- With the Pirates enjoying a midseason resurgence, general manager Neal Huntington made it clear last week that he’d like to strengthen the club’s roster prior to Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline. The Pirates have since been connected to relievers Keone Kela and Brad Brach in trade rumors, though they’re also interested in upgrading their starting staff. Pittsburgh, like many teams, is seeking a “controllable starter,” Rosenthal reports. However, he suggests that the Bucs don’t appear to be aggressive suitors for Rays right-hander Chris Archer, who’s under control through 2021 and has drawn vast interest leading up to the deadline.
- Rangers slugger Joey Gallo was in the rumor mill Saturday, though it’s “unlikely” the team will deal him this summer, Rosenthal hears. Meanwhile, teammate Jake Diekman is the likeliest Ranger to end up on the move, Rosenthal adds. The left-handed reliever possesses a strong track record and an affordable salary ($2.7125MM), but he’s not controllable beyond this season. Diekman, 31, has pitched to a 3.79 ERA/3.48 FIP with 10.89 K/9, 5.45 BB/9 and a 45.4 percent groundball rate in 38 innings this year. Along with his control problems, Diekman has been surprisingly poor this season versus left-handed hitters, who have slashed .273/.429/.364 against him (on the other hand, righties have only hit .192/.292/.309). Historically, Diekman has been tough on both lefty- and righty-swingers.
- The Braves have interest in both Diekman and fellow Rangers reliever Kela, Rosenthal and Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggest. Moreover, Atlanta’s willing to move left-hander Luiz Gohara to upgrade its team, per Rosenthal, with Sherman noting that the Rangers have been scouting the 21-year-old. Gohara hasn’t pitched much in the majors this year (19 2/3 innings, nine appearances, one start), in part because of injury issues. But he showed well during a five-start debut in 2017, after which Baseball America ranked him as the game’s 23rd-best prospect. There’s a “good chance” the Rangers will acquire Gohara if he “shows anything at all” in the minors Sunday, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.
- Sticking with Texas and Atlanta, Rosenthal reports that the Braves have greater interest in bolstering their pitching (perhaps via Diekman and Kela) than acquiring Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. Rosenthal doesn’t rule out a Beltre acquisition for the Braves (though, as a 10-and-5 player, he’d need to approve the trade), but he points out that incumbent third baseman Johan Camargo has actually outhit the eventual Hall of Famer this season. The switch-hitting Camargo, 24, has done so on a league-minimum salary, too, while the 39-year-old Beltre is owed the balance of $18MM.
Reports yesterday indicated the Padres were checking around about a potential Chris Archer trade with the Rays, and MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi sheds a bit more light on those talks. San Diego is reportedly willing to move one or two of Francisco Mejia, Luis Urias, and Cal Quantrill in an Archer deal, though its top two prospects (Fernando Tatis Jr. and MacKenzie Gore) are not available. Even without Tatis or Gore on the table, dealing any of those other highly-touted prospects would be a major concession on San Diego’s part, and a big score for the Rays. Mejia was only just acquired by the Padres as the return for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, so in my opinion, it could be that the team sees the young catcher as somewhat “found money” — put another way, the Padres would be essentially dealing Hand and Cimber for Archer, which is a deal the club would’ve happily made. Then again, the Padres are so deep in minor league talent that they can afford to move top names like Mejia, Urias, or Quantrill and still have one of the game’s better farm systems.
Scouts from the Padres and Diamondbacks (and, from outside the division, the Phillies and Cubs) watched Archer’s start last Sunday. A source tells Morosi that at least eight teams have recently been in touch with the Rays about Archer’s availability, and while there still isn’t clear sign Tampa is considering a trade, this deep interest is one of the reasons “a deal involving Archer is more likely now than at any point in recent memory,” Morosi writes.
Here’s more from around the NL West…
- There’s still no timetable for the Giants to welcome back righty Jeff Samardzija, though it’s not looking particularly promising. Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, via Twitter, the veteran hurler is “not returning anytime soon.” Rather, he’ll continue to rest his ailing shoulder before heading out for some amount of rehab work. This continues to be a lost season for the 33-year-old, who owns a 6.25 ERA in 44 2/3 innings
- Though Samardzija’s ongoing injury issue is one of several less-than-promising signs for the Giants, indications are that they aren’t interested in packing up and waiting for next year. GM Bobby Evans says in a chat with Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the front office is “bent toward helping our current club.” Though Evans expressed at least some willingness to consider moving bullpen pieces, such a move wouldn’t really serve the team’s interests, particularly after the Giants previously gave up young talent to shed salary. While the team is still within reasonable striking distance in the NL West, its place in the trade deadline picture remains unclear — though Evans did shut down any thought that the team would make a last-minute decision to make star lefty Madison Bumgarner available.
