The Yankees will hold a press conference with Alex Rodriguez Sunday at 11am eastern time, according to an announcement from the team. The reason for the press conference is unknown. Rodriguez, 41, has limped to a .204/.252/.356 line in 234 plate appearances this year as the team’s designated hitter. He currently ranks fourth all-time with 696 career home runs. Though A-Rod is owed $20MM next year, it’s fair to speculate whether his time with the Yankees is coming to an end.
Top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada may not quite be ready to follow Andrew Benintendi to the majors, but GM Mike Hazen says he is playing his way into the team’s near-term plans, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. Moncada’s big numbers at Double-A have prompted a move to third base, where he could play at the big league level in relatively short order. Hazen analogized the situation to that of Mookie Betts, who also shifted off of second base — in his case, to the outfield — because he was ready to play but was blocked by stalwart Dustin Pedroia. As for timing of a big league promotion, Hazen declined to offer an opinion, but did note that Moncada has had a very different path to this point than did Benintendi. Also, as Mastrodonato notes, he needs to polish his hitting approach and refine his mechanics from both sides of the plate.
A bit more from the AL East…
- The Yankees have no plans to release Alex Rodriguez, general manager Brian Cashman said in a recent ESPN Radio appearance (transcript via the Post’s George A. King III). Cashman acknowledged that some of Rodriguez’s at-bats will go to other players, but injuries or matchups could get Rodriguez additional looks down the stretch. The contract of Rodriguez, which calls for him to earn another $27MM through next season, is a factor, Cashman admitted: “First and foremost, you just have to admit it’s not easy to go ahead and eat — meaning release — that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on. There are players around the game with big contracts, well-below-average players, for many years, not just a year. Alex hit 33 home runs, I believe, last year. … If we choose to do something, that’s our right at any time, but right now that’s not being done.”
- Cashman appeared on yesterday’s Baseball Tonight podcast with ESPN’s Buster Olney (audio link) and discussed the Yankees’ decision to act as sellers at this year’s deadline as well as the prospects he picked up in trades of Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Cashman also said he has a list of Pirates prospects at the lower levels of their system from which he’ll select a pair of players to be named later in order to complete the Ivan Nova trade, but they’re still in the process of evaluating their options.
- Rays infielder Brad Miller tells Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times that he was “extremely disappointed” to learn that newly acquired Matt Duffy will supplant him as the everyday shortstop upon his return from an Achilles injury. Miller considers himself a shortstop and sounds frustrated that he’ll be moved off the position for the second time in his young career. “I feel like I’ve done everything I needed to do to keep the job, and they didn’t see it that way,” he explains. “The same thing happened in Seattle.” Rays skipper Kevin Cash, though, stressed that Miller will still be an everyday player due to his bat. He’ll move over to first base until Logan Morrison’s return and then presumably see regular at-bats spread across several positions as a means of keeping his .252/.300/.484 slash line and 18 homers in the lineup.
- Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM within the past hour (audio link) and said definitively that Aaron Sanchez won’t throw 220 innings this season. Shapiro added that GM Ross Atkins is on his way to discuss scenarios with Sanchez, manager John Gibbons and pitching coach Pete Walker at today. Said Shapiro of the innings limitation on Sanchez: “There’s no safe way to shut him down and ramp him up again. If you take that out, it’s simply do you let him start to a point where he either fatigues and mandates being shut down or he reaches some arbitrary inning amount — 190 or whatever it is — …or do we reallocate this innings in the bullpen and let him continue to contribute to this team in high-leverage situations?”
The Yankees are 5-3 since the All-Star break, which further complicates the question of whether or not the team should buy or sell at the deadline, NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller writes. “I don’t know how much the organization actually has publicly said (about the trade deadline),” said Andrew Miller, himself a regular candidate in trade speculation. “I feel like it’s been rumor and things that kind of have been assumed, and in reality I think all we can do is focus on the game at hand.” New York is 49-47 for the season and sits 4.5 games behind Toronto for the last AL wild card slot. Here’s more from around the AL East…
- The Orioles have been getting calls about Double-A southpaw Tanner Scott since the offseason, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. It’s possible Scott could be one of the prospects desired by the Padres in the rumored Melvin Upton-for-Ubaldo Jimenez trade talks between the two clubs, though Kubatko feels the O’s should keep Scott. A sixth-round pick from the 2014 draft, Scott has posted a 4.63 ERA and 6.6 BB/9 over 114 2/3 pro innings (mostly out of the bullpen), though he averages 11.5 K/9 and owns a 101-mph fastball.
