Cleveland Indians – MLB Trade Rumors Fri, 20 Jul 2018 05:17:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Indians Acquire Brad Hand, Adam Cimber For Francisco Mejia Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:47:18 +0000 In a sudden and abrupt development, the Indians and Padres announced a blockbuster trade Thursday that will send one of baseball’s best relievers, Brad Hand, and emerging setup man Adam Cimber from San Diego to Cleveland in exchange for catcher/outfielder Francisco Mejia — one of the top-regarded prospects in all of baseball.

Brad Hand | Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians’ desire to augment what has surprisingly been one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball has been no secret, and Hand, in particular, was reported by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick to be a target of theirs earlier this week. That said, there’d been little to no suggestion that Cleveland’s interest was anything more than preliminary in nature to this point.

Cleveland’s acquisition of Hand harkens back to the team’s 2016 pickup of fellow southpaw Andrew Miller. While Hand isn’t quite the ultra-dominant weapon that Miller was at the time, he’s nonetheless established himself as one of the top relievers in all of baseball over the past three seasons and, like Miller in 2016, is controllable for years beyond the current campaign. Hand signed a surprising three-year, $19.75MM extension with San Diego this offseason despite already being well into his arbitration years and being within striking distance of free agency.

Hand recently voiced a desire to remain with the Padres as the team pushes back toward contention but candidly acknowledged his cognizance of the fact that the extension also markedly upped his trade value. Today’s agreement underscores the veracity of those comments, as he’ll now head to Cleveland through at least the 2020 season. Hand is earning $3.5MM in 2018 and will be paid $6.5MM in 2019 and $7.5MM in 2020. The Indians will also have a $10MM club option on Hand for the 2021 season, which comes with a $1MM buyout.

Originally a waiver claim from the Marlins organization, Hand landed in San Diego with little fanfare. However, over the course of the past three seasons, he’s gone from long reliever to setup man to elite closer, as evidenced by his 2.66 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 46.5 percent ground-ball rate in 213 innings dating back to Opening Day 2016. For an Indians club that has seen its collective bullpen struggle to a ghastly 5.28 ERA (second-worst in the Majors), Hand alone would represent a massive and much-needed upgrade.

Of course, Hand isn’t the only upgrade Cleveland is acquiring in this case — far from it. The 27-year-old Cimber represents an entirely different type of success story for the Padres. A former ninth-round pick, the sidearming Cimber wasn’t even in consideration to break camp with the Padres heading into Spring Training this season, but a dominant performance earned him a spot on the Opening Day roster. Though he was late to arrive on the Major League scene, Cimber quickly emerged as a reliever who looks like he may never have to return to the minors.

Adam Cimber | Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In 48 1/3 innings out of the Padres’ bullpen this season, Cimber has turned in a 3.17 earned run average, though secondary numbers paint an even more optimistic picture. Cimber has averaged 9.5 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9 with a 52.3 percent ground-ball rate. ERA alternatives such as FIP (2.32), xFIP (2.79) and SIERA (2.68) all feel he’s outperformed an already strong ERA mark.

Cimber has allowed only two home runs on the season thus far and has rendered opposing right-handed hitters utterly useless; righties are slashing a comically bad .207/.221/.261 against Cimber through 123 plate appearances. He does come with some platoon concerns, as lefties have clobbered him for a .288/.391/.569 slash through 69 PAs, but he comes to the Indians organization with five and a half years of club control and won’t even be eligible for arbitration until the completion of the 2020 season.

It’s not clear exactly how the Indians will utilize their new pair of relievers. While Hand could surely be viewed as an upgrade over struggling incumbent closer Cody Allen, the Indians may also relish the idea of having both Hand and Miller available as high-leverage, multi-inning weapons to use during any game situation (once Miller is healthy, of course). Manager Terry Francona could also simply choose to utilize a variety of ninth-inning options depending on matchups, rather than deploying one true closer.

While the Padres surely found it difficult to part with a pair of quality relievers who could have affordably helped to anchor their bullpen for the next several seasons, they’re also assuredly thrilled to add yet another elite prospect to what was already regarded as one of the game’s top farm systems. Baseball America ranked Mejia as the game’s No. 24 overall prospect on yesterday’s updated Top 100 list, while ESPN’s Keith Law just this morning ranked Mejia as baseball’s No. 5 overall prospect.

In Mejia, the Padres are adding a 22-year-old switch-hitting catcher who also comes with experience at both third base and in the outfield corners. But Mejia’s future with the Padres is likely behind the plate, and he could even see significant time there this season. Mejia got off to a slow start but went on an otherworldly hot streak to open the month of June and hasn’t looked back since. The author of a historically excellent 50-game hitting streak in the minor leagues last season, Mejia hit .297/.346/.490 in Double-A in 2017 and is hitting .279/.328/.426 so far in Triple-A despite facing older competition. Since the start of June, he’s notched an obscene .391/.421/.594 slash with four homers and 15 doubles through 141 plate appearances.

Francisco Mejia

The acquisition of Mejia clouds the future of once-vaunted catching prospect Austin Hedges in San Diego. While Hedges’ defense behind the plate has been every bit as strong as advertised, the questions about his hitting ability have proved valid. Though he’s hit for plenty of power in the Major Leagues (.250 ISO), Hedges’ overall batting line through 730 trips to the plate sits at .205/.253/.355. He’s a superior defensive option to Mejia, but his bat looks decidedly unlikely to ever stack up to that of today’s newly acquired backstop.

As such, Mejia and Hedges could form a strong catching tandem behind the plate. Mejia will bring a more offensive-minded focus, but the Padres will feel comfortable in knowing they have a plus defender to utilize behind the dish on days when Mejia isn’t there — either for a full day off or perhaps in an outfield corner or at third base. Mejia’s versatility would at least allow the Friars to consider rostering three catching options at a time, though most clubs prefer not to do so (the division-rival D-backs being one notable exception).

For the Indians, today’s trade isn’t so much about winning the American League Central as it is about strengthening a relief corps that was already widely expected to be pitching in October baseball. Cleveland, after all, holds a 7.5 game lead over the Twins in the division. The move is also one of long-term import, however, as bullpen anchors Allen and Miller are both slated to hit free agency at season’s end. With the possibility of both departing, the Indians have now added some long-term insurance while also creating a potentially dominant relief corps for the 2018 postseason, assuming Miller can fully heal and Allen can return to form.

As for the Padres, the addition of Mejia could well be one of the final pieces in an ongoing rebuild that has seen GM A.J. Preller and his staff compile one of the most impressive farms in recent memory. Mejia’s path to the Majors will largely coincide with that of top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias and others, giving the Padres a young core of position players on which they can dream — in addition to a deep reservoir of pitchers that has already begun to emerge at the big league level.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray of The Athletic were the first to report all of the notable components of this trade (all links to Twitter).

Indians Interested In Brad Hand Tue, 17 Jul 2018 21:44:28 +0000 The Indians are among the clubs with interest in Padres closer Brad Hand, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Yankees and Cubs are among the other teams that have been previously linked to Hand in recent days.

Cleveland’s interest in Hand comes as little surprise. The 28-year-old left-hander has established himself as one of the game’s premier relievers over the past couple of seasons, and he’s signed to an affordable deal that guarantees him $6.5MM in 2019, $7MM in 2020 and has a $10MM club option for the 2021 season. The Indians, meanwhile, have surprisingly had one of the game’s absolute worst bullpens in 2018 and typically operate on a fairly tight budget, making Hand’s contract all the more appealing.

Of course, that contract and Hand’s excellence dating back to 2016 — 2.66 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 46.5 percent ground-ball rate in 213 innings — mean he’ll come with an especially steep price tag. The Indians have shown in the past that they’re willing to dip into their farm for significant upgrades at the deadline under the current front office structure, and a deal to bring Hand to Cleveland would bear similarity to the team’s 2016 acquisition of Andrew Miller from the Yankees (certainly in terms of significance and quite possibly in terms of price point). Cleveland sent vaunted prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield to the Yankees as part of that exchange.

It’s fair to expect that if the Indians have inquired about Hand, they’ve also spoken to the Padres about righties Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen — each former members of the Indians organization themselves. San Diego figures to be actively listening on all three, after all, and at least in terms of bullpen targets, the Indians have been most prominently connected to relievers they can control beyond 2018 so far. Cleveland is reportedly interested in Baltimore righty Mychal Givens, and the Indians have also been tied to Marlins relievers such as Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley.

That said, given the fact that Cleveland relievers have been clobbered for a 5.28 ERA that ranks 29th in the Majors this season, the Indians will surely be exploring myriad options as they look to fortify the bullpen with an eye toward October baseball.

Phillies, Dodgers, Brewers Reportedly In Lead For Manny Machado Sun, 15 Jul 2018 19:59:20 +0000 JULY 15, 2:59pm: The Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers are indeed in the lead for Machado, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, but a source tells him “it’s too close to call” whose offer is the best. The Braves are still alive, adds Encina, who writes that “the strength of the Yankees’ offer appears to have been exaggerated.”

2:32pm: The Yankees are still “serious” about acquiring Machado, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears.

1:37pm: The Orioles continue progressing toward a deal, tweets Olney, who echoes Heyman in suggesting the Phillies, Brewers and Dodgers are the three most likely clubs to acquire Machado. Olney omits the Yankees and Indians, however.

9:06am: The Brewers have made a “good offer” for Machado, Heyman tweets, adding that they “appear” to join the Phillies and Dodgers as the most likely landing spots for the shortstop. The Yankees and Indians are also still alive, Heyman suggests.

JULY 14, 5:44pm: The Orioles are “definitely motivated” to get a deal done as soon as possible, Olney adds, citing an evaluator who is familiar with trade discussions.

5:14pm: The Orioles are “making progress and narrowing their focus” in Machado trade talks, Buster Olney of ESPN tweets. The Phillies and Brewers are said to be among the finalists; it isn’t clear who the other finalist(s) might be at this time.

1:19pm: The Phillies are “thought to be” ahead of the Yankees “and maybe most others” in the Machado derby, Heyman tweets. The Brewers, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Indians remain in the mix, though, per Heyman.

JULY 13, 6:30pm: Rosenthal adds on Twitter that the O’s are taking a closer look at the Philadelphia farm. And Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that there has been “some progress” between the sides

That said, there’s some uncertainty among teams pursuing Machado as to when the O’s intend to make a decision, according to’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). While the club is said to “have a pretty good idea what [Machado] can bring” back in a trade, it seems that some suitors are wondering if the Orioles won’t wait to act until the deadline gets closer.

12:55pm: The Phillies have improved their offer to the Orioles for star infielder Manny Machado, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links). In recent days, the Brewers, Dodgers and Yankees have been categorized as the favorites to land Machado. However, Rosenthal suggests that while the Dodgers and Yankees have the strongest offers on the table, the Brewers are beginning to fade from the mix, while the Diamondbacks are, at this point, “on [the] periphery” of the market.

Regarding the Yankees’ interest in Machado, some have considered it a questionable fit given the presence of Miguel Andujar and Didi Gregorius on the roster. Rosenthal, though, echoes recent suggestions from’s Jon Morosi that it’s at least possible that Andujar could be utilized as the centerpiece of a trade to acquire a controllable piece in the rotation, thus opening a spot for Machado. There are questions about Andujar’s defense, Rosenthal notes, which is borne out in defensive ratings (-12 Defensive Runs Saved, -7 Ultimate Zone Rating).

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of moving parts on the Machado front. Baltimore has been said to be keen on acquiring controllable starting pitching, and the Phillies have plenty of options in that regard, as do the Brewers, Yankees and Dodgers.

It’s not yet clear what, precisely, the Phillies (or any team) is willing to offer up, though the Phils have intriguing young rotation pieces in the form of Zach Eflin and Enyel De Los Santos, each of whom has already pitched in the Majors this season (extensively so, in Eflin’s case). Right-handers Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina are each considered to be among the game’s top 75 or so prospects, and the Phils have a number of MLB-ready back-of-the-rotation options on the 40-man roster who could be secondary pieces (e.g. Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Drew Anderson, Mark Leiter Jr.)

