Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors Mon, 15 Oct 2018 20:40:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Mets’ GM Search Sun, 14 Oct 2018 23:11:17 +0000 Not long after longtime general manager Sandy Alderson stepped down from his post with the Mets earlier this summer, it became clear that the organization would conduct an extensive search to tab a new head of baseball operations. Assistant GM John Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have been overseeing the team’s baseball operations department on an interim basis, but the Mets are now formally in search of a new department leader. There have been multiple reports that owner Fred Wilpon is eyeing a more traditional general manager with scouting-based acumen (an “old school” type of executive, to use a broad description), while his son, COO Jeff Wilpon, is more focused on hiring an analytically-inclined executive that more closely aligns with recent industry trends. As we’ve done with some recent managerial searches, we’ll track the majority of the updates in the Mets’ GM search here as they navigate the early phases of the process.

Latest Update — 10/14

  • Indians GM Mike Chernoff had been expected to interview, but that won’t happen, Mike Puma of the New York Post hears. Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes also will not interview, Joel Sherman of the Post tweets.

Earlier Updates — 10/11

  • Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Mets are leaving some candidates with the sense that the new hire won’t quite enjoy a full slate of baseball ops power. As he puts it, the impression is that Omar Minaya or one of the other existing assistant GMs could retain control over player development functions. Team sources that spoke with Heyman denied that was the case, however.
  • Those interested in further chatter on the topic will want to tune in today’s podcast from’s Doug Williams and Andy Martino. The club is said to have held initial chats today with Bloom, Melvin, and Watson — representing an initial spread of possibilities.
  • The Mets could still add some candidates to their list from teams that are still alive in the playoffs, with Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold being one possibility, he adds. The first wave of interviews is expected to be largely wrapped up this week, though certainly if the Mets have substantial interest in Arnold or any other exec whose team is still in the running for the World Series, that interview wouldn’t align with the rest of the field.

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Central Notes: Kluber, Greene, Cubs Sat, 13 Oct 2018 16:58:54 +0000 Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber has earned $3.5MM of a possible $4MM in contract escalators, according to Jordan Bastian of (via Twitter). All that remains is an all-but-certain top-10 finish in this year’s Cy Young award voting to raise Kluber’s salary in 2019 from $13MM to the full $17MM. His contract options in 2020 and 2021 will increase to $17.5MM and $18MM respectively. Despite a disappointing loss to Justin Verlander and the Astros in the ALDS, Kluber put together another stellar campaign in 2018. He won twenty games for the first time, going 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 215 innings. Kluber’s run of dominance began in his age-28 season, and he’s been one of baseball’s true number-one starters in the five years since (2.84 FIP, 152 ERA+ over that time). He more than earned his pay raise, but it does make an already-tight financial situation even tighter for Cleveland this offseason as they try to fill holes in their lineup and rebuild their bullpen around July acquisition Brad Hand.

Some notes from the Senior Circuit’s central division…

  • Encouraging news for Reds fans from Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer, as 2017 number two overall pick Hunter Greene rehabs his elbow at the Reds’ Spring Training complex in Arizona. Greene sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow – and though injuries to this ligament often result in Tommy John surgery – Greene elected the non-surgical route and is progressing as planned. Before ending his season in July, the 6’4″ right-hander was 3-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 18 starts at Class-A Dayton. Advanced metrics paint a more impressive picture for the 19-year-old flamethrower – 11.72 K/9, 3.29 FIP, 3.13 xFIP. Greene hopes to get back to hitting triple digits when he resumes throwing in December or January.
  • Cubs players seemed unclear in exit interviews about the organization’s hitting philosophy. Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and whoever replaces Chili Davis as Maddon’s hitting coach will strive for greater harmony in organizational messaging about their offensive strategy moving forward, but the track record isn’t great writes the Athletic’s Patrick Mooney as he reviews Chicago’s hitting coaches since 2013 – a list that will be one name longer by Opening Day 2019. Current Phillies hitting coach John Mallee survived the longest, a three-year stretch that included the 2016 World Series and ended after the 2017 season. Some names Mooney suggests the Cubs could consider include their former special assistant in player development Anthony Iapoce, who spent last season as the Rangers’ hitting coach, Erik Hinske, Mallee’s assistant hitting coach for three seasons in Chicago, and current assistant hitting coach Andy Haines.
Indians Notes: Salazar, Carrasco Fri, 12 Oct 2018 05:06:52 +0000 Indians righty Danny Salazar is slated to begin throwing next month, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti tells’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). At the moment, the club isn’t certain whether it’ll utilize the hurler as a starter or reliever, though it does sound as if the plan is to tender him a contract. Salazar will almost certainly command the same $5MM salary he did this year after sitting out all of 2018 with shoulder issues. That’s a decent bit of payroll to stake on a return to form, though Salazar has real upside on the mound and will also remain controllable for the 2020 season.