- The Dodgers sent scouts to watch pitchers on both the Marlins and Rays when the two Florida rivals faced off last weekend, the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer reports (Twitter link). L.A. could have interested in any number of relievers or perhaps even starting pitchers on either roster, given how many Miami and Tampa players have been cited in trade rumors. Interestingly, Spencer’s tweet was linked to a tweet from Michael J. Duarte of NBC Los Angeles, who said that the Marlins had scouts watching Yadier Alvarez’s most recent Double-A outing. A consensus top prospect headed into the 2017 season, Alvarez didn’t crack the preseason top-100 lists for Baseball America or MLB.com this year (though Baseball Prospectus still had him 41st) in the wake of an unimpressive season. Alvarez has continued to struggle in 2018, with a 5.85 ERA and 25 walks in 20 frames for Double-A Tulsa, though he’s still missing a lot of bats with his 100-mph fastball.
With the Padres’ lengthy rebuilding moving ever closer to its conclusion, the team has been inquiring about controllable MLB pieces to add to its rotation. They’ve already been tied to Noah Syndergaard on the rumor mill, and they reportedly asked the Yankees about Miguel Andujar during Brad Hand talks. Adding to that line of thinking, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes today (subscription required) that an executive that is with neither the Padres nor the Rays tells him that San Diego is pursuing a Chris Archer trade. Rosenthal is careful to stress that neither the Friars nor the Rays confirmed as much, though the two sides have had at least some level of discussions regarding Archer, he notes. As Rosenthal explores at length, however, there are myriad roadblocks to a deal.
Whether San Diego’s interest in Archer is serious or more along the lines of due diligence, it’s an interesting look at the calculus both the Padres and Rays need to consider when weighing future-oriented moves. And it’s certainly another notable data point suggesting that Padres GM A.J. Preller and his staff are beginning to look at improving the big league roster with pieces that could be controlled beyond the 2020 season.
Some more trade talk from around the league…
- In addition to the Rockies’ previously reported interest in Zach Britton, Colorado has also asked the Orioles about right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports (via Twitter). There’s no momentum in talks regarding Bundy and Gausman, however, Morosi adds. To this point, it’s not at all clear whether the O’s would even consider moving Gausman (controlled through 2020) or Bundy (through 2021). There’s little reason for the Orioles not to seriously entertain offers, from my vantage point, as they’re not likely to contend in either 2019 or 2020 with the Yankees and Red Sox both poised for long-term success. Obviously, that’s not to say they should simply take the best offer presented before July 31, but the Orioles should be amenable to moving just about anyone on the roster for a strong enough return.
- The Athletic’s Jayson Stark cites execs from teams that have spoken with the Astros in reporting (via Twitter) that Houston has been “adamant” about hanging onto its very top tier of prospects in trade talks (e.g. Forrest Whitley, Yordan Alvarez). The Astros’ farm system is plenty deep, of course, and it stands to reason that any of the rental targets they’re pursuing — they’ve been oft-linked to Zach Britton, for instance — would come with a lower price tag than that anyhow.
- The Marlins’ ask on its controllable relievers appears to be quite high, with Morosi tweeting that Miami indicated to the Red Sox that Jay Groome or Michael Chavis alone would not be enough to land Drew Steckenrider. (Morosi doesn’t suggest that either was ever offered up by the Red Sox — only that the Marlins wouldn’t have considered a one-for-one swap in either case.) While Groome and Chavis are generally regarded as Boston’s top two prospects, Groome underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. Chavis, meanwhile, missed the first 80 games of the season due to a PED suspension and has only logged 10 games since being activated.
- Morosi also tweets that the Diamondbacks have shown interest in Rangers relievers Keone Kela and Jose Leclerc. There’s no indication that talks between the two sides are serious, but the Rangers are reportedly open to moving Kela, who is controlled through the 2020 season. The 25-year-old is currently sporting a 3.18 ERA with 10.9 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 through 34 innings of work and has a 2.97 ERA with better than 11 K/9 dating back to 2017. Leclerc would be tougher to pry away, as he’s controlled for another four seasons beyond the current campaign and currently boasts a 2.06 ERA with a 51-to-18 K/BB ratio through 35 innings.
