- With prospect Blake Snell knocking on the door and Alex Cobb nearing a return from 2015 Tommy John surgery, the Rays could soon have a glut of starting pitching. Thus, they’d be willing to deal southpaw Matt Moore for both a major leaguer and a quality minor league piece. The soon-to-be 27-year-old Moore is controllable through 2019 on a cheap contract, but the former top prospect already has a Tommy John surgery under his belt and has run up a bloated 5.37 ERA in 120 2/3 frames since last season.
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is displeased with his demotion to the bullpen, writes Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Buchholz declined to talk to reporters for the second straight day and threw in a curse word as he walked away from them Saturday, according to Drellich. Manager John Farrell has left the door open for Buchholz to return to the rotation, saying, “While he might not like the current situation, that’s where we are. If he pitches to his talents and abilities, that role can potentially change.” Buchholz, 31, has been a solid starter for most of his career, but he put up a 6.35 ERA, 5.88 K/9 and 3.91 BB/9 in 56 2/3 innings in that role this year and will try to right the ship as a reliever.
Here’s more on a few other established pitchers:
- The Rays will slowly transition reliever Brad Boxberger back into the closer role when he returns soon from core muscle surgery, manager Kevin Cash said (via Sam Blum of MLB.com). The righty led the American League in saves last year (41), but thanks to the brilliance of fill-in Alex Colome, the Rays haven’t missed him in the ninth inning. Nonetheless, Boxberger’s presence will aid a Rays bullpen that has been mediocre this year. In 137 2/3 innings from 2014-15, Boxberger compiled a 3.03 ERA, 12.55 K/9 (seventh among qualified relievers) and 3.67 BB/9.
- Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray threw a 35-pitch first bullpen session Saturday – his first BP session since going on the disabled list last Sunday with a trapezius injury – per Jane Lee of MLB.com. Gray “feels good,” manager Bob Melvin said afterward, and could return on or shortly after June 5.
- Two big-name Angels, southpaw C.J. Wilson and righty Tim Lincecum, are on similar timelines to make their major league debuts this year, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Wilson, who has been out all season with an injured left shoulder, will make his first of at least two starts with Triple-A Salt Lake City on Monday.
- In case you missed it, the White Sox and Padres are discussing a James Shields trade.
- Also potentially returning in the middle of next month is Logan Forsythe of the Rays, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). His shoulder has improved to the point where he’s able to take grounders, leading to some hope that he could join the Rays at some point after they wrap up an upcoming road trip.
The Rays have designated first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert for assignment, as Roger Mooney reports on Twitter. Righty Ryan Garton was called up, creating the need for a 40-man spot, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted earlier.
Goebbert, 28, has seen just one major league stint in his career, slashing .218/.313/.317 in 115 plate appearances with the Padres in 2014. But he’s shown a high-OBP approach in the upper minors, making him a popular name on the waiver wire — which is how Tampa Bay grabbed him earlier in the year from the Pirates. Goebbert has struggled thus far at Triple-A Durham, though, with a meager .163/.258/.221 batting line in his 97 plate appearances.
The 26-year-old Garton earned his first big league promotion with a strong campaign in his first go at Triple-A. He’s shown improved command and punch-out ability in recording 11.5 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. Over 22 2/3 frames, Garton owns a 2.38 ERA.
Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran can block trades to 15 clubs under the terms of his limited no-trade clause, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, who explores the possibility of a deal involving the veteran. Among the teams to which Beltran could be dealt without consent are the Indians, Nationals, Royals, Cardinals, Rays, Tigers, and Dodgers, per the report.
Of course, it’s far from clear whether New York will end up entertaining such a move. The club has moved back to within striking distance in the AL East already, and there’s plenty of time left before the deadline.
Parting with Beltran wouldn’t necessarily mean abandoning hope for the present season, Olney suggests. Shipping him out would free up opportunities for highly-regarded young players such as Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge. They could be expected to provide value now while helping prepare for bigger roles in 2017 and beyond.
It’s fair to wonder just how much trade value Beltran would carry. On the one hand, he recently turned 39 and is a subpar outfielder (especially if one credits Defensive Runs Saved). On the other, he’s a highly respected veteran who is currently running out a productive .274/.299/.522 batting line, largely matching his overall production levels from last season (about 20% above league average).
Salary will certainly play a role, too, as Beltran is owed a healthy $15MM this season before reaching free agency at year’s end. Whether or not the market is receptive to that overall package remains to be seen, but presumably the Yankees won’t make a move unless they receive some kind of interesting return (barring a full-blown collapse in the next two months). That’s especially true given the uncertainty of Hicks and Judge as well as the fact that aging sluggers Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez come with their own blend of health, age, and performance questions.
Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will require surgery to repair a pair of fractures in his left hand and will miss the next eight to 10 weeks of action as a result, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (links to Twitter). Kiermaier was reported to have suffered a pair of fractures this past weekend and has already been placed on the disabled list, with Mikie Mahtook being recalled in his place, but the length of his required absence remained unknown to this point.
The 26-year-old Kiermaier suffered the injury on Saturday this week in an attempt to make a diving catch on a James McCann fly to shallow center and immediately came off the field before trainers could even reach him on the outfield grass. He’s in the midst of a solid season for Tampa Bay, hitting .236/.307/.447 with strong contributions in defense and baserunning. Kiermaier has quickly emerged as one of baseball’s premier defenders, winning a Gold Glove in a 2015 season that saw him post marks of +42 and +40.7 in Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150, respectively. In addition to his excellent range, Kiermaier racked up 15 outfield assists in 2015, tying him for third place among all Major League outfielders.
