The Astros are checking around on the bullpen market, though a source tells MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the team isn’t going to make a move unless a clear upgrade can be found. “It’s going to be really hard for them to upgrade given that adding someone means pushing a capable — even good — reliever…off the playoff roster. There’s pressure to do something, but it doesn’t really make sense,” the source said. Indeed, the argument could more easily be made that Houston is the last team that needs bullpen reinforcements, as Astros relievers collectively rank either first or second amongst all bullpens in ERA, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9 and hits per nine innings. Tony Sipp is the bullpen’s only southpaw, though even adding another left-hander isn’t necessary given how well Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon have pitched against left-handed hitters. If the Astros do add another bullpen arm, Feinsand lists some pitchers controlled for multiple years (Brad Hand, Raisel Iglesias, Blake Treinen, Adam Conley) as possible fits, as well as a rental (Zach Britton) that Houston has pursued in the past.
Here’s more from around the AL West…
- Max Stassi was removed from Tuesday’s game after his right wrist by hit by a pitch, though Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart) that the catcher should be back in a day or two depending on the status of his wrist contusion. With Brian McCann out of action due to knee surgery, Houston would be very thin behind the plate if Stassi also missed significant time, as veteran Tim Federowicz is the only other backstop on the 40-man roster. Hinch described Evan Gattis as “still available as a third catcher” after receiving minimal work at the position this year, though it isn’t clear if Gattis would move into more of a proper backup role if Stassi did require a DL stint.
- Robinson Cano has recovered from the fracture in his right hand, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told MLB.com’s Greg Johns and other reporters. The injury sent Cano to the disabled list just a day before he was hit with an 80-game suspension for use of a banned substance, leaving him unable to return to the Mariners until August 14. Dipoto said that Cano has been working out at Safeco Field prior to the team’s official pregame warmups, and is on track to play once his suspension his up, though it remains a bit of a mystery about Cano’s eventual role. “I’ll talk to you about that later,” is all Dipoto said about whether Cano was open to playing elsewhere than his usual second base spot, as Dee Gordon has stepped in as Seattle’s regular option at the keystone. Earlier this month, Dipoto said that Gordon would continue to receive work at second base in preparation for potential postseason action, so Cano (who isn’t eligible for postseason play) could see time at first base or DH.
- In another piece from Johns, Mariners swingman Erasmo Ramirez completed another bullpen session today and is closing in on a minor league rehab assignment. Ramirez has been limited to two games and 9 2/3 innings this season thanks to a pair of DL stints for a strained lat muscle and then a strained muscle in his shoulder. He’ll need some time to get ramped up after being sidelined for so long, and Ramirez told Johns that he is open to pitching as a starter or a reliever.
- After missing over two months due to a fractured elbow, it may be unlikely that Elvis Andrus opts out of his Rangers contract after the season. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News thinks Andrus will be with the team not only in 2019, but “I really feel like this is a guy who is going to play his entire career in Texas.” Andrus’ deal pays him $56MM from 2019-22 (plus a $15MM club option for 2023) and contains opt-outs after both this season and the 2019 campaign. Grant feels the Rangers could work to ensure Andrus remains in the fold by re-negotiating the deal to add another guaranteed year. This discussion is speculative, of course, as a number of other factors (i.e. if Andrus hits well over the next three months, the fact that Scott Boras is his agent, or if the Rangers are possibly entering a rebuild) could inspire him to test the open market.
- Here’s another collection of AL West Notes from earlier today on MLB Trade Rumors.