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a landslide of trade chatter in his latest “10 Degrees” column, but he first kicks off with a look at what he terms “new depths of dysfunction” among the Mets’ front office and ownership. Passan echoes previous reports which have suggested that COO Jeff Wilpon is as caught up with whether the cross-town Yankees win or lose as he is with his own team’s success, and he also explores the startling lack of organizational communication that became increasingly apparent with this weekend’s Yoenis Cespedes debacle.
Passan also notes that a GM from another team and another exec from a second team have both wondered to him whether Wilpon is so concerned with the public perception of his team that he’d push for a trade of Jacob deGrom in an effort to engender some positive P.R. among a fanbase that has clamored for a rebuild. Most still expect the Mets to hang onto both deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, he adds, but even the notion that some teams feel Mets ownership could plausibly be leveraged or taken advantage of in that manner has to be unsettling for Mets fans.
Some more highlights from a column that anyone who follows the trade market should check out in its entirety…
- The Rays aren’t planning to operate as a strict buyer or seller over the next eight days, Passan writes. Tampa Bay is marketing rental pieces like right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and injured catcher Wilson Ramos to other clubs but is also willing to part with prospects to acquire affordable, controllable pieces that can be retained for years to come. Passan spoke to someone familiar with the Rays’ talks surrounding Chris Archer who said he’d be “completely stunned” if Archer were actually traded this summer given the three reasonably priced years of control he has remaining on his contract.
- While Ervin Santana hasn’t pitched in the Majors this season after undergoing surgery to repair a tendon in his right middle finger this February, scouts are planning to closely watch the Twins right-hander’s 2018 debut this week, Passan notes. Santana likely only has enough time to make a pair of starts before the non-waiver deadline, and that may or may not be enough to convince a team of his ability to help down the stretch. But he’s also owed the balance of a $14MM salary this season — about $5.2MM through season’s end — which could allow him to clear waivers in early August and emerge as a trade candidate next month.
- The Yankees have been tied to multiple rentals this summer, but they’ve also been inquiring on controllable relief arms and, in some cases, showing a willingness to include Brandon Drury in those trade talks. Drury was added as a depth piece late in the offseason and opened the year as the Yankees’ third baseman, but the near-immediate success of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar made him relatively superfluous in the season’s early stages. Drury has appeared in just 16 games for the Yankees this season despite the fact that he’d established himself as a solid contributor at the big league level over the past two years with the Diamondbacks.
- The Rangers are willing to pay down a “significant” portion of Shin-Soo Choo’s remaining contract — he’s still guaranteed about $7.4MM through the end of 2018 plus $21MM in each of the next two seasons — but his lack of defensive value is a roadblock to a deal. Choo fits best on an AL club where he can serve as a designated hitter, but there’s no American League contender with much of an opening, and teams in both leagues would likely be reluctant to use him in the outfield.
- A bit more surprisingly, Passan reports that the Royals are “poking around” on Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy in case he’s deemed redundant once Robinson Cano returns from his 80-game suspension. The Mariners have already expressed a desire to keep Dee Gordon at second base, which could push Cano to first base once he returns. That’d take away at-bats from Healy, who is showing impressive power but dismal on-base skills, with a .244/.274/.466 and 20 homers through 325 plate appearances. Healy is controlled through the 2022 season and won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2019 season, so while the Royals are obviously a rebuilding club, he could be a long-term piece for them if they’re able to boost his on-base percentage to a passable level.
JULY 21: There is “significant interest” in Archer, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link), though he doesn’t specify which teams are pursuing him. Regardless, there’s no guarantee a trade will happen, as Rosenthal says the pitcher “would almost certainly need to show” a return to form in his final two pre-deadline starts for a deal to occur.
JULY 20: Rays starter Chris Archer has been one of the most consistently discussed potential trade chips in baseball for several years, yet he has stayed in Tampa Bay even as many rotation mates have been traded away. Now, though, it could finally be time for a deal to go down, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
Archer, who turns 30 later this season, expressed a desire to “experience winning” in comments to Topkin. Though Archer chose his words carefully and hardly issued anything approaching a trade demand, the right-hander perhaps at least hinted that it might be best for the sides to part ways — depending, at least, upon the Tampa Bay organization’s intentions. As he put it:
“If I’m going to be here. I want the process of not going to the playoffs to be expedited. … I’ve seen the transition. I’m not saying I’m not happy, but I know that we are still transitioning. And the faster we can speed that up and get back to the 2008 through ’13, ’14 days, the better.”
