- Lefty Andrew Heaney is in agreement on a $800K deal with the Angels, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 26-year-old lands right at MLBTR’s projection for his Super Two salary. Heaney has scarcely pitched in the majors over the past two seasons owing to Tommy John surgery. But he did make it back late last year and will hope for a healthy and productive 2018 season after an opportunity to build up over the offseason. The Halos need Heaney to regain the trajectory he was on when he arrived in the organization. In his first 18 starts in L.A., Heaney managed 105 2/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball with 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
- The Rangers have avoided arbitration with oufielder Ryan Rua, per a club announcement. He is slated to earn $870K, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). Rua, 27, just did quality for arbitration as a Super Two. MLBTR projected him to earn $900K in his first trip through the process, so he’ll land just below that mark. It is not immediately clear just how Rua will fit into the Ranger’ roster mix, though that’s due in no small part to the fact that the team is still said to be looking into options to upgrade. The right-handed hitter has spent the bulk of his time in the majors in left field, though he can also play some first base. Over 608 total MLB plate appearances, Rua owns a .246/.305/.388 batting line with 17 home runs. He has shown more in a similar sample at Triple-A, where he has posted a .272/.343/.459 output.
While it’s been a rough season for the Rangers, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports writes in this week’s AL Notes column that one source indicates to him that manager Jeff Banister is “100 percent” coming back. The third-year skipper could potentially turn in his third straight winning the season, but the Rangers’ 76 losses already guarantee that the 2017 season will be the team’s worst with Banister at the helm.
A bit more from the AL West…
- Heyman also reports that top Rangers prospect — the centerpiece of their return for Yu Darvish — has hired Scott Boras to represent him. The 22-year-old Calhoun raised his profile as one of the best offensive prospects in the minors this season, hitting a combined .300/.355/.572 with 31 homers, 27 doubles and six triples between the Triple-A affiliates for the Rangers and Dodgers. While Calhoun is obviously quite a ways from reaching arbitration, the move is of some note, given that Boras clients typically forgo early-career extensions. Calhoun’s agency switch will be noted in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which features representation info on more than 2,500 Major League and Minor League players. If you see any notable errors or omissions, you can let us know via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Mariners “are thought” to have some interest in Mitch Moreland and Lucas Duda as first base options this offseason, per Heyman. Seattle is currently deploying Yonder Alonso and Danny Valencia as its primary first basemen, though both are eligible for free agency at season’s end. Prospect Dan Vogelbach serves as an in-house option, though he comes with fewer than 40 plate appearances of experience in the Majors.
- While the Mariners have endured plenty of struggles in the rotation this season, club executives are pleased with the depth that comes with the additions of veteran Mike Leake and controllable young Marco Gonzales, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Gonzales has struggled in the Majors thus far, but he’s had a generally solid year in Triple-A in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Leake, meanwhile, has bounced back terrifically in Seattle following a trade from the Cardinals. General manager Jerry Dipoto explained to Dutton that Leake has been worth two or more wins above replacement on a yearly basis and hasn’t seen his skill set significantly diminish, even through a rough stretch toward the end of his Cardinals tenure. Skipper Scott Servais spoke highly of right-hander Andrew Moore as well when chatting with Dutton. Dutton notes that the trio of Leake, Gonzales and Moore will pair with Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez and Ariel Hernandez to once again give the club its fair share of depth next year.
- Angels lefty Andrew Heaney played catch Thursday and is still hopeful that he can start again this season, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Heaney has been sidelined by a shoulder impingement recently, and with the young southpaw unable to start, the Halos will again turn to Bud Norris to start a bullpen game this weekend, per Fletcher. Norris tossed two innings the last time he did so and was one of three pitchers (joining Yusmeiro Petit and Blake Wood) to throw two innings that day.
