- The Tigers went way over slot to sign fifth-rounder Sam McMillan, Callis tweets. McMillan’s No. 155 slot came with a bonus of about $313K, but the prep catcher out of Florida will instead take home a bonus of an even $1MM. McMillan’s glove gets more praise than his bat right now, but he’s regarded as one of the better receiving catchers in the 2017 draft.
The Reds will promote young righty Luis Castillo to make his MLB debut on Friday, as C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Skipper Bryan Price cited the 24-year-old’s strike-throwing ability as a prime motivation for his call-up over a few other hurlers who are working at the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Castillo, who came over in the offseason deal that sent Dan Straily to the Marlins, has impressed thus far at Double-A. Through 80 1/3 innings over 14 starts, he owns a 2.58 ERA with a healthy 9.1 K/9 to go with just 1.5 BB/9.
Here are some more notes from Cinci and the game’s central divisions:
- In other Reds pitching news, veteran righty Homer Bailey is set to make his season debut on Saturday, Rosecrans notes, so long as a pen session today goes well. Bailey, 31, has turned in three strong rehab outings at Triple-A, allowing just two earned runs on 11 hits through 16 2/3 innings while sporting a 17:3 K/BB ratio. The Reds will hope that can carry over into the majors, as Bailey remains an important player for the organization this year and into the future. He’s owed $19MM in 2017 and another $49MM over the next two campaigns (including a buyout on a 2020 mutual option). Bailey is working back from surgery for bone spurs in his elbow, the most recent of several procedures, and hasn’t turned in a full season’s work since way back in 2013.
- The Cardinals, meanwhile, ought to be preparing to sell at the deadline this summer, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch argues. Ticket sales remain strong despite the club’s scuffles, he notes, but that doesn’t mean 2017 contention is terribly realistic for a club that sits five games under .500. (It is fair to note, though, that the Cards are still just four back in a mediocre NL Central.) As for potential chips, Ortiz suggests that pending free agent starter Lance Lynn ought to be made available, along with relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Seung-Hwan Oh.
- The Royals are seeing some progress from southpaw Danny Duffy, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. Duffy, 28, seems to be one more pen session away from embarking upon a rehab stint, though manager Ned Yost suggested he’ll likely require three minor-league starts before returning to the majors. When he’s finally able to return from his oblique strain, Duffy figures to represent quite an impactful addition for a K.C. team that has pushed back toward contention even without its top hurler.
- As the Tigers struggle to stay afloat in the AL Central, the club is dealing yet again with bullpen woes, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Skipper Brad Ausmus suggested that he isn’t terribly confident in the bulk of the club’s relievers, which isn’t terribly surprising to hear given the numbers. Shane Greene may have eclipsed Alex Wilson as the team’s primary setup option, it seems, but as Fenech notes the Tigers still are struggling to hand off to closer Justin Wilson. While youngster Joe Jimenez is throwing again at Triple-A, Detroit is understandably taking things slowly with him, leaving few clear options for a club that sits six games under .500 entering today’s action.
Here are some of the day’s notable draft signings:
- The Reds have agreed to terms with three of their top four picks, according to reports from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (on Twitter) and Jim Callis (also via Twitter). 32nd overall selection Jeter Downs and 38th pick Stuart Fairchild have both signed for at-slot bonuses, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). Downs, a high-school shortstop, will receive $2,084,400 to forgo his commitment to the University of Miami. The MLB.com prospect team was the only one to place him inside the top 50, at #37, citing his solid all-around profile and rising status entering the draft. Fairchild, a junior outfielder out of Wake Forest, will take the $1,802,800 slot money. ESPN.com’s Keith Law was the highest pundit on Fairchild, ranking him 31st among eligible players while noting his strength and potential ability to remain in center field as a professional. Meanwhile, third-round pick Jacob Heatherly will land well over the $743,900 slot value of the 77th overall pick. The prep lefty will take home a $1,047,500 bonus, per Callis.
- Brewers second-rounder Caden Lemons has struck a deal with his new team, he tells Kyle Parmley of the Vestavia Voice. The Ole Miss commit elected to turn pro for a still-unreported bonus amount. Lemons was taken 46th overall, a pick that comes with a $1,493,500 allocation. Entering the draft, the righty was ranked as high as 52nd overall. He received that grade from ESPN.com’s Keith Law, who cites Lemon’s projectability as well as concerns about his ability to stick in the rotation with a slight build.
- The Yankees are in agreement with their second-round pick, righty Matt Sauer, pending a physical, MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports on Twitter. Bonus terms remain unknown at this time, but the 54th overall pick comes with a $1,236,000 allocation. Sauer, a California high-schooler who had been ticketed for the University of Arizona, drew top-thirty billing from MLB.com, Baseball America, and Fangraphs. While Sauer’s big fastball and slider point towards significant upside, the analysts agree he’ll need to work on a third offering to make it in a MLB rotation.
