will earn $2.4MM worth of incentives on top of his $10MM base salary based on innings pitched. The oft-injured southpaw discussed with Plunkett what it means to him to have completed a full, healthy season. “For all of the stuff I’ve been through the last handful of years to be able to make pretty much every start they asked me to is pretty special,” said Anderson. “Zack [Greinke] and Clayton [Kershaw] make it look easy, but double-digit wins in the big leagues is a tough thing to do [Anderson won 11] so I take pride in that.” Of course, more than pride was at stake, as Anderson will hit the open market looking for a multi-year deal this winter.

White Sox To Retain Robin Ventura

White Sox GM Rick Hahn said today that the club will retain skipper Robin Ventura for the 2016 season, as Dan Hayes of was among those to report on Twitter. Though Ventura was already under contract for next year, there had been plenty of speculation about his job security after a disappointing campaign.

Hahn did confirm that bench coach Mark Parent has been fired from his position, as Hayes earlier reported (Twitter links). The rest of the staff will remain intact except for assistant hitting coach Harold Baines, who has decided to move into a different role in the organization.

Ventura has compiled a 295-350 win/loss record since taking the helm before the 2012 season. He directed a winning club in his first year, but has overseen sub-.500 efforts in each of the last three.

Increased spending and heightened expectations couldn’t prevent another middling season, leaving Ventura seemingly at risk. But Hahn explained that he still believes the former All-Star third baseman can lead a team to a championship, as Hayes tweets.

The White Sox already seem to have a pretty clear idea of what they’d like to do with next year’s staff,’s Scott Merkin reports (Twitter links). Adding a coach with a Latin American background is one priority, and the team may prefer that its new bench coach have managerial experience. One name that appears to be getting some consideration is Raul Ibanez, according to Merkin, though it’s not clear what role he’d be in play for.

Paco Rodriguez Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

Braves lefty Paco Rodriguez has undergone Tommy John surgery,’s Mark Bowman reports on Twitter. That means he’ll almost certainly miss all of next season.

Rodriguez, 24, came to Atlanta as one of the thirteen players to change hands in this summer’s three-team swap with the Dodgers and Marlins. While Hector Olivera headlined that deal, the young southpaw looked like a useful secondary piece.

Since moving quickly to the big leagues, Rodriguez has thrown 85 1/3 innings of 2.53 ERA ball, with 9.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. Those results aren’t a mirage, either, as all the major ERA estimators see him as a sub-3.00 performer during his time in the big leagues.

But Rodriguez hasn’t thrown since joining the Braves. That was expected, to a degree, as he was coming off of surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow and was set to miss eight to ten weeks.

Still, there is no indication that Atlanta anticipated it would lose Rodriguez for all of next year when it added him. Assuming he spends 2016 on the 60-day DL, Rodriguez will head into 2017 with 3.120 years of service and will reach arbitration eligibility before he ever takes the mound in a big league game for the Braves. On the positive side, the team should have plenty of time to evaluate the progress of his elbow before making a decision.

Heyman’s Latest: Nats, Managers/GMs, Kennedy, Martinez, Beltre, Desmond

While Matt Williams is all but certain to be let go following the season, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in his latest Inside Baseball column, a source close to the situation tells him that Nationals GM/president of baseball ops Mike Rizzo “isn’t going anywhere.” The ill-fated acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon and Rizzo’s backing of Williams has led to some speculation about his job, but Heyman indicates that Washington’s top decision-maker is safe. Heyman focuses on the Nats in a lengthy intro to his column, also notably reporting that the “ship has sailed” on the Cubs‘ interest in Papelbon, making them an unlikely destination in a trade this winter. The Nats will try to unload Papelbon, though finding a trade partner in the wake of recent drama surrounding him will prove exceptionally difficult. Heyman also notes that Tyler Clippard and Gerardo Parra were Rizzo’s top two deadline priorities, but he didn’t have authorization to increase payroll, and thus turned to Papelbon, as the Phillies were willing to include money in the deal.

