Cole Hamels will throw a live batting practice session on Sunday, as the injury-plagued southpaw might yet still have a chance to factor into the 2020 season. Braves manager Brian Snitker told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman and other reporters that “We’re just looking to get through a couple live BPs and see how he is,” perhaps wisely not setting even a speculative timeline given that Hamels battled shoulder issues during Spring Training and is currently on the 45-day injured list recovering from left triceps tendinitis. Bowman speculates that Hamels likely won’t start pitching in simulated games until next weekend at the earliest, so the left-hander might not be able to join the Braves until roughly the last 7-10 days of the regular season.
This could be a bit of roster management for the Braves, as Ynoa started the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader and Atlanta may simply want a fresh arm for the bullpen. On the other hand, one of the reasons they need a fresh arm is because Ynoa lasted just 2 1/3 innings while giving up 6 earned runs to a last-place Nationals team that was without their MVP Juan Soto. Ynoa has made six appearances for Atlanta this season, three of them starts, but totaling just 11 2/3 innings with a 7.71 ERA/6.39 FIP.
The Braves have faced rotation issues all season, though Max Fried has pitched like a bona fide ace, Ian Anderson is off to a strong start to his major-league career, and veteran Tommy Milone joined the corps before the trade deadline. Josh Tomlin has served as a swingman, but it remains to be seen what the Braves’ long-term plans are for the back two spots in the rotation. Atlanta has many options remaining in their player pool – Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Sean Newcomb, for example – but many of these young arms have struggled to establish themselves as reliable options thus far in 2020.
Sobotka will jump into the bullpen to provide right-handed relief. The 27-year-old has yet to surrender a run in 3 innings so far this season. For his career, Sobotka owns a 4.47 ERA/4.98 FIP in 46 1/3 innings spread across the last three seasons.
The Braves announced Thursday that they’ve released veteran first baseman Matt Adams. He was designated for assignment over the weekend when Atlanta acquired left-hander Tommy Milone from the Orioles.
Adams, 32, had a solid showing with the Braves in 2017 but returned with an ugly .184/.216/.347 slash in 51 plate appearances this season. The big slugger has long been a thorn in the side of right-handed pitching and long struggled against lefties. Between that and a defensive profile that limits him to first base (plus the occasional adventure in left field), Adams’ role has been that of a bench player for much of his time in the big leagues. He did provide some pop off the bench for the World Champion Nationals in 2019, slugging 20 big flies, but he also posted a lowly .276 on-base percentage.
Overall, Adams is a career .259/.307/.467 hitter in 2574 trips to the plate. Those numbers improve to .270/.322/.486 when you subtract his 452 unsightly plate appearances against lefties. A team looking for some thump off the bench could certainly pick Adams up and give him a look over the season’s final few weeks.
Despite vast interest from around the majors, the Rangers decided to retain right-hander Lance Lynn through at least the rest of the season. The Braves were among the teams in on Lynn, but the Rangers understandably placed a high asking price on the AL Cy Young contender and his year-plus of affordable control. Texas wanted either Cristian Pache or Drew Waters from Atlanta as the headliner in a package for Lynn, according to David O’Brien of The Athletic, though the Braves clearly were unwilling to part with either of the highly touted outfield prospects.
Both Pache and Waters are 21-year-old outfielders who rank among the game’s top 50 prospects, and it stands to reason that the Rangers would’ve pushed for additional pieces to be added. Had either Pache or Waters changed hands in a deal with Texas or another club, they’d have been the highest-ranked prospect dealt in a deadline season that was punctuated more by players to be named later and mid-tier prospects.
The Braves and the Dodgers were known to be in on Lynn, with L.A. reportedly making a late push but ultimately failing to close a deal. Specific names that were discussed haven’t come to light, but Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels made clear that sufficient value wasn’t presented.
“I would not have been proud of some of those deals if we made them,” Daniels told reporters following the deadline (link via Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News). “I don’t think our fans would have been happy about it, either.”
All of the top baseball operations execs involved in Lynn discussions has made similar statements in the hours and days since the deadline passed. Via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman acknowledged his efforts to add an “impactful” starter who could’ve lined up behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in the postseason rotation. Lynn fits that description following his past season-plus with the Rangers, but Friedman characterized those as talks that never “got all that close.”
