- The Dodgers are moving Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling to the bullpen, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including The Athletic’s Pedro Moura and the Los Angeles Times’ Andy McCullough). The club was facing a rotation overload with Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu both coming off the DL this week, though Stripling’s role change is a bit of a surprise given how well he has pitched. Roberts said he hopes to let Stripling start again at some point this season, though the Dodgers have a greater need in the bullpen with Kenley Jansen on the DL for the near future. Maeda has also pitched well this year, though he “appears there [the bullpen] to stay,” McCullough said. It’s probably safe to assume that the team’s pitching plans will continue to remain somewhat fluid, given how Dodgers seem to be constantly dealing with injuries, yet they also get consistently good results from just about everyone they slot into the rotation.
SATURDAY: Jansen will be out until at least Aug. 20, Dodgers president Andrew Friedman told Pedro Moura of The Athletic and other reporters Saturday. At that point, the team will re-evaluate Jansen.
FRIDAY, 9:54AM: Jansen is expected to be sidelined for around one month, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).
1:11AM: Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was hospitalized on Thursday due to an irregular heartbeat, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times and MLB.com’s Anne Rogers) after last night’s game against the Rockies. The issue arose prior to the game, and Jansen has already been released and traveled from Denver to Los Angeles, where he will undergo more tests later today. At a minimum, Jansen will miss the rest of this weekend’s series, Roberts said.
This isn’t the first time that Jansen has dealt with an irregular heartbeat during his career, as the issue arose during both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The right-hander missed around a month of action in both instances, and underwent heart surgery following the 2012 season in an attempt to fully solve the problem.
Jansen hadn’t had any further heart situations until last night, Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi told reporters. Denver’s high altitude may well have played a factor, as Jansen’s irregular heartbeat episode in 2012 also took place during a Dodgers visit to Coors Field.
More details will be known about Jansen’s condition after he undergoes his further tests, though obviously any sort of recurring heart problem is of the utmost seriousness. Both Jansen and the Dodgers will surely be as careful as possible in monitoring his condition, and even if this was something of a fluke incident caused by the Denver thin air, Jansen’s medical history surely means all parties will proceed with caution about a return to the field. One positive sign is that Zaidi said Jansen was “feeling pretty normal right now, from what we understand.”
If Jansen is facing another absence of four or five weeks (like in 2011 and 2012), then the Dodgers will be without one of baseball’s best closers through the bulk of the late-season pennant race. The L.A. bullpen has posted generally solid overall numbers this year, though obviously Jansen (2.15 ERA, 4.36 K/BB rate, 10.1 K/9) contributed heavily to those team totals.
Setup man Scott Alexander successfully converted a save opportunity against Colorado last night, and while Alexander doesn’t have much closing experience in his young career, he is the most logical short-term candidate to handle the ninth inning. Pedro Baez is another option, while Josh Fields only just began a rehab assignment after missing almost six weeks with shoulder inflammation.
With a lack of experienced closing options on hand, the Dodgers could also explore the trade market. The club was already known to be looking at bullpen help prior to the trade deadline, coming away with only veteran John Axford after looking at higher-profile names on the Rangers, Marlins, Rays, Orioles, and Tigers. Several of the names linked to Los Angeles are still on the board as potential trade candidates, not to mention multiple other relief possibilities likely to be on the move in August.
3:01PM: “Several Mets officials” hope that Ben Cherington becomes a general manager, SNY.tv’s Andy Martino writes. Cherington, the former Red Sox GM and current Blue Jays VP of player development, was recently cited as a potential candidate in reports. While he recently said that he is happy with his job in Toronto, Cherington also said he’d be open to considering an opportunity to run a front office once more. Josh Byrnes, however, may not be in the running, as he has told colleagues that he will likely remain in his current role as the Dodgers’ senior VP of baseball operations.
10:49AM: With Sandy Alderson unlikely to return as the Mets’ general manager in 2018, the team is beginning to lay the groundwork for its search for a new baseball operations leader. Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque is one of the early candidates “receiving consideration” from Mets ownership, though the GM hiring process won’t fully begin after the season since the Mets will need permission from rival teams to interview several candidates.
