Steve Cishek Rumors

Cardinals Acquire Steve Cishek

The Cardinals have officially struck a deal with the Marlins to add righty Steve Cishek, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald was first to report (Twitter links). Heading back to Miami in the deal is Double-A righty Kyle Barraclough. St. Louis will take on the remainder of the $6.65MM left on Cishek’s contract this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets.

Aug 27, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Miami Marlins reliever Steve Cishek (31) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Angels defeated the Marlins 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Before a rough stretch to open the 2015 campaign, the 29-year-old Cishek had established himself as one of the game’s most reliable late-inning arms. Over 2011-2014, he put up 253 1/3 innings of 2.70 ERA pitching, with 10.0 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9. Despite racking up 91 saves over that stretch, Cishek lost his closing role to A.J. Ramos and was eventually optioned earlier this year.

Things have gotten better of late for the side-armer, but it’s hard to ignore his poor early results. Cishek has lost a mile an hour off of his average fastball velocity, with his double-digit strikeout-per-nine tallies from last year falling to 7.9 K/9 this season. Cishek has managed to maintain a swinging strike rate of 9.3%, in line with previous seasons, but that has not translated into the results and he has also walked over a hitter per nine innings more than he did in 2014.

All said, Cishek has worked 32 innings and put up a 4.50 ERA. But there are signs of promise. He has been victimized by a high BABIP (.350) and low strand rate (66.4%), and is inducing soft contact at better-than-usual levels. And, of course, the results are much better of late. He has allowed just one earned run over 12 2/3 innings since he was recalled on June 14.

For St. Louis, the move resembles the 2012 trade to acquire Edward Mujica and the 2013 deal that brought in John Axford. As in those situations, the team will add an underperforming arm to bolster depth and take a bet on improved results going forward.

While the Cards have received excellent work from their bullpen, top set-up man Jordan Walden is still working back from injury and the club has leaned heavily on pitchers such as Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness. And as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com notes on Twitter, the Cardinals have moved righty Matt Belisle to the 60-day DL to create roster space, which indicates that they will be without one of their internal options for some time.

For Miami, meanwhile, the deal paints the team as a seller after a disappointing performance this year. The Fish held onto Cishek last summer, when his value was much higher, in hopes that he’d anchor the pen of a contender.

The Marlins did at least manage to turn an asset of little function to the team — Cishek was a likely non-tender candidate after the year — into a potentially useful future piece. But it seems that the organization’s developmental staff will have some work to do. Barraclough, 25, dominated the High-A level early in the year and earned a promotion to Double-A, where his control issues have become more pronounced. He’s worked to a 3.28 ERA with 10.2 K/9 against 7.3 BB/9 over 24 2/3 frames at Springfield.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.


NL East Notes: Alvarez, Cishek, Haren, Mets, Venable, Nats

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez experienced a setback in his rehab from right shoulder inflammation, and his season is now in jeopardy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Manager Dan Jennings told Spencer and others prior to Thursday’s contest: “He had a recurrence of the shoulder. We’re trying to determine if it’s going to be best for a non-surgical, or surgical procedure regarding the shoulder.” Alvarez’s injury troubles in 2015 have contributed to the team’s disappointing season. If he’s to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season, Alvarez will have made just four starts in 2015, with the end result being an ERA over 6.00.

Here’s the latest from the NL East…

  • The Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays are still in the mix for former Marlins closer Steve Cishek, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Cishek’s been throwing well since returning from a brief stint at Triple-A, allowing just one earned run with an 11-to-4 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings. Frisaro also adds the Orioles to the list of teams with interest in right-hander Dan Haren, adding to recent reports that have linked the Blue Jays and Dodgers to Haren.
  • Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made a pair of definitive statements to reporters today, writes MLB.com’s Joe Trezza. First and foremost, Alderson said that none of the four young arms in his rotation — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz — is available in trades. Alderson also insisted that ownership has provided him with the resources to take on a major contract, though he added that the media and fans alike would both take that news with a heavy grain of salt: “Now, none of you will believe me, OK? So I’m not sure why you asked the question and insisted on the answer.”
  • The Mets have interest in Padres outfielder Will Venable, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link), who echoes previous reports that Gerardo Parra is under Mets consideration as well. According to Morosi, the Cubs are intrigued by both Parra and Venable as well, however, so the Mets have some competition in regards to those two trade targets.
  • Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, tweets that the Mets don’t feel they need to acquire a third baseman while David Wright is on the shelf, because the team is better defensively with Daniel Murphy at third base while Wright is out. Adding an outfielder — preferably one controllable beyond 2015 — is the Mets’ priority.
  • Speaking about the trade deadline in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links), Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said, “There’s no trade I could make that could be as the guys we’re getting back [from the DL]. We will certainly be looking, but I don’t know how active we’ll be.”

Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.


NL East Notes: Latos, Haren, Cishek

The Marlins continue to receive interest in both Mat Latos and Dan Haren, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Despite conflicting reports recently, Frisaro hears that the Blue Jays do indeed have some interest in Latos, as do the Cubs. The Blue Jays are also in Haren, per the report,  and so is his former team, the Dodgers (albeit to a lesser extent). Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) characterizes Toronto as having monitored Latos, noting that it remains to be seen whether the team actually pursues him.

A few more Marlins notes …

  • Frisaro feels that it’s more likely that the Marlins will trade Latos than Haren in the next week due to the fact that trading Latos sooner comes with financial savings, whereas Haren’s $10MM salary is entirely paid for by the Dodgers. Haren could still be an August trade candidate, though, in Frisaro’s eyes.
  • Though Haren and Latos are the most popular names among Marlins trade candidates at present, Steve Cishek is drawing interest as well — specifically from the Cardinals, per the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer (Twitter link). Cishek has allowed just one earned run in 11 2/3 innings since returning to the big league roster in mid-June, so it’s certainly plausible to think that Miami could save some money and get at least something back for him.
  • An even more interesting question, perhaps, is whether the Marlins or a hypothetical new team will consider tendering Cishek a contract through arbitration. While he may not earn a significant raise, the reliever has a steep $6.65MM starting point entering his second-to-last year of eligibility.
  • Former Marlins backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia discussed his tenure in Miami with Spencer, He expressed some disappointment with the way things ended and the fact that he did not get a chance to make good on his contract, but acknowledged that he fell short of expectations. On the whole, his comments seemed thoughtful and genuine, and are worth a full read.

Cafardo On Mariners, Pirates, Zobrist

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looked at five teams that need to make a move before the trade deadline.  That list includes the Mets, who have pitching they can trade for hitting.  The most obvious fit for them would be Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but Cafardo also mentions teammate Carlos Gonzalez as well as A’s hitters Josh Reddick and Steven Vogt.  As always, Cafardo’s entire column is worth a read, but we also compiled a handful of highlights below..

  • The Mariners continue to consider Phillies outfielder Ben Revere as the deadline approaches, Cafardo hears from a major league source.  The M’s need a leadoff hitter and while his slash of .294/.335/.377 doesn’t make him the ideal guy for that, Revere does have 21 steals on the year.  Earlier today we learned that the Pirates also have their eye on Revere.  However, it’s worth noting that Revere is also dealing with hamstring issues at the moment and that could delay a possible trade.
  • The Pirates recently watched Marlins right-hander Dan Haren pitch at Fenway Park.  Haren has been mentioned quite a bit as a trade candidate and while he made demands in the offseason, he has now settled into the fact that he might get moved.
  • Speaking of the Marlins, former closer Steve Cishek is drawing interest despite his difficult season and mechanical issues. The Twins, Tigers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and other clubs have been keeping an eye on the 29-year-old.
  • Now that Marlins first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse is healthy once again, Cafardo wonders if teams like the Mets, Pirates, Nationals, and Royals could come calling.  A team acquiring Morse would have to pay the rest of his $7.5MM salary for 2015 and his $8.5MM salary next season, but Cafardo hears that he is in fact being scouted by clubs. Recently, MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth ran down the Marlins’ possible trade chips, including Haren and Cishek.
  • The Mets, Yankees, Giants, and Nationals are among the teams with interest in A’s outfielder/infielder Ben Zobrist.  Zobrist has played in left field, second base, and right field this season and Cafardo notes that he could also play third base if needed, despite having only four career games there.
  • One AL exec tells Cafardo that he thinks the Tigers could listen on David Price.  “It bears watching,” said the executive. “I don’t think he’s going back there. The Tigers need to revamp their farm system, so it’s not cut and dried that they won’t entertain a package for him.” Cafardo, however, doesn’t see Price going anywhere.  He envisions Detroit possibly adding a starter.