- The Blue Jays have been talking to multiple teams about both starters and relievers, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. Bullpen is the more pressing concern for Toronto, though if Aaron Sanchez is shifted to a setup role as planned, that leaves a big hole in the rotation (especially given Marcus Stroman’s inconsistency and Marco Estrada’s recurring back issues). Then again, Sanchez has been so good this season that the Jays could reverse course and keep him as a starter, which would increase their need for relief help.
- Though trading Evan Longoria makes some sense for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times believes the club won’t and shouldn’t entertain the thought of dealing its longtime star. Longoria has too much value as Tampa’s franchise player on and off the field, and moving him would only fit if the Rays were pursuing a total rebuild, which doesn’t appear to be the case. There has been whispers that former Rays boss Andrew Friedman could be exploring a reunion with Longoria with the Dodgers, though the Rays are reportedly uninterested in Longoria trades now and perhaps whatsoever.
- Alex Rodriguez had “a very positive conversation” with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner prior to Friday’s game and the subject of releasing the veteran slugger didn’t come up, sources tell ESPN.com’s Wallace Matthews. The meeting was initiated by Steinbrenner, though the reason isn’t known; it’s possible it could simply have been the owner touching base with A-Rod on any number of topics. It has been rumored that the Yankees could cut ties with Rodriguez in order to create roster space for younger players, as A-Rod hasn’t hit well this year and can only handle a DH role at this stage of his career.
- A Kyle Schwarber-for-Andrew Miller deal between the Cubs and Yankees has been one of the hottest rumors of this deadline season, though Chicago management has repeatedly said Schwarber isn’t on the market. Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron takes an interesting look at Schwarber’s fuure value, arguing that there are signs he may not develop into the top-tier slugger the Cubs believe he can be (though Cameron’s Mike Napoli comp is still flattering). While Schwarber has more value than Miller as a long-term piece, Cameron that a Yankees trade package of both Miller and Aroldis Chapman would justify the Cubs pulling the trigger on a deal.
With the Yankees are looking like they’ll be deadline sellers for the first time in a generation, there’s been an unsurprisingly large amount of trade buzz out of the Bronx. We’ve already published one set of Yankees-related notes today and now here’s even more from New York…
- The Yankees and Royals discussed a Carlos Beltran trade earlier this season, with Luke Hochevar mentioned as part of the return package, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Hochevar is a free agent this winter (with a $7MM mutual option for 2017 that can be bought out for $500K), which makes him something of a curious short-term target for the Yankees. The timing of these trade talks would be interesting to know — if New York pursued discussions when it was still looking to contend, Hochevar could’ve been seen as a possible replacement if one of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller or Dellin Betances was traded. The Yankees’ bullpen outside of those three superstars has struggled, so they could’ve also used Hochevar in his K.C. role of providing earlier relief as a bridge to a big late-game trio. A reunion between Beltran and the Royals has been rumored for a few years, and Kansas City isn’t one of the 15 teams under Beltran’s no-trade provision.
- Also from King, Miller is the Cubs’ “No. 1 trade priority.” Chicago has been linked to Miller and the Yankees’ other star relievers for weeks now, as a bullpen reinforcement may be the Cubs’ only real deadline need. The Yankees haven’t been eager to move Miller but they’ll do so if someone meets their large asking price.
- As of yesterday, Yankees ownership hadn’t decided whether or not the team should trade veterans at the deadline, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. You would have to think a decision will be made soon, especially since the Yankees have lost two in a row to Boston and face a tough slate of games (tonight’s series finale with the Red Sox and then 10 games against the Orioles, Giants and Astros) coming up.
- The Yankees should either give Alex Rodriguez more playing time at DH or release him, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post opines, and abandon any though of re-trying Rodriguez at first base. A-Rod has been mostly relegated to at-bats against left-handed pitching only, which Davidoff feels is something of a waste despite Rodriguez’s struggles against righty pitching this season. Between A-Rod’s poor numbers, inability to play the field and the club’s desire to keep Beltran healthy with frequent DH appearances, Rodriguez has essentially become redundant on New York’s roster.
Let’s check in with some news from around the AL East…
- Hyun Soo Kim suffered a hamstring strain while running out a grounder and had to leave Sunday’s game after just an inning of play. The Orioles outfielder will undergo some tests on Monday and manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including Dan Connolly of Baltimore Baseball) that he hopes Kim can heal during the All-Star break and not require any DL time. Kim entered today with a very impressive .331/.413/.457 slash line over his first 172 plate appearances in the big leagues.