  • Speaking of payroll planning, the Indians will need to budget for a slight boost to the salary for fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco. As Bastian notes on Twitter, the value on the club option in Carrasco’s extension rose by $750K (to $9.75MM) due to his fourth-place placement in the 2017 Cy Young voting. It’s not entirely clear from what’s known of Carrasco’s contract whether that prior voting performance also operates to boost the value of his 2020 option, which comes at a $9.5MM base price point.
Players Electing Free Agency Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:20:27 +0000 Quite a few players will hit the open market this fall, and they’ll do so by way of varying mechanisms. The end of the regular season triggered a recent wave of free agents, consisting of a certain subset of players — namely, those who were outrighted from 40-man rosters during the season and accepted minor-league assignments at that time despite having the right to elect free agency. Players in that situation are entitled instead to hit the open market at season’s end, if they were not added back to the 40-man roster in the meantime.

As conveyed by Matt Eddy of Baseball America, who also covers quite a few other minor moves, these players have now elected free agency:

Athletics: RHP Raul Alcantara, LHP Danny Coulombe

Blue Jays: RHP Mike Hauschild, INF/OF Darnell Sweeney

Braves: LHP Rex Brothers, RHP Miguel Socolovich

Cardinals: LHP Tyler Lyons

Indians: RHP Evan Marshall, RHP Alexi Ogando

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman, LHP Ross Detwiler, RHP Mike Morin, INF Zach Vincej

Marlins: OF JB Shuck

Mets: RHP Chris Beck, OF Bryce Brentz, RHP Scott Copeland, OF Matt den Dekker, INF Ty Kelly

Nationals: LHP Tommy Milone, OF Moises Sierra, RHP Carlos Torres

Orioles: RHP Jhan Marinez, INF Luis Sardinas

Padres: OF Matt Szczur

Phillies: INF Trevor Plouffe

Pirates: LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Casey Sadler, RHP A.J. Schugel

Rangers: C Juan Centeno, LHP Anthony Gose, RHP Drew Hutchison, INF Tommy Joseph, RHP Chris Rowley

Rays: INF Brandon Snyder, RHP Ryan Weber

Reds: C Tim Federowicz, RHP Kevin Quackenbush

Tigers: INF Dixon Machado, RHP Jacob Turner

White Sox: RHP Tyler Danish

Brantley Grateful For Comeback Season Mon, 08 Oct 2018 04:04:14 +0000
  • Two shoulder surgeries and a right ankle injury limited Michael Brantley to just 101 total games in 2016 and 2017, limiting his productivity and sidelining him for all of the Indians’ run to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series.  That long recovery period has made this season all the more special for the outfielder, who rebounded to hit .309/.364/.468 and 17 homers over 631 plate appearances and 143 games while helping the Tribe reach the postseason.  “When you go through basically almost a two-year rehab, you don’t always know that you’re going to come back,” Brantley told’s Jordan Bastian.  “Every day that I’m there to be with my teammates, that I’m healthy enough to be in that lineup, where I can joke around and know that I’m going out to left field to play with these guys, I’m very appreciative.  I don’t take it for granted.”  Monday, however, could mark Brantley’s last game in a Cleveland uniform if the Tribe is swept by the Astros, as Brantley will be a free agent at season’s end.
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    Blue Jays Acquire Julian Merryweather To Complete Josh Donaldson Trade Fri, 05 Oct 2018 15:12:50 +0000 The Indians announced the completion of the August 31st Josh Donaldson trade today, sending right-hander Julian Merryweather to Toronto as expected.

    To make room for Merryweather on the 40-man roster, Jon Berti was designated for assignment, per’s Shi Davidi. The 28-year-old Berti got his first taste of the big leagues this season, starting four games at second base and hitting .267 for the Blue Jays in September.

    Playoff contributions notwithstanding, we now know Cleveland’s return on this deal – Donaldson’s small-sample September batting line of .280/.400/.520 across 16 games was good for 0.7 rWAR and a stellar 146 OPS+. With the division locked up for most of the season, Donaldson’s acquisition was designed for the playoffs, beginning today in Houston – still, they seem to have gotten a fair imitation of the bat they were hoping for thus far.

    Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported last month that Merryweather would be the PTBNL, but at the time the right-hander wasn’t healthy enough to be passed through waivers – having undergone Tommy John surgery in Spring Training. Merryweather missed the entire 2018 season, but because he was on the minor-league disabled list, he has yet to accrue any MLB service time.

    The Blue Jays are banking on Merryweather being more valuable than the compensatory draft pick they would have received if they issued – and Donaldson rejected – a qualifying offer. Perhaps they were wary of Donaldson accepting, which we now know would cost them $17.9 MM for 2019, but whether their thinking was financial, evaluative, or simply in the interest of keeping third-base unoccupied for uberprospect Vlad Guerrero Jr., the return for the 2015 AL MVP now hinges on the health and continued development of Merryweather.

