- The Padres aren’t prepared to hand the second base job to Luis Urías without competition, reports A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com as part of a reader mailbag. While the organization remains bullish on the 22-year-old long-term, the Pads must find alternative options in case his early-career woes persist, Cassavell opines. Despite elite minor-league numbers, Urías has gotten off to a rocky start as a big leaguer, slashing just .221/.318/.331 (79 wRC+) in his first 302 MLB plate appearances. Interestingly, Cassavell expects the Padres to at least gauge rival teams’ interest in Urías- which would surely be robust- this offseason, if for no other reason than to “learn what (he would) be worth.”
- The Rockies are likely to non-tender pitchers Chad Bettis and Tyler Anderson, observes the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders in a broader look at the upcoming offseason. Both Bettis and Anderson were useful back-end starters for Colorado not too long ago, although injuries and/or underperformance made this outcome inevitable for each. Bettis slogged to a 6.08 ERA in 39 appearances (36 in relief) this season. Anderson, meanwhile, was limited to five starts before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and Saunders reiterates that he’s not expected to be fully recovered by next spring. Jettisoning Bettis (projected $3.8MM salary) and Anderson (projected $2.625MM salary) will save payroll-tight Colorado around $6-7MM.
- The Cardinals are likely to pursue another one-year deal with catcher Matt Wieters, opines Anne Rogers of MLB.com as part of a mailbag. The 33-year-old signed with St. Louis for $1.5MM last offseason and figures to command a similar salary this go-round, Rogers adds. Wieters again ranked among the worst defensive catchers in baseball this season, but he offers respectable power for a catcher (.214/.268/.435 in 183 PA in 2019). The Cardinals also value Wieters’ veteran presence and switch-hitting bat off the bench, Rogers adds.
- The Marlins are set to hire Wellington Cepeda as bullpen coach, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Cepeda, 42, managed the Diamondbacks’ rookie-level Arizona League affiliate in 2019, his first season as a minor-league skipper. Cepeda has a background as a minor-league pitching coach, Frisaro adds. He’ll work with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., who is returning for a second season. Cepeda will have his work cut out for him, as Miami’s young bullpen was among MLB’s worst in 2019.
Matt Wieters has officially made the Cardinals’ roster as the backup to Yadier Molina, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wieters, who signed a minor league deal in February, will have his contract selected, and the Cardinals will designate left-hander Chasen Shreve for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Wieters, 32, has been beset by injuries in recent seasons as his offensive output has slowly deteriorated. The once-vaunted prospect and three-time All-Star most notably had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and also underwent hamstring surgery last season. He’s also missed time due to an oblique injury in recent years, and over the past three seasons he’s compiled a pedestrian .235/.303/.376 batting line.
Even that modest output from Wieters is worlds better than the Cards received from their backup catchers in 2018, however. Francisco Pena totaled 142 plate appearances but mustered a bleak .203/.239/.271 slash, while the since-traded Carson Kelly looked overmatched in a minuscule sample of 42 PAs as he hit .114/.205/.114. Pena also struggled with both framing and throwing out runners in 2018, so Wieters should present a definitive upgrade, even if he’s no longer a premier player at his position.
Shreve, 28, will ultimately pitch just 14 2/3 innings in a Cardinals uniform. The southpaw came to St. Louis in what now looks to be a remarkably regrettable trade with the Yankees, as Luke Voit burst onto the scene in New York late in the 2018 campaign and batted .333/.405/.689 with 14 home runs in 148 PAs down the stretch.
While some regression for Voit is inevitable, Shreve’s time with the Cardinals all but certain to end with today’s DFA. He has enough service time to reject an outright assignment even if he clears waivers. The Cardinals and Shreve had agreed to a $900K salary earlier this winter, avoiding arbitration, and the team will now at least save the majority of that sum with today’s move; Shreve will be owed 45 days of his salary as termination pay — a sum of about $218K. (The Cardinals, it should be noted, do still have 27-year-old reliever Giovanny Gallegos on the 40-man roster as part of their return for Voit.)
