We’ve already heard about the Mets’ interest in Angels righty Joe Smith, but they aren’t alone in looking at the veteran reliever. The Indians, Mariners, and perhaps also the Cardinals all have some level of interest, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. These teams, of course, have also been tied to a variety of other pen pieces — as have most organizations looking for relief help. Remember to check out MLBTR’s list of the top relief candidates to run down some possibilities.
1:15pm: A straight-up swap of Giolito wouldn’t be enough to get the Yankees to budge on Miller, Heyman tweets.
12:53pm: We’ve long heard about the Nationals’ interest in Yankees ace reliever Andrew Miller, but it has never quite been clear what the team would be willing to do to make that happen. Per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, via Twitter, “sources who have spoken with the [Nationals] believe” they’d do a one-for-one swap of Miller for top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito.
That language certainly still leaves a bit of wiggle room, and it’s not clear that a firm offer has been proposed. There’s no question, though, that the towering righty would represent a tantalizing offer for New York — if he is in fact being placed on the table.
New York is looking for a massive return for its star lefty, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports (Twitter links). The club is said to want three times the total value it achieved in its trade of Aroldis Chapman, who netted one very good prospect in Gleyber Torres along with three other pieces with real value. While Chapman is a pure rental piece, Miller comes with two added years of club control at a reasonable (though not cheap) price tag of $9MM annually. Heyman also notes that it still seems unlikely he’ll change hands, though perhaps New York is open to being blown away by an offer.
Joining the Nats with ongoing interest in Miller are the Cardinals, Indians, Rangers, and Giants, according to Heyman. Certainly, all of those clubs could put together appealing packages, though none has a rotation prospect that quite reaches Giolito’s standing — with the Cards’ Alex Reyes being the closest thing (though, to be clear, we’ve heard no indication to this point that he could be had). Texas also has some premium assets that it could dangle, though they land mostly on the position-player side. And it’s far from clear whether those teams’ best pieces are on offer for Miller.
If Giolito is, in fact, available, it would seem to make the Nats a favorite to acquire Miller. Giolito is widely regarded as one of the game’s truly premier starting pitching prospects, and he has already reached the majors for D.C. Truth be told, he would represent a rather stunning return, even for a reliever of Miller’s undeniable excellence.
The Nats were said not to be willing to give up Giolito, or even some lesser prospects, in a deal for Chapman. But there’s obviously good reason to cough up more assets for the controllable Miller, and the team has a deep stock of appealing young arms. Plus, Washington’s need for a premium late-inning pen piece only continues to grow, with incumbent closer Jonathan Papelbon struggling more than ever.
The rapid decline of Trevor Rosenthal, who has now been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury following his season-long struggles, has the Cardinals in the market for a late-inning arm to add to their relief corps, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
St. Louis has turned to right-hander Seung-hwan Oh, whose modest offseason signing has proven to be one of the savviest investments of the winter, to handle ninth-inning duties in Rosenthal’s stead. Oh has lived up to his “Final Boss” nickname in the Majors, pitching to a brilliant 1.72 ERA with 11.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 41.4 percent ground-ball rate in 52 1/3 innings. Those are dominant numbers out of the rookie relief ace, but the absence of Rosenthal’s typically high-quality innings has stretched the Cardinals a bit thin at the back of the ’pen.
Behind Oh, the Cardinals have relied heavily on Seth Maness, Tyler Lyons, Kevin Siegrist, Jonathan Broxton and Matt Bowman in the bullpen this season. Maness, though, missed more than a month with inflammation in his right elbow and has seen his average fastball velocity dip from 89.5 mph to 87.9 mph this season. Siegrist and Lyons have been outstanding from the left side, though Siegrist recently missed a couple of weeks with a bout of mono. Broxton looks more like a middle reliever than the standout closer he once was, and Bowman doesn’t miss many bats, though he’s been a ground-ball machine and has a 2.98 ERA on the year.
That collection of relief arms has delivered mostly strong results, but Oh is the only truly dominant arm of the bunch, so it’s not a surprise to see the Cardinals tied to relief help. The exact quality of the arm they’re looking for, however, isn’t entirely certain based on Heyman’s report. Heyman writes that either Angels closer Huston Street or Royals closer Wade Davis “could make sense for St. Louis” if traded, though he stops short of saying that the Cardinals have actually inquired on either arm, and there’s obviously a wide gap overall talent and 2016 performance between those two arms. The Cardinals have looked into Halos right-hander Joe Smith, he writes, and have in fact been seeking help for the back of the bullpen for some time now, as their search predates Rosenthal’s placement on the disabled list.
Of course, many Cards fans feel that the best possible upgrade the team could make to its bullpen is already in the organization. Right-hander Alex Reyes has emerged as one of the very top pitching prospects in all of baseball and opened plenty of eyes with his 100+ mph fastball in this year’s Futures Game over the All-Star break. However, Reyes’ recent results haven’t been overly encouraging, as he’s posted a 6.52 ERA in his past 29 innings (six starts) with Triple-A Memphis. He has a 5.07 ERA overall on the season and has averaged 12.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in 55 innings out of the rotation since serving a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse. Reyes’ overpowering stuff leads some to believe that he could thrive in the Majors right now in a short-relief role despite his rotation struggles in Memphis, but the Cardinals are reportedly being cautious with regards to their prized righty and may not wish to rush him to the Majors. (Reyes was pulled from his most recent start after three innings, prompting some speculation about a call-up, though Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Reyes’ quick hook from the game was “insurance” in the event that Lyons is unable to make a needed spot start for St. Louis on Saturday.)