    Before losing the 2018 season to Tommy John, the 6’4″ right-hander was 17th on Baseball America’s list of Cleveland prospects. He’s on the older side for a player yet to make his MLB debut (he’ll turn 27 on October 14th), but he pitched well enough in AA as a 25-year-old to turn some heads, and he has an arsenal that could play up to the level of a mid-rotation starter, per Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs. Merryweather may end up in the bullpen, but remember, a rising tide lifts all boats, and the past few Octobers have done nothing if not raise the value of tweener bullpen arms like Merryweather.

    It’s not a flashy return, but six to seven years of a control for a near Major League-ready arm is nothing to scoff at. There’s health and development that need to break in Merryweather’s favor, but a supplemental draft pick was no less risky and ultimately, Toronto adds a controllable arm in exchange for an injured player on his way out of town. That undersells Donaldson’s impact in Toronto (as well as his abilities on the field), not to mention what they might have netted if they’d moved him last offseason – but if you squint hard enough, Merryweather’s upside at least hints at the possibility that Donaldson’s free agency isn’t a total loss.

    Rajai Davis Makes ALDS Roster Over Erik Gonzalez Thu, 04 Oct 2018 23:35:01 +0000
  • The Indians’ final roster spot for the American League Division Series will go to Rajai Davis, manager Terry Francona told reporters today (link via’s Jordan Bastian). The decision came down to the veteran Davis versus infielder Erik Gonzalez, but Francona indicated that the potential to utilize Davis as a late-inning baserunning threat ultimately outweighed the desire to have a true backup option at shortstop. The 37-year-old Davis didn’t hit much this season — .224/.278/.281 in 216 plate appearances — but he still managed to swipe 21 bases in a very limited role.
  • ]]>
    Past, Present & Future: American League Closer Turnover Tue, 25 Sep 2018 17:01:58 +0000 By the end of the 2017 season, the list of pitchers closing out games for their respective teams included Matt Belisle, Alex Claudio, Juan Minaya and Mike Minor. Three of them were without a career save coming into the season—Belisle had five in 13 MLB seasons—and none had been expected to fill a significant late-inning bullpen role. By way of injuries, trades or ineffectiveness from those ahead of them on the depth chart, they were given a chance to record the final out in a close win and proved themselves capable.

    Things haven’t changed much this year. Raise your hand if you thought Wily Peralta would have one save in 2018. He has 13! Of the 15 American League teams, only four currently have a closer situation that mirrors what they had on Opening Day. When it comes to closers, uncertainty is the only certainty. And that’s why Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are Hall of Famers and the relief pitchers who will join them in Cooperstown in the future are few and far between.

    Here’s a look back at each American League team’s closer situation on Opening Day versus where they are now and where they will be as they head into the offseason. (Click HERE to view the National League.)

    [Related: MLB closer depth chart at Roster Resource]

    Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Committee — Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens
    September 2018: Mychal Givens

    Future Outlook: Brach got the majority of the committee’s save chances prior to Zach Britton reclaiming the job shortly after returning from the disabled list in late June. Soon after, Givens was the last man standing following a series of July trades (Brach to the Braves; Britton to the Yankees). O’Day, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending hamstring surgery and was later traded to Atlanta in a separate deal.

    A valuable setup man for most of the past three seasons, Givens has done a fine job since taking over ninth-inning duties. In his last 19 appearances, he has a 2.18 ERA and eight saves in 10 chances. With so many holes to fill on the roster, upgrading at the closer position is probably low on the Orioles’ priority list. Givens, therefore, likely enters 2019 with the job — if he isn’t traded himself this offseason as the O’s continue their rebuilding efforts.

    Boston Red Sox Red Sox Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Craig Kimbrel
    September 2018: Craig Kimbrel

    Future Outlook: Kimbrel, who recently became the fourth pitcher in MLB history to record at least 40 saves in five different seasons, has been a huge part of Boston’s historic season. As a free agent following the 2018 campaign, the 30-year-old will command a contract that rivals the highest-paid relievers in the game. Can the Red Sox afford to let him walk? Just in case he does, they’ll have to plan accordingly.

    With Joe Kelly also set to become a free agent, Matt Barnes is the logical choice to inherit the closer’s gig. He’s earned the opportunity with a 3.28 ERA and 25 holds while serving as the primary setup man on the best team in baseball. The 28-year-old also has an impressive 13.9 K/9 in 60.1 innings of work, an increase from 10.7 K/9 in ’17 and 9.6 K/9 in ’16. The only question is whether a team capable of winning over 100 games will entrust the role to someone with two career saves. If Kimbrel signs elsewhere, it seems likely that the Sox would pursue alternatives in free agency and/or trades.

    Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Joakim Soria
    September 2018: Committee — Nate Jones, Jace Fry, Minaya, etc.

    Future Outlook: Soria was as good as he’d been in years, posting a 2.56 ERA with 16 saves and 11.4 K/9 in 40 appearances. The White Sox cashed in by sending him to the Brewers for two pitching prospects in late July. Since then, they’ve handed off the closer’s job to a committee that included just about any relief pitcher on their active roster—seven different pitchers have recorded saves since the Soria trade.