Ratcheting up the contention timeline hardly appears to be the present priority for a Rays front office that has been hard at work moving large contracts and adding future-oriented assets. While the team’s solid play has been quite a pleasant surprise, the postseason seems out of reach in a monumentally stratified American League.
It came as no great surprise, then, when the Rays shipped out Alex Colome and Denard Span earlier in the season. And the club’s focus at the trade deadline figures to be on finding homes for a few pending free agents while also weighing bigger potential swaps. With the Rays having perhaps already placed emergent starter Blake Snell out of reach, the attention seems likely to end up on Archer.
To be sure, Archer has not been at his best this year — or, in truth, for the past two seasons either. Despite still-strong K/BB numbers, continued mid-nineties velocity, and a steady ~12-13% swinging-strike rate, Archer has allowed more than four earned per nine since the start of 2016. And this year, he’s allowing hard contact at a career-worst 41.5% rate.
Along with the less-than-exciting results, the cheapest years of Archer’s early-career extension are now in the past. But he certainly still remains a respected arm who comes with an appealing price tag. The deal promises him $7.5MM next year and includes $9MM and $11MM options that come with $2MM in cumulative buyouts.
With the end of the deal now in sight, and Archer no longer nearly the incredible value as he once was, the stars could be lining up for a move. It doesn’t hurt that, given the shabby state of the market for rental starters, teams in search of higher-end arms will be forced to go after pitchers whose present clubs are not compelled to make a move. That could drive prices up, though at some point there’ll presumably also be enough demand to interest one or more selling organization. Archer is one of several starters in the same general boat, as we covered in our recent ranking of the 75 top deadline trade candidates.
As Topkin notes, at the end of the day the Rays will need to see enough of a return to make it worth their while to part with a player who still holds plenty of upside. Particularly given that Archer only just returned from the DL, his next few outings my help determine whether another organization puts a compelling offer on the table.
Archer, 29, has been on the shelf since June 3 due to an abdominal strain. While the injury originally wasn’t expected to result in an absence of this length, Archer’s rehab was slowed along the way as the Rays exercised some caution in easing him back into the mix. He’ll rejoin a Rays staff that features Blake Snell and Nathan Eovaldi in traditional starting roles, plus, of course, several relievers working in more unconventional hybrid roles (e.g. Ryne Stanek, Ryan Yarbrough).
Through 76 1/3 innings this season, Archer is sitting on a 4.24 ERA with 9.0 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 with a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate. While those numbers don’t immediately stand out, Archer’s overall line is still being dragged down by a slow start to the season. However, after posting a near-8.00 ERA through his first four outings, Archer largely rounded into form, tossing 55 2/3 innings of 2.91 ERA ball over his next nine outings before landing on the disabled list.
As ever, Archer’s name figures to be prominently featured on the rumor mill so long as he’s healthy and reasonably effective moving forward — and perhaps more than ever before if he’s able to continue where he left off in terms of performance prior to his DL stint. Archer is on one of the game’s friendlier pitching contracts, as he’s controlled through 2021 at a combined total of $30.29MM (including the remaining $2.79MM on this season’s $6.25MM salary). That’s a reasonable enough price as it is, but the value is enhanced further by the fact that the final two seasons of control come in the form of club options, granting the Rays or any acquiring a team a means of escaping the deal should Archer sustain any type of severe injury.
It’s not clear just how seriously the Rays will entertain the idea of trading Archer, though at 16 games back in the AL East and 11 games out of a Wild Card spot (despite a perhaps surprisingly solid 45-44 record on the season), it stands to reason that they’ll be selling off at least some pieces. Wilson Ramos and Eovaldi are widely expected to be dealt over the next few weeks, while Alex Colome and Denard Span were already traded more than a month ago. Several other Tampa Bay veterans figure to be on the block between now and the end of trading season, though Archer would likely require the greatest haul of any player the Rays will conceivably market to other clubs.
The Dodgers announced that they’ve placed right-hander Walker Buehler on the 10-day disabled list with a microfracture in his right rib and recalled left-hander Caleb Ferguson from Triple-A. Pedro Moura of The Athletic tweets that Buehler made three starts with the fracture before being forced to the DL and is playing catch today. Moura adds that the Dodgers are hopeful that it’ll be a matter of a couple weeks as opposed to an extended absence.