- Tigers second-rounder Reynaldo Rivera is in agreement on a $850K bonus, Callis tweets. That’ll save the organization nearly $300K against the slot value to utilize on other players. Rivera, a power-hitting first baseman from Chipola Junior College, did not draw any top-100 prospect tabs but did land in the 150th place on MLB.com’s board.
- Diamondbacks supplemental second-round choice Daulton Varsho will receive the slot value of $880,100 that comes with the 68th overall pick, Callis reports on Twitter. The Wisconsin-Milwaukee backstop, who’s the son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho, was the last player to reach the top 100 on Baseball America’s ranking.
- In bonus news, the Rays gave second-round pick Michael Mercado $2,132,400, Callis tweets, which is well over the $1,714,500 bonus allocation for the 40th overall pick. His signing had previously been reported. Angels second-rounder Griffin Canning will indeed receive the slot value of $1,459,200, Callis tweets, as had previously been suggested.
- The Tigers announced Sunday that they’ve recalled righty Anibal Sanchez from Triple-A Toledo and optioned fellow righty Buck Farmer. Sanchez will make his first major league start of the year Monday against the Mariners. After getting off to a poor start out of the Tigers’ bullpen this season, the 33-year-old Sanchez requested a demotion to the minors in May so he could work out of Toledo’s rotation. Since then, Sanchez has pitched to an underwhelming 4.60 ERA over 15 2/3 innings and four starts, though he has also notched 11.49 K/9, 2.87 BB/9 and a 45.2 percent ground-ball rate. Sanchez, who’s in a contract year and making $16MM, has been a quality big leaguer for most of his career, but he hasn’t been particularly effective since 2014.
- With his expensive salary, Sanchez has been a key part of the Tigers’ high payrolls in recent years. As mentioned, though, he’ll be off the books after this season, when the Tigers plan to tamp down their spending. “I don’t think you’ll see us spending over $200 million on payroll like we have in past. You’ll see more lean payroll,” general manager Al Avila told MLB Network Radio on Sunday (Twitter link). Detroit is right around the $200MM threshold at the moment, per Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource, but has only managed a 32-36 record and is on pace to miss the playoffs for the third straight year.
- The Nationals have yet to engage in serious talks with the Tigers about Justin Wilson or with the Athletics about Ryan Madson, though the relievers are “two of the Nationals’ prime bullpen targets.” There isn’t any indication yet that Detroit is open to moving Wilson, however, since the team is still in the race. If the Tigers do become sellers, however, they’ll get plenty of interest in the southpaw, who took over from Francisco Rodriguez as closer earlier this season. Wilson has a 2.67 ERA, 3.55 K/BB rate and 39 strikeouts over 27 innings.
- Before the Braves traded outfielder Mallex Smith to the Mariners last January, the Tigers had interest in acquiring him, tweets Jason Beck of MLB.com. The speedy Smith, who went from Atlanta to Seattle and then Seattle to Tampa Bay on the same day, posted modest numbers as a rookie last year but has gotten off to a hot start with the Rays (.368/.438/.491 with seven stolen bases in 60 plate appearances). He surely would have factored into the center field mix for Detroit, whose production there has been woeful.
- Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat this week, was released from a Detroit-area hospital on Saturday, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. It’s unclear whether Martinez will come off the disabled list when he’s first eligible on June 27, per Beck. For now, “the thought process is probably a week of rest,” said manager Brad Ausmus.
Veteran Tigers slugger Victor Martinez has been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, according to manager Brad Ausmus (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, on Twitter). Martinez will be placed on the 10-day DL.
Martinez left last night’s game with symptoms of illness, though at the time there was no indication of a significant problem. He ended up requiring an overnight stay in the hospital, and Ausmus suggests that he may do so again tonight, as Evan Woodberry of MLive.com tweets.
Further details are not available at this time, and obviously the primary concern lies with the 38-year-old’s overall well-being. MLBTR extends its best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.
The Tigers themselves are waiting to see how what general manager Al Avila calls “the J.D. Martinez situation” unfolds, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. The Tigers are currently mired in third place at 29-32, but could potentially work their way more clearly toward contention, or out of it, over the next month. If they do find themselves leaning toward trading him, the quality of Martinez’s own play and his health are two more variables, along with which contenders want him and how badly. The Tigers could also keep him and collect a draft pick should he reject a qualifying offer, although they might stand to get more if they trade him this summer. Employees from other teams suggest the return for Martinez might not be spectacular, but it would be considerable. “Maybe the ‘1A’ prospect. Not the tip-top, but among the better group,” says an NL scout. “I’d happily give away our No. 2 and No. 4 prospect,” says a scout from the AL. Martinez has clearly established himself as a consistent power hitter, and his .297/.389/.714 line in 108 plate appearances since returning from a spring foot injury can’t hurt his stock. Here’s more from around the league.
- The Tigers activated catcher James McCann, who has been out of action since May 25 due to a laceration on his left hand. McCann will be returning to a “platoon-oriented” timeshare but not exclusively so, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus told reporters (including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press). The left-handed Alex Avila has a whopping 1.074 OPS over 139 PA this year, so it seems likely that he’ll get the lion’s share of playing time over the right-handed hitting McCann.