    The next step for the rebuilding White Sox is to put together a roster that can, at the very least, be a .500 team and potential playoff contender. Having a reliable closer would be an important part of that plan. Jones looks the part, but he’s missed most of the last two seasons recovering from elbow surgery and still might not be ready to take on the workload of a primary closer. A healthy Zack Burdi, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016 and one time “closer of the future,” could also be in the mix at some point, though he spent 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. They’ll likely play it safe, however, and add at least one veteran with closing experience this offseason.

    Cleveland Indians | Indians Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Cody Allen
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Allen and Brad Hand

    Future Outlook: Allen has a lot of mileage on his arm, averaging 71 relief appearances per season since 2013, and it’s showed at times during the current season. With Andrew Miller on the disabled list and Allen’s ERA creeping up near 5.00, the Indians’ acquisition of Brad Hand from the Padres on July 19th was a no-brainer.

    Not only has it helped them down the stretch—Hand has a 2.45 ERA and eight saves while Allen has 10 consecutive scoreless appearances—it also gives the Indians a very good closer option for 2019. Allen and Miller are both headed for free agency while the 28-year-old Hand is under contract through 2021. The job should be his moving forward.

    Detroit Tigers Tigers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Shane Greene
    September 2018: Shane Greene

    Future Outlook: With a 5.20 ERA and six blown saves in 37 chances, Greene is probably lucky to have held on to the job for the entire season. But on a rebuilding Tigers team, who is going to close out games for them is the least of their worries. With that said, Greene probably fits best as a setup man. Even if they don’t upgrade this offseason, All-Star Joe Jimenez (11.2 K/9, 22 holds, 3 saves, 2.88 FIP) could supplant Greene in 2019.

    Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Co-Closers – Chris Devenski and Ken Giles
    September 2018: Roberto Osuna

    Future Outlook: Despite a drop in strikeout rate—8.0 K/9 in ’18; 11.7 K/9 in ’17—Osuna has continued to perform at a high level amid abuse allegations that led to a 75-game suspension under MLB’s domestic abuse policy. The Astros still decided to acquire him in a trade with the Jays despite the ongoing investigation.

    Barring any struggles during the team’s playoff run — he’s postseason eligible in spite of that suspension — or any further off-the-field troubles, the 23-year-old Osuna seems likely to enter 2019 as the Astros’ closer. He’s under club control through the 2020 season.

    Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Kelvin Herrera
    September 2018: Wily Peralta

    Future Outlook: Soon after Herrera was traded to Washington in mid-June, Peralta emerged from the closer committee to become one of the unlikeliest ninth-inning success stories of 2018. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the 29-year-old has 13 saves in 13 chances and a 9.5 K/9 rate.

    After getting booted from the Brewers’ rotation last May, he had a disastrous 11-appearance stint as a relief pitcher (17 1/3 innings, 23 ER, 28 H, 15 BB) before getting designated for assignment in late July. He signed a Major League deal with Kansas City this offseason, only to be designated for assignment again and outrighted to Triple-A. He returned to the Majors one day before the Herrera trade and picked up his first MLB save eight days later.

    Peralta has a $3MM club option in 2019, which could very well be exercised. Even if it’s not, he’s remain under team control for one more season via arbitration. While he’s been better than anyone could’ve anticipated in his current role, his 22 walks in 31 1/3 innings serve as a red flag that will likely keep the Royals from locking him into the job next season without some form of competition.

    Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Keynan Middleton
    September 2018: Ty Buttrey

    Future Outlook: Blake Parker, who finished 2017 as the closer, picked up the team’s first save of 2018 after finishing last season in the role. But it was Middleton who got the call for the next six save chances, all successful, making it clear that he was manager Mike Scioscia’s preferred choice in the ninth inning. A few weeks later, however, Middleton had undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery and it was back to the drawing board for the Angels.

    Parker got the majority of save chances with Middleton out. And as was the case in 2017, he got the job done with a 3.21 ERA and 13 saves in 16 chances from May 14th—the day after Middleton’s last game— through September 3rd. But Buttrey, acquired from the Red Sox in the July deal for Ian Kinsler, is getting a chance to show what he can do as of late. In six appearances from September 7th through September 18th, the 25-year-old tossed seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and four saves. He has failed to convert his last two save chances, though.

    Regardless, there probably wasn’t enough time for Buttrey to seal the job for 2019. He will be a candidate alongside Parker, though, unless the Angels acquire a closer this offseason.

    Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Fernando Rodney
    September 2018: Trevor Hildenberger

    Future Outlook: After saving 25 games and solidifying the ninth inning for Minnesota over the first four months of the season, Rodney was traded to Oakland in AugustRyan Pressly, who would’ve been the logical choice to succeed him, was traded to Houston in late July. A closer committee appeared likely, but Hildenberger has been the go-to guy with seven saves in eight chances since Rodney’s departure. Taylor Rogers, while serving mostly in a setup role, has not allowed a run over his last 23 2/3 innings while logging two saves and 11 holds over that span.