East Notes: Gordon, Orioles, Hamels, Clippard

The Marlins will be without All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon for at least two weeks, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gordon dislocated his thumb sliding headfirst into first base. There was no ligament damage or broken bones per Rosenthal. Gordon will be replaced on the All-Star roster by Troy Tulowitzki. Fellow Rockie DJ LeMahieu will now start for the NL All Stars.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Miami is weighing trades ahead of the deadline, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The club is 10.5 games back in the NL East and 14 games below .500. They will probably have to get hot in the next couple weeks to change the current plan. As MLBTR readers are well aware, pending free agents Mat Latos and Dan Haren are trade candidates. The Marlins have also received interest in former closer Steve Cishek and swing man Brad Hand.
  • The Orioles could be primed for a quiet trade deadline, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. The club already has a host of impending free agents. It could be ill-advised to deal controllable assets like they did last season. Dan Duquette dealt Eduardo Rodriguez for Andrew Miller, a trade he may now regret given Rodriguez’s success in Boston. Additionally, top prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are sidelined with injuries. Mike Wright showed some promise but ultimately struggled in two stints with the club.
  • It’s imperative that the Phillies trade Cole Hamels before the end of the month, opines Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. While the club could find it easier to swap Jonathan Papelbon or Ryan Howard over the offseason, a robust group of free agent starters will hurt Hamels’ value in the winter. In my opinion, it would be quite shocking if the Phillies held Hamels for the rest of the season. If they did fail to find a deal to their liking, they could position Hamels as a cost effective alternative to aces like Johnny Cueto and David Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is excited about the state of the farm system, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “I would put our farm system up against anybody’s,” said Amaro. He specifically mentioned Aaron Nola and Aaron Altherr, both of whom are finding success at the Triple-A level. It’s widely assumed that Nola will soon join the club. Trades could also open the door for Altherr. Nola is not on the 40-man roster, but Altherr already has a spot.
  • The Yankees and Mets should consider adding Athletics closer Tyler Clippard, suggests Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Even though neither club technically needs relief help, Martino references the Royals dominant trio of relievers from last October. Their ability to shorten the game is critical in October. Particularly with the Yankees, a trio of Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Miller would be intimidating.

Marlins Taking Offers On Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Others

The Marlins are telling teams that they are prepared to field offers for a variety of short-term assets, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Specifically, Miami is prepared to find deals for pitchers Mat Latos, Dan Haren, and Brad Hand as well as utilityman Jeff Baker.

Each of the players listed above, with the exception of Hand, is set to hit the open market after the season. With the Marlins sitting behind every team in baseball except for the woeful Phillies, Spencer says the organization has “reached the jumping-off point” for acting as a seller.

Latos and Haren obviously have the most potential appeal of the players listed. The starters have had rather different seasons thus far, Latos underperforming generally promising peripherals (4.90 ERA, 3.84 SIERA) and Haren doing just the opposite (3.34 ERA, 4.11 SIERA). The 27-year-old Latos is said to have shown a promising velocity uptick in recent starts, though he’s owed the balance of a $9.4 salary this year and has an unsettling injury history. Haren, 34, continues to see his average fastball drop towards the mid-80s and has benefited from a low BABIP and high strand rate, but he still doesn’t walk anyone and the Dodgers are on the hook for all of his salary.

While Miami might hope to achieve some real value for those pitchers, it is not clear that there’s much to get back for Hand or Baker. Working mostly as a reliever, the out-of-options Hand has scuffled to a 5.80 ERA over 40 1/3 innings, though he has suffered from the exact opposite BABIP/LOB rates that have aided Haren. As for Baker, the 34-year-old rates at or below replacement level for the last several years. He’s not very highly regarded for his glove, and is mostly useful against lefties, but has not really even hit them all that well this year.

