After 39 games away from the team, Mike Trout is set to rejoin the Angels on Friday, per Tim Mead of the Angels’ public relations department (Twitter link). Via C.J. Daft of the Orange County Register, Trout proclaimed himself “ready to play” in the Majors following a fifth rehab game on Sunday. The Angels, incredibly, went 19-20 without Trout in the lineup, maintaining virtually the same pace at which they played when he was healthy. (Anaheim was 26-27 when Trout upon completion of the last game in which Trout played.) His return will be a boon to an Angels club that remains in the thick of the race for one of two American League Wild Card slots, though the division is effectively out of reach. Houston entered the break with a 60-29 record and is 16.5 games up over the second-place Angels.
More from the division…
- The lack of even an average bullpen is the primary obstacle standing between the Rangers and a Wild Card spot, opines Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Texas finally has Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish all healthy at the same time, but no team in the league has blown more saves than Texas’ 17. Grant suggests that the closer’s role is there for the taking for right-hander Keone Kela, and notes that healthy returns and some rest could allow Jeremy Jeffress and Tony Barnette to return to form. However, even if all of that pans out, the Rangers still likely need to bolster the relief corps via trade. Grant suggests that GM Jon Daniels connect with former colleague A.J. Preller to discuss a trade involving Brad Hand, noting that the shortstop-needy Padres could be intrigued with Jurickson Profar as a starting point. Of course, considering Profar’s durability issues and lack of production in the Majors, it’s worth emphasizing that Grant suggests Profar as a mere starting point. Hand unquestionably has more value than the former top prospect at this point. In fact, because Profar spent two seasons on the MLB 60-day disabled list and accrued service time, he comes with the same amount of team control as Hand. Both are free agents following the 2019 season, so the Friars would undoubtedly look to get some more controllable assets added into a deal.
- Mariners bullpen coach Mike Hampton has tendered his resignation to the team, according to a press release from the club. Hampton’s resignation is effective immediately. The M’s didn’t announce a replacement for the former big league left-hander, though the release indicates that they’ll do so prior to Friday’s game. Hampton spent a season and a half as Seattle’s bullpen coach and had previously been coaching in the Angels’ minor league system before being named to the Mariners’ Major League staff.
- Improving the team’s defense will be a focus for the Athletics in the second half and beyond, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters (link via MLB.com’s Josh Horton). The A’s have already begun to move on that front, bringing up slick-fielding third baseman Matt Chapman and moving on from some other veterans as a means of getting younger, more athletic players like Jaycob Brugman and Bruce Maxwell in the lineup. “We’re starting to get some athletic guys, whether it’s Chapman or Marcus [Semien] back in here,” says Melvin. “We were very one dimensional last year and at the beginning of this season, too. Those are areas [fielding and baserunning] that we need to improve in. And I think we can.” With Oakland looking to potentially move multiple veterans this summer, that emphasis is worth keeping in mind, and it will be once again this offseason as Oakland looks to augment its roster with some veteran players on affordable deals.