Regarding the Yankees’ scenario, while some fans would undoubtedly bristle at the very notion of moving Andujar, third base is a position of depth for the Yanks, who still have Brandon Drury as an option who could step onto the big league roster following the season, should that scenario ultimately play out. Of course, the Yankees also figure to be prominent players in the offseason market to acquire Machado this winter, and if they’re successful in that regard, Andujar would’ve potentially been viewed as an expendable piece anyhow. As ever, it’s worth emphasizing that that’s one of numerous scenarios that’s likely being kicked around at this juncture.

As for the Brewers, they’ve previously been said to be among the most aggressive suitors, but right-hander Corbin Burnes, one of the Orioles’ targets, could prove to be a sticking point in those talks. Tom Haudircourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel took a lengthy look at the fit between the Brewers and Machado earlier today, calling him an “absolutely perfect” fit given the team’s deficiencies in the lineup — particularly at shortstop. Milwaukee, according to Haudricourt, still views struggling Orlando Arcia as its shortstop in 2019 and beyond, but Machado would give them a potentially overpowering top of the order, joining Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames/Ryan Braun.

Pitching Notes: Bauer, Slegers, McCarthy, Cody Sun, 15 Jul 2018 03:59:29 +0000 In a recent podcast with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer suggested he’d only take one-year deals for the remainder of his career (partially due to the high stakes of a bet with a childhood friend). Although that seems radical and somewhat irresponsible on the surface, Eno Sarris dives into the subject in a piece for The Athletic and discovers that maybe the idea isn’t really all that bad. Although Bauer would be giving up a lot of security, he’d likely earn a significant bump in average annual value. Bauer has never had health issues, so in his case the health risks might not be as severe as other players seeking long-term deals to lock up the most total dollars possible. All in all, Sarris comes to the conclusion that the contract strategy could feasibly benefit Bauer in the long run.

Here are some other pitcher-related notes from around baseball…

  • The Twins placed righty Aaron Slegers on the disabled list today with shoulder inflammation, and plan to recall rookie Fernando Romero to make a start in his stead. Slegers had a rough go of it in three appearances (two starts) this season, allowing eight earned runs in 12 2/3 innings with just five strikeouts. Romero, on the other hand, has made ten starts this season and turned in a reasonable performance thus far ( 4.38 ERA).
  • Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy is rehabbing his knee injury, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, but oddly enough he’s doing it at his home in Arizona with his own physical therapist. Obviously that’s far from the norm at this point in the season, particularly given Atlanta’s status as a contending team in the NL East. McCarthy came to Atlanta in a financially-motivated trade with the Dodgers, but has barely managed to exceed five innings per start in his tenure with the Braves thus far, and has posted an ugly 4.92 ERA.
  • Another Rangers prospect has gone down with the dreaded ulnar collateral ligament injury, and will require Tommy John surgery, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. This time, it’s right-hander Kyle Cody, who had been attempting rest and rehab as an alternative to surgery. Cody was shut down for an extended period after experiencing issues during spring training; he’ll now go under the knife and likely be out until the beginning of 2020. The towering 6’7″ hurler was a sixth-round pick of the Rangers back in 2016.
Quick Hits: Gray, Hoffman, Mejia, Buxton Sun, 15 Jul 2018 00:12:02 +0000 The Rockies recalled Jon Gray tonight to start tonight’s game against the Mariners. Gray’s 5.77 ERA across 17 starts this season seemed like reasonable cause for a demotion, but it always seemed as though he wouldn’t spend too long in the minors. After all, he was striking out 29% of opposing hitters, and by measures of FIP (3.12), xFIP (2.82) and SIERA (3.19), he was having an absolutely fantastic season. As MLBTR’s Connor Byrne mentioned at the time, his .386 BABIP and 63.1% strand rate pointed to a horrific amount of bad luck. In two starts at the Triple-A level, Gray managed to strike out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings while allowing four runs.

In a corresponding move, the Rockies optioned fellow young right-hander Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A. Also a former top prospect, Hoffman hasn’t managed to find his footing in the majors yet, and has allowed more than a run per inning on average while pitching out of the Rockies’ bullpen. He’s also walked more batters than he’s struck out, and spent time on the DL with a shoulder injury.

Here are some notable developments from around MLB…

  • The Indians have recalled Francisco Mejia to make a start at DH tonight against the Yankees; it’s his 2018 MLB debut. The young switch-hitter is not only universally believed to be the Tribe’s top prospect, but he’s also considered the best catching prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately for him, he’s been blocked in the majors by a solid defensive tandem of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, both of whom are signed to contracts that stretch a couple of years beyond 2018.
  • Another former top prospect, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, can’t seem to catch a break this season. He’s apparently suffered a left wrist strain at Triple-A, and will head to the 7-day minor league disabled list (hat tip to Rhett Bollinger of After posting a horrific wRC+ of -3 (yes, negative), Buxton has put up a .219/.288/.356 batting line at Triple-A and will now have to wait at least another week before he has a chance to get on track.
Indians Interested In Mychal Givens Sat, 14 Jul 2018 15:54:57 +0000 The Indians have shown interest in Orioles position players Manny Machado and Adam Jones leading up to this month’s non-waiver trade deadline. Orioles reliever Mychal Givens has also landed on the Indians’ radar, as Jon Morosi of tweets that the two teams “have discussed” the right-hander.

With Cleveland a near-lock to win the AL Central, it’s likely going to have to upgrade its bullpen in order to make some noise in the playoffs. While the Indians have been successful on the whole, their relievers rank last in the majors in ERA (5.39) and second last in fWAR (minus-1.2). Moreover, with both injured setup man Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen set to hit free agency after the season, the Indians’ bullpen may be a major point of emphasis over the winter.

Acquiring Givens could give the Indians an immediate upgrade and a long-term solution in one fell swoop. The 28-year-old has been an effective reliever since debuting in 2015, and he’s controllable via arbitration through 2021. However, Givens – like the Indians’ relievers – has had difficulty preventing runs this year, having run up a 4.40 ERA in 47 innings after combining for a 2.75 mark in 183 1/3 frames from 2015-17. He’s also walking a career-worst 4.4 batters per nine, up from 3.29 over the previous three years, and has never generated many ground balls (38.7 percent).

To the hard-throwing Givens’ credit, he has collected 10.53 strikeouts per nine this year (close to his 10.82 career figure) and logged a 2.73 FIP. Givens has also encountered some poor fortune in 2018, it seems, as his batting average on balls in play (.347) is well above the .279 mark hitters posted against him from 2015-17. That bloated BABIP has hardly come as a result of hitters scorching the ball against Givens. To the contrary, he ranks 18th in the majors in average exit velocity against (85.6 mph) and has put up a .286 xwOBA against, beating out the .301 real wOBA hitters have recorded when facing him.

Not only does Givens continue to look like a quality reliever, then, but with the O’s way out of contention, he’s a logical trade candidate. However, it’s far from certain Givens will leave Baltimore in the coming weeks. In fact, the Orioles are “extremely reluctant” to trade Givens, according to Roch Kubatko of

Indians Designate Ryan Merritt Fri, 13 Jul 2018 20:21:55 +0000 The Indians have designated lefty Ryan Merritt for assignment,’s Jordan Bastian reports on Twitter. He had been on the 60-day disabled list owing to knee and arm issues.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona explained that, while Merritt is back at full health, he’s showing diminished velocity. The club evidently decided against activating the out-of-options hurler.

Merritt, 26, has only allowed six earned runs in 31 2/3 career MLB innings and gave the Indians a sparkling ALCS outing in 2016. Despite exhibiting impeccable control, though, Merritt only has managed 3.7 K/9 in the majors.

On a rehab assignment this year, Merritt took the ball for 26 innings over six starts at Triple-A. While he recorded a 20:1 K/BB ratio, he also coughed up 42 hits and six long balls en route to a 5.88 ERA.

Orioles, Indians Have Discussed Adam Jones Trade Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:04:13 +0000 The Orioles and Indians have held discussions on a number of players, per Jon Morosi of (Twitter link), who calls a trade of Adam Jones to Cleveland a “viable” possibility. The Indians, Morosi notes, have been in the market for a right-handed-hitting outfield bat.

Of course, any discussion of Jones as a trade candidate should begin with the fact that he’s spent the past 11 seasons with the Orioles and, as such, has full 10-and-5 rights that allow him to veto any trade scenario. Jones’ future is entirely in his own hands, and late last month, he spoke with the Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli about that unfamiliar situation. To this point, there’s been no indication that Jones will approve a trade, though the virtually inevitable reality that the last-place Orioles will trade away teammates Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Brad Brach (among others, potentially) could motivate Jones to approve a trade sending him to a contending club.

The Indians certainly fit that bill, as they lead the Twins in the American League Central by 7.5 games with the All-Star break looming. Cleveland has already lost Lonnie Chisenhall for up to 10 weeks, and Bradley Zimmer has struggled tremendously at the MLB level so far in 2018. The team has also received a woeful lack of production from right-handed-hitting outfield options Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis.

All of that said, there’s also cause to wonder just how much of an upgrade Jones might be — especially relative to his cost. The 32-year-old has plenty of name value after making five All-Star teams earlier in his career, but he hasn’t even produced at a league-average rate himself in 2018. While Jones would unequivocally be an upgrade over Guyer and Davis, he’s sitting on a flat .300 on-base percentage and is slashing .275/.300/.422 overall (99 OPS+, 95 wRC+).

From a defensive standpoint, Jones has remained in center field for the Orioles for years despite the fact that nearly any defensive metric in existence paints him as a dismal performer there. Jones rated as a premium defender in center earlier in his career, but he’s been among the worst in the league there this season by measure of Defensive Runs Saved (-16), Ultimate Zone Rating (-10) and Outs Above Average (-8).

Add in the fact that Jones is still owed about $7.22MM of this season’s $17MM salary through season’s end, and it’s worth questioning just how much any club would be willing to surrender in order to rent him for his final couple of months before free agency. Certainly, the Orioles could help their cause by offering to pay down some of Jones’ salary, though it’s not clear if they’d be willing to do so. That’d likely be a particularly enticing offer for the Indians, though, as they entered the 2018 season with a franchise-record payroll of roughly $136MM, and adding Jones at his current price point would carry them into completely unprecedented territory in terms player payroll.

Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Thursday Thu, 12 Jul 2018 22:38:15 +0000 The number of rumors surrounding Manny Machado seems to increase by the day, with the Yankees now not only joining a previously reported field of seven teams, but moving toward the forefront of the teams most prominently linked to Machado. The Dodgers, Brewers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Braves, Indians, Cubs and Red Sox have all been at the very least linked to Machado — though Boston’s interest has been heavily downplayed, and the same is largely true of the Cubs. We’ll track today’s Machado chatter here until more significant developments arise…

  • The Dodgers, Brewers and Yankees have “separated themselves from the pack” with their current offers to the Orioles, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, though he notes that there’s no clear favorite among those three just yet. That’s largely a continuation, then, of previous rumblings surrounding Machado. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported this weekend that the Dodgers and Brewers were the two most aggressive clubs in pursuit, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported last night that the Yankees had emerged with a “strong” offer — though Roch Kubatko of added the important context that New York had yet to offer up pitching prospect Justus Sheffield.
  • Not only has Sheffield not been included in an offer to date, he’s been effectively made off limits entirely, per Jim Bowden of The Athletic and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). The Orioles, Bowden hears, “have been told [Sheffield] will not be included in any potential deal” for Machado. Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Philadelphia all remain in the mix for Machado, he adds, noting that offers are continually improving.
  • Meanwhile, Heyman writes in his latest notes column that the D-backs are definitely interested in Machado, but there’s a belief that they may ultimately end up prioritizing pitching upgrades. Unlike the top three teams linked to Machado, the Diamondbacks have a fairly thin farm system, so perhaps there’s some concern that there’ll be difficulty in adding both Machado and a meaningful upgrade to the pitching staff — though that’s just my own speculation.
  • Buster Olney and Keith Law of ESPN talk extensively about the Machado rumor mill on today’s Baseball Tonight podcast (audio link, with Machado talk beginning around 15:20). Both suggest Sheffield to be too steep a price to pay, with Law stating that he’d be “floored” to see Sheffield moved in nearly any trade — let alone for a rental — given his proximity to the Majors and the potential to develop into a viable No. 2 starter. Olney questions how strongly the Yankees are pursuing Machado, noting that it only helps the Orioles for those rumors to circulate and put pressure on other clubs. Ultimately, both feel it to be likelier that Machado lands with an NL club — with both the Dodgers and Brewers standing out as plausible destinations.
Indians Designate Marc Rzepczynski, Activate Tyler Olson Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:59:36 +0000 The Indians have designated lefty Marc Rzepczynski, per a club announcement. That move will open a roster spot for the return of fellow southpaw Tyler Olson.

