6:36PM: Price tested positive for COVID-19, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times). Price is showing symptoms but is vaccinated, and Roberts doesn’t expect anyone else on the team to hit the COVID-IL due to infection or close-contact situations.
3:05PM: McKinstry has now been quickly recalled from his Triple-A assignment since David Price has been placed on the injured list. No specific reason was given for Price’s placement.
2:43PM: The Dodgers made a few roster moves prior to today’s game, according to their transactions tracker at MLB.com. Right-handed pitcher Reyes Moronta had his contract selected. To make room on the active roster, utility player Zach McKinstry was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. To clear a spot for Moronta on the 40-man roster, left-hander Darien Nunez was designated for assignment.
Moronta seemed to emerge as an elite bullpen weapon for the Giants in 2018 and ’19. Over those two seasons, the righty threw 121 2/3 innings with a 2.66 ERA. His 13.8% walk rate was certainly concerning, but he paired that with a 29.3% strikeout rate. Unfortunately, shoulder surgery caused him to miss the entirety of the shortened 2020 campaign. Last year, a flexor strain limited him to four innings in the majors and 18 innings in Triple-A.
The Giants outrighted him at the end of the season, with Moronta electing free agency. He signed a minors deal with the Dodgers that would guarantee him $1.5MM if he cracked the roster. With his selection today, the 29-year-old has now secured himself that salary. As of today, Moronta has exactly four years of MLB service time, as well as still being able to be optioned to the minors. If he can hold onto his 40-man roster spot through the remainder of the season, the Dodgers could opt to keep him around via arbitration. In six Triple-A innings so far this year, he has an ERA of 1.50, with 10 strikeouts but 4 walks.
As for Nunez, it was announced yesterday that he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery. Nunez was in the minors at the time, meaning that the Dodgers could have merely placed him on the minor league injured list. However, in that scenario, he would continue to occupy a spot on the 40-man roster. The club also had the option of placing Nunez on the major league injured list. Doing so would have opened up a roster spot, but also would have meant Nunez would earn an MLB salary and service time over the remainder of the year.
The Dodgers have instead decided to designate him for assignment. Injured players cannot be placed on outright waivers, meaning Nunez will have to be placed on release waivers. A team could theoretically claim him if they were willing to give him the service time and MLB pay that the Dodgers opted against. A similar situation occurred last year when the White Sox designated Luis Gonzalez for assignment, who was claimed by the Giants, with the latter club placing him on the MLB injured list. However, that situation happened in mid-August with just about six weeks remaining in the season. Since Nunez is undergoing Tommy John surgery, he won’t be back for at least a year and probably longer, which likely reduces the chances of him following in Gonzalez’s footsteps.