- Set to become a free agent in the offseason, Rockies catcher Jonathan Lucroy explained to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com what an ideal situation for him would look like going forward. “I’m hoping to be somewhere where I can contribute on an everyday basis and help the team win, where I can go out and be depended on to do the job,” Lucroy said. “That’s what I’m looking for. Whether that is here [with the Rockies] or somewhere else, I don’t know what’s going to happen with all that. I do love it here, though. I like it a lot. It’s a great place.” Lucroy, whom the Rockies acquired from the Rangers last month, posted a meager .635 OPS in 306 plate appearances with Texas this year but has hit a much-improved .333/.473/.452 in 51 PAs with his new club. The onetime pitch-framing demigod’s newfound struggles in that department have continued with the Rockies, however, according to Baseball Prospectus.
- The Rockies have announced that they’ve optioned righty Jeff Hoffman and third baseman Ryan McMahon to Triple-A Albuquerque. Taking their places on the active roster are righty Scott Oberg and outfielder Mike Tauchman. The Rockies say they’re optioning Hoffman in order to give him a bit of rest, as MLB.com’s Max Gelman notes. Hoffman has struggled in the second half, with a 7.13 ERA and just 5.9 K/9, and his velocity has been inconsistent of late. “That’s a sign to us. ’Hey, is your arm fine?’” says pitching coach Steve Foster. “’Yeah, I feel great. I’m healthy.’ OK, well then let’s give you a little break.”
The Athletics have acquired lefty Sam Moll from the Rockies, per an announcement from the Colorado organization. Cash considerations or a player to be named later will make up the return for Moll, who had been designated for assignment recently.
Moll, a 2013 third-rounder, showed enough to earn a 40-man spot but had yet to receive a major league promotion. He carries a 4.18 ERA over 47 1/3 innings on the year at Triple-A, with 7.4 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 along with a healthy 50.3% groundball rate.
Those numbers don’t tell the full story on Moll, who was generally regarded as one of the organization’s top thirty or better prospects entering the season. He brings mid-nineties heat from the left side with a slider and even a change that can be effective at times.
Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis made his return to the major league hill tonight after a long road back following treatment for testicular cancer. To call it a success would be an understatement: Bettis, 28, scattered six hits over seven scoreless frames. MLBTR congratulates him on an inspiring return to the game’s highest level of competition.
Here’s more from the National League:
- While there has been at least some chatter surrounding the idea that the Nationals could have interest in Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson, that’s not the case, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (via Twitter). While the Nats’ original starting outfield trio is shelved on the DL, it seems the organization feels good enough about the health outlook to forego pursuit of a player such as Granderson. The hope remains that both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth will be able to return in time to gear up for the postseason, with a variety of other players — including Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, and just-acquired veteran Howie Kendrick — slated to cover for the longstanding absence of Adam Eaton, who is not expected to play again this year.
- Mets closer Jeurys Familia is set to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow, as James Wagner of the New York Times reports on Twitter. Familia will open in the Gulf Coast League as he begins to move back toward the majors following surgery for a blood clot in his shoulder. It’s obviously too late for his return to impact the Mets’ long-lost hopes of contending, but the 27-year-old will still presumably be aiming to get some work in late this year to set the stage for a rebound in 2018. The coming campaign will be his final year of arbitration control; with only 9 1/3 innings on his ledger to date in 2017, Familia will likely only be able to earn a relatively modest raise on his $7.425MM salary.
- While the Nationals and Dodgers hold the two best records in the National League, each team’s manager — Dusty Baker and Dave Roberts, respectively — currently lack long-term job security. In Baker’s case, per Janes, it seems unlikely that his future will be addressed until after the season (when his contract will expire), though it seems the general expectation in the organization remains that something will be worked out. There’s a similar tone with regard to Roberts, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. Roberts says he’s not thinking about a new deal in the middle of the year, but did say he hopes to continue his “dream job” beyond his current term (the three-year deal runs through 2018 and includes a club option for one more season).
- Shaikin also takes a look in at the interesting transition to the mound currently being attempted by Ike Davis and the Dodgers. The former Mets first baseman — and one-time Arizona State closer — has already earned plaudits for his outstanding attitude in heading down to Rookie ball, and there are some reasons to think he could have a new future in the game at thirty years of age. “The early reviews have been really good,” said Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
The last look we took at the handful of players with opt-out clauses following the 2017 season was more than a month ago, and a few of their situations may have changed since that early July check-in. Here’s an update on this group of potential free agents…
- Justin Upton, Tigers ($88.5MM from 2018-21): There have been plenty of suggestions that there’s no way Upton will walk away from that contract, but we’re not really sold on that notion. Upton was terrible in his first three months with the Tigers but is hitting .274/.352/.542 (137 wRC+) with 45 homers dating back to July 1, 2016. Over the past calendar year, he’s hitting .281/.366/.571 (148 wRC+) with 40 homers in 631 PAs. He’s been seven to nine runs above average in left field, per UZR and DRS, as well. Upton will play next year at the age of 30 and needs only to feel he can top Hanley Ramirez’s guarantee to opt out. Beyond that, he may simply like the idea of moving to a team that isn’t openly trying to pare back its payroll and retool for the future.
- Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees ($67MM from 2018-20): Tanaka’s home-run woes are an unequivocally troubling issue, but his numbers since the summer began are encouraging. Since May 26, Tanaka has a 3.99 ERA with 10.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate — good for a 3.12 xFIP and a 3.17 SIERA. The numbers are even better if you look at his past nine starts (3.00 ERA, 65 K, 12 BB, 57 innings). The health concerns are well known. Tanaka had a partial UCL tear in his rookie season but was able to avoid Tommy John, and he’s currently on the DL with what is reportedly some minor shoulder fatigue. The righty has averaged 2.2 HR/9 this year, but he’s also going to be just 29 years old next year. An opt-out looked highly unlikely two months ago but now looks entirely plausible, as long as this latest DL trip proves minor.
- Welington Castillo, Orioles ($7MM player option): Since last check, Castillo has absolutely raked. He’s batted .308/.345/.500 with four homers and three doubles in his past 84 PAs, and his overall batting line it up to .283/.319/.457 (103 wRC+). Castillo’s framing marks have improved from some of the worst in the league to roughly average (per Baseball Prospectus), and he’s halted an incredible 46 percent of stolen-base attempts against him in 2017. He should be able to top a one-year, $7MM deal with ease this winter.
- Greg Holland, Rockies ($15MM player option): Since our last check, Holland has reminded everyone that he is indeed mortal. In his past 11 2/3 frames, he’s coughed up eight runs on a dozen hits and six walks with 14 strikeouts. Six of those runs have come in his past two outings, but as long as that proves to be a blip on the radar, Holland still seems a safe bet to opt out. If he significantly fades in his first year back from Tommy John or lands on the disabled list, though, there’s at least a chance that he takes the option. Assuming he remains healthy, though, Holland will likely look to top Mark Melancon’s four-year, $62MM deal this winter.
- Johnny Cueto, Giants ($84MM from 2018-21): It’s been almost a month since Cueto last set foot on a Major League mound, as he’s been sidelined with a forearm issue that has significantly clouded his chances of opting out. Reports earlier in the summer suggested that a slow start wasn’t going to deter Cueto from opting out, but a month-long injury scare and an ERA in the upper-4.00s certainly might. Cueto, 32 in February, has a 4.59 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and the second worst ground-ball rate of his career (39.2 percent). FIP, xFIP and SIERA all peg him at 4.41 or worse.
Unchanged Since Last Check
- Matt Wieters, Nationals ($10.5MM player option): Wieters wasn’t hitting in early July, and he’s hitting even less now. His defensive reputation limited him to a two-year, $21MM deal with a player option after year one on the 2016-17 open market, and that was coming off a much better offensive season. Wieters seems extremely likely to take the $10.5MM in 2018.
- Ian Kennedy, Royals ($49MM from 2018-20): Kennedy’s results have improved slightly since the last opt-out update, but it’s hardly enough to make it likely that he’ll opt out of that significant guarantee. Through 120 innings in 2017, Kennedy has averaged 1.65 HR/9, tying a career-worst mark, while both his strikeout and walk rates have gone the wrong direction. He’s also missed a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury, and he’ll turn 33 this December.
- Wei-Yin Chen, Marlins ($52MM from 2018-20): No change here. Chen has scarcely been able to pitch in 2017 due to a reported partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. He’s reportedly still aiming for a late comeback, but that won’t be enough to give him the earning power to top his remaining guarantee.
3:32pm: Good news for the Rockies: X-rays came back negative on Arenado, who has a left hand contusion, tweets Saunders.
2:34pm: Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado left the team’s game Sunday in Miami in “considerable pain” after taking a pitch off the left hand from Marlins starter Vance Worley, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. The extent of the injury is unknown at the moment, but it’s the second scare in as many days involving a National League superstar. Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper suffered a knee injury on Saturday, leading to a placement on the disabled list, though there’s hope that he’ll be back within a few weeks.
Arenado, like Harper, is an indispensable member of his team. He’s also the face of a Colorado club that owns a 65-51 record, giving it a 4.5-game lead on a wild-card spot. The Rockies appear bound for the playoffs for the first time since 2009, which is thanks in no small part to Arenado. The 26-year-old has been among the majors’ top players since his breakout campaign, 2014, and has continued his standout play this season. Thus far, Arenado has batted a robust .311/.361/.585 with 26 home runs and a major league-best 100 runs batted in across 497 plate appearances. He’s again delivering incredible value at the hot corner, too, with 17 defensive runs saved and a 6.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. Arenado’s two-way excellence has led to a 3.9 fWAR, which ranks 11th among NL position players.