The 32-year-old Rzepczynski ended up making only five appearances in his second stint with the Cleveland organization. He threw 2 2/3 scoreless frames, but managed only one strikeout to go with one free pass.

Rzepczynski had struggled to open the year with the Mariners, then landed with the Indians after being cut loose by Seattle. Since the start of the 2017 season, he carries a 4.75 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 6.5 BB/9 over 41 2/3 innings in 87 appearances. The lefty specialist will likely end up heading back to the open market in search of another opportunity, with the M’s still on the hook for the balance of his $5.5MM salary.

As for Olson, he’ll be looking to return from both a lat injury and a rough opening to the season. Though he compiled 23 strikeouts (to go with eight walks) in his 17 1/3 innings to open the year, the 28-year-old coughed up 14 earned runs. Olson held opposing lefty hitters to a .216/.275/.378 batting line in that span, but surrendered a whopping 1.083 OPS to the 39 right-handed hitters that stepped into the box against him. Last year, when he turned in twenty scoreless frames in a breakout performance, he dominated hitters of all varieties.

Orioles Still Seek Top Young Pitching Talent For Machado Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:48:31 +0000 Gauging the value of stars on the trade block makes for popular sport among MLBTR readers. Quite often, we’re asked whether a given player could command, say, a “top 100 pitching prospect.” Now, we seem to have a clear test case, as the Orioles are reportedly trying to land just such a player — a top-end pitching prospect, that is — in talks involving star infielder Manny Machado.

It’s nothing new to suggest that the Baltimore organization would like to convert Machado into a talented young hurler, of course. The reported aim over the winter was to get two such arms in exchange for a single season of Machado. When that failed to materialize, the O’s instead held him in hopes of contending. Now, as the team pursues its fallback plan of a mid-season sell-off, it has continued to try to pry loose pitching talent as the headlining element of a return for Machado.

The most recent reports indicate that the O’s are still shooting for the moon. With several weeks left until the trade deadline, of course, that’s arguably just what they ought to be doing. Still, the odds seem long that the club’s most optimistic wishes will be fulfilled.

Baltimore will no doubt drive a particularly hard bargain with the Yankees, who stand as recent entrants to the Machado derby. The Orioles are willing to deal their best player to their division rivals, according to Jon Morosi of (via Twitter), but only if they score pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. He’s an unsurprising target, but that appears to be rather a steep ask given the 22-year-old’s pedigree and performance this year. The southpaw entered the year rated as one of the game’s fifty or so best prospects and has mowed down hitters at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels, turning in 85 innings of 2.44 ERA ball with 10.1 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9.

Given the Yanks’ slate of needs, both now and in the near future, sending Sheffield out for Machado wouldn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Morosi does add on Twitter that the club’s “need for Machado increases greatly if they trade Miguel Andujar for a controllable pitcher,” but that concept seems to fold in quite a notable bit of speculation — namely, that the team is considering parting with the talented Andujar, who is already a useful (albeit still-raw) MLB player. Perhaps there are some low-likelihood scenarios where Yankees GM Brian Cashman manages such a multi-part balancing act, but that doesn’t make the concept of Sheffield-for-Machado any more facially reasonable as a value proposition.

It doesn’t seem that the Orioles are holding only the Yanks’ feet to the fire, however. Baltimore is also trying to secure a top young arm from the Indians, Morosi also tweets. The ask, in that case, is for either Triston McKenzie or Shane Bieber. Neither pitcher figures to be parted with lightly, particularly for a rental piece.

McKenzie graded as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball entering the year and has spun 38 1/3 innings of 3.05 ERA ball in his first attempt at the Double-A level. He’s not getting quite as many strikeouts as in prior years, with 7.5 per nine, but is allowing less than a batter per inning to get aboard. As for Bieber, he has never enjoyed the hype of McKenzie (to say nothing of the pop star who shares his last name). But he’s turning plenty of heads now. The 23-year-old owns a 3.47 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 through his first 36 1/3 MLB frames.

Needless to say, it’s particularly difficult to imagine the Cleveland organization giving up a player who is currently making a significant contribution in the majors. The same holds for the Brewers, who face a tight divisional race and have long been cited as a potential buyer of pitching.

In talks with Milwaukee, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported recently (subscription link), the O’s have tried with little success to get the Brewers to offer up Corbin Burnes. He, too, is a top-100 prospect. Despite middling results at Triple-A, he sported solid K/BB numbers there and just turned in a memorable MLB debut in a multi-inning relief capacity.

It came as some surprise, then, when Rosenthal’s colleague Jim Bowden tweeted today that the Brewers “have discussed [a] package” of not only Burnes, but also Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia, as a potential means of landing Machado. Perhaps there’s more to this concept than is evident from that single tweet, but it seems questionable that the Milwaukee organization would even contemplate such an arrangement. Indeed, Jon Heyman of Fancred reports on Twitter that there’s “no way” of the O’s landing that particular haul for Machado.

Certainly, it’s understandable that the O’s are pushing to get a foundational arm as they bid adieu to a franchise cornerstone. And with so many contending clubs showing serious interest — the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Phillies are among the others tied to Machado in recent weeks — it’s still possible that there’ll be a surprising return. While plenty of other teams figure to function as sellers, after all, none have anything close to a rental player of Machado’s caliber on offer.

That said, the odds are decidedly against the Orioles convincing a contender to give up a quality, near-to-the-majors starter. Such players are not only prized for their long-term value — the tantalizing possibility of quality output at a bargain price for multiple seasons — but also their potential near-term impact. Some of the hurlers noted above have already or could soon reach the majors. And most of the top-rated pre-MLB hurlers could at least be significant staff members at some point in the 2019 season. Perhaps there’s some room for creativity, potentially including package arrangements and/or a willingness to pay down salary, to facilitate the acquisition of the type of asset the Orioles seek. But getting something done is going to require the exploration of quite a few possibilities and plenty of negotiation, which perhaps more than anything explains the volume of reporting we’ve seen of late on conceivable Machado trade permutations.

George Kontos Accepts Outright Assignment Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:39:49 +0000
  • The Indians announced that right-hander George Kontos cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus. The veteran has enough service time to elect free agency but will instead remain with the organization in hopes of a return to Cleveland. Kontos, 33, tossed 5 1/3 innings and allowed a pair of runs in his brief run with the Indians at the big league level. He’s seen his velocity and strikeout rate fall off substantially in 2018 but has a lengthy track record as a quality reliever with the Giants and, more briefly, the Pirates spanning from 2012-17 (3.00 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 in 324 1/3 innings).
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    Lonnie Chisenhall Out Eight To Ten Weeks Tue, 10 Jul 2018 21:37:14 +0000 The Indians announced to reporters today that outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall will miss the next eight to 10 weeks due to a Grade 3 strain of his left calf muscle (Twitter link via Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal). That timeline will keep Chisenhall on the shelf until at least early September, and if there are any setbacks along the way in his recovery, it could potentially jeopardize the remainder of his season.

    It’s a tough loss for the Indians, to be sure. While Chisenhall has been quite prone to injury over the past two seasons, he’s also been an extremely productive hitter when on the field, slashing .297/.368/.503 with 13 homers, 23 doubles and a pair of triples through 365 plate appearances. He was limited to 82 games last season by a concussion, a shoulder sprain and a calf strain, and this will now be his second extended absence of the 2018 season due to a calf injury.

    Cleveland has recently been relying on Michael Brantley, Greg Allen and Tyler Naquin in the outfield, with Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis also representing options on the big league roster. Former first-rounder Bradley Zimmer also remains on hand as an option at the Triple-A level.

    For Chisenhall himself, the timing could scarcely be worse. He’s just months away from free agency, and in a best-case scenario, he’d have roughly four weeks to demonstrate his health to teams before the end of the season. He’s already been limited to a mere 95 PAs in 2018, and it’s now quite possible that he’ll head into free agency having played somewhere in the vicinity of 130 to 140 games combined in the two-year platform to his first trip to the open market. Given his success at the plate dating back to 2016 and the fact that he’ll be 30 years old for all of the 2019 season, Chisenhall should still find Major League offers on the market, but his stock is obviously weakened handily by what is now his third calf injury of the past calendar year.

    DL Placements: Felix Hernandez, Sean Doolittle, Josh Tomlin Tue, 10 Jul 2018 19:45:30 +0000 With several players hitting the disabled list this afternoon, we’ll round them up in this post:

    • The Mariners announced that starter Felix Hernandez will hit the DL owing to lower back tightness. It seems the idea is to afford him a longer rest by lining up the placement with the coming All-Star break, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Reliever Nick Rumbelow and infielder Gordon Beckham will head onto the active roster, with outfielder John Andreoli being optioned out. Hopefully for the M’s, a bit of a respite will allow Hernandez to bounce back in the second half. It has been a frustrating season to this point, as he has allowed 5.13 earned runs per nine over 105 1/3 innings.
    • Likewise, the Nationals announced that closer Sean Doolittle is hitting the shelf with left toe inflammation. His placement is retroactive to July 7th, meaning he’ll be eligible to return immediately after the break. The roster will get two fresh arms in Wander Suero and Austin Voth, while fellow right-hander Jefry Rodriguez was optioned after his start yesterday. As for Doolittle, it had been hoped that he would be able to return to action, but the team can ill afford an un-utilized roster spot with a tired relief corps. The club has other capable late-inning arms to turn to, though obviously the fervent hope will be that this placement will stave off any more concerning health matters.
    • Indians righty Josh Tomlin is going to the DL with a right hamstring strain, per another announcement. He’ll be replaced by Adam Plutko, who has seen seven games (including six starts) of action in the majors this year. Tomlin has struggled both before and after being bumped from the rotation. Though he hasn’t been hit quite as hard in a relief capacity, he’s still allowing a .256/.294/.538 slash to opposing hitters while working from the bullpen. The 33-year-old owns a 6.98 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 — and an unhealthy 3.9 homers per nine — over 49 total innings this year.
    Quick Hits: Puig, Sandoval, G. Hernandez, Indians, Mets Mon, 09 Jul 2018 02:39:07 +0000 Congrats to all the players who were named 2018 All-Stars tonight, including 14 players who will be making their first-ever appearances at the exhibition game! The Red Sox, Astros and Indians lead the way with five All-Stars apiece, while Mike Trout, Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale and Justin Verlander lead all players in this years cast in experience; it’s the seventh selection for each of those veterans.