As many as 16 teams had scouts and/or executives on hand to watch star right-hander Shohei Otani’s most recent start, reports Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times (Twitter links). Of particular note, Hernandez adds that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was among the execs on hand to scout Otani. The start was just Otani’s third of the season, as he’s been hampered by ankle and hamstring injuries throughout the calendar year that have prevented him from getting on the mound. It’s not yet certain if the two-way phenom will be posted for MLB clubs to bid on this offseason — the new CBA’s strict limits on international spending have radically limited his earning power in that scenario — but if he does, virtually every team that is not currently restricted for shattering previous bonus pools would have interest in the 23-year-old. Otani posted a 1.80 ERA with a 174-to-45 K/BB ratio in 140 innings on the mound and hit .322/.416/.588 with 22 homers in 382 plate appearances last season. He’s hitting .346/.416/.574 with seven homers through 185 PAs as a designated hitter this year.
More from the AL West…
- In addition to right-hander David Hernandez, the Angels would likely have traded righty Bud Norris leading up to the non-waiver deadline but didn’t receive much interest in him, the L.A. Times’ Pedro Moura writes in his latest Angels Inbox column. General manager Billy Eppler and his staff weren’t sure the team would have a reasonable enough shot at a Wild Card berth to pursue additions on July 31, though they obviously pivoted in August, acquiring Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips. As Moura notes, Hernandez hasn’t exactly dominated following his trade to Arizona, so that minor swap isn’t likely to be the ultimate difference in whether the Angels secure a Wild Card position or come up just shy. The Halos are one game back of the Twins for that spot at the moment. Moura also gives his thoughts on the team’s chances of retaining Upton and Phillips beyond 2017 and examines some of the Angels’ better low-cost pickups, so Halos fans will want to check it out.
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes that Angels lefty Andrew Heaney could miss his next start due to some shoulder troubles. While an MRI showed that Heaney did not have an “acute strain,” it also revealed symptoms “consistent with internal impingement.” Heaney has struggled in four of his five starts since returning from Tommy John anyhow, but the injury-ravaged Angels’ pitching staff hardly needs further injuries to tax the rotation or the bullpen with a Wild Card spot in arm’s reach.
- Promoting top prospect Willie Calhoun may not have been an easy call for the Rangers, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, as the team didn’t have to add him to the 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft this winter. And, as Grant points out, the Rangers will already be effectively operating with only 39 spots on their 40-man roster, as they’ll need to carry Prince Fielder throughout the offseason in order to place him back on the 60-day disabled list next spring and collect the insurance on his contract. Nonetheless, injuries to Adrian Beltre, Carlos Gomez, Rougned Odor and Mike Napoli as well — Grant tweets that he could be down for a bit after missing yesterday’s game with “lower body stiffness” — created a need for Calhoun. He’ll likely play left field, with Delino DeShields manning center while Gomez is down.
Here’s the latest on some injury situations around baseball…
- The Cubs announced that catcher Willson Contreras has been activated from the 10-day disabled list. Manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (Twitter links) and other reporters that Contreras is available to play, though the team will only gradually work him back into the lineup, such as not using Contreras for a full game. Contreras has been sidelined for the last month due to a hamstring strain, which interrupted a very strong season for the 25-year-old. Prior to the injury, Contreras had posted a .274/.342/.519 slash line and 21 homers over 378 plate appearances, spending the bulk of his time at catcher but also playing a few games in both corner outfield and infield spots.
- Dexter Fowler will be out of action “for at least a few days” due to a left knee contusion, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports (Twitter link). Fowler suffered the injury crashing into the outfield wall in pursuit of an Adam Frazier fly ball last night, and Fowler was forced to leave the game. The good news is that an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage to Fowler’s knee. Fowler as been productive (.255/.356/.470, 15 homers) when he’s been able to play this season, though a variety of injuries has limited the Cardinals outfielder to 436 PA and 106 games.
