- Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters Friday that left-hander Hector Santiago is likely done for the season (via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com). Santiago, who hasn’t taken a major league mound since July 2 because of a shoulder strain, threw just 84 mph to 87 mph in a Triple-A rehab start Sunday (down from his usual low-90s velocity) and is undergoing further testing in Minnesota, according to Bollinger. With his contract set to expire at season’s end, the 29-year-old Santiago may be done as a Twin. Formerly a capable starter with the White Sox and Angels, Santiago has posted unsightly numbers – including a 5.61 ERA and a 28.4 percent groundball rate – over 131 2/3 innings since the Twins acquired him from Los Angeles last summer.
- Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar had another setback in his rehab from an oblique injury, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Nevertheless, manager Mike Scioscia still expects to see Escobar again this season. The impending free agent hasn’t played since Aug. 6 and was in the middle of a mediocre season at the time of his injury (.274/.333/.397 in 381 PAs).
The Angels have designated righty Brooks Pounders for assignment, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter links). His roster spot will go to outfielder Shane Robinson, whose contract was purchased. Infielder Jefry Marte has also gone on the 10-day DL with a fractured left foot.
Pounders, who’ll soon turn 27, has struggled in limited MLB action over the past two seasons. He has given up ten home runs among 36 hits over just 23 frames, with a 9.78 ERA resulting. That said, Pounders has managed a 25:8 K/BB ratio in that span, with an 11.9% swinging-strike rate. And he carries a 2.63 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 over his 51 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2017.
The 32-year-old Robinson saw time with the Halos earlier this year, marking his eighth big-league season, and accepted an outright assignment after being removed from the 40-man roster. He has never hit much in the majors, but owns a solid .319/.370/.425 batting line with 28 walks against 37 strikeouts over 385 plate appearances this year at Salt Lake City.
Here are Thursday’s moves from around the league…
- Right-hander Daniel Wright has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Salt Lake, the Angels announced today. Wright, 26, was designated for assignment three days ago when the Angels claimed Dayan Diaz off waivers from Houston. Through 19 2/3 innings with the Angels this year, Wright turned in a 4.58 ERA with an 11-to-8 K/BB ratio. Overall, he owns a 5.61 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 56 1/3 Major League frames between the Halos and the Reds. His work in Triple-A has resulted in a 6.58 ERA with 126 strikeouts against 60 walks in 176 1/3 innings.
The Angels announced that they’ve activated right-hander Garrett Richards from the 60-day disabled list and selected the contract of right-hander Deolis Guerra from Triple-A Salt Lake prior to tonight’s game. To clear room on the 40-man roster, right-handers Mike Morin and Vicente Campos have been designated for assignment.
In 2014-15, Richards looked like an emergent ace on the Angels’ staff, but injuries have wrecked his past two seasons. Richards tossed just 34 1/3 innings last season, as he was limited by a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. However, he did not opt for Tommy John surgery, as most victims of UCL tears do, instead opting for stem cell treatment that allowed him to avoid going under the knife.
This year, though, a nerve issue in his right biceps cropped up in April, sending Richards back to the disabled list once again. The 29-year-old has made just one appearance for the Angels all season and will look to finish out the year on a strong note to provide some hope that he can be healthy in 2018.
Morin, 26, had a terrific rookie campaign back in 2014 but has logged a 5.38 ERA in 105 1/3 innings since that promising debut season. Morin hasn’t had much trouble missing bats in the Majors, but his strikeout rate has dropped in the minors in recent years. He’s averaged just 5.7 K/9 in 39 1/3 innings in Triple-A this year, though he’s also posted a strong 1.6 BB/9 rate and notched a very solid 3.20 ERA there.
Campos, 25, has an 8.22 ERA through 23 innings across three minor league levels this season. The Halos picked him up off waivers from the D-backs last offseason, knowing that he was facing an eight-month recovery from a fractured forearm that required surgery last September. Campos received a bit of fanfare as a prospect with the Yankees last year before being traded to the D-backs in exchange for Tyler Clippard. In 503 minor league innings, he has a 3.80 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9.