    The All-Star selections aren’t the only news of tonight, though. Here are a few other quick hits to take note of…

    • Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig departed tonight’s game after experiencing pain in his side during an at-bat. According to J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group, the team is calling it a “right intercostal oblique strain.” It’s not clear yet how much time Puig will miss (particularly since the intercostals and obliques are completely different muscles), but he seems likely to require a DL stint. There’s no firm news yet on the teams plans, though.
    • The Giants got some good news and some bad news today regarding a pair of players who were hurt in today’s game; Kerry Crowley of the Bay Area News Group was among those to tweet the specifics. The bad news is that Pablo Sandoval is believed to have suffered a thumb sprain. He’s set to be evaluated tomorrow in order to determine the extent. of the injury. The good news, however, is that Gorkys Hernandez’ situation is being described as simply a “tight left calf”. The club doesn’t think it’s anything serious, so it’s likely he’ll miss little time, if any.
    • Center field and right field for the Indians have been “somewhat of a mess, a revolving door without much consistency,” writes Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lewis notes the injury situations of Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall in particular, and lists external options such as Adam Jones, Nick Castellanos, Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall as theoretical trade targets for the Tribe. Manny Machado has also been on the club’s radar, and could theoretically push Jason Kipnis into the outfield mix, as he has some experience there.
    • David Lennon of Newsday has some strongly-worded opinions about what he thinks the Mets ought to do with Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard prior to the trade deadline, writing that, “To stand pat with this group, in a market nearly devoid of reliable starters, would make the Mets guilty of criminal negligence in their efforts to put this debacle of a season behind them.” Though Lennon’s phrasing seems a bit hysterical, he does make a solid point in noting that the emergence of Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz makes it easier to part with either of their more established (and less controllable) starters.
    7 Teams Have Made Offers For Manny Machado Sun, 08 Jul 2018 17:38:10 +0000 SUNDAY: The Dodgers and Brewers are at the forefront of the Machado derby, and the Indians are also “in the mix,” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets.

    SATURDAY: It’s possible Manny Machado’s tenure with the Orioles will come to an end as early as this weekend, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina, who reports that seven teams have made offers for the soon-to-be free agent. The Dodgers have put forth the most enticing proposal, Encina hears, with the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Indians and Cubs (in that order) coming in behind them. But the offers are “very close” in value, per Encina, so any of those other six clubs could leapfrog Los Angeles to land Machado prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

    Roch Kubatko of passes along slightly different information than Encina, suggesting the Indians are currently in last place among the previously mentioned seven teams in the race for Machado. Cleveland has made an offer, Kubatko reports, but a source tells him other clubs are “more active” in the sweepstakes. Interest in Machado goes beyond the seven teams mentioned, Kubatko adds, as several others have at least “checked in” on him.

    It “seems unlikely” Baltimore will deal Machado this weekend, Encina writes, but it’s all but guaranteed to happen sometime this month. After all, the Orioles (24-64) own the majors’ worst record, and they’ll either have to trade the 26-year-old Machado in the next three-plus weeks or watch him leave for draft-pick compensation in free agency. The superstar shortstop/third baseman is sure to reel in one of the richest contracts in the history of the sport once he hits the open market, and he has helped his future earning power by batting a healthy .310/.381/.560 with 21 home runs and nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (50) in 375 plate appearances this season.

    If the Dodgers are the team that upgrades at short with Machado this summer, it may come at the expense of either outfield prospect Alex Verdugo or young pitcher Yadier Alvarez. The Orioles have shown interest in both of those farmhands – two of the finest talents in the minors – though the Dodgers’ offers so far have not included either player, Encina relays, and Kubatko writes that LA has not made Verdugo available. Considering their wealth of offensive talent, it’s arguable the Dodgers won’t even need Machado as they seek a sixth straight National League West title and a second consecutive NL pennant. But acquiring him would still be a boon to them and a blow to the rival Diamondbacks, who lead LA by one game in the NL West and haven’t gotten high-end production from their shortstops this year.

    Like the D-backs, none of the Brewers, Phillies or Braves have fared well at short. The Indians and Cubs have, on the other hand. But Machado could be a third base solution for the Indians, who have the great Francisco Lindor at short and would be able to shift fellow superstar Jose Ramirez from the hot corner to second base to make room for Machado. In doing so, the Tribe would presumably relegate struggling second baseman Jason Kipnis to a bench role. The Cubs, meanwhile, have an impressive-looking setup at second (Javier Baez), short (Addison Russell) and third (the currently injured Kris Bryant), so it’s unclear where Machado would fit, though there has long been speculation about Russell going to Baltimore in a deal. However, Russell is under affordable control through 2020 and would be a lot to give up for a rental player – albeit one who’d serve as an upgrade for a Chicago team which trails NL Central-leading Milwaukee by 1 1/2 games.

    Orioles Interested In Francisco Mejia Sat, 07 Jul 2018 22:50:41 +0000
  • Unsurprisingly, the Orioles “would love” to land Indians catcher Francisco Mejia in a potential Manny Machado trade, Cafardo writes. Cleveland has reportedly shown strong interest in Machado, though it’s unknown if the Tribe would be willing to give up Mejia at all – let alone for a rental. The 22-year-old Mejia ranks as the Indians’ top farmhand in the estimation of and Baseball America, both of which regard him as one of the game’s 25 best prospects.

    • Unsurprisingly, the Orioles “would love” to land Indians catcher Francisco Mejia in a potential Manny Machado trade, Cafardo writes. Cleveland has reportedly shown strong interest in Machado, though it’s unknown if the Tribe would be willing to give up Mejia at all – let alone for a rental. The 22-year-old Mejia ranks as the Indians’ top farmhand in the estimation of and Baseball America, both of which regard him as one of the game’s 25 best prospects.
    Indians Acquire James Hoyt Fri, 06 Jul 2018 19:06:05 +0000 The Indians announced that they have acquired righty James Hoyt from the Astros. Houston will receive minor-leaguer Tommy DeJuneas in return.

    Hoyt will head to Triple-A on optional assignment. He will occupy the 40-man roster spot that was created when George Kontos was designated for assignment.

    The 31-year-old Hoyt had been a fairly significant part of the Houston pen mix over the past two seasons but has seen just one MLB appearance this year. He has been good at Triple-A this year, turning in 28 innings of 2.25 ERA ball with 10.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.

    Indians Designate George Kontos, Activate Carlos Carrasco Fri, 06 Jul 2018 18:56:43 +0000 The Indians have designated righty George Kontos for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot will go to starter Carlos Carrasco, who has been activated from the 10-day DL.

    Kontos opened the year with the Pirates, but landed with the Cleveland organization after the Bucs cut him loose. He ended up making six appearances for the Indians. In his 25 total frames on the season, Kontos carries a 4.68 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

    That output is far shy of his prior work. Indeed, entering the season, Kontos had allowed 110 earned runs in 330 1/3 career MLB innings. He had seemingly found another gear in 2017, when he dwarfed his prior standard with 9.5 K/9 and a 16.4% swinging-strike rate. But those advances have not proven sustainable.

    Indians Re-Sign Melky Cabrera Thu, 05 Jul 2018 20:12:06 +0000 The Indians announced that they’ve re-signed outfielder Melky Cabrera to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus for the time being. Cabrera is represented by the Legacy Agency.

    Cabrera, 33, was with the Cleveland organization earlier this season after signing a minor league deal in late April and having his contract selected to the big league roster just a few weeks later. The veteran switch-hitter, though, didn’t get much time to ramp up in Triple-A after sitting out Spring Training, and he showed some visible signs of rust in the Majors. After hitting .286/.286/.381 through 42 plate appearances in Triple-A, he jumped to the Majors and hit .207/.242/.293 through 66 plate appearances before being designated for assignment.

    Upon that original DFA, Cabrera refused an outright assignment to Columbus in favor of free agency, presumably hoping to see if another club provided a clearer path back to the Majors. Apparently, Cabrera either didn’t find an offer to his liking or saw the recent injury to Lonnie Chisenhall as a potential means of opening a door to the Majors with the Indians once again.

    While the 2018 season has been a struggle for Cabrera, he posted a roughly league-average offensive season between the Royals and White Sox last season, batting a combined .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers, 30 doubles and a pair of triples through 666 plate appearances. Overall, dating back to the 2014 campaign, Cabrera has batted a combined .289/.333/.431 — good for a 110 OPS+ in that time.

    Indians Agree To Terms With 35th Overall Pick Ethan Hankins Thu, 05 Jul 2018 01:28:59 +0000 TODAY: Hankins’ bonus is worth $2,246,022, as per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).

    MONDAY: The Indians have struck agreement with supplemental first-round pick Ethan Hankins, the right-hander told Ian Frazer of the Forsyth County News (via Twitter) after the Indians Prospective Twitter account tweeted that a deal was in place. The bonus value remains unknown.

    Hankins went to Cleveland with the 35th overall pick, which came with a $2,016,400 slot value. Some uncertainty as to his status had arisen of late, with the Vandy commit moving to prepare for potential junior college matriculation. Instead of taking either of those routes, he’ll turn professional if the deal is finalized following a physical.

    While the agreement is a significant one for the Indians, the team still has some work to do. First-round pick Noah Naylor remains unsigned, as does fifth-rounder Steven Kwan.

    Hankins drew a range of grades from draft pundits. The Georgia high-schooler stood at 18th on the Baseball America board but was graded at #40 by Fangraphs. All agree that Hankins looked like a top-of-the-draft talent last summer, with varying levels of concern over his more recent showing following a shoulder injury.

    Manny Machado Trade Talks Have Reportedly Accelerated Wed, 04 Jul 2018 04:12:59 +0000 Though there’s still four weeks until the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline, trade talks surrounding Manny Machado have “accelerated” in recent days, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). The Orioles, according to Rosenthal, would prefer to move Machado “sooner rather than later,” as they can extract more in a trade if the acquiring team controls Machado for three months as opposed to two months.

    To this point in the summer, the teams most connected to Machado have been the Dodgers, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Indians. The Brewers and Cubs have been more loosely tied to Machado on the rumor mill, though Rosenthal reports that while Milwaukee is doing its due diligence, the team is unlikely to meet Baltimore’s asking price.

    That, it seems, could be true of the Phillies as well.’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies should be considered “longshots” in the Machado trade sweepstakes. Zolecki writes that while the Phillies “love” Machado and plan to make a serious run at him in the offseason, the team doesn’t feel itself to be one piece away from a World Series. That, of course, makes it considerably more difficult to meet what is likely a rather lofty asking price from the O’s.

    Rosenthal suggests that the D-backs and Indians could be the “most motivated” teams in the Machado market, and Zolecki, too, specifically lists the D-backs as a club likelier to acquire Machado than the Phillies.

    USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, meanwhile, tweets that the Dodgers continue to “aggressively” pursue Machado, adding that the Orioles have been scouting L.A.’s system heavily and are particularly interested in Class-A Advanced right-hander Dustin May. There’d obviously be more at play than a mere one-for-one swap, but May, a third-round pick in 2016, is generally considered to be among the Dodgers’ more promising young arms. He’s off to a strong start in 2018 as well, having pitched to a 3.18 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 54.1 percent ground-ball rate through 65 innings (12 starts).

    Of course, there could still be other organizations involved in discussions. Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets that eight teams have had at least some engagement with the O’s regarding Machado within the past ten days. That would suggest that there are at least a few mystery teams hanging around the periphery of talks.

    Indians Sign First-Rounder Noah Naylor Tue, 03 Jul 2018 23:38:39 +0000 The Indians have announced a deal with first-round draft choice Noah Naylor, as’s Jim Callis first reported (via Twitter). He’ll receive a $2,578,138 bonus that lands just over the $2,332,700 allocation that came with the 29th overall pick.

    Naylor, a Canadian high-school backstop, had committed to Texas A&M. A consensus top-thirty talent, he garnered particularly notable support from’s Keith Law. Naylor rated 14th on Law’s pre-draft board, owing to excellent overall hitting ability and a quality all-around toolset.

    Those that aren’t quite as optimistic question whether Naylor really has much power upside and, particularly, whether he’ll add value defensively. Law believes that the youngster will settle in as a quality third or second baseman, while some scouts aren’t sold on Naylor’s potential with the glove. It’s still not entirely clear whether or not he will remain behind the plate to begin his career in the Cleveland organization.

    Naylor will now join his older brother — Padres prospect Josh Naylor — in the professional ranks. The Cleveland organization also announced that it has signed all of its first twenty picks from the draft.