- Due to what the team described as “general soreness,” Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard won’t throw any simulated innings today, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. Syndergaard threw three innings in a minor league rehab start on Thursday and was supposed to toss some simulated frames today in the latest step of his recovery process. Syndergaard has missed much of the season due to a partially torn lat muscle, and with the Mets out of contention and few games left on the schedule, any sort of notable setback could end Syndergaard’s chances of returning to the mound in 2017.
- Andrew Heaney left his start last night during the third inning due to shoulder tightness, though the Angels right-hander tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register and other reporters that he’s “not very concerned” about the injury. Heaney only just returned from Tommy John rehab in August and has made five starts (to a 7.06 ERA in 21 2/3 IP) for the Halos. A shoulder issue is less of a red flag than an elbow or forearm problem given Heaney’s history, and he said he hopes to soon resume throwing.
Masahiro Tanaka is on the disabled list due to some inflammation in his shoulder, but he could be back with the Yankees as soon as next week, per WFAN’s Sweeny Murti (Twitter link). Murti also notes that lefty CC Sabathia is slated to come off the DL on Saturday. Tanaka will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, and if that goes well, he’ll return to the rotation next week against the Tigers. Demonstrating that this is a minor issue will be key for Tanaka and the Yankees; Tanaka has pitched quite well over his past nine starts and been solid dating back to late May, perhaps positioning him to opt out of the remaining three years on his contract. And the Yankees, of course, are currently in possession of an AL Wild Card spot and are also 4.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East.
A few more injury updates of note from around the league…
- The Angels have received some good news on the rotation front, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Left-hander Andrew Heaney will return to the mound on Friday in Baltimore — his first big league appearance in roughly 16 months. Heaney underwent Tommy John surgery last year — one of many blows to what had looked on paper to be a promising Angels pitching staff. Now 26 years of age, Heaney turned in 105 2/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball with 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in his first season with the Halos back in 2015. A healthy Heaney would be a boost to a surging Angels club that now finds itself in the thick of the AL Wild Card race. Fletcher also tweeted yesterday that, per manager Mike Scioscia, right-hander Garrett Richards will face hitters later this week, though it’s not yet clear when Richards could return to a big league mound.
- Left-hander Jake Diekman is getting closer to returning to the Rangers’ bullpen. Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that Diekman will begin a rehab assignment with the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate on Thursday, during which he’s slated to throw 15 pitches. The 30-year-old southpaw was a key piece of the Texas bullpen in 2015-16 after coming over from the Phillies alongside Cole Hamels, but he’s yet to pitch this season due to a trio of surgeries he’s undergone to combat ulcerative colitis.
- The Athletics announced yesterday that right-hander Bobby Wahl’s season is over after he underwent surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. TOS surgery has become increasingly popular in recent seasons, though the success rate on it doesn’t appear to be as high as other common surgeries for pitchers. The 25-year-old Wahl posted terrific numbers in Double-A and Triple-A last season, and he made his big league debut with Oakland earlier in 2017. In 7 2/3 frames, he allowed four runs on eight hits and four walks with eight strikeouts.
- The Mets placed right-hander Seth Lugo on the 10-day DL yesterday with an impingement in his right shoulder, and Lugo emphasized today that he doesn’t feel surgery is required for either his previously injured elbow or his shoulder, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. Lugo is hopeful of missing just one or two starts with his current issue. “The doctors said this is an inoperable situation,” said Lugo. “…Surgery’s not even a though.” Lugo missed the first two months of the season after being diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
- Nationals manager Dusty Baker gave some quick updates on a number of ailing players, writes Byron Kerr of MASNsports.com. Outfielder Jayson Werth is still going through a running program and isn’t yet ready for a rehab assignment, per Baker. Werth will need to play consecutive nine-inning games before being activated. Baker also revealed that while he initially thought right-hander Ryan Madson was dealing with a blister issue on his finger, it appears that is not the case. Madson has “something in his finger” that the Nats are currently analyzing. Bryce Harper, meanwhile, is traveling with the team as he gets treatment on his injured left knee.