- Jose Bautista has begun to hit off a tee and the Blue Jays are hopeful the slugger can return before the end of July, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. Bautista has been sidelined since mid-June due to turf toe, already missing a bit more time than expected with the injury. The outfielder was hitting .230/.360/.455 with 12 homers in 286 PA — a down year by Bautista’s standards, though he’ll still have at least two months to position himself for a big contract in free agency this winter.
- Alex Rodriguez will take grounders at first base over the All-Star break and continue to work at the position once the season resumes, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Rodriguez made the first two appearances of his long career at first base last season, though those were two of just six total games A-Rod played in the field in 2015. This season, Rodriguez has appeared only as a DH and pinch-hitter, and his playing time has been cut due to both his season-long slump and the Yankees’ desire to use Carlos Beltran as a DH (for both injury reasons and to improve their outfield defense). With Mark Teixeira also a health question mark, A-Rod could get some limited action at first, particularly against left-handed pitching.
- Oswaldo Arcia is happy to be with the Rays but is still disappointed the Twins traded him, the outfielder tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila. “I don’t think I got the opportunity to show what I could really do,” Arcia said. “I know the class of player that I am. I don’t know that I got the time to show that. You’re going to struggle — there are ups and downs in this game — and you’re going to make adjustments. Everybody in this room is making adjustments every day.” Arcia also said he pressed too hard after being demoted to Triple-A last season, which didn’t help his path back to the bigs: “If you try to do too much, you’ll end up doing less.”
- In other AL East news from earlier today, we covered some Red Sox and Yankees items in the latest edition of AL Notes, and the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo shared several interesting trade buzz items from around the division (and all of baseball).
The Mets are unlikely to trade shortstop prospect Amed Rosario at this year’s deadline, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, with a source close to the team telling Carig that the 20-year-old “is going nowhere.” The 40-34 Mets haven’t involved themselves in any significant trade talks yet, according to Carig, who notes that Rosario would probably have to go in order to land the club a high-end player (Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, for instance). Rosario, who has spent most of the season at the High-A level and slashed .309/.359/.442 with three home runs and 13 steals in 290 plate appearances, entered the campaign as ESPN Keith Law’s 42nd-ranked prospect (Insider required). Baseball America (58th) and MLB.com (70th) also regard Rosario highly.
More from New York City and two other major league destinations:
- The Yankees sat designated hitter Alex Rodriguez against Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey on Sunday, which could be the start of the Bombers only deploying the 40-year-old versus southpaws, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. In a minuscule sample size of just 55 plate appearances, Rodriguez has posed a legitimate threat this year versus lefties, against whom he has hit .275/.327/.510. Conversely, in 123 trips to the plate against righties, Rodriguez’s line is an unusable .200/.236/.348. Whether this is the beginning of the end of A-Rod’s long tenure in pinstripes is unclear, though releasing him could be an option eventually, according to ESPN’s Andrew Marchand (Twitter link). Rodriguez, who’s on a $20MM salary this year and has another $20MM coming to him in 2017, is sitting on 695 home runs – 350 of which have come in a Yankees uniform. Thus, it’s hard to imagine the club moving on from A-Rod before he joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in the 700 club.
- Pirates ace Gerrit Cole is making progress in his recovery from a strained right triceps, but it’s still unknown when the right-hander will return, per Adam Berry of MLB.com. Cole landed on the disabled list retroactive to June 11 and could have come back as early as Sunday, but he just threw off a mound for the first time since going on the DL on June 14. Cole could rejoin the Bucs’ rotation sometime in July, according to Berry, though it might not happen until after the All-Star break. With Cole unavailable, Chad Kuhl is a good bet to remain in the Pirates’ starting five. The 23-year-old righty made his major league debut Sunday against the Dodgers and threw five innings of three-run ball, striking out five and giving up four hits and four walks.
- Winners of eight straight, the Indians own the third-best record in the American League (44-30) and are five games ahead in their division, but they still must make multiple additions to ensure a playoff berth for themselves, opines Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Specifically, the Indians need to augment their offense – perhaps by picking up an outfielder – and bullpen, Hoynes contends. Unsurprisingly, Hoynes doesn’t expect the Indians to move either of their top prospects, outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, for a rental; however, he doesn’t dismiss the possibility of the Tribe dealing one for a player who’s under control for multiple years beyond 2016.
