- The Indians have released first baseman Chris Colabello from his minor league deal, the club announced. Colabello inked his deal with the Tribe in the offseason and hit .225/.324/.333 with six homers over 296 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. It was less than two years ago that Colabello emerged to help the Blue Jays win the 2015 AL East title, though a failed PED test in April 2016 put a sour twist on that breakout season. After the subsequent 80-game suspension, Colabello didn’t return to the Jays’ MLB roster and he managed just a .547 OPS over 173 minor league PA last year.
TODAY: Francona was discharged from hospital on Friday and is resting at home, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (Twitter link).
FRIDAY: Indians manager Terry Francona has undergone a catheter ablation procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat and will not manage the American League All-Star team next week, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (all Twitter links). Cleveland bench coach Brad Mills will manage the AL All-Star team with assistance from Tampa Bay skipper Kevin Cash, Rosenthal adds. The Indians have announced, via press release, that Francona will be discharged from the hospital “within the next day or two,” adding that he’s expected to resume his managerial duties next Friday.
Francona has been away from the Indians for the past three games and, in June, twice exited games after feeling light-headed and experiencing an elevated heart rate, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes. Mills has been managing the club in Francona’s recent absence and will continue to do so until he’s able to rejoin the team.
Though it’ll be a shame not to see Francona in the dugout at this year’s Midsummer Classic, the health and well-being of one of baseball’s most well-respected figures is, obviously, a considerably higher priority. We at MLBTR join the baseball world in wishing Francona a full recovery and look forward to his return to the dugout.
Here are some notable American League international signings not yet covered elsewhere on MLB Trade Rumors. All signing information can be found in these invaluable compilations of the initial flurry of July 2 action from Baseball America’s Ben Badler and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez; the information here is from those sources unless otherwise credited…
- The Yankees have agreed to sign Venezuelan outfielder Everson Pereira and shortstop Roberto Chirinos. Pereira will receive a $1.5MM bonus, while Chirinos gets $900K. The Yankees are also seen as the favorites to sign Dominican shortstop Ronny Rojas, with Sanchez projecting a $1.05MM bonus. Badler tweets that Rojas isn’t eligible to officially sign until August, when he turns 16 years old.
- The Blue Jays have reached agreement with Brazilian right-hander Eric Pardinho on a $1.4MM bonus, as well as signing Dominican shortstop Miguel Hiraldo to a $750K deal.
- The Tigers agreed to sign Venezuelan shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez for a $1MM bonus.
- The Indians have reached deals with Venezuelan shortstop Aaron Bracho ($1.5MM) and Dominican outfielder George Valera ($1.3MM according to Sanchez, $1.2MM according to Badler).
- The Angels signed Bahamanian outfielder Trent Deveaux, with Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reporting that Deveaux will receive a $1.2MM bonus.
- The Mariners have a $1.75MM agreement with Dominican outfielder Julio Rodriguez, as well as a $1.225MM agreement with Venezuelan shortstop Juan Querecuto.
- The Rangers agreed to nine-figure deals with a trio of prospects. Venezuelan outfielder Wilderd Patino will receive a $1.3MM bonus, while Venezuelan shortstop Keyber Rodriguez and Mexican right-hander Damian Mendoza each get bonuses worth $1MM.
- The Indians announced that MLB has suspended right-hander Joe Colon for the rest of the season after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Colon has been with the Indians since they selected him in the 12th round of the 2009 draft, and he debuted in the majors last year with 10 innings of eight-earned run, 12-hit ball. The 27-year-old worked at Triple-A this season and posted a 4.13 ERA, 9.37 K/9 and 4.96 BB/9 in 32 2/3 innings.
Let’s round up the latest significant draft signings:
- Both of the Blue Jays’ top picks are under contract, per a team announcement. Both Logan Warmoth and Nate Pearson will receive above-slot bonuses, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter), though neither went much over. MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that Warmoth will receive $2,820,200 ($25K over slot), while Pearson gets $2,452,900 (that’s $150K over the value of the 28th pick). Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith has the story on the deal from the team’s perspective. Warmoth, taken 22nd overall, received top-20 billing from Baseball America and Fangraphs. ESPN.com’s Keith Law was even higher on the UNC shortstop, crediting him with a top-level hit tool, good speed, and a strong chance to stick at short in the long run. Similarly, Pearson drew a consensus as being a top-30-ish prospect, but earned a higher grade from one outlet. BA ranked him 13th, noting that the JuCo righty has made huge strides in developing his arsenal and controlling it.
- The Astros announced the signing of second-rounder Corbin Martin, a right-hander from Texas A&M. He’ll receive a $1MM bonus, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter), which lands a bit shy of the $1,178,600 allotment for the 56th overall selection. MLB.com was highest on Martin, ranking him 32nd, noting that some inconsistencies have clouded the status of a pitcher who has a promising array of pitches.
- Indians supplemental second-round pick Tyler Freeman, a high-school shortstop from California, will get the slot value of $816,500, Callis tweets. He cracked the top 100 on BA’s list. While he’s said not to possess loud tools, Freeman is credited as a well-rounded player with a sense for the game and quality makeup.
- The Indians placed Austin Jackson on the 10-day disabled list yesterday after an MRI revealed a strained quadriceps, president of baseball ops Chris Antonetti told reporters (via Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Antonetti said that the team’s expectation is that it’ll be three to four weeks before Jackson is able to return to the big league roster. Jackson, 30, is in the midst of a rather quiet rebound season, as he’s hitting a robust .304/.383/.500 through 120 plate appearances this season.
