Indians left fielder Michael Brantley has apparently suffered another setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (via Twitter) that Brantley is headed for an MRI tomorrow after his shoulder once again started barking. Arguably Cleveland’s best player when healthy, Brantley has instead totaled just 43 plate appearances over 11 games this year after following a recovery timeline that was a bit more aggressive than initially projected. In his absence, the Indians have received a breakout performance from rookie Tyler Naquin as well as a strong performance from veteran Rajai Davis, who inked a one-year pact in the offseason. Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez have each contributed nicely in the absence of Brantley as well, leading to a considerably more productive outfield mix than most pundits expected this season. Nonetheless, the return of a healthy Brantley would be a massive boost the the Indians’ chances of not only reaching the postseason but thriving in the playoffs.
More from the game’s Central divisions…
- Sticking with Cleveland, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians “are not on” Reds right fielder Jay Bruce despite some other reports that have connected the two clubs. Rather, Cleveland is seeking left-handed relief pitchers and, when it comes to their preference between Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, Cleveland prefers the more controllable Miller to Chapman.
- Within that same piece, Royals general manager Dayton Moore tells Rosenthal that he plans to do everything in his power to improve his club’s roster prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. While the Royals aren’t perched atop the division like they were for much of the 2015 campaign that saw them win the World Series and have notably received poor performances from the starting rotation, Moore expressed confidence in his 2016 group of talent. However, Rosenthal adds that Kansas City is “almost certainly going to be limited financially,” which could prompt the club to again have to surrender better prospects in trades as a means of persuading other teams to add money into potential deals.
- The Twins are receiving the most trade interest in shortstop Eduardo Nunez, catcher Kurt Suzuki, right-hander Brandon Kintzler and left-hander Fernando Abad, sources indicated to Rosenthal. Right-hander Ervin Santana has not drawn the same level of interest, likely due to the $28MM remaining on his contract beyond the 2016 campaign. Suzuki, a free agent following the season (unless he reaches 485 plate appearances, at which point a $6MM vesting option will trigger), has had a torrid seven-week stretch during which he’s batted .352/.381/.556 with four homers and 10 doubles. Nunez, Abad and Kintzler can all be controlled through 2017 via the arbitration process, and Nunez in particular has had a productive run, hitting .299/.332/.455 with 16 homers and 30 steals in 154 games dating back to Opening Day 2015.
- Regarding Suzuki, while the Twins were in this position with him a couple of years ago and elected to sign him to a two-year, $12MM extension, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that there have been no extension talks at all between the two sides this time around. That would seemingly make a trade more likely, especially in light of his improved production over the past month and a half.
- 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.