This has been a career-worst offensive season for Giants catcher Buster Posey, but the hip surgery the potential Hall of Famer underwent a year ago may be among the reasons for his decline at the plate, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle observes. If so, there’s hope Posey will bounce back in 2020, when he’ll turn 33. “It’s at least a year before you get back closer to what you were. Hey, this guy wasn’t able to do much during the winter,” outgoing manager Bruce Bochy told Shea. “We had to watch his workload this spring, and we’ve done it during the season, to be honest.” If Posey doesn’t come close to revisiting his prior form early next year, it could give the Giants all the more reason to hasten the promotion of their No. 1 prospect, catcher Joey Bart, whom they chose second overall in the 2018 draft. Whenever Bart does arrive in San Francisco, he’ll have a tremendous mentor in Posey. “One of the greatest gifts you can give to a young player is to have his back and support him whenever he gets here and try to help him grow,” said Posey, who expresses a willingness in Shea’s piece (which is worth a full read) to eventually see more time at first base if necessary. The 2020 campaign will be the eighth season of a nine-year, $167MM contract for Posey, owner of a full no-trade clause.
- Rangers right-hander Jose Leclerc was one of baseball’s standout relievers in 2018, but this season got off to a horrific start for the 25-year-old. After he yielded 10 earned runs on 13 hits and eight walks (with 13 strikeouts) in 8 1/3 innings in April, the Rangers removed Leclerc from the closer’s role at the outset of May. Leclerc has since revived his season and regained the job, though, and odds are that he’ll enter 2020 as the Rangers’ go-to game-ending option, according to manager Chris Woodward (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). “As of right now, yeah,” Woodward said when asked if Leclerc’s the in-house favorite to close next year. The presence of Leclerc – he of the 4.10 ERA/3.66 FIP with 13.15 K/9, 5.09 BB/9 and 13 saves on 17 tries over 63 2/3 innings – should enable the Rangers to focus on more pressing needs when the offseason arrives, Wilson writes.
- Injured Angels infielder Tommy La Stella was aiming for a mid-September return just a couple weeks ago, though he still hasn’t come back from the fractured right tibia he suffered July 3. Now, with just two weeks left in the Angels’ season, there’s still no timetable for a comeback, Bill Ladson of MLB.com relays. It seems possible we’ve seen the last of La Stella in 2019, which would put him in company with a few notable out-for-the-year Angels in Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton. The 30-year-old La Stella unexpectedly earned the first All-Star nod of his career before landing on the IL, on the strength of a .300/.353/.495 line with 16 home runs and 2.2 fWAR in 312 plate appearances.
- Padres catcher Luis Torrens hasn’t played in the majors since 2017, the season after the club acquired him during the Rule 5 Draft. Torrens, then 21, was clearly in over his head that year. He batted a meager .163/.243/.203 in 139 plate appearances in the bigs, but the Padres still haven’t given up on him a couple years later. And Torrens performed so well at the Double-A level this season that he’ll be in the mix to win a major league spot next spring, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests. Not only has Torrens hit .300/.373/.500 with 15 homers in 397 trips to the plate this year, but his defensive progress has impressed the San Diego organization. “The video I see, his energy behind the plate is incredible,” said Padres bench coach Rod Barajas, a former MLB catcher. “He’s a spark plug back there.” It seems Torrens will be part of a battle that will also consist of Francisco Mejia, Austin Hedges and Austin Allen next spring. In the meantime, he’ll start “a few” games in the majors before this season ends, per manager Andy Green.