Some highlights from the rest of the lengthy but informative column…

  • In running down current GM vacancies as well as potential managerial openings, Heyman notes a number of likelihoods. Billy Eppler is expected to be offered the Angels‘ GM position, he hears, but the Halos may go with the increasingly popular two-executive format, meaning Josh Byrnes could be hired as president to work above Eppler. Torey Lovullo’s name could surface as a candidate for the Padres, especially given CEO Mike Dee’s ties to Boston. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto could have a tough time with Lloyd McClendon, whom one Mariners person described as even more old-school than Mike Scioscia, and Heyman hears that former Rangers bench coach/Angels front office assistant Tim Bogar could get a look.
  • The Indians will be looking for third basemen this winter and could seek upgrades in center field and right field as well.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is said to be a believer in young right-hander Eddie Butler, a former Top 100 prospect that has struggled mightily in the Majors. Others in the organization aren’t as sold on him.
  • The Tigers will be looking for a closer and at least one setup man this winter, and they could show interest in the RedsAroldis Chapman on the trade market (though he strikes me as a questionable fit with just one year until free agency). Detroit will also be seeking rotation upgrades on the free agent market, and a few players of early interest are Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy and Jeff Samardzija. Trades for rotation help are also possible, though Detroit wants to hold onto Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer.
  • Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez recently worked out for the Royals and had an impressive showing. The Dodgers and Giants remain interested as well, he adds. It’s worth also pointing out that each of those three clubs has already spent heavily enough on international free agents to incur maximum penalties, so the only further repercussion they’d face is further luxury taxation.
  • The Brewers will target rotation help this offseason, and Heyman calls Kennedy a “possibility.” To me, that’d seem like more of the same from recent winters, when Milwaukee added Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse — a pair of mid-range upgrades. Unlike those winters, however, they’re not close enough to contention this time around for me to see the logic in offering Kennedy a four-year deal, especially since he’ll probably end up with a qualifying offer attached to his name. On another Brewers’ note, Heyman writes that the team should listen on Jean Segura, given Orlando Arcia‘s emergence in the minors, though I’m not sure Segura is teeming with trade value following another poor season.
  • Samardzija could be a target for the Yankees, who employ former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in their front office. Hendry was Chicago’s general manager when the team initially signed Samardzija and remains a believer in the right-hander.
  • The D-Backs, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Rangers, Yankees and maybe the Braves will all show interest if the Padres decide to move Craig Kimbrel this winter.
  • Adrian Beltre will need to undergo surgery to repair a severe thumb sprain through which he’s been playing for quite some time following the Rangers‘ season.
  • There’s “no chance” that Ian Desmond would accept a one-year qualifying offer, writes Heyman, who presumes that the Nationals will make the offer. Though Desmond’s struggled this year, it shouldn’t be expected that any prime-aged player who isn’t coming off a major injury would accept the offer, in my view. Detractors will state that said player can’t find a similar average annual value on a multi-year deal, and while that may be true, locking in a more sizable payday once free agency is an option tends to be a greater priority. Heyman lists the Mariners, White Sox and Mets as speculative possibilities to enter the shortstop market. Desmond won’t top $100MM, like many once expected, but even with a QO in tow, he’ll be able to handily top $16MM, even at a lower AAV. And, if the offers don’t materialize, he can always sign a one-year deal at or near that rate later in the offseason.

Chicago Notes: Lester, Fowler, Jackson, Flowers, Abreu

The six-year, $155MM contract that Jon Lester signed this offseason is paying off nicely for the Cubs, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. While the notion that that Cubs wouldn’t be in contention without Lester seems extreme, there’s no denying the strong on-field results he’s delivered, and as Wittenmyer points out, that’s particularly important due to the rotation uncertainty beyond Lester and Jake Arrieta (both Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks have struggled in the second half). Manager Joe Maddon spoke with Wittenmyer about the stabilizing force Lester has been atop the rotation, along with Arrieta, and the importance of the tone they set for younger starters.

