- The knee injury that landed Reds righty Scott Feldman on the disabled list last month has resurfaced and could potentially end his season, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Feldman was candid in telling the Cincinnati media, “If it doesn’t get any better, I don’t think I can pitch like that anymore.” Feldman served up five homers to the Cubs in fewer than four innings before exiting yesterday’s game. Feldman’s fastball was sitting at 82 mph in that rocky outing, Buchanan notes, and the veteran acknowledged that he’s “not really feeling too confident” about the outlook of the injury. This isn’t Feldman’s first bout of troubles with his right knee; the right-hander underwent microfracture surgery on that same knee back in 2011 and tore a meniscus in that same knee four years later with the Astros.
- The Reds may have more question marks in their pitching staff heading into the final six weeks of the season than they did entering the year, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The cavalcade of injuries that has beset the team’s rotation has deprived the Reds of looks at a number of young arms and also created uncertainty around preseason rotation locks such as Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan. A six-man rotation could be on the horizon, Buchanan notes, and Robert Stephenson is already set to rejoin the rotation this weekend. Manager Bryan Price also indicated that right-hander Sal Romano will continue starting, per Buchanan. The skipper also indicated that righty reliever Austin Brice could be done for the year due to a lat injury.
Here are some of the latest minor moves from around the game, courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy except where otherwise noted:
- The Mariners outrighted right-hander Christian Bergman to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, per a club announcement. Bergman, 29, had the right to opt for free agency now or at the end of the season; given that he’s now listed on Tacoma’s roster, it seems he’ll wait and consider the latter option when the time comes. Bergman, 29, has thrown 51 1/3 innings on the year for Seattle, working to a 4.91 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
- Outfielder Daniel Robertson will return to the Indians on a minors deal after being designated for assignment and then released, the club announced. The 31-year-old has appeared in each of the past four MLB campaigns — each time with a different team. This year, he took 88 plate appearances for Cleveland, slashing .225/.287/.338. While it’s not clear whether Robertson will factor at the major league level again this year, the fleet-footed, high-contact 31-year-old could conceivably make for a useful bench piece once rosters expand in September.
- The Diamondbacks have added right-handers Andury Acevedo and Louis Coleman on minors deals. Acevedo, who’ll soon turn 27, was intriguing enough to land a 40-man spot with the Cubs a few years back, but has yet to show any consistency on the mound in the upper minors. As for Coleman, who threw 48 innings of 4.69 ERA ball last year for the Dodgers, he’ll return to Arizona after briefly testing the open market. He has worked to a 2.05 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 57 innings this year in stints with the D-Backs’ and Reds’ top affiliates.
- Heading to the Reds on a minors deal is slugging outfielder Adam Walker. He has bounced around via waiver claims and minor-league deals of late, seeing time in three organizations thus far in 2017. All told, he has compiled a tepid .185/.220/.410 batting line — with a dozen home runs but also 88 strikeouts against just ten walks — in his 241 plate appearances in the upper minors.
- The White Sox released infielder Grant Green, who had previously seen brief action in the majors this year with the Nationals. On the season, Green owns an overall .232/.306/.300 slash over 245 plate appearances at the Triple-A level with those two organizations. The 29-year-old was once considered a notable possible contributor with the Athletics and Angels, but has managed only a .248/.283/.336 batting line in his 353 trips to the plate in the majors.
- Six-year MLB veteran Collin Cowgill has been released by the Padres. Cowgill, 31, joined the organization on a minors deal over the winter, but never earned a crack at a return to the majors. He carries a .235/.297/.390 slash through 220 plate appearances
- Finally, the Rangers have released lefty Bobby LaFromboise and righty Jaye Chapman. The former has made 27 MLB appearances and shown some intriguing numbers at times, but struggled last year at Triple-A with the Phillies and was sidelined for much of the current season. The 30-year-old Chapman, meanwhile, is looking to work back toward the majors for the first time since his lone stint back in 2012. But he was hit hard in his 36 2/3 innings at Triple-A Round Rock, with a 6.63 ERA and 6.9 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9.