    Between Hildenberger, Rogers, Addison Reed and Trevor May, who has five walks and 31 strikeouts in 23 innings in his first season since Tommy John surgery, the Twins have some decent late-inning options for 2019. It’s probably not enough to keep them away from the offseason closer’s market, though.

    New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Aroldis Chapman
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Zach Britton and Dellin Betances

    Future Outlook: Chapman might not have enough time to reclaim the closer’s job before the end of the regular season—he returned from the disabled list last Wednesday—or even the playoffs for that matter. But there’s no reason to think a change is on the horizon in 2019. The 30-year-old lefty, who is 31-for-33 in save opportunities and is striking out 16.1 batters per nine innings, will be entering year three of a five-year, $85MM contract.

    Oakland Athletics Athletics Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Blake Treinen
    September 2018: Blake Treinen

    Future Outlook: Treinen has been one of the breakout stars in 2018, saving 37 games while posting an 0.80 ERA and striking out 11.1 batters per nine innings for a playoff-bound A’s team. The 30-year-old is still under team control for two more seasons, although he’s in line for a significant raise from the $2.15MM he made in ’18. Barring injury, there’s no doubt that he’ll retain the job in 2019.

    Seattle Mariners Mariners Depth Chart 

    Opening Day 2018: Edwin Diaz 
    September 2018: Edwin Diaz

    Future Outlook: No other closer, arguably, has contributed more to his team’s success than the 24-year-old Diaz, who has 14 more saves (56) than any other pitcher in baseball and 13 more save chances (60). The Mariners play a lot of close ballgames—they are 36-21 in one-run games—and Diaz rarely gives his opponent a chance in the ninth inning. He has held his opponent scoreless in 59 of his 71 appearances and hitless in 44. He also has 41 multi-strikeout games.

    The 24-year-old is going to get paid once he reaches arbitration, although he could fall just short during the upcoming offseason. The Super Two cutoff has not fallen under 2.122 (two years, 122 days) since 2009. Diaz will be one day shy of that total.

    Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Alex Colome
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Sergio Romo/Jose Alvarado

    Future Outlook: When Colome was traded to Seattle on May 25th, the Rays were two games under .500 and 10 games out in the division. It’s not clear whether they were throwing in the towel or whether they just had enough confidence in Romo, who had 84 career saves coming into the season, and the remaining group of young arms. In any case, it’s worked out just fine.

    Since the trade, the Rays are 64-44 with Romo as the primary closer (3.38 ERA, 23-for-28  in save chances) and Alvarado, a 23-year-old lefty, also playing an integral role (1.98 ERA, 7 saves). Not that you can count on the Rays to do anything conventional like name a closer prior to the season or at any point during the regular season, but Alvarez and the hard-throwing Diego Castillo would be the leading in-house candidates if they did. Tampa Bay could also look to bring Romo back into the fold.

    Texas Rangers Rangers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Keone Kela
    September 2018: Jose Leclerc

    Future Outlook: No relief pitcher has boosted their value more in the second half of the season than Leclerc, who spent the first four months in a setup role. Once Kela was traded to the Pirates on July 31st, it was the 24-year-old Leclerc’s chance to shine. It’s hard to imagine a more convincing way to show that he wouldn’t be relinquishing the job anytime soon.

    Aside from converting each of his 11 save opportunities, Leclerc has allowed just two hits and six walks over 17 scoreless innings while striking out 28. The Rangers will look to bolster their bullpen this offseason, but finding a new closer isn’t likely to be on the agenda. Leclerc is controlled through 2022.

    Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Roberto Osuna
    September 2018: Ken Giles

    Future Outlook: Despite being the primary closer on the World Champion Astros, it was clear  that Giles was not trusted with the game on the line. The trade to Toronto in late July gave the 28-year-old a chance to re-establish himself, out of the spotlight, as a reliable late-inning reliever. So far, so good.

    After a few shaky appearances to begin his Blue Jays tenure, Giles has settled into the closer’s role with 1.29 ERA over his past 15 appearances with 12 saves in 12 chances. It might not be enough to prevent the Jays from pursuing another option this winter, but Giles should at least be in the mix.

