- When the Athletics put Rich Hill on the market, they can be expected to charge a high price for him, Rosenthal says. Hill’s stats — if only for this season — compare favorably to David Price’s last year, and he might be amenable to an extension with his new team.
- Prior to this season, there was no trade interest in Melvin Upton unless the Padres took on the rest of his contract. After a .268/.315/.464 performance this year, though, that’s changing, at least to a degree. San Diego still owes Upton a little under $40MM through 2017, but teams are now willing to give up talent, with the Padres’ return increasing depending upon how much salary they’re willing to take on. The Padres might be motivated to deal Upton and/or Matt Kemp to clear space for former first-round pick Hunter Renfroe, who’s batting .335/.362/.611 for Triple-A El Paso. Austin Hedges has also hit well for the Chihuahuas, which means the Padres could also look to move fellow catcher Derek Norris to clear space in the big leagues.
- Jay Bruce to the Blue Jays would make sense, Rosenthal opines. Acquiring Bruce from the Reds would allow the Jays to move Jose Bautista (who’s currently on the DL with a toe injury) to DH and reduce playing time for the underwhelming Justin Smoak. The Jays have a greater need for pitching, but might play to the strengths of the market by acquiring hitting instead.
- The Phillies could consider keeping Jeremy Hellickson, who’s in the midst of a solid season — he could eat innings for them down the stretch, with the Phillies perhaps gambling on him by extending a qualifying offer this coming winter and hoping to grab a draft pick as a result. But they would still “jump” at a good trade offer. Of their relievers, the Phils are more likely to deal David Hernandez or Andrew Bailey than Jeanmar Gomez, who they can control for 2017. Other Phillies candidates to be dealt include Andres Blanco and Peter Bourjos.
- Rosenthal begins the second video with a brief discussion of an article of his from earlier today about former Cardinals minor leaguer Cody Stanley, who has already received a 162-game suspension and expects to receive a lifetime ban for repeatedly testing positive for the steroid Turinabol. Stanley claims to not know why he keeps testing positive. “I will never apologize for something I didn’t do,” Stanley said in a statement. “We will not stop searching for why all of this has happened.” Chris Colabello of the Blue Jays, Alec Asher and Daniel Stumpf of the Phillies and Boog Powell of the Mariners have all tested positive for Turinabol and received suspensions, and all claim not to know what happened. “Who would be stupid enough to take the same steroid again?” Stanley asks Rosenthal.
- The Mets are likely to trade for pitching after a series of injuries to their hurlers, Rosenthal says. Recent injuries to Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard could have the team looking in different directions this month than previously anticipated, perhaps to starters, perhaps to relievers.
- The Dodgers will consider dealing Yasiel Puig before the August 1 deadline, Rosenthal suggests. Whether they actually do deal him could depend, however, on the timing of Andre Ethier’s return and whether they acquire another outfielder.
The Cardinals announced that they have non-tendered right-hander Steve Cishek as well as catcher Cody Stanley. The latter of the two, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes (Twitter link), is in the midst of serving a suspension.
Cishek’s non-tender wasn’t necessarily unexpected, considering his lofty $7.1MM arbitration projection (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). Nevertheless, his entry into the free-agent market is notable, as teams will now have the opportunity to negotiate with a player that was once considered to be a star-caliber closer.
The 29-year-old Cishek saved 88 games for the Marlins from 2012-14 and logged a stellar 2.65 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 over his first 257 2/3 innings as a Major League reliever (2010-14). However, he struggled in the early stages of the 2015 season, even earning a demotion to the minors along the way. Cishek performed well at Triple-A and yielded just one earned run across 12 2/3 innings in his return to the Majors before being traded to St. Louis for right-hander Kyle Barraclough.
With the Cardinals, Cishek posted a strong 2.31 ERA, but that number didn’t tell the full story of his work in St. Louis, as he posted a somewhat troublesome 20-to-13 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings with his new club. His velocity was also down in 2015, as his 90.8 mph average heater was the lowest of his career and a good bit south of the ~92.5 mph he averaged when at his best.
Although he’s coming off the worst season of his career, Cishek still seems like a candidate to land a big league deal when considering his entire body of work at the Major League level: a 2.82 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 50.1 percent ground-ball rate.