There’s good news for the Dodgers, however, as Buehler’s spot will be filled by an established face. Manager Dave Roberts revealed to reporters Tuesday night that Kenta Maeda will be activated from the DL to start on Wednesday (Twitter link via the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett). While he’ll be limited in terms of pitch count and innings, the return of Maeda serves as a welcome breath of fresh air for a Dodgers pitching staff that has been utterly hammered by injuries of late. Even with Maeda’s return, Buehler will join Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Julio Urias and Dennis Santana on the DL.
More injury news from around the game…
- Orioles righty Andrew Cashner landed on the 10-day disabled list due to a lower back strain, per a club announcement. Left-hander Donnie Hart is up from Triple-A Norfolk to take his roster spot for now. Cashner, 31, signed a two-year deal worth $16MM this offseason but has struggled through his first 13 starts in Baltimore. The well-traveled righty has a 4.98 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9 and a 38.9 percent ground-ball rate in 72 1/3 innings. While Cashner’s strikeout rate is up noticeably from 2017, he’s also seen his walk rate rise substantially and has also been plagued by a 1.62 HR/9 mark. Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Alex Cobb and David Hess remain active in the Baltimore rotation, and there’s been no announcement as to who’ll start tomorrow in Cashner’s place.
- The Tigers announced that Miguel Cabrera left tonight’s game against the Twins with a biceps tendon strain. He’s undergoing an MRI to evaluate the extent of the damage, per the announcement. The 35-year-old Cabrera has had a bounceback season at the plate in terms of his average and on-base percentage, but he’s hit just three homers in 155 plate appearances and hasn’t shown much power. Cabrera is hitting .301/.394/.451 on the season overall and has already missed nearly a month of the season due to a strained hamstring.
- Chris Archer has had a minor setback in his rehab from an abdominal strain, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Rays manager Kevin Cash stated Tuesday that Archer woke up feeling “not that great” and added that the team is taking a more “conservative” approach in light of the news. Archer clarified to Topkin (Twitter links) that he hasn’t had a major setback but some post-bullpen soreness that could slow him for a few days. Topkin notes that that could be enough to push Archer into a minor league rehab assignment, which would delay his return to the Tampa Bay staff. After a terrible start to the season, Archer has turned in a 2.47 ERA with a 40-to-15 K/BB ratio in 43 2/3 innings across his past seven appearances.
- Athletics righty Trevor Cahill hasn’t seen any improvement in his ailing Achilles tendon and is likely headed to the disabled list, manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday afternoon (Twitter links via Jane Lee of MLB.com). If that likely outcome does come to pass, then right-hander Chris Bassitt will “certainly be the first option” to step into Cahill’s spot in the rotation, the skipper adds. Cahill, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.75MM late in Spring Training after Jharel Cotton went down with Tommy John surgery, has been excellent when healthy enough to take the hill for the A’s. In 48 2/3 innings, he’s notched a 2.77 ERA with 47 punchouts against 11 walks.
The Rays announced today that they have placed top righty Chris Archer on the 10-day disabled list with what has been diagnosed as a left abdominal strain. He’ll be replaced by right-handed pitching prospect Diego Castillo.
Archer’s placement is retroactive to June 3rd, so it could only be a brief stay on the DL. At this point, though, his timeline is not clear.
To this point in the season, the results have continued to lag the peripherals for Archer. He has allowed more than four earned runs per nine dating back to the start of the 2016 campaign despite fielding-independent pitching metrics that suggest much better.
Still, there’s little doubt that Archer remains a highly appealing potential trade target. He’s throwing as hard as ever and getting swings and misses. Prior to today’s news, he was on track to challenge for fourth-straight season of two hundred or more innings. And he can be controlled for three more seasons via affordable options.
It’s certainly still possible that Archer can feature as an interesting deadline asset. First, though, he’ll have to make it back and show he’s in good form. It remains to be seen, too, whether the Rays will have serious interest in striking a deal.
Castillo, 24, has been impressive thus far at Triple-A. In his 26 1/3 innings on the year, accumulated over 19 appearances, he has allowed just three earned runs on 15 hits while compiling a 32:7 K/BB ratio. He entered the season as the Rays’ 27th-best prospect, in the eyes of MLB.com. Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser tweets that Castillo’s stuff is electric, even if his command can waver at times.
Here’s the latest from Tropicana Field…
- Chris Archer will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injured groin, he told MLB.com’s Erik Erickson and other reporters. The injury cropped up during Archer’s start on Saturday, and the Rays ace said the problem was still bothering him today. Given the timeline, Archer said it was “questionable” whether he’d make his next scheduled start. Losing Archer would be another blow to a Rays team that has been scrambling for arms due to injuries and their unique usage of regular bullpen days, not to mention the potential impact it could have on Archer’s value as a potential trade chip at the deadline.