After Arenado exited Sunday, the Rockies brought shortstop Trevor Story off the bench to take his place. Third base options on their roster include the just-promoted Ryan McMahon, Pat Valaika and Alexi Amarista.
The Rockies announced that they have agreed to a minor league contract with first baseman Ryan Howard.
This is the second time this year the longtime Phillie has taken a minors pact. Howard signed one with the Braves back in April, but the 37-year-old only lasted about a month with the organization. After Howard batted just .184/.238/.263 in 42 plate appearances with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, they released him.
At his best, Howard was an NL MVP-winning slugger in Philadelphia, where he belted 382 home runs from 2004-16 and swatted between 31 and 58 HRs in each season from 2006-11. But Howard declined markedly as his Phillies career progressed and posted a personal-worst season in 2016, making it difficult for him to find work since.
Howard still possesses enough power to make him a somewhat interesting fit for Colorado’s Coors Field, but he’s certainly not a lock to ever play a game for the Rockies. The playoff hopefuls have gotten solid production at first this year from Mark Reynolds, and they just promoted big-hitting prospect Ryan McMahon on Friday. Nevertheless, with Sept. 1 roster expansion forthcoming, Howard will hope to make his way back to the majors during the season’s final weeks.
The Rockies announced that they’ve promoted infield prospect Ryan McMahon to the majors. In corresponding moves, the team optioned outfielder Raimel Tapia to Triple-A and designated left-hander Sam Moll for assignment.
Colorado chose to select McMahon’s contract because of first baseman Mark Reynolds’ left hand injury, tweets Nick Groke of the Denver Post. McMahon’s primary position has been third base since the Rockies used a second-round pick on him in 2013, but the 22-year-old has seen plenty of action at first in recent seasons with Nolan Arenado holding down the hot corner in the majors.
The lefty-swinging McMahon is the sport’s 64th-best prospect, according to MLB.com, while Baseball America has him at No. 91. MLB.com’s scouting report credits McMahon’s natural power, but the outlet notes that there are questions as to whether he can handle good pitching. McMahon has held his own offensively this year at Triple-A Albuquerque, though, with a .375/.409/.625 line in 269 plate appearances, to go with a .250 ISO and 13 home runs. His output has been a whopping 61 percent better than the Pacific Coast League average, per FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric.
Moll, 25, joined the Colorado organization back in 2013 as a third-rounder. He hasn’t yet reached the majors, and has posted so-so Triple-A results in a tough league for pitchers over the past couple years. Moll threw 47 1/3 Triple-A frames of 4.94 ERA ball in 2016 and has amassed the same amount of innings this season. Thus far, he has logged a 4.18 ERA with 7.42 K/9, 3.42 BB/9 and a 50.3 percent ground-ball rate.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rockies announced yesterday that they’ve moved right-hander Tyler Chatwood to the bullpen, clearing way for rookie Antonio Senzatela to rejoin the starting rotation, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. That’s a disappointing development for the 27-year-old Chatwood, who is slated to become a free agent for the first time following the 2017 season. The results for Chatwood haven’t been there in 2017, though, as he’s averaged 7.2 K/9, 5.0 BB/9 and 1.36 HR/9 en route to a 5.11 ERA through 112 2/3 innings. Chatwood does have a rather gaudy 57.4 percent ground-ball rate, though, and he’s pitched well away from Coors Field in each of the past two seasons. Both elements could help him look a bit more favorable on this winter’s open market, as will the fact that he’s rather young for a free-agent starter. Chatwood, as Saunders notes, voiced that his clear preference is to pitch as a starter, though he also stated that he’ll pitch in whatever role the Rox feel is best as the team looks to land an NL Wild Card spot.
The Rockies offered Carlos Gonzalez a new four-year deal during extension talks last spring, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports. The two sides explored an extension for the long-time Colorado outfielder during the offseason, though talks never seemed to get too far — this four-year proposal is the only known offer exchanged, apart from some “initial suggestions” from Rockies management that were rejected out of hand by Gonzalez’s representatives in early December. Gonzalez said that he and the team hadn’t engaged in serious talks as of last February 22, and negotiations were reportedly “on hold” as of early March. The dollar value of the offer isn’t known (Nightengale describes it as “lucrative”), though the fact that Colorado was willing to offer four years to a player who will be 32 next Opening Day is in itself significant, especially since the Rockies have several other interesting outfielders on their big league roster and in the minors. The lack of an extension looms large for Gonzalez in the wake of his disappointing 2017 season — he has suffered through two DL stints and is batting a career-worst .228/.299/.345 over 365 plate appearances.