Here’s the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Brewers may not add any free agent arms this winter, let alone big-name pitchers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Recent signings Randy Wolf, Jeff Suppan, Kyle Lohse were all unable to pitch effectively throughout the entirety of their multi-year deals with the Crew, and Matt Garza may be the latest signing to not make a full return on his contract given his rough 2015 numbers. The Brewers could rely on internal pitching options for next year’s rotation and since contending in 2016 will be a tall order, signing a top free agent starter (such as Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann) isn’t happening.
- Also from Haudricourt’s piece, he notes that next year’s Brewers payroll will be “down significantly” from its $102MM figure this season. “Principal owner Mark Attanasio has shown he is willing to go the extra mile financially when his team is in contending mode but otherwise has said many times he won’t spend just to spend,” Haudricourt writes, and thus a payroll cut seems imminent with the club entering a rebuild phase.
- J.A. Happ was a fairly unheralded trade deadline pickup but he’s pitched like an ace since joining the Pirates, to the point of outshining almost all the big-name pitchers who changed teams in July. Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan looks at why Happ has blossomed since coming to Pittsburgh to the tune of a 1.79 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 6.00 K/BB rate over 40 1/3 innings.
- Speaking of unheralded Pirates acquisitions, Francisco Cervelli has been more than just a suitable replacement for Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Cervelli’s 3.5 fWAR is the second-highest of any catcher in baseball, behind only Buster Posey (5.6) and well ahead of Martin (3.0). Cervelli has stayed healthy and contributed at the plate, while Sawchik also looks at how Cervelli has developed and adjusted his elite pitch-framing skills.
- Cody Stanley’s 80-game PED suspension could threaten his future with the Cardinals, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. GM John Mozeliak said he and the organization will “look at our options” before deciding whether or not to keep the young catcher. “He clearly was having a nice year and we thought enough of him to bring him up. To everybody involved, it’s disappointing,” Mozeliak said. Stanley, a fourth-rounder from the 2010 draft, was ranked by Baseball America as the 22nd-best prospect in the Cards’ organization prior to the season, though given the depth of St. Louis’ system and the two PED suspensions now on Stanley’s record, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the club cut ties with him.
Tigers players are unfazed by recent rumors surrounding manager Brad Ausmus, MLive.com’s Chris Iott writes. Recent reports have indicated that the Tigers plan to fire Ausmus once the season is over, although new GM Al Avila has said the team hasn’t yet made up its mind. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, however, was completely unaware of the rumors and had to have them explained to him before he could comment. “It’s not significant right now,” said Kinsler. “When a move’s made, whether he stays as manager or we find a new manager, then I think it will be significant. … But right now it’s really nothing.” Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- Cardinals catcher Cody Stanley has been suspended 80 games for use of a performance-enhancing substance, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. The Cardinals promoted Stanley when rosters expanded so he could serve as their third catcher, behind Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz. They added another catcher, Ed Easley, yesterday. Stanley, the Cards’ fourth-round pick in 2010, hit .241/.304/.359 this season for Triple-A Memphis. He also received a 50-game suspension as a minor leaguer in 2012.
- The Indians could try to acquire a late-inning reliever this offseason, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Cleveland’s bullpen has fared well overall — its 3.18 ERA ranks seventh in the Majors, and Indians relievers also boast strong peripherals, with 8.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 this season. But with Marc Rzepczynski gone via a trade to the Padres, the Indians are a bit thin on lefty relief, and although they’ve gotten good performances from pitchers like Zach McAllister and Jeff Manship, they could grab another pitcher to help Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw in the late innings.
- The Pirates lost Russell Martin last winter, but after acquiring Francisco Cervelli in an offseason trade with the Yankees, they’ve maintained a very high level of production at the catcher position, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Pirates catchers (almost entirely Cervelli and Chris Stewart) have hit a remarkable .302/.370/.396 this season, and Pirates catchers rank first in the Majors in batting average and on-base percentage. Also, Cervelli ranks as the top pitch-framer in the game, and Stewart is above average there as well. The Bucs are also paying the duo a total of about $2.2MM this season.