About half of the teams in the league have expressed some level of interest in Padres lefty Brad Hand, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Evidently, those discussions have yet to get truly serious, as Lin adds that the Friars aren’t believed to be closing in on any swaps. A significant portion of the rest of the pitching staff has received attention of some kind, too, Lin adds. There are a few other interesting pitching trade candidates on the San Diego roster — Trevor Cahill chief among them, perhaps — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see several deals go down before the deadline.
Here’s more from out west:
- The Astros announced that reliever Will Harris is headed to the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation (h/t Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle, via Twitter). That’s somewhat troubling news at first glance, though Harris says he doesn’t anticipate a significant layoff (video via MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, on Twitter). The 32-year-old has continued his stellar run in Houston, compiling 34 2/3 innings of 2.86 ERA ball on the year — with 10.1 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9. Clearly, he’s a key member of the pen and a big part of the team’s planning the rest of the way. (Harris is also controlled through 2019 at very appealing rates.)
- Meanwhile, the Astros are likely focused on adding a starter and a lefty reliever. As regards the latter, the team is said to have an eye on Tigers lefty Justin Wilson, per Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (via Twitter). The teams discussed Wilson over the winter, per Rosenthal, and the southpaw’s quality effort early over the first half surely hasn’t reduced the interest. Wilson currently carries a career-high 12.8 K/9 with 3.4 BB/9 along with a 2.36 ERA over his 34 1/3 innings.
- Giants closer Mark Melancon seems unlikely to make it back before the trade deadline, likely removing him from consideration as a trade candidate, as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes. The veteran righty, shelved for the second time this year with a forearm issue, has been able to pick up a baseball. But skipper Bruce Bochy suggested the team plans to bring him along slowly. As Baggarly suggests, it never seemed particularly likely that Melancon would end up being dealt regardless. For what it’s worth, though, I would add that Melancon would represent a very plausible August trade candidate if that proved desirable.
- Angels righty Garrett Richards still hasn’t been cleared to throw, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. The unfortunate hurler discussed the frustrations of his long-running effort to get healthy, telling Fletcher that he is at least encouraged that his current problem (with a biceps nerve) has improved somewhat — and that it doesn’t implicate his elbow, which he says still feels great. “Nobody knows anything about this injury,” said Richards, who says it isn’t clear when he’ll be deemed ready to begin throwing again. “I can’t worry about getting all caught up in playing right now,” he added. “I’ve got to worry about getting healthy first. When that happens, I’ll be ready.” Meanwhile, Fletcher notes that both Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs are continuing to progress while working off of a mound, which seems to hold out some real promise of bolstering the team’s injury-riddled rotation in the relatively near future.
The fractured right hand shortstop Nick Ahmed suffered this week could force the Diamondbacks to address the position prior to the trade deadline, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. With Ahmed out for the foreseeable future, general manager Mike Hazen indicated that he’s open to acquiring a shortstop. “I felt like we had a clearer path,” Hazen said. “I do think, as you take on injuries, those things do change a little bit. I think over the next month, we have to be somewhat flexible given what may happen with the major-league team. I do think we have areas, like I’ve said before, that we’re going to at least focus in on to see if there are ways to improve the club.” Piecoro names the Reds’ Zack Cozart, the Tigers’ Jose Iglesias and the Phillies’ Freddy Galvis as potential targets, suggesting that each are likely defensive upgrades over the Diamondbacks’ in-house tandem of Chris Owings and Ketel Marte.
More from the majors’ two West divisions:
- When Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney underwent Tommy John surgery a year ago, general manager Billy Eppler was unwilling to rule him out for all of 2017. Now, there’s a good chance Heaney will indeed take the hill this season, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Heaney threw a 90-pitch simulated game Saturday and could embark on a rehab assignment later this month, and manager Mike Scioscia believes the 28-year-old has made “remarkable” progress. “I would say that his rehab has gone as well as you could hope for,” Scioscia said. “For him to throw the ball the way he did this afternoon, on the one-year anniversary of his surgery, is incredible. It’s very promising where he is.”