The 28-year-old Guerra will be making his second appearance on the Angels’ 40-man roster. He was outrighted earlier this year but remained in the organization after clearing waivers. Guerra notched a 3.21 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 53 1/3 innings with the Angels last year and recorded a brilliant 1.98 ERA with a 41-to-8 K/BB ratio in 41 Triple-A frames after this season’s outright assignment.
The Angels announced on Monday that they’ve claimed right-hander Dayan Diaz off waivers from the Astros. Fellow right-hander Daniel Wright was designated for assignment in a corresponding roster move.
Diaz was already linked to the Angels in one respect anyhow, as he’d been designated for assignment by the Astros in order to clear a roster spot for Cameron Maybin, who’d been claimed off waivers from the Halos. In essence, the Angels will swap Maybin and Wright out off the 40-man roster for Diaz, though there’s still a chance that they could keep Wright in the organization for the time being.
The 28-year-old Diaz made his Major League debut with the Reds last season but was cut loose at season’s end, at which point he signed a minor league deal with the Astros. In a combined 19 2/3 MLB innings, Diaz has an unsightly 9.15 ERA. While he’s picked up an impressive 23 strikeouts in that short time and averaged 94 mph on his fastball, he’s also walked 11 batters and thrown four wild pitches. In 161 career innings at the Triple-A level, Diaz has a much more appealing 2.96 earned run average with 8.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
Like Diaz, Wright debuted with the Reds last season but didn’t find much success in the Majors. The 26-year-old tossed 19 2/3 innings with the Halos this year, working to a 4.58 ERA with an 11-to-8 K/BB ratio in that time. Overall, he owns a 5.61 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 56 1/3 Major League frames. Wright has logged considerably more time in Triple-A, though the results there have been even less favorable; through 176 1/3 innings at the top minor league level, he’s posted a 6.58 ERA with 126 punchouts against 60 free passes.
- The Angels were one of Justin Upton’s targets when he was a free agent two winters ago, and he has a home in Arizona, which could facilitate remaining on the west coast if he doesn’t opt out of his contract. Ultimately, Upton’s September performance will decide whether or not he chooses to stick with the Angels or opt out of the four years and $88.5MM remaining on his deal. In an MLBTR poll from Thursday, just under 56% of respondents feel Upton will indeed opt out and look for a bigger deal this winter.
- Not long ago, it looked as though the Angels were going to continue wasting Mike Trout’s presence, but both the present and near future suddenly look bright in Anaheim, Joel Sherman of the New York Post observes. Having traded for all-world shortstop Andrelton Simmons and big-hitting left fielder Justin Upton during his two-year run as the Angels’ general manager, Billy Eppler has given Trout a pair of quality position player complements who, like the center fielder, are under contract through 2020, Sherman notes (though Upton may well opt out after the season). The Angels could add to that group with a free agent like Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas during the offseason, writes Sherman, who also names Alex Cobb as a potential offseason target for their rotation. Additionally, Sherman lauds Eppler for improving a farm system that was nearly barren upon his arrival. Regardless of whether the playoff-contending Angels qualify for the postseason in 2017, then, they’re beginning to look like a team that could capitalize on having Trout before his contract expires.
- Angels right-hander Garrett Richards will make his long-awaited return to their rotation Tuesday against Oakland, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was among those to report. Richards hasn’t started since April 5, his lone outing of the year, on account of biceps nerve irritation. The 29-year-old will be on a 50-pitch limit in his upcoming start and will gradually increase the count toward 100 by the end of the regular season, Fletcher relays. Both Richards and manager Mike Scioscia are confident the front-end starter is healthy and will fare nicely when he comes back, even though injuries have limited him to 39 1/3 innings since 2016.
More on the Halos and two other AL clubs:
- Angels right-hander J.C. Ramirez will miss the rest of the season because of an elbow strain, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). The Halos placed Ramirez on the 60-day disabled list on Friday, which didn’t come as a surprise given that he received a platelet-rich plasma injection earlier this week and looked unlikely to return at the time. Fortunately for both team and player, general manager Billy Eppler announced that the Angels haven’t found any new structural damage in Ramirez’s elbow. The 29-year-old turned in a respectable season before the injury, tossing 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball and recording 6.41 K/9 against 2.99 BB/9, to go with a 51.4 percent groundball rate.