If the Cardinals do ultimately feel that the trade market presents the best route to an upgrade, they’ll face plenty of competition, as the majority of contending clubs in the league are said to be eyeing upgrades for their relief corps. Within the past two or three days alone, we’ve heard the Giants, Nationals, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Indians, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets all tied to varying degrees of bullpen help, and other clubs figure to be more quietly on the lookout as well.
- The Cardinals seem to be considering how to rebuild fallen closer Trevor Rosenthal, with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch providing an update after the righty was placed on the DL yesterday. Rosenthal told the team of shoulder discomfort, which suggests there may have been at least some injury considerations underlying his struggles. Meanwhile, the organization is weighing whether to utilize Rosenthal as a starter during his rehab stint. Whether that would put him in line to return to that role, or just permit him to work on his approach in a different manner, remains to be seen, but we’ve heard in the past that Rosenthal would like to return to the rotation.
The Cardinals announced that they have placed former closer Trevor Rosenthal on the 15-day DL with what’s being called rotator cuff inflammation. Southpaw Dean Kiekhefer will take his spot on the active roster.
[Related: Updated Cardinals Depth Chart]
It has been an incredibly trying season for Rosenthal, who was previously considered one of the more reliable late-inning arms in baseball. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes on Twitter, though, the organization had previously suggested there weren’t any health issues underlying his problems.
Regardless of whether this is something of a phantom DL stint or a reflection of a real issue, the down time can’t hurt Rosenthal. The 26-year-old is still racking up plenty of strikeouts with an average fastball of about 97 mph, but has coughed up 7.3 free passes per nine innings over his 33 1/3 frames on the season.
As things stand, the Cards are headed for some surprisingly tough calls on a player who had entered the year with a lifetime 2.66 ERA. Keeping him on the active roster in the midst of such struggles seemed a difficult ask for an organization that is trying to compete for a playoff spot, though there has to be at least some hope of getting him straightened out to contribute down the stretch. But even beyond that, there will ultimately be a point at which the club has to decide whether to tender Rosenthal a contract for 2017. He’ll be due a not-insignificant raise an his already-stout $5.6MM salary, and that’s no sure thing at this point in time.
At this point, the DL placement doesn’t have much of an impact on the team’s deadline plans beyond the fact that it clears an opening for an eventual roster move. St. Louis has long been seeking late-inning relief help, and that remains the case with August 1st fast approaching.
- If the Nationals aren’t able to land Aroldis Chapman or Wade Davis, that won’t stop the team from searching for back-of-the-bullpen help, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes (Twitter links). David Robertson will surely be a target if the White Sox shop him around, and Heyman figures the Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal will get a look. Though St. Louis is no longer using Rosenthal as closer, Heyman isn’t sure the Cards would make him available.
- The Cardinals signed first baseman Efren Navarro, 30, to a minor-league deal. He was hitting just .243/.316/.362 on the year at Triple-A before being released by the Mariners. Navarro has not produced in limited exposure in the majors, but does own a lifetime .308/.371/.438 batting line in 2,672 lifetime plate appearances at the highest level of the minors.
- ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that the Cardinals have “no interest” in trading for a short-term bat (links to Twitter). St. Louis is only interested in acquiring a hitter unless it would be a long-term acquisition. While some may connect the dots and suggest that Carlos Gonzalez fits that bill, to an extent, Saxon adds that top Cardinals officials aren’t as high on Gonzalez as many seem to think they are. Some reports earlier this summer connected the Cards to the Rockies slugger, but Saxon’s report certainly downplays that as a possibility.
The Cardinals announced this afternoon that they’ve placed third baseman Jhonny Peralta back on the 15-day disabled list with a strained ligament in his left thumb. In corresponding moves, the team has recalled outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker. Additionally, right-hander Miguel Socolovich has been recalled from Triple-A, and catcher Michael McKenry has been designated for assignment.
[Related: Updated St. Louis Cardinals Depth Chart]
Word of Peralta’s injury is obviously a concern for the Cards, as surgery to repair a ligament in Peralta’s left thumb cost him the first two-plus months of the 2016 season. In his absence, Aledmys Diaz solidified himself as the everyday shortstop in St. Louis, prompting Peralta to shift to the hot corner and Matt Carpenter to displace the struggling Kolten Wong from the everyday role at second base. While Peralta initially hit well upon activation from the DL, he’s struggled considerably in his past 22 games, hitting just .185/.212/.383. While that’s a highly arbitrary endpoint, he’s hardly the first player to struggle in a return from hand surgery. The Cardinals’ press release did not give an indication as to when Peralta might be able to return to the lineup.
McKenry appeared in just three games with the Cards, collecting two plate appearances (one strikeout, one sacrifice bunt). He’s a veteran of six prior Major League seasons and has compiled a career .238/.318/.406 batting line with 29 homers in 953 plate appearances between the Rockies, Pirates and his ever-so-brief stay with the Cards. He becomes the second veteran backstop to find himself displaced from St. Louis this year, as the Cards also had to designate Eric Fryer for assignment recently in order to pave way for the return of fellow backstop Brayan Pena.
Hazelbaker, of course, began the season as one of the hottest hitters in baseball and drew quite a bit of fanfare from the media for his Herculean April (.317/.357/.683). However, as is often the case with early-season success stories, regression set in, and Hazelbaker ultimately was optioned to Triple-A after slashing .180/.206/.279 from May 1 through June 15. Socolovich, 29, returns to St. Louis for a second stint after spending much of the 2015 campaign in their bullpen and working to a pristine 1.82 ERA with a 27-to-10 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings of work.
- The Cardinals will no longer give high-leverage innings to deposed closer Trevor Rosenthal, ESPN.com’s Mark Saxon reports (Twitter link). St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny says he’ll lean on Jonathan Broxton in the seventh inning for the time being. The Cards have long been said to be seeking pen reinforcements, with Rosenthal’s continued struggles heightening the need.