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, meanwhile said in a recent radio appearance on 92.9 The Game that his club set a threshold they weren’t willing to cross — much as they do with regard to free-agent negotiations. “The moves that we could’ve made, for us, would not have been good deals,” Anthopoulos said. “…It just came down to — and it’s no knock on anybody — we made the decision that the price for us, we didn’t think that made sense.”
Daniels and the Rangers will have another opportunity to shop Lynn this winter, and while they’re now only marketing one season of Lynn (and one postseason push involving him), interest should still be high as long as Lynn remains healthy. If the 2021 season sees a return to a standard 10-team postseason field, clubs may be more motivated to add impact pieces like Lynn, knowing that multiple postseason spots in each league have been eliminated. That doesn’t guarantee a huge return for the Rangers, of course, but a full season of a high-end starter on a below-market contract ($8MM in 2021) and the right to make him a qualifying offer after the season should still be able to fetch a respectable haul.
With the deadline in the rearview mirror, we’ll look back at each NL East team’s trade activity over the past month.
- Acquired cash considerations from Padres for 1B Yonder Alonso
- Acquired LHP Tommy Milone from Orioles for two players to be named later
- Acquired RHP James Hoyt from Indians for cash considerations
- Acquired RHP Jesús Tinoco from Rockies for RHP Chad Smith
- Acquired a player to be named later (reportedly OF Griffin Conine) from Blue Jays for INF/OF Jonathan Villar
- Acquired OF Starling Marte from Diamondbacks for LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later (reportedly LHP Julio Frias)
New York Mets
- Acquired cash considerations from Pirates for RHP Tyler Bashlor
- Acquired OF Billy Hamilton from Giants for RHP Jordan Humphreys
- Acquired RHP Ariel Jurado from Rangers for a player to be named later and cash considerations
- Acquired RHP Miguel Castro from Orioles for LHP Kevin Smith and a player to be named later or cash considerations
- Acquired C Robinson Chirinos from Rangers for a player to be named later
- Acquired INF Todd Frazier from Rangers for a player to be named later
- Acquired a player to be named later from Rays for RHP Edgar García
- Acquired RHP David Hale from Yankees for RHP Addison Russ
- Acquired RHP Heath Hembree and RHP Brandon Workman from Red Sox for RHP Nick Pivetta and RHP Connor Seabold
- Acquired a player to be named later and cash considerations from Pirates for LHP Austin Davis
- Acquired RHP David Phelps from Brewers for three players to be named later (reportedly RHP Brandon Ramey, RHP Israel Puello and RHP Juan Geraldo)
As a 32-year-old who’s on a prorated $19MM salary this season and is due another $18MM in 2021, Seager comes off as a logical trade candidate for a retooling Mariners team. But both the value of his contract and a $15MM club option for 2022 complicate matters. If Seager’s traded, he’ll be able to make a decision on whether to exercise that option, and it seems quite likely he’d so then.
To Seager’s credit, he has long been a quality starter at the hot corner for the Mariners. His production fell flat in 2018, but he rebounded last season and has continued to perform well this year. So far, Seager has accrued 147 plate appearances and batted .272/.347/.472 with five home runs and almost as many walks (15) as strikeouts (19).
The production Seager has posted this year and throughout his career would perhaps be welcome in Atlanta, whose third basemen, Austin Riley and Johan Camargo, have recorded below-average numbers in 2020. But Riley has been hot of late, and that could make acquiring another third baseman – especially an expensive one – less of a priority for the NL East-leading Braves.
The Rangers have already shipped out starter Mike Minor to the A’s, so now all eyes are on righty Lance Lynn. The 33-year-old righty sports a 3.33 ERA in 41 starts for the Rangers since they signed him prior to the 2019 season, and he’s under contract for just $8MM in 2021. Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the Rangers may be motivated to avoid repeating the mistake they made with Minor, holding him last summer when he was at peak value with control remaining.
- The Braves, who picked up lefty Tommy Milone in a deal with the Orioles yesterday, have been in contact with the Rangers regarding Lynn within the last 48 hours, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
- The Yankees have also been involved in Lynn’s market during that time, tweets Morosi. Lynn’s resurgence began with his two-month stint with the Yankees back in 2018. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan notes that the Rangers “would love RHP Deivi Garcia from the Yankees but he is likely out of reach.” On a similar note, Sherman hears the Yankees don’t have an appetite to move Garcia, to date.