LaRocque is a known figure within the organization, having previously worked for the Mets from 1998-2008 as scouting director, director of player of development, and then as assistant general manager. The 65-year-old LaRocque has never been a general manager, though he has over 40 years of experience in various front office roles, as a scout, and as a minor league coach and manager in the Dodgers’ farm system. This track record of overseeing and developing young talent, as well as LaRocque’s familiarity with the Mets, make him a logical candidate for the team as it moves into what could be a mini-rebuild, though New York held off on dealing any of its true roster cornerstones (i.e. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard) at the trade deadline.
LaRocque also has the sort of old-school front office resume that is reportedly the preference of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, as Puma writes that “the growing belief is Wilpon will look toward a more traditional baseball person” as the next general manager. While more teams are increasingly turning towards younger executives with analytics backgrounds to run their baseball operations departments, as the 81-year-old Wilpon isn’t likely to hire the type of younger executive “with whom he would perhaps have difficulty connecting.”
This stance isn’t likely to be popular with Mets fans, who are already displeased with the team’s lack of recent success and the common perception that the Wilpon family takes too a heavy hand in the Mets’ day-to-day baseball operations. Puma also notes that some Mets officials feel that the Alderson front office “became too analytics driven in recent seasons.”
Mets assistant GM John Ricco has long been considered to be a candidate to eventually take over the top job, and though he is still in the running, Puma reports that New York is “more likely” to hire its new general manager from outside the organization. Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have been acting as a three-person management unit in Alderson’s absence, and it appears as though the trio will have at least some influence in the hiring process. Minaya in particular “will have a strong voice in the search,” Puma hears from sources.
- The Dodgers have placed reliever Daniel Hudson on the 10-day DL and recalled ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte from Triple-A, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Hudson’s dealing with right forearm tightness – a potentially ominous injury for the 31-year-old, especially considering he’s already a two-time Tommy John surgery recipient. To this point, the Dodgers have gotten a good return on their investment in Hudson, whom they signed to a minor league deal in the first week of April. Hudson has tossed 43 2/3 innings this year and posted a 3.92 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9.
Though a few notable players went on the disabled list earlier today, some even more notable names are making progress in their returns. Here are the details…
- Shohei Ohtani is nearing a return to the mound, and his rehab seems to be going even better than expected (per Trent Rush of Angels Radio Network). The Angels double-threat reportedly threw from 120 feet “with aggression”. Ohtani, the club’s headliner offseason acquisition, is already back to doing damage at the plate, but the club would surely be glad to see him return with rest and rehab after suffering a grade 2 UCL sprain earlier this season; the alternative would of course be the feared Tommy John surgery which would keep him off the field until the beginning of the 2020 season.
- It would appear that Giants hurler Jeff Samardzija is even closer to a return, as the 33-year-old threw 30 pitches off a bullpen mound on Monday (h/t Chris Haft of MLB.com). “Shark” has been trudging through an injury-plagued 2018 season that’s seen him make just ten starts and average fewer than five innings across them. His hideous 6.25 ERA would be a career-worst by far, and his 5.44 FIP doesn’t paint a much kinder picture. The 57-58 Giants will surely be hoping he can provide a boost to their rotation after they opted not to sell off any assets at the trade deadline in overly-optimistic hopes of contending for an NL Wild Card.
- The outlook isn’t as optimistic for former wunderkind Julio Urias of the Dodgers. The 21-year-old lefty blew away the competition at every level of the minors en route to a 1.8 fWAR showing in his first taste of major-league action back in 2016, when he pitched to a 3.39 ERA in 77 innings. But he followed that up with a rough 2017 showing that saw him post a bloated 5.40 ERA and ultimately cede the season to an anterior capsule injury that required surgery. Now, according to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, Urias’ velocity is down to 88-91 MPH after sitting closer to the mid-90’s for the majority of his pro career. Longenhagen also reports that the youngster’s secondary pitches are less “crisp” than they were pre-injury, leading to questions about whether Urias will ever be the same pitcher again.