    Dodgers, Red Sox, Indians Among Teams Eyeing Marlins’ Bullpen Tue, 03 Jul 2018 02:25:03 +0000 July 2, 9:14pm: The Marlins are placing an “extremely high” ask on Barraclough, in particular, per’s Joe Frisaro. Indeed, he hears that the Miami organization is “basically looking for another club’s top prospect, or among their top prospects” in any swap involving the young hurler. The report suggests that Conley is the “most realistic” candidate to be moved among the three hurlers discussed below.

    Unsurprisingly, multiple teams are poking around on the Marlins’ relievers. The Indians are among the contenders with some interest, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter).

    1:22pm: The Red Sox have also been in contact with the Marlins about their late-inning relievers, Morosi writes today. While Boston is set to at last welcome Tyler Thornburg to its bullpen, the team is nonetheless exploring contingency options, per the report. More generally, it stands to reason that the majority of contenders will at least explore the possibility of adding an arm such as Barraclough, Steckenrider or (to a lesser extent, given the shorter track record in the ’pen) Conley.

    Any from that group would be an upgrade over virtually any team’s seventh- or eighth-best reliever at the very least, and deep bullpens are paramount to success in postseason play.

    July 1: The Dodgers have “had preliminary dialogue” with the Marlins about some of Miami’s top bullpen arms, says Jon Paul Morosi of That list of relievers includes Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley.

    While Morosi’s sources have been careful to note that no deal is close at this time, there’s certainly a good fit between the two clubs. The Dodgers’ bullpen actually ranks fourth in MLB with a combined WPA of 26.06, but has recently seen Tony Cingrani, Pedro Baez and Josh Fields hit the disabled list (as Morosi himself notes).The bridge to closer Kenley Jansen appears particularly weak, with Erik Goeddel and Scott Alexander currently working in setup roles. The Dodgers are certainly contenders for the NL Pennant, sitting just 3.5 games back of the division-leading Diamondbacks. And of course, the Marlins aren’t serious competitors for a spot in the playoffs this season.

    There’s certainly no rush for the Marlins to trade any of the above players, as all three have yet to even qualify for arbitration eligibility. Conley and Barraclough will remain under club control through 2021, while Steckenrider is controllable for another two seasons beyond that. At the same time, though, the Marlins aren’t seen as likely to do much winning over the next three or four years; they’re mired in a full teardown that began this offseason with trades of Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna. Trading Barraclough and Conley in particular could make a lot of sense if they’re able to net some young talent who could contribute during their next contending season.

    Of the aforementioned hurlers, Barraclough seems likely to bring back the most hefty return. The righty has been a revelation this season, pitching to a sub-1.00 ERA with a typically high 4.21 BB/9 and a K/9 of 9.66. Since stepping into the closer role for the Marlins earlier this year, he’s converted all seven save opportunities and has yet to allow a run. Barraclough (along with Steckenrider) has already been connected to the Indians this offseason.

    For what it’s worth, the Dodgers have one of the best farm systems in baseball, with ranking them tenth out of 30 MLB teams. While it seems unlikely that they’d part with top prospects Alex Verdugo or Keibert Ruiz in a trade for one of the aforementioned Marlins arms, it’s worth noting that elite prospects have changed hands in recent years when a top-flight reliever becomes available, and the sheer amount of team control left on the contracts of Barraclough, Steckenrider and Conley could prove an enticing reason to consider all possible angles.

    Danny Salazar Out For Season Following Shoulder Surgery Mon, 02 Jul 2018 20:52:35 +0000 The Indians announced this afternoon that right-hander Danny Salazar will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. He’ll go 12 to 16 weeks without throwing, according to the announcement.

    It’s not entirely clear what damage was found during the procedure, which was announced by the team last week to be exploratory in nature. At the time of the initial announcement, it was not clear when or if Salazar would be able to return, though today’s update provides further clarity in that regard. Presumably, the Indians will have further updates on Salazar’s shoulder prior to tonight’s game.

    Salazar’s 2018 season, then, will come to a close without throwing a single pitch at the big league level. It’s a disappointing outcome for a pitcher who, at his best, has looked like one of the more talented arms in the American League. However, Salazar’s career has been punctuated by arm injuries. He’s had issues with his right arm dating back to the 2012 season in A-ball, and he’s missed time in four of the past five seasons owing to some type of arm trouble.

    Last year, Salazar was limited to 103 innings by shoulder discomfort and, later in the year, inflammation in his right elbow. Cleveland moved him to the bullpen late in the season, and he was ultimately shut down for the year in mid-August.

    In his peak form, Salazar has the ability to overpower opposing lineups. He’s averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in the Majors, and he was among the league leaders in both xFIP and SIERA from 2014-15 (min. 200 innings). Salazar’s considerable arm troubles, though, make it unclear as to whether he’ll ever truly be able to tap into his clear front-of-the-rotation potential.

    The Indians will be faced with at least somewhat of a decision in the coming offseason. Salazar agreed to a one-year, $5MM deal to avoid arbitration last offseason, and he won’t throw a single pitch in 2018. By the time he’s up for arbitration again this offseason, he’ll be more than 15 months removed from setting foot on a Major League mound. While Salazar won’t get a raise in arbitration, the typical outcome for players who miss the entire season is to agree to the same salary they had in the injury-ruined year. In other words, Salazar is likely looking at a $5MM salary for the 2019 season as well.

    It still seems likely that Cleveland would simply non-tender Salazar, but that could depend largely on the information that was gathered from today’s surgery. If the rehab program is expected to cut into the 2019 season, or if the Indians simply feel his shoulder to be unlikely to ever fully recover, it’s possible that they could simply move on — be it via trade or non-tender. That scenario would be somewhat reminiscent of the Marlins’ decision to non-tender Henderson Alvarez at a similar price point a few years back, though Alvarez had undergone multiple shoulder surgeries, and the Indians don’t face the same level of payroll constraints that have handcuffed the Miami organization.

    Notable International Prospect Signings Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:12:59 +0000 With the 2018-19 international signing period kicking off today, there will be dozens of six- and seven-figure bonuses handed out to teenage prospects, primarily out of Latin America, filtering in throughout the day today. Many of these have been in the works for quite some time, as is reflected by the fact that most of the top players’ destinations and signing bonuses have been previously reported/projected (and by the fact that the top agreements will all be reported in one swift avalanche today).

    We’ll keep track of the notable National League signings here and the notable American League signings in a separate post. Note that you can read up on each of these players with the dedicated international coverage available from Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required), Jesse Sanchez of and Kiley McDaniel & Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, each of whom has scouting info on the top echelon of international amateurs. Badler is also tracking the all of the signings from all 30 teams.

    Onto some of the more notable signings…

    Read more

    Indians Select Marc Rzepczynski, Release Shawn Morimando Sun, 01 Jul 2018 18:20:28 +0000
  • The Indians cleared room for Rzepczynski by releasing lefty Shawn Morimando, Paul Hoynes of tweets. Morimando, 25, had been with the organization since it selected him in the 19th round of the 2011 draft. He ascended to Triple-A in 2016 and has since pitched to a 4.45 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 in 242 2/3 innings at the minors’ highest level. Morimando also had a 4 2/3-inning stint with the Tribe in 2016.
    • The Indians cleared room for Rzepczynski by releasing lefty Shawn Morimando, Paul Hoynes of tweets. Morimando, 25, had been with the organization since it selected him in the 19th round of the 2011 draft. He ascended to Triple-A in 2016 and has since pitched to a 4.45 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 in 242 2/3 innings at the minors’ highest level. Morimando also had a 4 2/3-inning stint with the Tribe in 2016.
    • The Indians have selected the contract of left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski from Triple-A Columbus, per a team announcement. The club will need to create 40-man room for Rzepczynski, whom it signed to a minor league deal two weeks ago. “Scrabble” had been with the Mariners, who released him after he pitched to a 9.38 ERA with 13 hits allowed, nine walks and 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings this season. In doing so, Seattle cut the cord on a player it signed to a two-year, $11MM deal entering 2017. Now, Rzepczynski’s set for his second stint in Cleveland, where he previously pitched from 2013-15. The 32-year-old, a veteran of seven major league teams, owns a 3.92 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 4.25 BB/9 and an impressive 59.7 percent groundball rate in 432 career innings. He has also held southpaw swingers to a weak .222/.295/.303 line in the bigs.
    Indians Seeking Reliever Who's Under Control Beyond 2018 Sun, 01 Jul 2018 16:07:50 +0000
  • The Indians hope to acquire at least one quality reliever who’s under control past this season, per Olney. Although Cleveland’s a shoo-in to win the AL Central, the team’s bullpen has been a disaster, as its relievers rank 28th in both ERA and fWAR. Further, the Indians could lose their top two relievers, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, to free agency after the season, so adding someone who’s signed beyond this year would help cover for their departures.
  • ]]>
    Danny Salazar To Undergo Exploratory Shoulder Surgery Sat, 30 Jun 2018 22:09:00 +0000 Indians right-hander Danny Salazar will undergo exploratory surgery on his bothersome right shoulder on Monday, as per a team announcement (hat tip to’s Jordan Bastian).  Details on when, or if, Salazar could be back on the mound this season won’t be known until after the procedure.

    Salazar first suffered shoulder problems prior to Spring Training, with an issue that was described as rotator cuff inflammation, and later diagnosed as an impingement.  The injury has kept him out of action for the entire season, and after rest and a pair of plasma injections didn’t lead to any progress, it seems as though surgery was the only logical next course of action.

    Today’s announcement creates fresh doubt about whether or not Salazar will see any action at all in 2018.  Even if nothing serious is discovered during the procedure, he would still need several weeks to recover and build up arm strength after not pitching since February.  The best-case scenario would seem to be a September return, though the Tribe would most likely deploy Salazar out of the bullpen rather than rely on him for a starter’s workload.

    Cleveland has largely managed to withstand Salazar’s absence this season, as the team’s rotation ranks at or near the top of most starting pitching categories.  Over the long term, however, Salazar’s future with the Tribe may now be in question due to continued injuries.  This is the third straight year that Salazar has faced shoulder problems, and he also had forearm and elbow issues in 2016.  As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted in our last update on Salazar’s condition, the Indians could decide that Salazar is too risky a proposition to be tendered a contract in his third year of arbitration eligibility.  Even after potentially missing an entire season, Salazar would still be in line for a token raise of his $5MM salary for 2018, which would be a tough fit for a payroll-conscious team like Cleveland.

    Injury Notes: Darvish, Nelson, Cordero, Chapman, Strasburg, Cespedes, Font, Dunning Sat, 30 Jun 2018 04:58:11 +0000 With ongoing uncertainty leading to some real worry, it came as something of a relief when the Cubs announced that Yu Darvish has been diagnosed with a right elbow impingement, as Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic was among those to cover on Twitter. Already on the DL, Darvish will receive a cortisone shot before being examined again next week. It’s not yet known what the course will be from that point, but the club is no doubt pleased that there’s not a more significant underlying issue plaguing the high-priced hurler.