If first baseman Mark Teixeira and designated hitter Alex Rodriguez don’t turn around their seasons by the July All-Star break, the Yankees should buy the pair out, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. While the Yankees still owe them around $45.4MM combined, Sherman notes that the Rockies and Dodgers have taken similar financial hits with the recent buyouts of Jose Reyes and Carl Crawford. The 37-36 Yankees wouldn’t exactly be loaded with capable first basemen without Teixeira, though, as their depth chart shows. Jettisoning A-Rod, who’s signed through 2017, would enable the Yankees to put 39-year-old Carlos Beltran at DH and go with some combination of Aaron Hicks, Rob Refsnyder and prospect Aaron Judge in right field, Sherman contends. It seems doubtful that the Yankees would get rid of either, but the team clearly needs more production from the veteran duo. Teixeira, a pending free agent, is batting a horrendous .176/.271/.259 with three homers in 192 plate appearances – a far cry from the .255/.357/.548 line and 31 HRs he slugged in 462 PAs last year. Notably, Rodriguez is five homers shy of 700, which is another reason the Yankees look unlikely to move on from him. The 40-year-old is slashing a weak .222/.264/.398, however, after posting a .250/.356/.486 line and racking up 33 long balls in 2015.
Here’s more from around the majors:
- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington dismissed the idea of trading five-time All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen earlier this week, but it’s something the team should eventually consider, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates have a top-end outfield prospect in Austin Meadows, who would step in alongside Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco in the event of a McCutchen trade. Long the face of the Pirates’ franchise, the 29-year-old McCutchen is under team control through 2018 on an eminently reasonable contract. Even after a two-homer game Saturday, though, his normally excellent offensive production hasn’t been there this season. Through 316 PAs this year, the former NL MVP has hit .243/.320/423 – good for a league-average 101 wRC+. Right thumb issues have hampered McCutchen, who’s showing far less control over the strike zone than usual, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan detailed Thursday. For his part, McCutchen said Saturday that he isn’t concerned about trade rumors because they’re out of his control (Twitter link via Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review).
- The Rangers inquired about Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright during the offseason, Texas president and GM Jon Daniels told Rob Bradford of WEEI on Saturday. “We asked about him this winter and they did not want to move him,” said Daniels. Wright was out of options and coming off a season in which he threw 72 2/3 innings and recorded a 4.09 ERA, 6.44 K/9, 3.34 BB/9 and 43.2 percent ground-ball rate. Nearly all of those numbers have improved this season, especially the 31-year-old’s ERA – which stands at a sparkling 2.18 through 103 frames. Daniels told Bradford that the Rangers “would have tried harder” to land Wright had they known he would be this successful in 2016.
- Mets outfielder Alejandro De Aza has batted an ugly .169/.221/.247 with 29 strikeouts and five walks through 96 trips to the plate, but designating him for assignment isn’t under consideration as of now, a source told Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter link). De Aza, whom the Mets signed to a $5.75MM deal in the offseason, will be a free agent at year’s end.
Alex Rodriguez is back in the Yankees’ lineup after a quick rehab stint, but fellow veteran slugger Mark Teixeira is still out. It remains to be seen whether Teixeira will eventually require a DL stint, but for now he’s simply taking some time and waiting for a cortisone shot to take effect, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. An MRI seemingly cleared him of any new neck issues, ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand tweets, so it seems to be an optimistic outlook. Meanwhile, the Yanks have placed southpaw Chasen Shreve on the DL while his left shoulder is checked out, Hoch also tweets.
Here are a few more injury notes from around the game:
- Shelby Miller continues to be limited by a finger injury, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said today, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Already struggling on the hill, Miller’s difficulties were exacerbated when he scraped his hand on the dirt in his follow-through. Hale “still not where we’d like it to be,” which Piecoro suggests could set the stage for a DL stint. The 25-year-old owns an unsightly 7.09 ERA in 45 2/3 innings on the season, with just thirty strikeouts to go with 29 walks. When asked whether Miller could be sent to the minors, GM Dave Stewart didn’t reveal much but also didn’t rule out the idea, as Jack Magruder of Fanragsports.com tweets. “We want to get him on track the best way we can,” said Stewart. “We will figure it out and do what’s needed.”
- Angels southpaw C.J. Wilson made his rehab debut yesterday, as Pete Marshall of the Orange County Register writes. The 35-year-old is one of several hurlers filtering back up towards the majors for the Halos, which could eventually lead to some interesting roster decisions. For now, he says his command and mechanics were in a good place, and didn’t suggest that his balky left arm was a problem. It’s certainly promising that Wilson was able to work up to 56 pitches while lasting into the fifth inning. He hopes to make it back to the majors by early to mid-June.
- Also potentially returning in the middle of next month is Logan Forsythe of the Rays, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). His shoulder has improved to the point where he’s able to take grounders, leading to some hope that he could join the Rays at some point after they wrap up an upcoming road trip.