A few more notes from the Windy City…

  • The trade that sent Dan Straily and Luis Valbuena from the Cubs to the Astros in exchange for Dexter Fowler has paid dividends for both teams, opines’s Phil Rogers. The Cubs would still be in the playoff picture even without Fowler, he notes, but Fowler has nonetheless solidified center field and the team’s leadoff position a year after the Cubs tried seven different players in center field, with lackluster results. Meanwhile, Rogers is right to note that the Astros, who hold a one-game lead over the Twins and Angels for the second Wild Card spot, have benefited greatly from Valbuena. Despite a poor batting average, Valbuena provided power and stability at third base early in the year, and the difference between his salary and Fowler’s helped the team to pursue bullpen upgrades (to say nothing of Colby Rasmus, who has closely matched Fowler’s production).
  • The Cubs‘ addition of Austin Jackson has provided valuable depth for the team, writes’s Carrie Muskat, and GM Jed Hoyer believes that depth to be one of the team’s greatest strengths. Muskat also notes that the Cubs wound up pushing the right buttons, as the decisions not to acquire Jonathan Papelbon or Chase Utley look wise in hindsight; Papelbon has been suspended for the rest of the season due to his altercation with Bryce Harper, and with Utley in the fold, the team may not have received a scorching-hot September from Starlin Castro.
  • Shifting to the other side of town, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers will undergo surgery next Friday to repair cartilage damage in his right knee, reports Bruce Levine of (via Twitter). Flowers’ recovery will be worth keeping an eye on, as I’d imagine that he could be a borderline case when it comes to arbitration this December. The 29-year-old is set to earn a raise on this year’s $2.675MM salary after hitting .237/.292/.356 with nine home runs in 358 plate appearances. The Sox, who seem likely to re-tool and take another crack at contending in 2016, could look at catcher as a potential area of upgrade, though that speculation is my own, as opposed to Levine’s.
  • As Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes, Jose Abreu‘s pair of RBIs yesterday brought him into an exclusive club of two, as he and Albert Pujols are now the lone players in baseball history to hit 30-plus homers and knock in 100-plus runs in their first two Major League seasons. “It’s a big honor to see my name now along with Albert,” said Abreu, via interpreter. “He’s one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, and now to have the opportunity to see my name along with his name is a big honor for me.” Abreu’s dominant performance over the first two seasons has made what was, at the time, an enormous leap of faith by the White Sox now look like a bargain. Abreu’s production through just two seasons has arguably already justified Chicago’s six-year, $68MM expenditure.

Wilin Rosario Open To Trade

Having seen his role diminish from starting catcher to part-time catcher to backup/platoon first baseman over the past few seasons, Wilin Rosario is open to  a trade away from the Rockies organization if it means a larger role with another team, he tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post“If they want to move me, I’m good with it,” Rosario said. “If it gives me a chance to play more, I’m fine with it.”

Rosario, still just 26 years of age (27 in February), hit 49 homers in his first two full big league seasons, batting .282/.314/.507 in that time. His bat took a fairly substantial step backward in 2014, however, and he’s started just 53 games this season — 45 at first base, six as a DH in interleague play and two behind the plate. He’s batted .272/.298/.421 in 2015, seeing most of his action against left-handed pitching.

While Rosario’s diminished offense played a part in his reduced role with the team, it’s his glove that really cost him his playing time. Rosario is regarded as a poor defensive backstop and rates as one of the worst pitch-framing catchers in the league. He caught opposing base-stealers at about a legaue-average rate in 2012-13, but that number dipped to 16 percent in 2014 as well. He’s also struggled blocking pitches, per Baseball Prospectus.

Rosario told Saunders that he’s not bitter toward the Rockies for the decision, but he does still think of himself as a catcher, and clearly one that can produce if given a greater role. General manager Jeff Bridich said to Saunders that he’s seen improvement in Rosario’s glove at first base, adding that it’s too soon to make any sort of determination on Rosario’s future.

If a trade is the preferred route, Bridich may have a difficult time, as the GM himself admitted in August that trade interest in Rosario was limited, at best, prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Failing that outcome, the Rockies will have another decision to make by early December, as Rosario will be eligible for arbitration once again this winter. He took home a $2.8MM salary in his first trip through the arb process, and while his shuffling between Triple-A and the Majors this season as well as his diminished production will hinder his raise, he should still see a bump north of $3MM. It wouldn’t be an exorbitant price to pay for a platoon first baseman — especially not one that has crushed left-handed pitching at a .319/.356/.604 batting line throughout his career — but both a trade and a non-tender seem like plausible outcomes.