    Let’s run through some other health updates of note …

    • The Brewers are still unsure when they’ll welcome back righty Jimmy Nelson, GM David Stearns tells reporters including’s Adam McCalvy (via Twitter). “We still think Jimmy is going to pitch for us this year,” Stearns stressed. But the shoulder surgery that knocked Nelson out has required a “slower process,” says Stearns, with Nelson still “yet to pitch off a mound.” It seems there’s no chance that the Brewers will welcome back their staff ace in advance of the trade deadline, meaning they’ll need to assess their rotation without full knowledge of his ability to contribute down the stretch.
    • Padres outfielder Franchy Cordero appears quite likely to elect season-ending surgery,’s AJ Cassavell tweets. It’s still not a certainty, and the lack of urgency in making the final call — it has been under consideration for at least ten days — speaks to the general timeline. Though Cordero would miss the rest of the MLB campaign, he’d likely be ready to participate in winter ball and certainly be at full health for Spring Training next year.
    • Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman has progressed to taking swings, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. He has already been out for about two weeks with a hand injury.
    • It seems there’s some cause for optimism for the Indians regarding reliever Tyler Olson.’s Jordan Bastian tweets that Olson has been able to throw a bullpen session, which certainly indicates he’s progressing rather well from a lat injury that perhaps could have been worse.
    • Likewise, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg turned in a surprise bullpen session, as Dan Kolko of was among those to tweet. That’s the first real indication that Strasburg is ready to begin working back toward a return from shoulder inflammation in earnest.
    • In other NL East news, the Mets increasingly have a confounding situation on their hands with regard to star outfielder Yoenis CespedesKristie Ackert of the New York Daily News writes. Cespedes went on the DL in the middle of May with what seemed to be a minor injury, but still has not resumed running. Skipper Mickey Callaway says the veteran is “feeling a lot better,” but there’s no real sense of a timeline.
    • Righty Wilmer Font left today’s game with a lat injury, with Rays skipper Kevin Cash saying it’s probably a serious one, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. The recently claimed righty “in all likelihood will miss significant time,” says Cash, which is quite a disappointment for all involved. Entering play today, the 28-year-old had found his groove with the Rays, turning in 22 innings of 1.64 ERA ball with 7.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9.
    • In news of longer-term consequence, the White Sox are still holding their breath with regard to well-regarded pitching prospect Dane Dunning. The team announced that he has been diagnosed with a “moderate elbow sprain that presently will not require surgery.” For the time being, he’ll rest for a while and resume throwing in about two months’ time if he’s deemed ready. That’s hardly good news, but is certainly better than the worst-case that may have been feared.
    Indians, No. 35 Pick Hankins Still Negotiating Tue, 26 Jun 2018 22:12:03 +0000
  • Over the coming weeks, of course, we could begin to see some situations develop that warrant closer attention. It seems there’s at least a bit of uncertainty between the Brewers and their top pick, Brice Turang. The same can be said with regard to a few other talented young players. Ethan Hankins, the No. 35 overall selection, is still in talks with the Indians, as GM Mike Chernoff says and’s Jordan Bastian tweets. But he also has an arrangement in place with Chipola College’s JuCo baseball program that would enable him to play a year and then re-enter next year’s draft, Doug Freeman of Prep Baseball Report tweets. Similarly, Pirates draftee Gunnar Hoglund — who went one pick after Hankins — has begun attending summer school orientation at Ole Miss, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
  • ]]>
    Indians Interested In Barraclough, Steckenrider Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:37:52 +0000
  • The Indians are looking for the bullpen help, and they are one of multiple teams who have been in touch with the Marlins about Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider.  Cleveland’s relief corps has been a major weak spot for the team, and though Andrew Miller will eventually be back from the DL, it isn’t any surprise that the Tribe is looking for further upgrades.  Barraclough (who took over as Miami’s closer earlier this month) and Steckenrider are both having good seasons, though both have exhibited some control issues.  The Marlins are “open for business” in discussing virtually everyone on the roster, though they’re less likely to deal young, controllable players like Barraclough and Steckenrider for anything but a large return.  Beyond the bullpen, Heyman also thinks the Tribe could look for a right-handed bat for the bench.

    • The Indians are looking for the bullpen help, and they are one of multiple teams who have been in touch with the Marlins about Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider.  Cleveland’s relief corps has been a major weak spot for the team, and though Andrew Miller will eventually be back from the DL, it isn’t any surprise that the Tribe is looking for further upgrades.  Barraclough (who took over as Miami’s closer earlier this month) and Steckenrider are both having good seasons, though both have exhibited some control issues.  The Marlins are “open for business” in discussing virtually everyone on the roster, though they’re less likely to deal young, controllable players like Barraclough and Steckenrider for anything but a large return.  Beyond the bullpen, Heyman also thinks the Tribe could look for a right-handed bat for the bench.
    Trade Candidate: Zach Britton Fri, 22 Jun 2018 16:49:14 +0000 As the non-waiver trade deadline draws nearer, Zach Britton will be among the most oft-speculated and oft-rumored players to be on the move. It’s difficult to fathom a scenario in which the Orioles don’t trade their longtime closer, given that the alternatives are losing him for nothing or issuing a qualifying offer worth more than $18MM to a player who has currently thrown 41 2/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2017.

    Zach Britton | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s that level of uncertainty surrounding Britton, though, that makes his trade candidacy particularly intriguing. It stands to reason, of course, that several teams will be interested in the once-dominant lefty. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Astros (who nearly acquired Britton last July) and Indians are already in on Britton. It’s reasonable to expect that virtually every team within a stone’s throw of contending will check in on Britton (or already has checked in on Britton) between now and the deadline. But should Britton be considered a premium trade chip?

    Britton is teeming with name value — and with good reason. From 2014-16, he was very arguably the best relief pitcher on the planet. Over that three-year stretch the southpaw posted a 1.38 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9 and a historic 77.9 percent ground-ball rate in 209 innings. He set the all-time record for single-season ground-ball rate in 2015 and then broke his own record a year later when a staggering 80 percent of balls put in play against him were hit on the ground. Britton missed bats and limited walks, and it was virtually impossible to lift the ball against him. He was an absolute buzzsaw in the ninth inning. No relief pitcher in the game topped Britton’s 9.5 RA9-WAR in that time.

    In the time that has followed, however, Britton has seen his 2017 season cut roughly in half by forearm injuries. Then, in the offseason, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon that required surgical repair and ultimately kept him on the shelf until mid-June. He’s only just now returned, and he’ll have scarcely more than six weeks to show contenders that he’s worthy of being deemed an impact reliever once again. Had Britton been his usual self in 2017, perhaps it’d be worth giving him the benefit of the doubt on the heels of a non-arm injury. But the 2017 version of Britton, in spite of a solid 2.89 ERA, simply didn’t look all that dominant.

    Last year’s 18 percent strikeout rate (7.0 K/9) was Britton’s lowest since moving to the bullpen in 2014. His 11.5 swinging-strike rate was his lowest as a reliever by nearly five percent, and his 31.8 percent chase rate was six percent lower than his 2015-16 peak. Britton still induced grounders at an elite rate (72.6 percent), but not at the historic levels he’d reached in the three preceding seasons. And after walking just 6.9 percent of the hitters he faced from 2014-16, Britton walked 11.2 percent of his opponents last season en route to a 4.34 BB/9 mark. Britton was a good reliever last season, but he wasn’t elite and didn’t perform at a level commensurate with his $11.4MM salary.

    Britton still received a raise to $12MM, though, even after the Orioles knew he’d require surgery to repair his ruptured Achiles, and that salary is all the more problematic now in 2018. Britton is owed about $6.45MM through season’s end, as of today. (It’d be about $3.94MM on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline.) That’s a rather significant sum for a team in the middle of the season — especially with the number of contenders who are either over the luxury tax limit (Nationals, Red Sox) or trying hard to remain slightly south of it (Yankees, Dodgers, Giants).

    So far in 2018, Britton has only faced 17 batters and totaled 4 1/3 innings of work, so it’s hard to glean all that much from his early results. That said, it should be of at least mild concern that his average sinker is down from 96.1 mph in 2017 to 93.7 mph in 2018. He’s allowed just one hit in facing those 17 opponents and picked up five strikeouts, but he’s also walked four of them and thrown a first-pitch strike to just eight of them. That wouldn’t be especially concerning in a vacuum, but given the backdrop of last season’s control issues, it’s hardly promising to see Britton struggling with to locate the ball early out of the gates.

    Clearly, there’s still time for Britton to rebuild his trade value. Even if his velocity doesn’t trend all the way back up, he’d be plenty appealing if he could scale back the walks and continue inducing grounders at an elite level. The O’s could (and should be willing to) increase his trade value by agreeing to pay down some or all of his significant salary, but that hasn’t been the front office/ownership’s M.O. in recent years. (To the contrary, the O’s have parted with Competitive Balance draft picks in order to shed relatively minimal commitments to relievers Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz.)

    Britton’s trade candidacy, perhaps more than any other player who is likely to be moved this summer, is punctuated by “ifs.” If his velocity returns, if his control improves, if last year’s lack of whiffs proves to be a fluke and if the Orioles are willing to absorb some salary, he may very well end up looking like the premium trade chip that many expect him to be based on his name value. Right now, however, Britton looks like a solid but expensive reliever whose on-field results haven’t lined up with that name value in nearly two calendar years.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Adrian Beltre Drawing Trade Interest Thu, 21 Jun 2018 23:21:22 +0000 Both the Phillies and Indians have varying levels of interest in Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, reports Jon Morosi of Philadelphia’s interest is portrayed a bit more strongly in the report, whereas Morosi writes that “[a]t least some within the Indians organization would like to acquire Beltre,” who is familiar with skipper Terry Francona from the 2010 season with the Red Sox.

    The Rangers’ stance as sellers on this summer’s trade deadline has been clear for weeks. Texas currently sits 12 games below .500 and an insurmountable 18 games out of first place in the American League West. They’re a similarly daunting 14.5 games out of the American League Wild Card chase.

    While trade interest in Beltre figures to pick up as the deadline draws nearer, it’s not yet clear whether the 39-year-old Beltre will waive his 10-and-5 rights, which allow him to veto any trade scenario with which he is presented. Certainly, there’s a logical case to be made that given his age, Beltre would prefer to go somewhere with a chance to win a World Series ring. At the same time, he’s been with the Rangers since 2011 and undoubtedly has a comfort level with his teammates, the coaching staff, the city and Rangers fans. He’s earning $18MM this season — with approximately $9.77MM of that sum still owed to him through season’s end.

    For the Phillies, it’s not difficult to see the appeal Beltre brings to the organization. Philadelphia third baseman have posted a lackluster .235/.300/.399 batting line so far in 2018, and their third basemen have been seven runs below average in the field according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. There’s been little in the way of value provided from either Maikel Franco or J.P. Crawford, the latter of whom just went on the disabled list for up to six weeks after incurring a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch two days ago.

    The Indians, meanwhile, have a less obvious need, considering the brilliance of Jose Ramirez, who has broken out as a full-fledged superstar over the past two seasons. Ramirez is hitting a ridiculous .291/.391/.611 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, a triple and 10 steals (in 12 tries) while playing strong defense at third base. However, Ramirez is also a more-than-capable second baseman, and the Cleveland organization has received virtually no production at that position from former star Jason Kipnis (.208/.282/.328 in 295 plate appearances). Acquiring Beltre would allow Cleveland to shift Ramirez to second base.

    Clearly, Beltre isn’t the player that he once was. But the future Hall of Famer has still notched an impressive .302/.357/.428 slash with three homers, nine doubles and a triple so far through 182 plate appearances. However, he’s also had a pair of DL stints this season due to hamstring strains and has begun to see more time at designated hitter as a means of keeping his legs healthier. That could limit some of his appeal to an NL club such as the Phillies, though with Crawford, Franco and Scott Kingery on the roster, the Phils have the depth to rest Beltre a couple of times per week should they deem it necessary.

    Amateur Draft Signings: 6/20/18 Wed, 20 Jun 2018 17:58:07 +0000 Previously reported near-agreements for Angels first-rounder Jordyn Adams and Cubs first-rounder Nico Hoerner have now become official, according to a pair of reports from Jim Callis of and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sport (Twitter links). Adams will take home a $4.1MM bonus that tops his slot value by roughly $700K, while Hoerner receives the full-slot value of $2.724MM, as The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney said was likely when reporting the deal to be close.