One other player that Spencer notes could be moved is former closer Steve Cishek. He’s been much better since returning to the big leagues, but still looks like a non-tender candidate after the season and is hardly the most certain relief asset a contender could find on the market. Cishek is playing on a $6.65MM salary this year, so Miami will likely need to pay a good chunk of that to find a taker.


NL East Notes: Hamels, Marlins, Prado, Wright

Though he admitted that he’s not privy to the front office’s discussions, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects ace Cole Hamels to be traded. “We’re not involved on the field,” said Mackanin. “But the whole point of this year basically is to see young guys, help us get ready for next year and beyond. If we can get good deals for Hamels and good deals for whomever else there might be out there, (Jonathan) Papelbon.” Hamels recently told Salisbury that he’s open to a trade to any club, including the Blue Jays and Astros. Previous reports had indicated that Hamels would block a deal to either club.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The Tigers are scouting the Marlins‘ starting pitchers, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There could be very little to read into here, as multiple teams are likely scouting the Marlins, and the Tigers of course are scouting other clubs. Nonetheless, a pitching matchup, at least on paper, does seem to exist between the two sides. The Tigers have seen Shane Greene lose his spot in the rotation and received little from Justin Verlander to this point. A solid addition to the rotation would make some sense, and the Marlins have a surplus now that Jose Fernandez is healthy. Fernandez joins Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation. Latos and Haren, though, are free agents at season’s end, and the team has internal replacements capable of slotting into the rotation in the event of a trade.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the Marlins are indeed willing to listen to offers on Latos and Haren. He adds Steve Cishek to that list as well and unsurprisingly says that the fallen closer likely will be non-tendered this offseason. Jackson, like other reporters, hears that the team isn’t entertaining the idea of moving Martin Prado at this point.
  • Mets captain David Wright is “extremely optimistic” that he can begin baseball activities next week, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Wright won’t begin hitting in that time, however. Previously, the Mets have expressed hope to have the third baseman back by the All-Star break, though that timeline is fast approaching and Wright is still quite a ways from a rehab assignment.

A Look At The Marlins’ Trade Chips

As others have noted today, the news that Giancarlo Stanton will miss four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone increases the likelihood that the Marlins will reach a conclusion that they might have reached anyway: 2015 doesn’t appear to be their year. Under owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have never been shy about change — they’ve traded players, replaced managers and changed organizational directions far more rapidly than other franchises might. Their 31-45 start already seemed likely to lead them to sell, even before Stanton’s injury.

In fact, this year’s Marlins team bears certain similarities to their 2012 club. The 2012 team headed into the offseason intending to make a splash. Instead, they flopped, and in July, they dealt Carlos Lee, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez.

What do the 2015 Marlins have to sell, though? This year’s team doesn’t appear to be primed for a complete rebuild, and thus it doesn’t have many top-quality trade chips like Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins still have Stanton and Christian Yelich signed to long-term deals, and Jose Fernandez is cost-controlled and is clearly an elite pitcher when healthy. The Marlins seem highly likely to keep those players, even though Yelich is having a disappointing season and Fernandez is only on the verge of returning from Tommy John surgery. Here’s a look at who the Marlins could consider trading.