    Nate Jones (if $4.65MM club option is declined)
    Joe Kelly
    Craig Kimbrel
    Ryan Madson
    Andrew Miller
    Fernando Rodney (if $4.25MM club option is declined)
    Sergio Romo
    Joakim Soria (if $10MM mutual option is declined)
    Quick Hits: Harper, Donaldson, Wong Sat, 22 Sep 2018 18:32:19 +0000 In a piece for the Sports Info Solutions blog, Mark Simon digs deep to try and find an explanation for Bryce Harper’s poor defensive ratings; he’s cost the Nationals 25 runs with his performance in the field, per Defensive Runs Saved. Simon notes that Harper ranks second-worst among all MLB position players in that metric, having played well below average both in right and center field. Simon objectively examines the categories in which the All-Star slugger has performed below his historical norms, such as range rating, deterrent value from his throwing arm, and the routes he’s taken to fly balls. Of course, defensive statistics are widely thought of as more subjective than most offensive stats, so it remains to be seen just how much any of these numbers will actually impact Harper’s value on the free agent market this offseason. As Simon notes, he’s certainly quelled mid-season concerns about his offensive capabilities by tattooing baseballs to the tune of a 1.004 OPS since the All-Star break. It will be interesting to see how Harper’s suitors factor his defensive performance into their offers over the course of the winter.

    And now a pair of notes related to infielders…

    • Jordan Bastian of provides the highlights from a recent press Q&A with Josh Donaldson. Among the most interesting parts of the interview is Donaldson’s credit to NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for referring soft-tissue expert Dr. Josh Sandell to him. The third baseman also noted that he made some dietary changes during his recovery from injury, and discussed how he feels hitting-wise. “I’ve felt better,” said Donaldson. “I haven’t had much of the results to look for, but I feel like I’ve hit some balls hard. As long as my approach and how I’m seeing the ball — my pitch recognition — is up to par, and I’m hitting the ball solid, there’s not much more I can ask for from that.” The “Bringer of Rain” owns a .811 OPS in a small sample with the Indians as he attempts to help his new club get back to the World Series, all while making his bid for a big free agent payday.
    • Though Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong left Friday’s game early due to cramping, Joe Trezza of tweets that he’ll likely be available off the bench today, per manager Mike Shildt. Shildt is reportedly “very hopeful” that Wong can return to the starting lineup tomorrow. That’s in line with good news about the situation coming out of the Cardinals’ camp- the club believes that the cramping was due to dehydration, not a hamstring strain. Wong’s in the midst of the best season of his career by fWAR, having reached base in a third of his plate appearances while playing excellent defense in 869 2/3 innings at the keystone for St. Louis.


    Latest On Josh Donaldson Sat, 15 Sep 2018 06:46:09 +0000 Josh Donaldson’s difficult season and recent trade have prompted plenty of looks in the rearview mirror to imagine what might have been. Now with the Indians for the tail end of an injury-plagued year, the veteran third bagger could instead have inked a long-term deal to stay in Toronto or been shipped elsewhere.

    Multiple organizations reputedly sought to acquire Donaldson from the Blue Jays before the start of the season. Reports at the time pegged the Cardinals as a major pursuer, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today now reports on Twitter that the club was indeed serious about landing Donaldson. While he had only one year of contract control remaining, and a hefty $23MM salary, the St. Louis organization was evidently not shy about giving up significant talent to make a deal.

    Indeed, per the report, the Cards offered up a two-player package that included young righty Jack Flaherty — the same hurler who might well be cruising to a National League Rookie-of-the-Year award were it not for the brilliance of two historic young hitters. Flaherty’s ongoing ability to suppress base hits — he’s allowing only a .248 BABIP — may reasonably be questioned. But his 132 1/3-inning showing (to this point) has been amply impressive even if it comes with some batted-ball fortune.

    Unquestionably, the Jays would take a do-over on their decision not to accept that offer. But that’s based as much or more on the ensuing injuries to Donaldson as it is Flahrty’s emergence. And if we’re going to consider what-if’s, there’s another entire scenario that also could have occurred. In this case, the outcomes favor the Toronto ballclub.

    It has long been known that the Blue Jays explored the possibility of an extension with Donaldson in advance of the 2018 season. Details, though, have not only been slow to emerge, but have come with no small amount of controversy.

    Today, Jon Heyman of Fancred fired the latest shot in an ongoing back-and-forth with Donaldson’s agents regarding pre-2018 extension talks with the Blue Jays. Heyman argues that “the Jays and the Donaldson camp knew exactly where they stood” in terms of contract price last spring, citing some of the player’s own comments to support his reporting. And, he insists, the Blue Jays made clear they’d be willing to pay something at or over the three-year, $75MM level to make a deal, if not a bit more.

    In Heyman’s telling, the Donaldson camp found that level insufficient — which, as Heyman notes, would certainly have been a fair position to take given Donaldson’s outstanding level of play in the preceding campaigns. The recently stated position of agent Dan Lozano, however, is that “the team never extended an offer” and that “no years or dollars were ever specifically discussed.”

    Those interested in the topic will want to read all the materials and reach their own conclusions. Broadly, the post mortem on the end of Donaldson’s tenure in Toronto is interesting for a variety of reasons. But it’s clearly also not a subject that necessarily needs to feature winners and losers. Certainly, there was no known reason to think that Donaldson was headed for such a calamitous season — either for the Blue Jays or the player’s reps. Historians may debate the facts, but they won’t likely dispute that the player was warranted in seeking a massive payday and that the club was justified in demanding a big return via trade.