With Kiermaier sidelined for upwards of two months, the Rays will have some options to mix and match in center field. Mahtook, a former first-round pick, has plenty of experience in center field, and while he doesn’t come with Kiermaier’s defensive prowess (few do), he’s batting .333/.416/.487 at Triple-A this season and slashed .295/.351/.619 in his MLB debut last season (115 plate appearances). The Rays also have Desmond Jennings as an experienced center field option, though Jennings’ star has dimmed due to injuries and underperformance at the plate in recent seasons, and he’s played primarily left field since 2014. Brandon Guyer, too, has some limited experience in center field and could get a look there, as does utilityman Brad Miller.
- Erasmo Ramirez has been a boon to the Rays in an old-school “fireman” relief role, able to pitch multiple innings at any point late in a game. R.J. Anderson of CBSSports.com explores why Ramirez has been an ideal fit for this role and how the Rays’ usage of the righty could inspire other teams to turn their own relievers into firemen.
Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball:
- The Rays have promoted right-hander Tyler Sturdevant from Triple-A Durham and demoted righty Steve Geltz, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Sturdevant, who served a 50-game PED suspension last year, is now in position to make his big league debut after accumulating outstanding numbers over 318 1/3 frames in the minors (2.74 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9). Geltz gave up two earned runs in an inning of work Sunday and ran his ERA up to 6.06 in 16 1/3 innings with Tampa Bay this season.
- The Tigers have recalled right-hander Buck Farmer from Triple-A Toledo and optioned righty Drew VerHagen, per Jason Beck of MLB.com (Twitter link). Farmer has already accrued 8 1/3 impressive innings for the Tigers this season and logged a 2.16 ERA, 10.8 K/9 and 3.24 BB/9. VerHagen threw an inning for the club Sunday and allowed two earned runs, giving him a 7.11 ERA in 19 frames this year.
- The Angels have selected the contract of left-hander Lucas Luetge, who will fill Tim Lincecum’s roster spot, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Luetge, whom the Halos signed in November, owns a 4.35 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 89 major league innings.
- The Indians have recalled right-hander Austin Adams from Triple-A Columbus and sent southpaw Kyle Crockett down, according to Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link). Adams was lights-out over 16 1/3 frames with the Clippers prior to today, putting up a 1.10 ERA, 9.92 K/9 and 2.76 BB/9. He hasn’t been nearly that effective at the big league level, though, with a 4.69 ERA, 6.02 K/9 and 3.12 B/9 in 40 1/3 innings. The demotion of Crockett, who has given up a whopping six earned runs on seven hits in just 3 2/3 innings this season, will leave the Indians’ bullpen without a left-handed option.
SUNDAY: The Rays have officially placed Kiermaier on the 15-day disabled list and called up Mahtook, per a team announcement.
SATURDAY, 7:37pm: The Rays will indeed promote Mahtook to take Kiermaier’s place, tweets Topkin.
5:34pm: Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier suffered two fractures in the metacarpal bones in his left hand Saturday, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Kiermaier will see a specialist Monday regarding the injury, which occurred on a fifth-inning diving attempt in Detroit and caused him to leave the game. It won’t be known how much time Kiermaier will miss until he’s checked out, but it’s fair to expect a several-week absence for the 26-year-old.
The loss of Kiermaier, among the elite defenders in baseball, will be a significant one for the Rays. Since bursting on the scene in 2014, Kiermaier has quietly established himself as one of the league’s top all-around players. In addition to his defensive prowess, the lefty-swinging Kiermaier has acquitted himself well offensively, having hit .260/.306/.435 with 25 home runs in 1,034 plate appearances over the past two-plus seasons. His base-running ability has further buoyed his value during that time, as he has racked up 29 stolen bases. Six of those steals have come this year for Kiermaier, who has provided an above-average offensive line of .236/.307/.447 in 137 trips to the plate.
In Kiermaier’s absence, the Rays are primed to call up Mikie Mahtook, according to Topkin (Twitter link). After putting up excellent numbers in his major league debut last season (.295/.351/.619 with nine homers in 115 PAs), Mahtook has continued thriving at the Triple-A level this year. In 87 PAs, the 26-year-old has batted .316/.402/.474.
The Rays have released backstop Carlos Corporan, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. His role at Triple-A is now occupied by J.P. Arencibia, whose signing was announced by the club.
Corporan, 32, is a switch hitter with a good deal of major league experience. He owns a .218/.280/.342 lifetime batting line over 780 plate appearances in parts of six seasons. But he struggled last year with the Rangers and has failed to re-establish himself since.
The Yankees inked Corporan to a minor league deal over the winter, and dealt him to Tampa Bay just before the start of the season. He’s put up a meager .200/.246/.308 slash in his 70 plate appearances at Triple-A Durham on the year.
While that’s not a terribly exciting package of results with the bat in hand, Corporan is generally regarded as a sturdy presence behind the dish. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that he’s capable of hitting from both sides and has spent so much time in the bigs — not to mention the relative scarcity of palatable receivers around the league.