    Here’s an update on some notable signings from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Fangraphs,, Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law; Fangraphs and scouting reports are available to the public free of charge, while the others require subscriptions):

    • The Indians have signed supplemental first-rounder Lenny Torres, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Callis adds that he’ll receive a $1.35MM signing bonus, which falls just under $400K shy of his overall slot value at No. 41 overall. Fangraphs (39) and Law (40) ranked Torres most aggressively, praising a fastball that touches 97 mph but both also acknowledging that his current lack of command and his size lead to some risk that he’s bullpen-bound and won’t last as a starter. Fangraphs notes that he’s flashed an above-average to plus changeup in the past, while Law writes that he could eventually have an above-average curve as well. He’d been committed to St. John’s but will enter pro ball instead.
    • Callis also tweets that the Rockies agreed to terms on a $2MM bonus with supplemental pick Grant Lavigne. That comes in $296K above his $1.704MM slot value at No. 42 overall. A high school first baseman out of New Hampshire, Lavigne is listed at 6’4″ and 230 pounds already at the age of 18. Law ranked him 60th and praised his feel to hit and plus raw power, wondering if he’d have gone higher in the draft had he played in warmer weather where he’d face better competition. Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo write in their report that he’s a better runner than would be expected, though his speed is still a bit below average.
    • The Blue Jays announced that they’ve signed second-rounder Griffin Conine, and Callis adds that he’ll receive the full $1.35MM slot value of his No. 52 overall selection. Somewhat remarkably, Conine ranked 50th on all of the pre-draft rankings listed in the intro above. The son of former Major League All-Star Jeff Conine, Griffin starred as an outfielder at Duke, where he hit .286/.410/.608 with 18 homers, 15 doubles and a pair of triples and walked in 15.5 percent of his 278 plate appearances. Conine had first-round potential (top 10, per Law) heading into the season but struck out at the worst rate of his college career (26.6 percent) and dropped accordingly. He’s limited to the outfield corners and has plenty of raw power and a strong arm but concerns about his hit tool.
    Indians Select Contract Of George Kontos Tue, 19 Jun 2018 20:44:28 +0000 The Indians announced Tuesday that they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever George Kontos from Triple-A Columbus and placed fellow righty Evan Marshall on the 10-day disabled list due to inflammation in his right elbow.

    Kontos, 33, was released by the Pirates in late May and signed a minor league pact with Cleveland a few days later. He’s been in the organization for a bit more than two weeks and has tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings in Columbus, allowing seven hits and no walks with six strikeouts and a 61.9 percent ground-ball rate.

    That’s encouraging progress for the veteran Kontos, who posted respectable numbers in the Giants’ bullpen from 2012-17 and was terrific for the Pirates late in 2017 before faltering in 2018. Kontos was unable to recover from a dismal start to the year with the Buccos, as he struggled to a 5.03 ERA in 19 2/3 innings before being designated for assignment and released.

    More troubling than his ERA was the fact that Kontos, who entered the season with a career 7.4 K/9 mark, managed just nine strikeouts in those 19 2/3 frames (4.1 K/9). His swinging-strike rate was nearly cut in half (from 16.4 percent to 8.5 percent), and his average fastball velocity dipped from 91 mph last season to 89.6 mph in 2018. Unsurprisingly, Kontos’ lack of whiffs translated into more hits, as he averaged a career-worst 10.5 H/9 and 1.8 HR/9 with the Pirates through the season’s first two months.

    The Indians will hope that the heartening results Kontos displayed in Columbus can carry over to the Majors and help to stop the bleeding for a porous relief corps. Indians relievers rank 28th in MLB with a 5.42 ERA, and their 4.71 FIP checks in at 29th. No team’s collective bullpen has averaged more than Cleveland’s 1.63 HR/9.

    Certainly, the team has missed Andrew Miller, who has been limited to just 14 1/3 innings this season while dealing with injuries. However, virtually every reliever on the Cleveland staff has taken a step back. Zach McAllister (5.40), Dan Otero (6.12), Nick Goody (6.94) and Tyler Olson (7.27) all have ghastly ERAs thus far after functioning as core pieces of a strong bullpen in 2017.

    Indians Sign Marc Rzepczynski Mon, 18 Jun 2018 18:46:43 +0000 The Indians announced that they’ve signed left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a minor league contract. The southpaw, who’d recently been released by the Mariners, has been assigned to Triple-A Columbus.

    This’ll mark the second stint with the Indians for Rzepczynski, who pitched for Cleveland from 2013-14 before being traded to the Padres in exchange for outfielder Abraham Almonte at the 2014 non-waiver trade deadline. Since that time, the well-traveled lefty has bounced from San Diego to Oakland to D.C. to Seattle.

    [Related: Cleveland Indians depth chart]

    Rzepczynski, 32, parlayed a solid 2016 season between the A’s and Nationals into a two-year, $11MM contract with the Mariners. And while he performed reasonably well in the first season of that deal, Rzepczynski struggled enormously in 2018 before being cut loose earlier this month. Nicknamed “Scrabble” due to his spellcheck-busting last name, Rzepczynski posted a 4.02 ERA in 37 1/3 innings for Seattle in 2017, though his 25-to-20 K/BB ratio lefty plenty to be desired. This year, he allowed 11 runs (eight earned) on 13 hits and nine walks with 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings.

    Rzepczynski has long been tough on opposing lefties, though, limiting same-handed opponents to a paltry .225/.295/.303 slash through 852 career plate appearances. For a Cleveland club whose bullpen has been among the worst in the Majors this season, he’ll add a veteran depth option that can at least be utilized in situational matchups. That could be all the more important for the Tribe in the near future, as Cleveland currently has both Andrew Miller and Tyler Olson on the disabled list.

    The Mariners remain on the hook for the bulk of the $5.5MM salary that Rzepczynski is earning this year. Cleveland will only owe him the pro-rated league minimum for any time he spends at the big league level. That sum, subsequently, would be subtracted from what the Mariners owe him through season’s end.

    Melky Cabrera Elects Free Agency Mon, 18 Jun 2018 17:06:31 +0000 The Indians announced Monday that outfielder/designated hitter Melky Cabrera has elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus. He’d been designated for assignment last week and cleared outright waivers. The 33-year-old veteran switch-hitter will now head back to the open market in search of a new opportunity.

    Cabrera, who’d signed a minor league deal with Cleveland in late April, had his contract selected in May and totaled 66 plate appearances for the Indians, though he managed just a .207/.243/.293 batting line in that small sample of work.

    It should be noted, of course, that Cabrera didn’t have a full Spring Training and only logged 42 plate appearances in Triple-A before joining the big league club. It’s not especially surprising then, to see some rust at the plate after a fairly limited amount of time to ramp up.

    Cabrera is only a year removed from providing roughly league-average offense at the big league level. In 666 plate appearances between the White Sox and Royals last season, Cabrera slashed .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers, 30 doubles and a pair of triples — good for a 99 OPS+ and a 98 wRC+. And, from 2014-17, Cabrera racked up 2616 plate appearances between the Blue Jays, White Sox and Royals, hitting a combined .289/.333/.431 in that time (110 OPS+). While he’s no longer a threat on the bases and doesn’t provide much value with the glove, his track record could earn him an opportunity to land on a big league roster with another organization, though he may once again have to earn that opportunity with a Triple-A stint.

    Mike Napoli Planning To Play In 2019 Sun, 17 Jun 2018 18:57:22 +0000 Even after tearing his right ACL and meniscus last April, Mike Napoli isn’t ready to close the book on his career, the veteran slugger tells The Athletic’s Zack Meisel (subscription required).  “I’m going to train like I’m going to play next year,” Napoli said.  “When it’s time to make that decision, I’ll make it, but I still really want to play.  I don’t want to go out like that.  I feel like I can still play.  We’ll see.  We’ll see what opportunities there will be and go from there.”  Even if his chances at a 13th big league season seem remote, it wouldn’t be too surprising for a team to take a flier on Napoli on a minor league deal next spring, assuming he is healthy enough to play.  If a comeback doesn’t materialize, Napoli said his next dream would be to become a Major League manager, and he believes he would be able to start his post-playing career as a coach somewhere in the Indians organization.

    Here’s some more from around the league…

    • The Cubs aren’t yet sure what their plans are for the trade deadline, GM Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription link).  “What we may need on July 31 may be totally different than what we know sitting here right now,” Hoyer said.  “I do think that right now the answers are here….Now, that might not be the answer in six weeks. But I think that’s the answer today.”  Chicago already has quite a bit of depth and talent on the roster, plus Yu Darvish and Carl Edwards Jr. will provide reinforcements upon returning from the disabled list, though it would be surprising if the Cubs didn’t make at least one notable addition as they push for another postseason berth.
    • Right-hander Tom Koehler has had a setback in his recovery from an AC strain and isn’t expected back until August, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (Twitter link) and other reporters.  Koehler signed a one-year, $2MM deal with Los Angeles last winter but has yet to officially pitch for the club after suffering the injury during Spring Training.  He initially hoped to return by the All-Star break but will now have to wait longer to properly don the Dodger blue.
    • The Tigers are considering deploying a six-man rotation, as manager Ron Gardenhire hinted to’s Evan Woodbery and other reporters.  With Blaine Hardy pitching well, Detroit wants to find a way to keep him in the rotation when Francisco Liriano makes his expected return from the DL this week, plus the other starters could benefit from the lesser workload.  “We’ve got some guys in there that could probably use extra days, take innings off our load.  We started thinking we could probably do this.  Not saying we’re going to, but we could,” Gardenhire said.
    Indians Place Carlos Carrasco, Tyler Olson On 10-Day DL Sun, 17 Jun 2018 14:46:11 +0000 The Indians placed right-hander Carlos Carrasco and left-hander Tyler Olson on the 10-day disabled list today, as per a team press release.  Righties Shane Bieber and Evan Marshall have been recalled from Triple-A to fill the two spots on the 25-man roster, with Bieber starting today’s game against the Twins.

    Carrasco is headed to the DL with what the team describes as a “right elbow contusion,” which would be a best-case scenario after Carrasco took a Joe Mauer line drive off his throwing elbow yesterday.  The 99.6mph liner forced Carrasco to leave the game, and he was scheduled to undergo x-rays this morning, though there aren’t yet any details on the results of those tests.

    Cleveland has off-days this Thursday and on June 28, so it’s possible Carrasco could only miss one start if his injury isn’t serious and he spends the minimal amount of time on the DL.  The right-hander has been a big contributor to the Tribe’s rotation, posting a 4.24 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and 4.36 K/BB rate over 91 1/3 innings this season.  The ERA is a bit higher than Carrasco is used to over the last three seasons, though ERA predictors (3.40 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 3.43 SIERA) have a more favorable view of his performance.

    Olson, meanwhile, has suffered a left lat strain.  The southpaw famously didn’t allow a single run over 22 innings (20 in the regular season, two in the playoffs) for Cleveland last season, though his 2018 has been much rockier, with a 7.27 ERA over 17 1/3 frames.  Olson is still missing bats to the tune of an 11.9 K/9, however, and while his 4.15 BB/9 is problematic, he has also faced a lot of bad luck in posting that ungainly ERA.  Olson isn’t allowing a lot of hard contact (his .306 xwOBA is well below his .365 wOBA), and he has an unusually low strand rate (just 54.6%) and a very high .378 BABIP.

    With Olson out, veteran Oliver Perez is the only left-hander in the Indians pen, as Andrew Miller is still sidelined with knee inflammation.  Miller has been tossing bullpens in recent days, however, and is expected to at least be starting a rehab assignment relatively soon.

    Indians Designate Melky Cabrera For Assignment Sun, 17 Jun 2018 14:14:53 +0000 SUNDAY: The team expects to know by Monday whether or not Cabrera will accept an outright assignment, according to the Indians’ official Tribe Insider Twitter news feed.

    THURSDAY: The Indians announced Thursday that they’ve activated outfielder Brandon Guyer from the disabled list and cleared a spot for him on the active roster by designating Melky Cabrera for assignment.

    Signed to a minor league deal in late April, the 33-year-old Cabrera appeared in 17 games with Cleveland and tallied 66 plate appearances, though he managed just a .207/.243/.293 batting line in that small sample of work.

    Cabrera, of course, was operating without the benefit of a full Spring Training during his short time with the Indians. While he did pick up 42 plate appearances in Triple-A before making his debut with the team, it’s perhaps not surprising that he exhibited a fair bit of rust at the plate. To his credit, Cabrera posted a 34.6 percent hard-hit rate, per Fangraphs, and punched out just 10 times in his 66 PAs (15.2 percent).