- The Reds announced this afternoon that outfielder Scott Van Slyke has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Louisville after clearing waivers. Cincinnati designated Van Slyke for assignment last week, making it clear that his inclusion in the team’s return for Tony Cingrani was mostly a financial mechanism. Van Slyke has struggled to a .196/.280/.308 in 161 plate appearances across the past two seasons and has posted a marginal .714 OPS through 221 PAs in Triple-A as well. Van Slyke could have rejected the outright assignment in favor of free agency, but doing so would’ve meant forfeiting the remaining $341K on this year’s $1.325MM salary. If he’s no re-added to the 40-man roster before season’s end, Van Slyke will have the opportunity to elect free agency following the season.
- Also outrighted was Reds utilityman Arismendy Alcantara, the Cincinnati organization announced. He’s heading to Double-A, with Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer noting on Twitter that the club’s top affiliate is rather well-stocked with infielders. Alcantara, 25, has appeared in the majors in each of the past four seasons, but has struggled to a .189/.235/.315 batting line with 150 strikeouts in his 459 plate appearances. While he has intrigued at times in the upper minors with a blend of power, speed, and defensive versatility, Alcantara just hasn’t been able to turn the corner in his relatively limited opportunities at the game’s highest level — where his swing-and-miss proclivities have been exposed.
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has once again been hit with an injury, this time a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). More will be known about his prognosis once he is examined by team doctors.
Significant hip and shoulder problems have limited the 29-year-old in recent years. In fact, his 55 games this year represent the most action he has seen since 2014 — a season in which he had emerged as one of the game’s most productive backstops with 25 long balls and a 147 OPS+.
Mesoraco has battled just to get on the field ever since. He was hitting quite well earlier this year after opening on the disabled list, but has struggled badly at the plate since returning in July from another DL placement for a shoulder issue. Through 164 plate appearances on the year, Mesoraco owns a .213/.317/.390 slash with six home runs.
It remains to be seen whether Mesoraco will be able to return from his latest injury during the current season. Regardless, he’ll wrap up another injury-riddled campaign and head into the offseason in hopes of returning to full health. Mesoraco is slated to earn $13MM in 2018, the final year of the four-year, $28MM extension he inked after that excellent 2014 season.
The Reds have announced that they’ve designated infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara for assignment. The move clears space for righty Scott Feldman, who returns from the disabled list to start tonight against Milwaukee.
Alcantara was once a top prospect who showed good basestealing ability and burgeoning power in the minors, but his stock has fallen in recent years as he’s passed through the Cubs and Athletics organizations. The Reds claimed him from Oakland last October, and he’s batted a very poor .171/.187/.248 (including a 35.2 K% and 1.9 BB%) in 108 plate appearances while playing six positions in the big leagues this season. He’s also out of options, further complicating any hopes the Reds might have had of continuing to carry him on their roster. In parts of four big-league seasons, Alcantara has batted just .189/.235/.315 in 459 plate appearances.
- The Reds have announced that righty Scott Feldman will start tonight against Milwaukee as he returns from about four weeks on the DL with knee inflammation. That’s significant because Feldman could be a trade candidate this month — he’s a free agent after the season and might very well have been traded last month had he not been hurt. It’s also possible Feldman could be claimed should the Reds place him on revocable waivers, since he’s only making $2.3MM this season and has produced a 4.34 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over 103 2/3 innings.
The Braves have received first baseman Kevin Franklin from the Reds, per an announcement from the Cincinnati organization. He represents the player to be named later from the February swap that sent infielder Brandon Phillips to Atlanta.
Franklin, 22, was taken in the second round of the 2013 draft. But he has yet to make much progress through the system. Indeed, he has topped out thus far at the High-A level, with tepid numbers all along the way. This year, Franklin has appeared in only 27 A-ball games, posting an ugly .179/.225/.238 batting line.
The trade remains something of an odd one, due largely to Phillips’s no-trade protection and sizable salary. Atlanta took on only $1MM of his salary in the trade, while sending pitchers Andrew McKirahan and Carlos Portuondo to the Reds. Neither of those hurlers has seen much action this year or shown a particular likelihood of contributing at the MLB level.
The Reds announced on Wednesday that they’ve claimed right-hander Luke Farrell off waivers from the Dodgers and designated former Dodger Scott Van Slyke for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Farrell has been optioned to Triple-A Louisville, per the Reds’ announcement.
The 26-year-old Farrell is the son of Red Sox manager John Farrell and made his MLB debut with the Royals earlier this year. He was knocked around for five runs on seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings, and that outing still represents his long MLB appearance.