- In further ominous injury news, the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reports (Twitter link) that southpaw Anthony Banda will visit with team doctors after being placed on the Triple-A disabled list due to a forearm strain. Acquired as the primary piece in the three-team trade that sent Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks last offseason, Banda has posted solid numbers at Triple-A this season and also made three MLB appearances for the Rays (one official start and two relief outings behind “openers” Sergio Romo and Ryne Stanek). Forearm injuries are always cause for concern, particularly since Tampa Bay has already lost youngsters Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell to Tommy John surgery within the last few months.
- Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom recently spoke with The Athletic’s Juan Toribio (subscription required) about the team’s controversial “bullpen day” strategy and the usage of relievers to “start” games by pitching an inning before turning things over to a multi-inning pitcher. Bloom said the front office has been “encouraged” by the results thus far, and very pleased with how the players and coaching staff have bought into the idea. Despite the relative success thus far, however, Bloom said the Rays won’t necessarily stick with the pitching strategy going forward. “I think time will tell, but we don’t want to shoehorn a group of players into a certain model just to say that we’re doing it….I think potentially if you have a different group of players with different strengths and weaknesses, you might do something different,” Bloom said. “But what we wanted to get away from was kind of doing the opposite, where I think previously the mindset was that no matter what the strength and weaknesses are of our player group, we’re going to force them to be in the so-called traditional model. We wanted to take an approach of, let’s assess the strengths and weaknesses of our group, and then try and figure out a way to build this in a way that gives them the best chance.”
- The recent deal that sent Denard Span and Alex Colome to Seattle stands out as perhaps the biggest of the nine trades between the Rays and Mariners since Jerry Dipoto became Seattle’s GM in September 2015. The close relationship between Dipoto and Rays GM Erik Neander plays a large role, though Topkin expands on that topic as part of a larger piece about how Tampa Bay approaches trades in general. For instance, the Rays send several scouts to analyze another team’s player (or players) to get a variety of opinions before targeting someone in talks. The club also puts a particular focus on scouting the lower levels of the minors to find hidden gems; several players acquired from the Mariners, in fact, have been unheralded names who eventually cracked the big leagues.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, second baseman Daniel Murphy doesn’t seem close to making his 2018 debut. Manager Dave Martinez told Jamal Collier of MLB.com and other reporters Sunday that Murphy remains “a ways” away from coming off the disabled list. What’s more, Murphy – who underwent microfracture surgery in his right knee last October – has not looked healthy during his Double-A rehab assignment, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears. A scout informed Janes that Murphy has been “gimpy,” “struggling to move laterally” and lacking “straight-ahead speed” during action this weekend. Not only is that bad news for the Nats, with whom Murphy starred from 2016-17, but also for the impending free agent. While Murphy did all he could to set himself up for another nice payday over the previous couple seasons, the 33-year-old is now amid a less-than-ideal platform campaign.
- Rays right-hander Chris Archer dealt with groin tightness during his start Saturday, helping lead to his exit after five innings of two-run ball, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. It doesn’t seem to be a major concern, but “he’ll probably get checked out here in the next day or two and see how it is,” manager Kevin Cash said. Thanks in part to Saturday’s performance, Archer has seen his ERA plummet from a season-worst 7.84 on April 14 to 4.24 over his past nine starts. That should help the hard-throwing 29-year-old’s stock if the Rays make him available in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, as some expect them to do.
- Mets third baseman Todd Frazier is primed to come off the DL in time for the team’s series against Baltimore, which begins Tuesday, Matt Ehalt of The Record suggests. Indeed, Frazier tweeted Sunday that he’s on his way back to New York, thus wrapping up a Triple-A rehab assignment. His return will be a rare positive development for the free-falling Mets, who placed Frazier on the DL with a hamstring strain on May 8. Prior to suffering the injury, the offseason free-agent signing opened 2018 with a helpful .237/.357/.412 line and five home runs in 140 plate appearances.
- The Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate in Nashville has placed righty Kendall Graveman on the DL with a forearm strain, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Fortunately, Graveman doesn’t have any structural damage and should only miss 10 days, Slusser reports. Nevertheless, the injury continues a difficult year for Graveman, who entered 2018 off three straight respectable campaigns but has spent a large portion of the season in the minors. The 27-year-old worked to a 7.60 ERA in 34 1/3 innings prior to his demotion and also hasn’t been great in Nashville, where he has posted a 4.50 ERA in 24 frames.