- Mike Trout’s return from the disabled list later this month could create a dilemma for the Angels, who might have to decide between fellow outfielders Ben Revere and Eric Young Jr., writes DiGiovanna. Revere is the far pricier player, raking in $4MM to Young’s minimal salary; however, Young has slashed .275/.353/.418 with three home runs and 11 steals in 104 plate appearances to trump Revere’s output (.223/.237/.311, one homer, five steals over 152 PAs).
- Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez won’t return until after the All-Star break, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com and Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). The back troubles Gonzalez has dealt with for years continue to pose a problem, and he still hasn’t resumed baseball activities since going on the DL in the first half of June. “He’s not where he wants to be,” noted manager Dave Roberts.
Angels southpaw Andrew Heaney signed a precedent-setting contract with Fantex in September 2015, and discussed the unique arrangement with Pedro Moura of the L.A. Times. “You can look it at as marketing your brand. You can look at it as an insurance policy,” Heaney said. “Obviously, money to one person is totally different than money to another person. I live in Oklahoma. It’s not expensive to live there. I don’t live an extremely lavish lifestyle. I just viewed it as, I want to be comfortable, and I want my family to be taken care of, and I’m OK with that.” Heaney agreed to take $3.34MM from Fantex investors in exchange for 10 percent of any future brand-related earnings (i.e. future salaries, appearances, endorsements), a deal that drew some skepticism from teammate Huston Street after crunching the numbers. “I told him, ‘If you make more than $80MM, then you made a bad deal.’ But if you make less than $80MM, you made a pretty good deal,” Street said. While there is risk involved for Heaney given his high talent ceiling, it could also be argued that he was wise to lock in an early fortune — Heaney made just one start in 2016 and is expected to miss all of the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last summer.
Here’s more from around the American League…
- The Rays have interest in Rob Refsnyder, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Tampa is known to be looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder with options remaining, though Refsnyder doesn’t quite check every box for the Rays since he doesn’t play center field (and thus can’t serve as a backup for Kevin Kiermaier). Once one of the Yankees’ more notable prospects, Refsnyder has fallen back on the depth chart as both an outfielder and an infielder. The Yankees are open to hearing offers for Refsnyder, so there’s a chance a deal could be reached, even though the two AL East rivals are very infrequent trade partners.
- Todd Frazier tells MLB.com’s Scott Merkin that he hasn’t had any talks with the White Sox about an extension as he heads into the last year of his contract. Despite the lack of negotiations and the trade buzz that has circled around Frazier as a veteran player on a rebuilding team, Frazier says he hopes to remain with the Sox over the long term.
- Winning a job with the Orioles would complete a remarkable turn-around for Craig Gentry, as the outfielder tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that just months ago, he felt his career coming to an end. Gentry suffered a concussion (the sixth of his career) in September 2014 and was bothered by symptoms for almost two years; combined with a lumbar injury last year, Gentry was limited to just 40 total plate appearances over the last two seasons. These issues caused Gentry to question his passion to keep playing, though after his health finally began to improve this offseason, a session with Orioles hitting coach Scot Coolbaugh paved the way for Gentry to sign a minor league deal with the O’s. That contract doesn’t give Gentry an opt-out until the middle of June, though it could be a moot point if Gentry breaks camp with the team.
Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco hasn’t eclipsed the 200-inning plateau since 2011, but he’s motivated to log at least 202 1/3 frames this year, writes Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times. That would give Nolasco 400 innings from 2016-17, meaning his $13MM club option for 2018 would vest; otherwise he could end up with a $1MM buyout next offseason. “It’s a big deal to me,” Nolasco told Moura. “I know what’s at stake — something that, obviously, I want to get to, no matter what happens. When I first signed that contract with the Twins, I thought, ‘Well, as long as I stay healthy, this is a five-year deal.’ It’s kind of been on my mind since day one.” Nolasco came close to 200 innings last year, when he combined for 197 2/3 with the Twins and Angels, and Halos general manager Billy Eppler is rooting for him to surpass the mark this season. “I hope Ricky takes the ball every fifth day and does his thing and goes deep in games and wins a lot of ballgames,” said Eppler. Manager Mike Scioscia, meanwhile, stated that he doesn’t “even want to hear about” Nolasco’s contract, adding that “he’s gonna pitch, and hopefully pitch well.”
More from the West Coast:
- Another Angels starter, left-hander Andrew Heaney, is recovering well from his Tommy John procedure last July and holding out hope for a return this season, per Moura. Scioscia isn’t optimistic, however. “From the information I have available right now, there is nothing that would make him available to pitch this year,” he said. “I just don’t see it happening.” Heaney took the mound only once last season, in a six-inning start on April 5, and attempted stem-cell therapy treatment on his elbow before opting for surgery. That worked for teammate Garrett Richards, but not Heaney.
- Before the Dodgers traded southpaw Vidal Nuno to the Orioles on Sunday, they offered him back to the Mariners, who declined thanks to a lack of roster space, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Nuno spent most of the past two seasons in Seattle, which sent him to Los Angeles for catcher Carlos Ruiz in November.
- The Diamondbacks are “looking into building the industry’s most intelligent catchers,” including focusing on pitch framing, catching coach Robby Hammock told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “The catching staff tries to throw out attempted base-stealers 80-120 times a year as opposed to receiving 20,000 to 25,000 pitches a year,” Hammock said. “What do you want to emphasize?” Hammock’s views explain the Diamondbacks’ offseason decision to jettison Welington Castillo, a poor framer, in favor of the defensively adept Jeff Mathis. Fellow free agent addition Chris Iannetta, on the other hand, hasn’t fared too well as a framer (via Baseball Prospectus), though the D-backs are optimistic they can help fix his issues. “It’s a skill,” analytics head Mike Fitzgerald observed. “So if it’s a skill, you can improve at it or decline at it. There’s a decent amount of empirical evidence that guys can improve on this.”
The Angels have announced that lefty Andrew Heaney will undergo Tommy John surgery. He is expected to miss the rest of this season and all of next — though GM Billy Eppler says the team won’t pre-determine whether a late-2017 return is possible, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
Los Angeles had been holding out hope that Heaney’s ulnar collateral ligament would respond to growth hormone treatment, but the team says that has not been the case. Per the statement, Heaney also continued to experience discomfort while attempting to throw, leading to the decision to go through with the procedure.
Heaney is a critically important piece of the picture for the Halos both now and into the future. He was acquired for Howie Kendrick in a deal that the organization hoped would provide a strong rotation piece for years to come. Now, the team is left crossing its fingers that the same fate does not await Garrett Richards, who is also undergoing a similar treatment in an effort to stave off a UCL replacement.
The results had been promising. Heaney, 25, completed 105 2/3 innings of 3.49 ERA pitching last year, with 6.6 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. The results may have been a bit fortunate — he carried a 3.73 FIP, 4.41 xFIP, and 4.31 SIERA on the year — but all told he seemed to be making good on his pedigree as the former 9th overall pick and a top-100 prospect.
With just 150 days of service coming into the season, Heaney won’t cost Los Angeles more than the minimum for some time. He’ll accrue service time while he’s out, of course, which will set him up for Super Two status heading into 2018. But given the minimal innings he has thrown, he won’t command much of a salary.
Needless to say, this is a disappointing development for Heaney, though it had been expected for some time. It’s also disheartening for the Fantex player investment model, which had made the young lefty its first affiliated player.