    In any event, for the Indians the focus now is solely on what Donaldson can do on the field. He broke through with a home run today, a promising sign for the club as it seeks to get him up to full speed in advance of the postseason. When the season ends, the veteran will be able to choose his next uniform for himself.

    Indians To Activate Josh Donaldson Mon, 10 Sep 2018 21:46:19 +0000 The Indians announced their plans regarding recently acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson today, as’s Jordan Bastian was among those to cover (Twitter link). He’ll return to the active roster tomorrow and make his debut with his new new organization.

    Donaldson, of course, has missed much of the season and only began a rehab assignment for a calf injury in late August. The Indians nevertheless struck a deal to acquire him from the Blue Jays just before the deadline to add postseason-eligible players from outside the organization. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the DL for some additional rehab work, a delicate dance that had some other organizations expressing skepticism.

    The 32-year-old Donaldson is a pure rental piece for the Cleveland organization, which has already stamped its ticket to the postseason as a practical matter. In other words, the entirety of the transaction was about getting Donaldson up to full speed by the time the calendar flips to October.

    As it turns out, the veteran third baseman with have an 18-game stretch of major-league playing time before he’s tasked with performing under the game’s brightest lights. The immediate plan is to put him in the lineup on Tuesday and then give him a bench spot the next game before bringing him back to the starting lineup on Friday. How things go from there remains to be seen.

    Unsurprisingly, the Indians also say they’ll use Donaldson at his accustomed hot corner. That means that star Jose Ramirez will move to second base, bumping Jason Kipnis into the center field mix. The expectation, per Francona, is that this will be a permanent positional shift (at least, that is, for the remainder of the season).

    It all seems to be lining up nicely for the Indians, who may well have added a superstar-level performer to their lineup at a relative pittance of a price. Of course, that assumes that the fiery veteran is able not only to stay healthy but also to return to his once-lofty performance levels, which had trended down somewhat earlier in the year. He has certainly given every sign of life possible in his brief minor-league action. In 15 rehab plate appearances, Donaldson is hitting a cool .417/.533/.917 with two dingers, three walks, and nary a strikeout.

    In other news out of Cleveland, righty Trevor Bauer — another key rehabbing player — may be ready to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. (Also via Bastian, on Twitter.) That could put him on track to be ready to go by the time the postseason gets underway, in a relief role at least, but it’s still a tight window.

    Indians Activate Andrew Miller Mon, 10 Sep 2018 19:17:01 +0000 Sept. 10: The Indians announced that Miller has indeed been activated from the disabled list.

    Sept. 9: The Indians are planning to activate left-hander Andrew Miller from the 10-day DL on Monday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Twitter link).  This would make it slightly beyond a minimum stint for Miller, who originally hit the DL on August 29 due to an external impingement in his throwing shoulder.

    Of course, this is also Miller’s third trip to the disabled list this season, as the southpaw has been limited to just 27 appearances (24 innings) due to previous absences dealing with hamstring and knee problems.  The knee inflammation was a particularly large issue, costing Miller over two months of the season.  It’s safe to say that these injury problems are a reason behind Miller’s numbers, as the reliever hasn’t quite been his usual dominant self, though most pitchers would be more than satisfied with a 3.38 ERA, 2.54 K/BB rate, and 12.4 K/BB.

    A fully healthy and in-form Miller, however, is arguably the most dominant bullpen weapon in all of baseball, particularly given his ability to pitch multiple innings.  As the 2016 playoffs demonstrated, Miller can be an enormous force in a postseason series, so his return will be a huge boost to a Cleveland team that has been lacking in bullpen consistency all season.  (Though the Tribe’s relief numbers have improved lately, thanks to Oliver Perez’s continued late-career resurgence, and the acquisition of Brad Hand.)  A strong showing over the season’s last few weeks and into October would also go a long way to rebuilding Miller’s free agent value, as the 33-year-old hits the open market this winter.

    Poll: Grading the Josh Donaldson Trade Sun, 09 Sep 2018 21:21:04 +0000 Perhaps the most significant trade that took place on the day of the August postseason eligibility trade deadline was the one that sent Josh Donaldson to the Indians. The former AL MVP has endured an injury-plagued season owing to his shoulder and calf, but made it back to the field on a rehab assignment just in time to be put through trade waivers and ultimately sent to Cleveland in exchange for salary relief and a player to be named later.

    At the beginning of the 2018 season, it would have seemed unfathomable that the Jays would get so little value as a result of Donaldson’s departure. Few expected them to seriously contend amidst a division that features the Red Sox and Yankees, but if they had been competitive enough to keep Donaldson through season’s end, most would have bet heavily on an outcome in which he’d receive and reject a qualifying offer. That would have netted the Jays a first-round pick had he signed for $50MM or more elsewhere, a scenario that the majority of baseball enthusiasts also would have put money on. And certainly if you’d have told a pundit back in March that Toronto would fall out of competition by late July, they’d have been wondering which team gave up a top prospect in order to acquire him ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline.