  • Dan Haren and Mat Latos are eligible for free agency after the season, so they seem like obvious trade candidates. The question is what the Marlins will be able to get back. Haren is having a solid season, but he seemed mostly unwanted as of last winter, and his age (34) and stuff (Haren’s admirably self-effacing “Ithrow88″ Twitter handle isn’t even accurate anymore, since his fastball has averaged 86 MPH this season) suggest he won’t fetch much now, either. Still, useful starting pitching is useful starting pitching, and the Marlins might try convincing a team in a homer-suppressing ballpark to give up a prospect or two for Haren. The Phillies got two fairly good lottery tickets in Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin for Roberto Hernandez last year — that might provide a good template, even though the stock of both players has slipped in 2015. The Marlins might also have to convince Haren to play for the team they trade him to if it’s not a West Coast team, given that he considered retiring last offseason rather than heading to Miami.
  • Latos currently has a 5.49 ERA and missed time due to a knee injury, so his trade value would appear very limited. Since he would only be a rental, there would be little point in a contending team taking him on as a project, even though his peripherals suggest he should be somewhat better than that ERA. The curse of struggling teams trying to become deadline sellers is that they typically mostly have disappointing players to sell, and Latos is a case in point. It’s not impossible, though, that Latos could raise his trade value by pitching well over the next month.
  • As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman pointed out today, Martin Prado‘s versatility could make him an interesting trade chip next month, since he can play third base, second base and both outfield corners. First, though, he’ll have to show he’s healthy — he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He’s owed $11MM both this year and next, although the Yankees are paying $3MM in each of those years.
  • Pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand were both recently the subject of rumors. Koehler missed a start last week with neck and back pain, but his successful return today should help the Marlins’ cause if they choose to trade him. The problem is that neither Koehler nor Hand are the kinds of difference-makers most appealing to contenders — a contending team likely wouldn’t want either one of them starting a playoff game. And since they’re also cheap and capable of eating innings, they could have value to the Marlins as they retool. David Phelps, who has been solid but not outstanding in his first season in Miami, falls into the same category.
  • Mike Dunn isn’t having a good season by traditional measures, with a 4.68 ERA, but his strikeout rate (9.0 K/9 in 2015) and velocity remain intact, so a contender might view him as a sneaky way to upgrade the left side of its bullpen, especially since his contract is reasonable. He’s signed through next season, though, so the Marlins could also decide the better route might be to keep him around for another year and hope he rebounds.
  • Like Dunn, Steve Cishek has a poor ERA this year. Unlike Dunn, though, Cishek isn’t cheap, at $6.65MM, and his control issues are a key reason for his downturn in performance. It would likely be hard for the Marlins to deal Cishek without taking on salary, despite his closer pedigree.
  • Infielder Jeff Baker is a career .297/.352/.513 hitter against lefties, so he could conceivably help a contender in need of a right-handed bat. He’s mostly limited to first base at this point, however, so his utility is limited.

Other Marlins veterans, like Michael Morse and Ichiro Suzuki, probably have even less trade value than most of the players mentioned above. The Marlins could, of course, make outside-the-box trades involving some of their better, younger players (Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna), and given the Marlins’ history, it would be unwise to discount that possibility. (Relievers A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps would make very interesting trade pieces if the Marlins were to make them available.) Unlike the 2012 team, though, the 2015 Marlins don’t have many veteran trade candidates who appear likely to command a significant return.


NL East Notes: Marlins, Cishek, Phils, Strasburg, Fister

Despite what the standings say, the Marlins are not yet entertaining the idea of selling, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club is not interested in moving core players, says Frisaro, noting that dealing third baseman Martin Prado — who is under contract for next year as well — does not make sense, at least at present.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Skipper Dan Jennings says that the Marlins‘ decision to option Steve Cishek was motivated by a desire to get his mechanics in order outside the big league spotlight, Frisaro reports. Noting that Cishek’s velocity has improved of late, Jennings said he expects a short minor league stint: “I don’t see this being a long-term deal at all. I think he will come back and be the same Steve Cishek we’ve known in the past.”
  • The upcoming draft is an important one for a Phillies organization that is working to add as much impact talent as possible, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Johnny Almaraz will oversee the picking for the first time, and Salisbury suggests he’s likely to “stay away from project-type players, at least up high.” Philadelphia has struggled to produce draft talent in the not-so-distant past, but seems thus far to have hit on both of its last two picks: shortstop J.P. Crawford and righty Aaron Nola“It’s an interesting draft,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “There’s some depth. Maybe not tons of super difference makers, but there’s some good players out there.”
  • Medical analysis confirms that Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg has a strained left trapezius, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. For now, the plan is for Strasburg to rest, with the hope that he’ll be ready to resume throwing in relatively short order.
  • The Nationals have also received encouraging news on another injured right-handed starter, Doug Fister. As Wagner writes, Fister says his forearm tightness has “pretty much subsided completely.” The veteran went on to say that he has never been too concerned about the issue: “It was really just more tight than complete, utter mayhem. So I mean, it wasn’t a bad issue. It was more of just I really need a break for some reason, there’s so much tightness going on that we really need to address it.” As important as Fister is to Washington, his ability to recover and regain his effectiveness may tell even more on his free agent status. The 31-year-old has produced consistently excellent results over the last four seasons, but saw a dip in his velocity and strikeout tallies early this year.