Though his debut was rough, Farrell has produced solid Triple-A results in 2016-17, working to a combined 3.83 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and roughly a 36 percent ground-ball rate in 199 2/3 innings. He has a pair of minor league options remaining beyond this season, which also figures to have some appeal to the Reds.
Van Slyke was acquired alongside catching prospect Hendrik Clementina minutes before the non-waiver trade deadline in the trade that sent Tony Cingrani to the Dodgers. While some may wonder why the Reds didn’t simply acquire Farrell in place of Van Slyke in that trade, it’s likely due to the fact that the Reds took on the remainder of Van Slyke’s salary, thus offsetting some of the financial cost of Cingrani for Los Angeles.
The 31-year-old Van Slyke is earning $1.325MM and has appeared in just 29 games this season (all with the Dodgers), hitting .122/.250/.293 in 48 plate appearances. Van Slyke, of course, has had his share of success in the Majors but hasn’t been especially productive since 2014. He’s also carrying a disappointing .714 OPS in Triple-A this season.
A slew of household names cleared revocable waivers recently, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag in a pair of articles. The list consists of Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Tigers left fielder Justin Upton, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and four Mets – outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Neil Walker and reliever AJ Ramos. All of these players are now eligible for August trades.
It’s obvious that Harper, one of the game’s preeminent superstars, isn’t going anywhere. As Heyman notes, no team bothered to claim Harper because they realized putting the 24-year-old through waivers was merely a procedural maneuver by first-place Washington.
Votto, 33, won’t be on the move, either, as he’s a Cincinnati institution who has a full no-trade clause and a guaranteed $171MM coming his way through 2024.
Hernandez also enjoys full no-trade rights, though he hasn’t aged nearly as well as Votto. The former ace’s performance has declined drastically over the past couple years, making his contract a burden to the Mariners. The 31-year-old is on a $26MM salary this season and next, and he’s due another $27MM in 2019. Further hampering his trade value, King Felix is on the disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
Davis, meanwhile, has a partial no-trade clause, and it’s difficult to imagine any team showing interest in the once-elite offensive force. The 31-year-old is amid his second straight mediocre season since re-signing in Baltimore on a seven-year, $161MM contract.
Upton, 29, is having an outstanding season, but he comes with a pricey salary ($22.13MM through 2021), and both his 20-team no-trade rights and opt-out clause complicate matters. Upton could vacate the remaining four years and $88MM-plus left on his deal after this season, but there’s a strong likelihood he’ll ride out the remainder of the contract, Heyman suggests. Regardless, there hasn’t been any real trade interest in Upton to this point, according to Heyman.
With his $8MM salary this season, Crawford is eminently affordable now, but he’s due $60MM from 2018-21 and is having a dreadful year offensively. While Crawford remains a great defender, teams might be leery of taking on a highly paid 30-year-old (31 in January) whose offensive production has suddenly cratered. He’s another member of the full no-trade clause club, too, further decreasing the chances of a deal.
As for the Mets, we now know of six of their veterans who have passed through waivers, with outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson having done so earlier this week. The best of the bunch is Cespedes, whom the Mets re-signed to a four-year, $110MM contract in the offseason. Even if the Mets wanted to deal Cespedes, the 31-year-old has a full NTC that would enable him to block any move.
Walker has also dealt with hamstring issues – a partial tear that sidelined the 31-year-old from mid-June until last week. The soon-to-be free agent has gone just 3 of 26 at the plate since his return, but he still comes with a quality track record and is on pace for another decent offensive season (.254/.332/.431 in 281 plate appearances). It’s unclear, though, whether there will be any teams clamoring for the switch-hitting Walker, who’s has roughly $6MM of his $17.2MM salary remaining through season’s end, given a lack of demand for second basemen.
Cabrera, 31, drew pre-trade deadline interest from the Red Sox and Indians, but they’ve patched up their infield situations since then. Moreover, the Mets are reportedly giving strong consideration to going forward with Cabrera next year, when he’s owed either a reasonable salary ($8.5MM) or a $2MM buyout.
Ramos just joined the Mets last week in a trade with the National League East rival Marlins. Several teams were interested in acquiring the 32-year-old leading up to July 31, though some of those clubs went on to make other deals for relievers after he went to the Mets. Plus, the Mets may favor keeping Ramos in hopes of contending in 2018. He’s owed around $2MM through the end of this season and has one more year of arbitration eligibility.