While the Tigers’ 36-37 record looks underwhelming, they’ve no doubt exceeded expectations so far after finishing last in the majors in 2017. But even though the team sits just 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central, general manager Al Avila isn’t adjusting his immediate or long-term plans, he explained to Jason Beck of MLB.com and other reporters Sunday. Perhaps of greater intrigue, Avila’s not ready to say whether he aims to keep either right fielder Nicholas Castellanos or right-hander Michael Fulmer for the long haul. While Avila noted that “I don’t have a mandate to trade anyone,” he added that “our intent here is to be open-minded, and if somebody offers us something that quite frankly makes us better as we move forward, then we have to really seriously consider that.”
The Tigers failed in their attempts to extend Castellanos last winter, and the 26-year-old has since hit at a career-best pace with a .310/.353/.502 line in 306 plate appearances. He’s in his second-last year of arbitration control, while Fulmer is in his final pre-arb season and isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2022 campaign. The 25-year-old is now in the midst of his third straight effective season, although it hasn’t been impressive as the previous two, as he has recorded a 4.13 ERA/4.08 FIP through 80 2/3 innings.
Now the latest on a pair of NL Central teams:
- The Cardinals plan to activate reliever Greg Holland from the disabled list during the upcoming week, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Holland has been out since May 26 with a right hip impingement, and the results during his rehab assignment haven’t been “ideal,” manager Mike Matheny admitted. The $14MM free-agent signing has allowed four earned runs on five hits (two home runs) and posted more walks than strikeouts (five to four) in five minor league games. He has also logged horrid numbers in the majors this year, having recorded a 9.45 ERA with 10 strikeouts and 15 walks in 13 1/3 innings.
- The Pirates reinstated infielder Jung Ho Kang from the restricted list and optioned him to Triple-A on Friday. General manager Neal Huntington spoke about Kang on Sunday (via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review), saying “we need to see quality plate appearances” in the minors and “we need to see him doing the things he did before to show us he can be major league ready again.” If that happens, the Pirates will be happy to welcome Kang back, Huntington suggested. “We would love to have a healthy and productive Jung Ho Kang back on this major league team,” he said, “because if that player comes back, he’s going to help us win games.” Kang did indeed help Pittsburgh win games from 2015-16, but he then earned his third DUI in his native South Korea prior to the 2017 season and hasn’t played in the majors since.