- The Padres “explored separate trades” with the Rangers for Lynn and outfielder Joey Gallo before acquiring Mike Clevinger from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. I would speculate that with Clevinger tow, it’s (relatively) safe to assume the Padres are out on Lynn. Similarly, the A’s were previously connected to Lynn but have since landed Minor.
- Previous connections to Lynn have been made for the Twins, Blue Jays, and White Sox, so those teams may still be in play. According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, the Jays had been linked to Minor before he was dealt to Oakland, and the Rangers “are intrigued by [the] Jays’ young catching.”
AUG. 31: The Blue Jays “don’t seem to be heavily involved on Clevinger,” according to Heyman, who lists the Padres, Braves and perhaps the White Sox as teams that appear to be in the mix.
AUG. 30, 9:48PM: The Blue Jays also have interest in Clevinger, Heyman tweets, but it isn’t known if Toronto is the “mystery team.”
8:07PM: Speculation continues to swirl about a possible Mike Clevinger trade, with multiple reports surfacing earlier tonight that the Padres had seemingly moved into the driver’s seat for the Indians righty. The most recent word, however, is that other teams may have pulled ahead of San Diego, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links) reports that the Tribe “have requested players’ physicals from at least two teams” but haven’t asked the Padres to submit such information.
A mystery team has made a better offer for Clevinger than the Padres, Nightengale writes. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (Twitter links) reported earlier tonight that the Braves were still in the Clevinger sweepstakes even though the Padres were the “frontrunners” at the time, and two rival executives told Feinsand that Atlanta could very well be the team “making an aggressive play” to now top San Diego’s offer. Top outfield prospect Drew Waters was reportedly part of the Indians’ trade ask from the Braves, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter).
The Padres don’t seem to be willing to move either Trent Grisham or Jake Cronenworth, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links), which could be a roadblock in a potential Clevinger trade. Also from Heyman, the Yankees don’t appear to be the mystery team in the Clevinger hunt, as there is “no belief anything’s close” between New York and Cleveland.
The White Sox and Dodgers were also rumored to be interested in Clevinger earlier today, and with this much buzz around the right-hander, one wonders how close Cleveland might get to someone meeting its reportedly “ridiculous” asking price in any Clevinger trade.
- Ronald Acuna Jr. left tonight’s game “as a precaution with right hamstring tightness,” according to the Braves’ official update. Acuna has already missed a good chunk of the season with a wrist injury, and another injured list visit (especially over something as potentially pesky as a hamstring issue) would leave the Braves without their best player for much of the stretch drive. More will be known once Acuna is tested, though in the short term, one wonders if this could lead Atlanta to look into adding a bat as a security measure by tomorrow’s trade deadline.
- The Braves acquired Tommy Milone from the Orioles today but aren’t likely to stop there in their pursuit of starting pitching, as reporter Robert Murray tweets that Atlanta has considered “every starter imaginable.“
The White Sox and Indians are “actively involved” in trade talks surrounding Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Jon Heyman of MLB Network adds the Braves, Yankees, Padres and Dodgers among Clevinger’s pursuers, adding that the right-hander has a “good chance” to be dealt.
As recently as Friday, it seemed unlikely Clevinger would go anywhere, with Cleveland apparently setting an extremely high price tag on him. The price tag seemingly remains high. Heyman hears that Cleveland would want big league talent in return (Twitter link), while Robert Murray reports that the initial ask was “four quality prospects.”
Clevinger’s violation of the Indians’ coronavirus protocols and subsequent demotion are well-known at this point and have made him an interesting trade candidate, although there’s no urgency (at least from an on-field perspective) for Cleveland to move him. Clevinger is controlled through 2022 via arbitration and has offered front-end production for most of the past four years.
The Braves and Yankees have been known to be targeting starting pitching, and Heyman adds that the Padres are seeking another starter. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are targeting players with multiple years of control, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Bill Punkett of the Orange County Register), so Clevinger fits the bill.
The White Sox are also in the market for starters (even more so with Gio González hitting the injured list this afternoon), although a Clevinger deal would be extremely surprising. Players of his caliber with multiple years of control are seldom traded within the division, even less often between two immediate contenders.