The Mariners got some unwelcome news about the status of rehabbing lefty Drew Smyly. As Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, plans for Smyly to face live hitting were scuttled after the southpaw experienced some elbow discomfort. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre explains that Smyly has dealt with other such “episodes” while working back from a flexor strain, especially when throwing breaking pitches, so perhaps this could just be a minor blip. Still, he’s slated for a medical examination; at present, there’s no clear indication of what’ll come next. “Until the doctors check, and all that stuff subsides, you just can’t move forward,” explains Stottlemyre. “It’s hard to make a plan going forward until we know more.”
Clearly, Seattle’s deadline plans could be altered by Smyly’s progress (or lack thereof). If the team finds itself in a strong Wild Card position at the end of July, but doesn’t think it’ll get the rotation boost it needs, it’s at least possible to imagine a move to bolster the rotation. Here are some more notable injury situations from around the game:
- Young Braves hurler Patrick Weigel is headed for Tommy John surgery, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That’s the result that was feared when it was learned that he had suffered a partial UCL tear. Soon to turn 23, Weigel had reached Triple-A in just his third professional season. He could’ve conceivably provided the Braves with a rotation option for 2018, so the loss should only increase the organization’s interest in adding a significant outside starter.
- It seems the Astros are wisely taking a measured approach with southpaw Dallas Keuchel, who is working back from a pinched nerve in his neck. As Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle writes, skipper A.J. Hinch acknowledges that the club is “just being conservative” by “methodically putting a few more challenges in front of him” to bring Keuchel along slowly. With Keuchel in need of at some rehab outings before returning to the MLB hill, it seems he won’t likely make it back until after the All-Star break. That timeline surely works just fine for the front-running Astros, who are as close to a postseason shoe-in as there can be at this stage of the season.
- The Nationals’ bullpen needs have long been a focus of the 2017 trade season. Just how many arms the Nats will go looking for could well depend in part upon the progress of several current pitchers. Per a club update, via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com (via Twitter), Sammy Solis appears to be making real strides after missing a significant stretch with elbow issues, as he was able to take the ball for Triple-A Syracuse. If the power lefty can return to health and to form, that’d be a significant boost. Meanwhile, Shawn Kelley (out with a trap strain) has resumed throwing — which is not yet the case for fellow righty Koda Glover (who is dealing with back issues).
- There’s some positive momentum for Indians righty Danny Salazar, as Jimmy Miller of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Salazar says his shoulder feels good, and he’s now slated to begin a rehab assignment. The high-octane hurler, 27, could potentially re-take a spot in the rotation or provide Cleveland with another fascinating, multi-inning-capable bullpen arm.
- Likewise, the Cubs saw progress from righty Kyle Hendricks, as Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago tweets that he was able to throw (albeit only from 90 feet) without experiencing any issues in his hand. Hendricks has been dealing with tendon problems in his pitching hand, leading to a DL placement. Before going down with the injury, Hendricks had turned in eleven somewhat worrying starts. Expectations were high after he landed third in the 2016 Cy Young voting, but Hendricks has shown a significant velocity loss (over two miles per hour on his fastball) and a big drop in swinging-strike rate (from 10.0% to 7.3%). Getting him healthy and back to form would represent a big boost to the Cubs, though it’s not clear whether they’ll have a real read on his capacity before making deadline plans.
- While the Reds haven’t yet made a move, it seems likely that lefty Brandon Finnegan is heading back to the DL. Initial indications were that he had only experienced a triceps strain during his first start after rehabbing an injury to the teres major muscle in his shoulder. Instead, per manager Bryan Price (on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, via Twitter), the injury was traced to that same muscle. While it’s said to be in a different part of the muscle, it nevertheless seems rather concerning that Finnegan is experiencing issues in that same narrow area. The broader prognosis remains unclear at this moment, though Price said he expects the southpaw to miss “at least … several weeks, if not longer.”
The Indians have signed utilityman Michael Martinez to a minor league contract, per a team announcement. He’ll report to Triple-A Columbus.
The 34-year-old Martinez was most recently with the Rays, who designated him for assignment this past Monday, but there’s plenty of familiarity between him and the Cleveland organization. This will be the third stint with the franchise for Martinez, who debuted with the team back in 2015 and was on and off the Indians’ roster last year. The Tribe traded Martinez to the Red Sox last July and then brought him back via waivers in August. The light-hitting right-hander ended up making the final out in Game 7 of the World Series, which the Indians lost to the Cubs, and then opened 2017 in Cleveland.
In 395 career major league plate appearances with the Indians, Red Sox, Rays, Phillies and Pirates, Martinez has hit just .194/.243/.261. He has fared much better at Triple-A, where he owns a .282/.336/.395 line in 1,399 PAs.
- Indians utilityman extraordinaire Jose Ramirez will move his representation to the Wasserman Media Group, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. It seems that Ramirez is sticking with agent Rafa Nieves, who just joined Wasserman. Ramirez has only just embarked upon a new, four-year deal with Cleveland that was inked late in Spring Training. With two options included, the contract covers all of Ramirez’s potential arbitration eligibility and allows the organization to control the switch-hitting 24-year-old through his age-31 season. He had earned the deal after a strong 2016 season, but his stock has risen yet further after opening the 2017 campaign with a .322/.376/.557 slash through 290 plate appearances. Notably, Ramirez has already swatted 11 long balls, matching last year’s tally in less than half the trips to the plate.
- The Indians announced that right-hander Jarrett Grube has been acquired from the Blue Jays for cash considerations. Grube will report to Triple-A Columbus. Grube spent part of 2016 in the Tribe’s organization before being released in June. The righty had a 6.14 ERA over 55 2/3 IP and 11 starts with the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate this season. Over 14 pro seasons, the 35-year-old Grube has pitched for five different organizations and appeared in just one Major League game, back in 2014 with the Angels.