- “I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” says Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in reference to his latest attempt to return from a shoulder injury. In a video interview with Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribute, the former NL MVP details his patient approach to injury rehab (though it’s disappointing that the interview is largely inaudible). Bryant’s 2018 season has been marred by shoulder troubles, though he’s still managed an impressive .276/.380/.474 performance across 358 plate appearances while healthy. On the other hand, that’s not quite to the level of his career numbers (.286/.387/.519).
The Brewers announced today that they have claimed right-hander Ariel Hernandez off waivers from the Dodgers. He had been designated for assignment recently.
Hernandez worked at 98.1 mph with his fastball and produced a 12.6% swinging-strike rate in 24 1/3 MLB frames last year with the Reds. But he also handed out 22 free passes in that span, which perhaps led the Cincinnati club to designate him for assignment early in the present season.
It’s also clear, though, that teams are intrigued at the idea of harnessing Hernandez’s stuff. The Dodgers had to give up some value to acquire him in mid-April, indicating that there was competition, and now the Brewers will tie up a 40-man spot (for the time being, at least) in the middle of a pennant race.
Thus far in 2018, Hernandez has posted a 2.52 ERA in fifty frames over 37 appearances in the upper minors. But he has also produced just 49 strikeouts to go with 29 walks on the year. Hernandez has struggled in particular at the highest level of the minors; in 42 1/3 total frames there over the past two seasons, he has retired 40 batters on strikes but issued 39 free passes.
The organization says in its statement that Seager is “expected to resume baseball activities in January.” That would seemingly make it possible for him to participate fully in Spring Training.
Of course, that timeline is somewhat tighter than seems preferable. Seager has already been out for over three months and was experiencing some hip problems just before his elbow ligament popped. It obviously would have been preferable to use that time to rehab both issues. Presumably, there’s an explanation, though it hasn’t yet been given publicly.
Seager, 24, has been a high-end performer since breaking into the league at 21 years of age late in the 2015 season. He had not been in top form in the early stages of the 2018 season, though that might well have changed with a hot streak. All said, Seager carries a .302/.372/.494 slash with 54 home runs through 1,528 MLB plate appearances. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time this fall, though his ill-timed health problems will significantly dent his expected earnings.
The Dodgers announced that they’ve placed left-hander Alex Wood on the 10-day disabled list with left adductor tendonitis. To take his roster spot, the team reinstated fellow southpaw Zac Rosscup from the DL.
It’s unclear exactly how much time Wood will miss, but his absence will clear the way for righty Ross Stripling to return to the Dodgers’ rotation in the near term, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets. Stripling had been a revelation for the Dodgers this year until struggling to prevent runs in July, when he pitched to a 4.73 ERA despite excellent strikeout and walk rates (10.13 K/9, 1.01 BB/9) across 26 2/3 innings and five starts. The 28-year-old went on the DL on the last day of the month because of a toe injury, though it’s obvious he’s not dealing with a serious ailment.
Wood, 27, hasn’t been highly durable during his career, but this marks his first DL stint of the season. Thus far, Wood has racked up 22 appearances (all starts) and logged a 3.58 ERA/3.55 FIP with 7.81 K/9, 2.19 BB/9 and a 47.3 percent grounder rate over 123 1/3 frames, thereby continuing a career of above-average production. Losing him is an unfortunate development for an LA team which is tied with Arizona for the NL West lead, but the Dodgers should still boast a quality rotation with Stripling slated to rejoin Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill.
Right-hander Drew Hutchison has opted out of his minor league contract with the Dodgers, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The veteran right-hander, then, is a free agent and is now eligible to sign with any team.
Hutchison, 27, began the season with the Phillies and pitched to a 4.64 ERA with a 19-to-13 K/BB in 21 1/3 innings of work before being designated for assignment and ultimately landing with the Dodgers. While he never made it to the big leagues in L.A., he pitched brilliantly with Triple-A Oklahoma City, logging a 2.14 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 42 innings at that level. More impressively, Shaikin notes that Hutchison snapped off a 23-inning scoreless streak to end his tenure with the organization.