Speaking with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Saturday, newly minted Angels left fielder Justin Upton noted that the free agent market has changed since January 2016, when he signed a six-year, $132.75MM contract with the Tigers, adding that “teams are looking for different things” (Twitter link). While the market shift could impact whether the 29-year-old opts out of the remaining $88.5MM on his contract after the season, it seems he’s considering vacating what’s left of the pact. “If you play well enough, there’s a job for you,” said Upton, who has slashed .279/.362/.541 with 28 home runs in 528 plate appearances in 2017. Thanks to his outstanding performance this year, the majority of those who voted in MLBTR’s latest poll on Friday expect Upton to test free agency again in the offseason.
September 1 marks the date on which regular-season rosters expand from 25 to 40 in Major League Baseball. While the merit of that rule and its impact on games are a source of debate — MLB games tend to increase considerably in length in September as managers can more freely make pitching changes with deeper bullpens — the fact remains that there could be more than 100 players promoted to the big leagues today as the first wave of call-ups arrives.
Many September call-ups are players that have experience already under their belt. Journeyman big leaguers with exceptionally specific roles (e.g. pinch-running and defensive specialists) become a luxury that teams can now afford, and many teams will bring up a third catcher or additional bullpen arms for depth, even if a long-term MLB role isn’t likely for said players.
Some promotions, though, are more notable than others. Big league teams will often use the month of September to get a look at their top organizational prospects, and in some instances September can provide a potential audition for former stars seeking to reestablish themselves. (The Orioles, for instance, were reported last night to be bringing slugger Pedro Alvarez up from Triple-A for the season’s final month.)
All that said, here are some of this year’s more notable September promotions (we’ll update throughout the day as more moves are announced)…
- Four new youngsters are joining the Cardinals, the team announced. Outfielder Harrison Bader and infielder Alex Mejia were already on the 40-man, but the team has also gone ahead and added righty Sandy Alcantara and backstop Alberto Rosario. Alcantara is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on, as he reputedly comes with a big arm and could contribute from the bullpen — though he’s still ironing things out as a starter after spending the year pitching to a 4.31 ERA at Double-A.
- The Indians announced that they’ve recalled top catching prospect Francisco Mejia from Double-A Akron and selected the contract of outfielder Greg Allen from Akron, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. The 21-year-old Mejia is commonly regarded as one of the top 25 prospects in all of Major League Baseball and was reportedly the would-be centerpiece to the Jonathan Lucroy trade that Lucroy vetoed in 2016. Allen, too, was set to be a part of that trade but has instead remained in the Indians organization and will now join Mejia in donning a big league jersey for the first time this month.
- Right-hander Fernando Salas will return to the Angels, who announced last night that his contract has been selected from Triple-A Salt Lake. Salas spent parts of three seasons as a useful bullpen arm for the Angels before a trade to the Mets last August. While he dominated for New York down the stretch, Salas was torched for a 6.00 ERA this year after re-signing with the Mets. He tossed three scoreless innings in Salt Lake City and will hope for a strong finish to bolster offseason interest.
- The Blue Jays, too, will be getting another look at an old friend. Outfielder Michael Saunders is joining the Jays as a September call-up, tweets MLB.com’s Greg Johns. While Saunders is merely looking to show well in his return to the Majors after struggling badly with the Phillies earlier this season, another outfielder is looking to carve out a long-term role in Toronto; trade acquisition Teoscar Hernandez is also on his way to the Majors, per Johns. The 24-year-old Hernandez was acquired in the Francisco Liriano swap and has posted a combined .265/.351/.490 batting line in 456 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
- The Mets are promoting right-handers Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. While neither reliever is considered to be among the game’s best prospects — they rank 23rd and 30th, respectively, on MLB.com’s list of the Mets’ top 30 prospects — both were recently acquired on the trade market. Rhame came to the Mets from the Dodgers as the return for Curtis Granderson, while Callahan arrived in Queens by way of the Addison Reed trade with the Red Sox. Both will be looking to make a strong impression as they seek to secure a long-term spot in the Mets’ bullpen.
- The Tigers are getting their first look at left-handed reliever Jairo Labourt, per a team announcement. The 23-year-old was acquired alongside Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd in exchange fo David Price back in 2015. He’s turned in an excellent 2.17 ERA across three minor league levels this season and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit with some shaky control (4.5 BB/9).