    The actual outcome was an awful bout of bad fortune for both Donaldson and the Jays, of course. He only stayed on the field enough to accrue 159 plate appearances, and his performance was inconsistent with his track record. Most readers of MLBTR will by now recognize .234/.333/.423 as Donaldson’s batting line so far in 2018, a far cry from the numbers he’d previously put up over the course of his tenure in Canada.

    In no small part due to those factors, the receipt of a qualifying offer that once seemed a foregone conclusion for the 33-year-old became a decision clouded with doubt across the industry. The club certainly faced serious risk had they kept the slugger. A full return to form would have made it worth issuing him a one-year contract approaching $20MM, but a poor or even average performance would have forced the Blue Jays with a difficult choice: let their star third baseman walk for nothing or make him an exorbitant offer and thereby risk both a payroll albatross and 2019 roster crunch involving Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

    Evidently, the Jays decided that the Tribe’s offer to pay $1.3MM of his remaining salary and fork over a young player presented a better alternative to taking such a risk. Reportedly, they’ll receive right-hander Julian Merryweather, who ranked as the club’s 15th-best prospect headed into the season prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery. One could certainly argue that Merryweather holds more upside and less risk than a late-first-round pick in next year’s draft, but his recent injury would make that a tough sell.

    For that reason, some fans and reporters have chided the Jays for “giving Donaldson away”. That’s not literally the case, as anyone who wanted the three-time All-Star could have simply claimed him on waivers; all 29 rival teams opted to pass on that front). Still, one could look at the scenario as Toronto paying the Indians over $2MM to take Donaldson off their hands (though they’d have to assume that Merryweather has no value).

    On the other hand, it’s perhaps a positive thing that the Jays were able to get Donaldson back on the field in time to reap any value at all from him. Though he’s absolutely raked during his rehab assignment in Cleveland, Toronto could have very easily watched Donaldson re-injure himself and thus been criticized by some fans for keeping him through September.

    What do you think? How do you rate this trade from the Blue Jays’ perspective? (Poll link for app users)

    AL Rivals Have Questions About Donaldson Trade Sun, 09 Sep 2018 16:46:23 +0000
  • Several teams, including contenders in the American League, contacted the league office in regards to the Josh Donaldson trade “either to express their dismay with the circumstances of the deal or seek clarification on why baseball allowed it,” The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required).  The particular issue was Donaldson’s uncertain health status and the timing of his activation from the disabled list as a Blue Jay and his latest DL placement after joining the Indians, without any return to the field in between.  Prior to the deal, teams interested in Donaldson were issued a “buyer beware” warning by the league about his possible injured status, which stemmed from concerns Donaldson himself had about his bothersome calf, which he expressed to the MLBPA (via his agent).  After the union passed these concerns onto the league, Rosenthal reports that MLBPA officials also wondered how the trade was completed.  Donaldson’s worries, however, were alleviated after speaking to the Tribe on August 31, as Cleveland was given permission by the league to speak to the player once the general framework of the trade had been settled.
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    Indians Could Activate Josh Donaldson On Tuesday Sat, 08 Sep 2018 18:51:08 +0000 Injured third baseman Josh Donaldson appears to be closing in on his Cleveland debut. If all goes well for Donaldson over the next few days, expectations are that the Indians will activate him from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday, Paul Hoynes of reports. In the meantime, the plan is for Donaldson to play third at the Double-A level on Saturday and then go through a workout prior to the Indians’ series in Tampa Bay, which begins Monday.

    Not only has a calf strain kept Donaldson off a major league diamond since May 28, but it has prevented him from garnering much rehab work in minor league games. He has only totaled 15 minor league plate appearances this year, three of which have come with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate.

    Because Donaldson has barely seen the field over the past three-plus months, his trade value prior to the non-waiver deadline in July and the waiver version in August significantly diminished. As a result, the Blue Jays nearly ended up retaining Donaldson through the season but ultimately dealt the former MVP (and cash considerations) right before last month’s deadline. Toronto parted with Donaldson for a player to be named later – reportedly Indians minor league right-hander Julian Merryweather – in lieu of keeping the pending free agent and issuing him a qualifying offer in the offseason.

    If he’s able to avoid a setback in the coming days and return to the field for Cleveland, it’s anyone’s guess what Donaldson will provide the soon-to-be AL Central champions. The 32-year-old was a superstar-caliber player from 2013-17, but along with his injury woes this season, he has dealt with a decline in production. Donaldson has batted an unspectacular .234/.333/.423 in 2018, though that output has come over a small sample of 158 plate appearances.

    The Indians are left to hope the previous version of Donaldson will reappear over the next several weeks, and if he’s healthy enough to stay in their lineup, third baseman/MVP candidate Jose Ramirez will shift to second base and second baseman Jason Kipnis will move to the outfield. And Donaldson, in addition to trying to help the Indians win a World Series, will attempt to up his stock as a trip to the open market looms.