Understandably, after not being brought to the Majors on the heels of that type of success, Hutchison will re-enter the open market in hopes of finding a new opportunity with a clearer path to the big leagues. The right-hander has struggled to find his footing in the Majors over the past several years, but he looked like an intriguing long-term rotation piece with the Blue Jays back in 2013, when he pitched 184 2/3 innings of 4.48 ERA ball with a strikeout per inning, solid control and a 3.85 FIP.
This has been a trade-packed day across Major League Basbeall, meaning there are plenty of corresponding smaller moves that have been announced over the past couple of hours as teams make today’s agreed-upon deals official. Here’s a look at the DFAs, contract selections and other 40-man transactions that came along with today’s action…
- The Diamondbacks designated left-handed reliever Jorge De La Rosa to make room for newly added southpaw Jake Diekman, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. De La Rosa, a longtime Colorado starter who’s in his second season in Arizona, switched to a full-time relief role upon changing teams and hasn’t produced inspiring results. The 37-year-old has logged a 4.38 ERA/4.98 FIP with 7.51 K/9, 4.17 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings since joining the D-backs. On the bright side, De La Rosa has posted a 48 percent groundball rate and been tough on left-handed hitters. Considering he’s only owed the balance of a $2.25MM salary, perhaps a team will be interested in taking a flyer on De La Rosa.
- The Dodgers designated righty Ariel Hernandez for assignment to open a spot for John Axford, per the MLB.com transactions page. Hernandez, 26, scuffled through his first MLB action last year with the Reds and hasn’t made it back since. Over fifty frames this year in the upper minors, he’s carrying an appealing 2.52 ERA, but has also handed out 29 walks to go with his 49 strikeouts.
- The Indians announced that they’ve designated outfielder Johnny Field for assignment. His spot on the 40-man will go to newly acquired outfield prospect Oscar Mercado, whom Cleveland acquired in a rare all-prospects trade with the Cardinals (full details here). Field, 26, only recently landed with the Indians himself after spending most of the year (and his entire professional career to that point) with the Rays. Field posted a meager .213/.253/.373 batting line in his first 179 MLB plate appearances, all accumulated earlier this season.
- The Mets announced today that they’ve claimed infielder Jack Reinheimer, who was designated for assignment last week, off waivers from the Diamondbacks. A former fifth-round pick, Reinheimer received a cup of coffee with the D-Backs last year but hadn’t done much to force his way back to this point in 2018. In his fifty games at Triple-A, Reinheimer owns a .237/.312/.353 batting line. Additionally, outfielder Matt den Dekker cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Las Vegas. He’ll have the right to elect free agency now or at season’s end.
- Outfielder Isaac Galloway is on his way to the Majors to make his MLB debut with the Marlins, the club announced. It’s a long time coming for an eleven-year pro who has never before tasted the majors. Through 356 plate appearances this year at Triple-A, Galloway carries a .262/.315/.429 triple-slash.
- Galloway’s contract was selected following the trade of Cameron Maybin to the Mariners, who opened a spot for Maybin by moving right-hander Dan Altavilla from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL in yet another 40-man move. Similarly, Cubs righty Justin Hancock was transferred to the 60-day disabled list in order to open a spot for Brandon Kintzler, who was acquired from the Nationals today.
- The Orioles are selecting the contract of right-handed reliever Cody Carroll, who will step into the roster spot of Kevin Gausman following today’s trade to Atlanta. Carroll landed with the Baltimore organization in the recent swap that sent reliever Zach Britton to the Yankees.
- First baseman Ryan O’Hearn had his contract selected by the Royals, per a team announcement. Infielder Cheslor Cuthbert moved to the 60-day DL to open a spot. It’s the first crack at the majors for O’Hearn, who’ll get the call despite tepid results (.232/.322/.391) this year at Triple-A.
- Righty Warwick Saupold cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A by the Tigers. The Aussie hurler threw 34 1/3 innings of 4.46 ERA ball this year in Detroit, but managed only 16 strikeouts and a 6.1% swinging-strike rate in that span.