NL East Notes: Coppolella, Escobar, Thornton, Ruf

The Braves held a press conference today to announce the long-expected elevation of John Coppolella to the general manager’s seat. As’s Mark Bowman reports, top club executives John Schuerholz and John Hart both offered high praise for the younger Coppolella, who had already been performing many traditional GM functions under Hart’s oversight. “The fans of Atlanta should be very comfortable that there is not going to be any stone that is left unturned with [Coppolella] there,” said Hart. “Brightness and creativity is one thing. But his unrelenting work ethic is something that stands out as much as anything.”

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • With the Nationals expected to shift Anthony Rendon back to third base next year, the club will face a decision on fellow infielder Yunel Escobar, as Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington writes. Escobar could shift to second, where he was expected to play this season, return to his natural shortstop, or even be dealt. The Nats’ roster could be tweaked in any number of ways over the winter, but deciding upon a strategy up the middle is a clear need.
  • Nationals lefty Matt Thornton just logged his tenth straight season of sixty-or-more appearances, as James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. Thornton has delivered excellent results since he was acquired via waiver claim last August. He turned 39 in the meantime, but says he has plenty of gas left in the tank. “Right now, I’m focused on finishing this year healthy and finishing strong here and looking forward to my opportunity next year and the years after that,” said Thornton. “I feel great right now. I really do. I look forward to continuing my major league career. I love this game. I love the ins and outs of it.”
  • Phillies first baseman Darin Ruf has favorably impressed the organization with his play of late,’s Jim Salisbury reports. Manager Pete Mackanin indicated that the club was glad to be getting a look at Ruf in more regular duty, which he’s received since Ryan Howard went down. “He’s swinging the bat very well,” said Mackanin. “We’re trying to get him at-bats so we can make a decision on him for next year. He’s swinging the bat better now against right-handers and he’s just been dominant against left-handers. It’s good to see.” Ruf’s situation obviously is interwoven with that of Howard. As Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, Mackanin says that the veteran slugger needs to get his legs healthy and improve his glovework at first base to command playing time next year.

AL East Notes: Jones, Davis, Stanton, Bogaerts

Orioles star Adam Jones continued to express his feelings on an important offseason for the organization, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. The highly-respected veteran said that he thinks re-signing Chris Davis is “probably the highest priority” for the organization this winter. Skipper Buck Showalter addressed the subject in a less direct manner. “We’d like to keep everybody, obviously,” he said. “I think everybody shares that. Let’s see where it goes. We all have our own personal feelings about it. You can probably guess what mine are. Some things you reach for because, let’s be frank, it makes your job easier. But you also know what your job description is.”

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • The Orioles “briefly” pursued extension talks with Davis and his representatives at the Boras Corporation, per Connolly. But despite stated interest from both sides in an ongoing relationship, those discussions never gained much traction.
  • Looking even further back into “what-if” transactional history, the Red Sox had a legitimate chance a few years ago to land Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, according to’s Gordon Edes. But Miami was insistent that any deal would have to include shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and that proved a sticking point that prevented further progress.
  • The Red Sox have obviously received exactly what they hoped for when they placed a high value on Bogaerts. As he turns 23 today, the shortstop is putting the finishing touches on an outstanding season in which he’s been worth about 4.5 to 5 wins above replacement. The same holds true, of course, of the versatile Mookie Betts. (He’ll reach 23 years of age within the week.) Those performances raise the possibility of extension talks, says Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, who analyzes the history of similarly-situated young players as well as that of new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

NL West Notes: Murphy, Streich, Upton, Vogelsong, Anderson

Padres interim skipper Pat Murphy tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he is grateful for the chance to take the helm, even if he doesn’t end up keeping the seat for next year. The industry expectation is that San Diego will search for a new manager, says Lin, though the club has yet to make its direction clear. Murphy covers the full scope of his career in the interesting interview, concluding with a pitch for a full shot at running the Pads’ dugout: “I’m certain I can do it,” he says. “I’d love the opportunity to go to spring training and try to change the culture and create a dynamic that leads the Padres into great success in the future.”