- Mets infielder Wilmer Flores appears ready for activation after a rehab game at Double-A, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The 24-year-old was off to a slow start, with a .180/.255/.280 slash, before heading to the DL with a hamstring strain. New York lost first baseman Lucas Duda, and Flores could conceivably be part of the solution — with the team’s trade plans somewhat dependent upon how much it trusts Flores and other internal options.
Here’s the latest on some notable names who are either preparing to return from the DL or could miss a bit of time…
- Yu Darvish threw six shutout innings in a rehab start today and is on track to return to the majors on Saturday against the Pirates. The Rangers ace told reporters (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) that he felt good after the 87-pitch outing, which wrapped up a very impressive rehab stint that saw Darvish allow just two earned runs over 20 minor league innings. Darvish missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since August 2014.
- Jordan Zimmermann left during the sixth inning of today’s game with what has been diagnosed as a right groin strain. The Tigers ace underwent an MRI to determine the severity of the injury, manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com’s Jason Beck and other media, and it isn’t yet known if Zimmermann will require a DL stint or even a missed start. Needless to say, losing Zimmermann to the DL would be a major blow to a Detroit rotation that entered Sunday with a 4.76 staff ERA, seventh-worst in all of baseball. Zimmermann has been the lone bright spot, and after today’s outing he has a 2.52 ERA over his first 60 2/3 innings as a Tiger. Slugger Miguel Cabrera also suffered a bruised left knee after being hit by a pitch during the same game, though Ausmus doesn’t expect that injury to be too serious.
- Alex Rodriguez will return from the 15-day DL on Tuesday, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told reporters (including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News). A-Rod was rumored to be set for activation this weekend but Girardi chose to wait until after the Yankees’ Monday off-day to give the veteran slugger extra time to fully recover a hamstring strain.
- Brewers GM David Stearns updated Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on several injured Milwaukee players. Sean Nolin recently received a PRP injection to see if he can avoid Tommy John surgery; the southpaw suffered a slightly torn UCL during Spring Training. Rule 5 draft pick Zack Jones has spent the entire season on the DL with shoulder stiffness and Stearns hopes Jones can begin a rehab assignment in early June. Former top outfield prospect Rymer Liriano is still recovering after being hit in the face with a pitch during Spring Training and there isn’t any timetable for a return. Stearns said there is a chance Liriano could miss the entire season. Also in the piece, as previously reported, reliever Will Smith will begin a rehab assignment this week with an eye towards returning to the Brewers’ roster in the first week of June.
The Dodgers are currently playing a series against the Blue Jays in Toronto, which means that former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos (currently the Dodgers’ vice president of baseball operations) is back in town. Anthopoulos spoke to reporters, including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, about his time with the Jays organization. Anthopoulos notes that one trade he wonders about not making was for Ben Zobrist, who the Jays evidently were close to acquiring from Oakland last season before he ultimately went to Kansas City. He also looks back on one trade he did make, sending Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to New York in his famous 2012 deal for R.A. Dickey. Syndergaard, of course, has emerged as a phenom, but Anthopoulos defends the deal from the Blue Jays’ perspective. The team had two sluggers in their primes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and faced a tough decision about whether to build around them or consider trading them and resetting for the future. The Jays opted for the former. “The thought was three years in a row, and beyond, to be able to get the playoffs and win the World Series,” Anthopoulos says. “The thought was always that it could be what it is today in terms of attendance, TV ratings, fan interest. The belief was there. It was almost like a wick and you needed to light it.” Here’s more from the AL East.
- The Red Sox could soon consider promoting top outfield prospect Andrew Benintendi from Class A+ Salem to a higher level, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald writes. The seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft has continued his torrid hitting from last season — he’s currently batting a ridiculous .381/.442/.648 for Salem and currently has a .337/.425/.587 line for his minor-league career. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says he has no hard-and-fast criteria for the timings of minor-league promotions, instead treating them on a “case-by-case basis.” Of Benintendi, Dombowski says, “I don’t think it’s worth really speculating, but I could have to say it’s at least a situation that I’m sure will merit attention.”
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says Alex Rodriguez’s hamstring strain is a grade “one-plus,” MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. There had been optimism that Rodriguez could return from the DL on May 19, the first day he’s eligible, but that might be unlikely. Carlos Beltran has played DH in Rodriguez’s absence, with Aaron Hicks in right field.
- Meanwhile, Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia is optimistic he can return from the DL in the minimum amount of time, tweets Hoch. Sabathia was placed on the DL yesterday with a groin strain, but he doesn’t believe it’s severe. Ivan Nova is replacing Sabathia in the Yankees’ rotation.