    The switch-hitting Cabrera is only a year removed from providing roughly league-average offense at the big league level. In 666 plate appearances between the White Sox and Royals last season, Cabrera slashed .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers, 30 doubles and a pair of triples — good for a 99 OPS+ and a 98 wRC+.

    While he’s long graded out as a sub-par defensive outfielder — never more so than in 2017 — he’s also been a steadily average or better producer at the plate throughout his late 20s and early 30s. From 2014-17, Cabrera racked up 2616 plate appearances between the Blue Jays, White Sox and Royals, hitting a combined .289/.333/.431 in that time (110 OPS+). So while things didn’t work out for the Melk Man in Cleveland, it’s certainly not out of the question that another team could look to pick him on a similarly low-cost investment with the hopes that he can provide some additional offense.

    The Indians will have a week to trade Cabrera or run him through outright or release waivers, though a veteran player with his service time will have the option of refusing an outright assignment and again exploring free agency. He’s better-suited for an AL club who can plug him in at DH periodically, though Cabrera could also function as a bench bat and occasional outfielder in the NL.

    Indians Notes: Carrasco, Zimmer Sun, 17 Jun 2018 02:29:58 +0000
  • The Indians are awaiting word on right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who departed his start Saturday after a 99.6 mph line drive off the bat of the Twins’ Joe Mauer struck him in the pitching elbow. Carrasco left after 1 1/3 innings with what the team called a forearm contusion, though manager Terry Francona said afterward (via Joe Noga of that he’s undergoing tests on his elbow to rule out further damage. “When you look inside a pitcher’s elbow, there’s a lot going on,” Francona said. “Right now, they said it was a contusion. The hope is that’s all it is. We’ll know more by late tonight.” Saturday continued a somewhat down year for Carrasco, who allowed four earned runs to lift his ERA to 4.24 (compared to 3.29 last season), though his secondary numbers paint a far more hopeful picture.
  • The Indians’ Triple-A affiliate in Columbus announced that it has placed center fielder Bradley Zimmer on the DL, retroactive to June 14, with right shoulder discomfort. The injury continues a Murphy’s Law 2018 for Zimmer, who was on the major league DL earlier this season with a rib contusion and then was demoted to Triple-A on June 5 after limping to a .226/.281/.330 line in 114 PAs. He also hasn’t posed a threat in the minors this year, albeit over a mere 28 PAs, with a .148/.179/.259 line and 11 strikeouts against one walk.
  • ]]>
    Injury Notes: Donaldson, Blue Jays, Ravin, May, Goody Sat, 16 Jun 2018 14:09:17 +0000 Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is expected to miss “at least a few more days” before getting a chance to return to the Blue Jays’ lineup. A report from Gregor Chisholm of indicates that Donaldson still hasn’t felt comfortable running at full speed, or as manager John Gibbons puts it, “he still couldn’t cut it loose,” during a series of running drills on Thursday. The third baseman has been out since May 28th with a sore calf muscle. Coupled with the shoulder injury he dealt with earlier this season, one has to wonder just how much these injury concerns will impact the 32-year-old Donaldson’s free agent stock headed into the 2018-2019 offseason. It’s not as though he’s produced while on the field, either: his .234/.333/.423 slash line (despite a .303 BABIP) is a far cry from his typical production, while his strikeout rate sits at a career-high 27.7%.

    As for the Blue Jays, they’re at least likely to get Marcus Stroman and Steve Pearce back in the near future, as both are currently embarking on rehab assignments in the minor leagues.

    Let’s take a look at some other injury situations around baseball…

    • Nate Rowan, beat reporter for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, tweets that Trevor May is headed to the DL with shoulder inflammation. The move is retroactive to June 14th. May’s only recently made his way back from Tommy John surgery, a recovery he wrote about for MLBTR; he was optioned to Triple-A immediately following his activation. There’s no word yet on the severity of the shoulder situation or how long May is expected to be out. In his most recent major league action, May pitched to a 5.27 ERA across 44 relief appearances for the Twins.
    • Another AL Central reliever received unfortunate news today as well. Nick Goody of the Indians visited Dr. James Andrews after feeling soreness during his throwing program. The diagnosis remains elbow hyperextension and posterior elbow inflammation, and though that’s far from the worst-case scenario, he’ll be shut down for at least three weeks after receiving a PRP injection. It’s bad news for an Indians club that has seen its bullpen go from the upper echelon in the league in 2017 to a bottom-dweller in 2018.
    • Braves reliever Josh Ravin (currently pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett) experienced a scare yesterday when he was struck in the face by a line drive. Ravin’s stable, however (at least enough so to tweet), and is set to be further evaluated on Sunday in Atlanta when the swelling goes down. The current diagnosis is five facial fractures and a concussion. Ravin has yet to allow a run in Gwinnett across 18 innings, during which time he’s struck out 30 batters and walked nine.
    Amateur Draft Signings: 6/14/18 Fri, 15 Jun 2018 03:45:03 +0000 Here are the day’s deals of note from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

    • Athletics second-round pick Jeremy Eierman will receive a $1,232,000 bonus, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That’s well over the $872,400 slot value that came with the 70th pick. The Missouri State produce drew big grades from BA (#26) and (#29) as the top collegiate shortstop, with both a history of productivity and an intriguing power/speed offensive profile for a player who could potentially stick at shortstop. Analysts also note that an offensive downturn in the just-completed season introduced new questions about his long-term outlook.
    • The Cubs are in agreement with second-round pick Brennen Davis on a $1.1MM bonus, Callis reports on Twitter. That checks in just north of the 62nd pick’s $1,060,900 allocation. Davis ranked 81st on the Fangraphs board, with physical tools and projection driving the outfielder’s draft standing. He had been committed to the University of Miami.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Padres will pay out $2.6MM to land supplemental first-round choice Xavier Edwards, according to’s Jim Callis (Twitter link). A consensus first-round talent, Edwards went 38th overall ($1,878,300 allocation) and required a well-over-slot bonus to give up his commitment to Vanderbilt. Fangraphs was the highest outlet on the Florida high-schooler, ranking him 17th among all eligible players based upon his outstanding speed, quality bat, and promising outlook as an up-the-middle defender.
    • The Rays have deals in place with compensation selection Nick Schnell and competitive balance Round B choice Tanner Dodson, according to reports from Callis (Twitter links) and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (also on Twitter). Schnell will receive $2.3MM; the high-school outfielder was chosen with the 32nd overall pick, which comes with a $2,171,700 slot value. He’s credited with a quality tool set and what calls an “extremely projectable frame.” Tampa Bay will save some money on Dodson, whose $997,500 bonus falls shy of the $1,228,000 slot value at #71. He’s valued most as a power pitcher but is also said to have legitimate talent as a switch-hitting outfielder, which could give the Rays another multi-functional prospect to work with.
    • Second-round choice Nick Sandlin will go to the Indians for $750K, Callis tweets, which will leave some savings against the $939,700 pick allocation. With the signing, the Cleveland organization will add a highly effective collegiate hurler who is known less for his pure stuff than for his wide pitch mix and use of varied arm angles. Sandlin cracked the top 100 list of the Fangraphs team and landed within the top 200 draft prospects as graded by Baseball America and It certainly seems he’ll be an interesting player to follow as a professional.
    Free Agent Stock Watch: Michael Brantley Wed, 13 Jun 2018 20:01:41 +0000 When the 2017 campaign came to a close, it was an open question whether the Indians should and would exercise a $12MM club option over outfielder Michael Brantley. The alternative — which MLBTR poll respondents narrowly preferred — was to send him onto free agency with a $1MM buyout.

    As it turned out, of course, Cleveland elected to roll the dice on Brantley, betting that he’d have his first healthy season since 2015 — when he was a high-end offensive performer. Significant shoulder and ankle problems conspired to limit Brantley to just 101 total games over the ensuing two seasons. Though he hit well in 2017, turning in a .299/.357/.444 with nine home runs in 375 plate appearances, that wasn’t near the top-level output he had turned in previously. All said, it was open to question just what Brantley would contribute in 2018

    For the budget-conscious contenders, it wasn’t an easy call, particularly with a variety of potential buy-low targets available in free agency and other needs clamoring for attention. While the overall roster performance hasn’t been quite to expectations in 2018, though, the decision to hang onto Brantley has paid off handsomely.

    Through 245 plate appearances on the year, Brantley carries a .316/.359/.529 slash with 11 home runs. He has returned to striking out in less than ten percent of his plate appearances. And while he isn’t walking as much as he did in 2015, with a slightly below-average 6.1% rate, Brantley is producing more power (.213 isolated slugging) than he ever has in a full season. Better still, Statcast thinks there’s more in the tank, as it credits him with a .410 xwOBA that significantly exceeds the .374 wOBA mark that has resulted.

    Still, there are some questions facing Brantley away from the plate. Typically a plus runner, he has rated as a negative thus far in 2018 under Fangraphs’ BsR measure. More worrisome, perhaps, is the slippage in his defensive metrics. Most of his career has been spent in range of average in left field, but Brantley has been panned by both DRS (-8) and UZR (-5.6) in 2018.

    In regard to the baserunning and glovework, a full-season sample or finer analysis could change the picture. Still, though, those aren’t the most promising developments for a player who is already 31 years of age and has fought through major health concerns of late. Brantley has also typically carried fairly significant platoon splits over his career, though he has generally produced palatable numbers against southpaws.

    If Brantley can maintain his current offensive trajectory, and perhaps exhibit reasonable form in the other areas of play as well, then he’ll have quite an interesting free-agent case. His premium plate discipline and contact skills ought to play well in the market — former teammate Carlos Santana got $20MM annually last winter despite being limited to first base defensively — though age will certainly come into play.

    Frankly, there are no shortage of interest market markers to consider here. On the lower end, the agreement that Denard Span inked with the Giants covered his age-32 through age-34 campaigns. Like Brantley, he was coming off of some injury-marred campaigns with questions about how he’d bounce back. Melky Cabrera was more youthful but not as accomplished as Brantley when he signed his three-year, $42MM pact with the White Sox. The same is true of Jay Bruce, who was born months apart from Brantley but reached the market one year sooner, securing $39MM over three seasons.

    There’s certainly a ready argument that Brantley ought to out-perform those contracts, particularly if teams still view him as a plausible corner outfielder for most or all of the contractual term. Players of a similarly advanced age have secured five-year guarantees, with recent examples including Lorenzo Cain ($80MM), Dexter Fowler ($82.5MM), and Ian Desmond ($70MM). In each of those cases, though, the length of the deal was perhaps less concerning since the players involved were considered capable of playing center field (as well as the infield, in Desmond’s case), even if Brantley still carries a better offensive profile.

    Barring an unreal run to finish the year, Brantley will likely struggle to command a fifth year, particularly as we’ve generally seen a movement toward shorter contracts in free agency. Even with the injury history, though, might he be a strong candidate for a fourth year? Curtis Granderson got to four years, at a $15MM rate, at a more advanced age. He was coming off of an injury-shortened season, though he was also an established 40-homer bat at a time when that meant more than it does today. Alex Gordon landed $72MM on a four-year term, but didn’t face the kinds of long-term health questions that Brantley does. Nick Swisher was 32 years old when he signed for four years and $56MM after a run as a steadier, but lower-ceiling hitter than Brantley. Of course, those four-year contracts are also somewhat out of date. Josh Reddick recently secured four years and $52MM. But he was entering his age-30 campaign.

    Taken together, that’s quite a broad range. Given his return to form thus far, one could reasonably craft an argument that Brantley ought to rate in the Granderson-Gordon range as a high-quality, veteran corner bat. Then again, teams will need to examine and weigh his long-term medical outlook quite closely, as Brantley has dealt with quite a bit more than the sort of acute injuries that take place in the course of playing baseball. In that view, perhaps the three-year arrangements provide a better model, though even in that event Brantley is on track to staking a claim to a significant AAV.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.