Here’s more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:

  • Padres righty Seth Streich, who came to San Diego along with catcher Derek Norris in last winter’s trade with the Athletics, recently underwent Tommy John surgery,’s Corey Brock reports on Twitter. Streich had already missed this season due to shoulder surgery — as the club expected when it acquired him — but the new procedure will bump out his recovery window by at least another year.
  • It remains to be seen whether outfielder Justin Upton will play again for the Padres this year, tweets Brock. As Brock had reported previously, Upton had suffered a scary-looking collision with the outfield wall. It’s obviously good news that the injury seems minor, but it could well spell the end of the pending free agent’s tenure in San Diego.
  • Ryan Vogelsong says he’s committed to pitching next year, but doubts it will be with the Giants, as Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News reports“The last month, not getting a lot of time on the mound, I’m probably not high on the priority list – which is something hate to say, as much as I love it here and love everybody in the clubhouse,” said Vogelsong. While he declined to shut the door on a return, he explained that his usage “pretty much puts the writing on the wall.” The 38-year-old continued: “I really don’t have any expectations now other than I want to play and I’d like a chance to start and I still feel I can take the ball for 32 starts in a season. We’ll see where the wind blows me. Physically I feel as good as I have. My arm feels good. I still feel I have a lot to offer to somebody, and we’ll see who that is.”
  • Dodgers lefty Brett Anderson had a strong outing tonight to cap a nice year, and was rewarded for it. By topping 180 innings, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group was among those to note, Anderson moved past two bonus milestones (175 and 180 innings) in his contract. All told, after adding $750K this evening on top of already-earned payouts, the 27-year-old has tacked on $2.4MM to the $10MM guarantee he received as a free agent. Even better, a healthy and productive season has Anderson set up nicely for his return to the open market this winter.

Latest On Marlins’ Managerial Hunt

The Marlins are continuing to look around at new managerial candidates even as current skipper Dan Jennings finishes out the season. Of course, the former GM has reportedly been offered a chance to return to the front office after the year. Regardless of what happens there, Miami owner Jeffrey Loria and his staff are reportedly aiming to find a new hire with previous experience as a big league skipper, and the names they’ve been connected with reflect that predilection.

Here’s the latest:

  • Bo Porter has interviewed for the Marlins’ managerial post, Jon Heyman of reports. The former Astros skipper has been the Braves’ third base coach this season and held that role for the Marlins over 2007 to 2009. Porter also has spent time with the Nationals and Diamondbacks in recent years. While he never meshed in Houston, Porter had been one of the more highly-regarded, younger coaches in the game prior to taking that gig and is still just 43 years of age.
  • Manny Acta is the only other candidate to have interviewed, at least so far as has been reported. He, too, has experience as a MLB skipper — with the Nationals and Indians — despite being a fairly youthful candidate at 46 years of age. Acta’s ability to communicate in both Spanish and English is also said to represent an important factor.
  • The hiring effort is expected to be “extensive,” per Heyman, which seems to suggest that multiple other names could arise. Veteran skipper Dusty Baker has reportedly drawn interest from Miami, though we’ve yet to hear indication that he has been brought in for an interview.

Latest On John Farrell, Red Sox

The status of John Farrell with the Red Sox has been up for debate in recent weeks, but Sean McAdam of Comcast Sportsnet New England reports that the Farrell will return to the Red Sox as manager in 2016, so long as his health permits.

As McAdam writes, Farrell is in undergoing his final wave of chemotherapy this week after being diagnosed with lymphoma in August. He’ll undergo tests at the end of October to see if the cancer has been removed from his body, and if so, he’ll be given a clean bill of health, thereby allowing him to return to the Sox. At that point, Boston would make an official announcement on Farrell, who is currently signed through the 2017 season. A pair of sources tells McAdam that Farrell has already been informed of the decision, while another indicated that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski informed the staff that Farrell’s job would be waiting for him back in mid-August.

Torey Lovullo has drawn considerable praise for his work with the Red Sox while filling in for Farrell on an interim basis, as the team is a dozen games over .500 under his watch. As McAdam points out, Lovullo figures to draw considerable interest from teams searching for a new manager this offseason, which could put Dombrowski in an odd position. Teams figure to begin contacting the Sox about Lovullo shortly after the season ends, but Farrell’s timeline means that it won’t be until month’s end that the Sox have a definitive answer as to whether or not he’ll return. Then again, there may still be managerial vacancies late in the month, which would afford Lovullo the opportunity to interview for some open positions.

Last offseason, he interviewed for the managerial openings with the Twins, Astros and Rangers and was one of two finalists for the Twins’ position, though he lost out to current manager Paul Molitor.

Braves Name John Coppolella General Manager

1:03pm: The Braves have announced the promotion, adding that Coppolella signed a four-year contract that runs through the completion of the 2019 season.

12:02pm: The Braves will promote assistant general manager John Coppolella to the role of general manager later today, reports’s Mark Bowman. Coppolella has been serving as the second-in-command to president of baseball operations John Hart while holding the title of AGM, as the Braves did not formally name a GM last offseason after firing Frank Wren and bringing Hart on board on a permanent basis. Hart will remain in his role as president of baseball ops, per Bowman.

As Bowman writes, while Hart had final say over a number of key trades in the past year, it was Coppolella who did much of the legwork in structuring those franchise-altering transactions. Among the deals architected by Copplella were the trades of Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel as well as the swap that brought Hector Olivera over from the Dodgers.

Coppolella has served as the Braves’ assistant GM since 2012, and it’s been widely believed that he was being groomed to become the next Atlanta GM, though many reports indicated that he’d rise to the post when the team’s new stadium opened in 2017. Coppolella has been with Atlanta since 2006 and has previously held the titles of director of baseball operations and director of pro scouting.

Bowman reports that both the Brewers and Mariners had interest in Coppolella to fill their GM vacancies last month, however, and interest in the rising 37-year-old executive led the Braves to promote him now as a means of ensuring that he would remain in the team’s baseball operations hierarchy for the foreseeable future.

J.J. Hardy Playing Through Torn Labrum In Left Shoulder

J.J. Hardy has suffered through the worst season of his career at the plate, and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reveals the probable reason for those struggles. Hardy said today that he has a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder that has hindered him at the plate all season.

Hardy opened the year on the disabled list due to what the team termed a left shoulder sprain, but Hardy has known all along that there’s actually a tear in the shoulder’s labrum. Asked about the possibility of offseason surgery to repair the issue, however, Hardy somewhat surprisingly said he will not correct the injury surgically. Rather, his plan is to rest the shoulder and then strengthen it. As Hardy explained, he’s gone through the process to repair a labral tear in his shoulder once previously (as a minor leaguer in 2004) and he doesn’t wish to repeat that difficult recovery process.

A renowned defensive shortstop, Hardy has, by all accounts, put together another sterling defensive campaign. As Encina notes, he’s made only three errors this season, and defensive metrics such as UZR/150 (+12.6 runs) and Defensive Runs Saved (+6) again praise Hardy’s glovework as considerably above average.

It’s the results at the plate that are a concern for Hardy and the Orioles, as the 33-year-old delivered just a .213/.246/.306 batting line and eight homers in the first season of a three-year, $40MM contract extension signed about one year ago. Per Encina, Hardy added that if the issue lingers into 2016, it’ll impact how long he envisions himself playing. He also missed time with a groin strain and a minor oblique issue this season and has dealt with a lengthy list of injuries over the course of his career.

Hardy’s struggles were just one of many factors in a disappointing season for the Orioles. The team’s rotation didn’t perform anywhere near expectation, and the club was left reeling from the losses of outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, as replacement options offered little in terms of offensive output. Matt Wieters spent a significant portion of the season on the DL and didn’t hit well upon activation, and Steve Pearce was unable to replicate his 2014 breakout. Wieters and Pearce will be joined by key contributors Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen and Darren O’Day in free agency, further clouding the future outlook for Baltimore.