Over the past four seasons, Shreve has posted a solid 3.85 ERA and missed bats (10.3 K/9), but he’s also been far too prone to walks (4.7 BB/9) and home runs (1.8 HR/9) for either the Yankees or Cardinals to deem him a reliable bullpen option. Furthermore, he’s not a candidate for a more specialized role, as left-handed opponents have been even more successful against Shreve (.248/.335/.444) than right-handed opponents have been (.222/.316/.430).
With Shreve no longer in consideration for a bullpen role, it appears likely that Tyler Webb will open the season as the second left-hander behind Andrew Miller in manager Mike Shildt’s bullpen. Brett Cecil is expected to open the 2019 season on the injured list.
The out-of-options Mayers needed to either make the Opening Day roster or be designated for assignment. O’Neill has minor league options remaining but will make the club as a bench option behind Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler for the time being. It’s not difficult to envision the slugger eventually playing his way into a larger role, though Fowler (as with Cecil) seems likely to get a chance at redemption due to his sizable contract.
Mariners center fielder Mallex Smith has been sitting out the early portion of camp due to a strained flexor mass in his right forearm, but doctors have cleared him to begin baseball activities, Greg Johns of MLB.com tweets. Smith has already played light catch and will begin the process of getting himself into game shape. It’s perhaps a stretch to think he could be ready for the team’s two-game set against the A’s in Japan on March 20-21, but he still has a bit more than three weeks to prep for the Mariners’ home opener on March 28. Acquired in the trade that sent Mike Zunino to the Rays this winter, the 25-year-old Smith is penciled in as Seattle’s primary center fielder for the upcoming season. In 141 games for Tampa Bay last season, he hit .296/.367/.406 with a pair of homers and 40 stolen bases.
A few more injury updates from around the game…
- The competition to serve as the Cardinals’ backup to catcher Yadier Molina may have gained further clarity Tuesday, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that Francisco Pena will be sidelined for the next 10 to 15 days due to an apparent oblique injury. It’s awful timing for Pena, who looked like the primary choice to serve as Molina’s backup until the Cardinals signed Matt Wieters to a minor league contract last week. Now, with Pena ailing, Wieters looks all the more likely to secure a roster spot with the Cards come Opening Day. While Pena would be the stronger defensive option of the two, even Wieters’ diminished offensive production in recent seasons dwarfs that of Pena; in 271 plate appearances last season, Wieters slashed .238/.330/.374 to Pena’s .203/.239/.271 (142 PAs).
- Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks underwent an MRI after feeling discomfort in his back, per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Doctors didn’t express concern upon viewing the results of the test, and Hicks said he’s confident he’s headed in the right direction. However, there’s also no clear timeline for when Hicks will return to game activity. He’s been out since last Friday, and Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets that it’ll be “several more days” before Hicks resumes batting practice. Hicks signed a seven-year, $70MM contract extension recently, forgoing a trip through free agency next offseason in the process.
- Nationals infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick could be headed for an MRI after exiting this morning’s Grapefruit League game with a hamstring strain, tweets Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old is hoping for a bounceback season in terms of health after missing the majority of the 2018 campaign due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Kendrick was excellent in the 40 games he played last year, hitting .303/.331/.474 through 160 plate appearances. He’ll back up all around the infield and in the outfield corners this season, health permitting, as he plays out the second season of a two-year, $7MM contract in D.C.
Former Major League outfielder Julio Borbon announced his retirement today, via a post on his Instagram page thanking the many people who supported him throughout his 12 professional seasons. The Rangers chose Borbon with the 35th overall pick of the 2007 draft, and the University Of Tennessee product went on to amass 294 games and 878 plate appearances for the Rangers, Cubs, and Orioles in parts of five MLB seasons between 2009-16. Now that his playing career is over, Borbon is staying in the game as a coach in the Yankees organization. MLBTR wishes Borbon all the best in this new phase of his baseball career.
- Brock Holt is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, but the Red Sox super-utilityman tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald that he “would love to stay here for the rest of my career — I’m happy here, my family’s happy here, I love everything about being a Boston Red Sox.” Holt’s versatility has made him an important depth piece for the Sox, capable of filling in at multiple positions and also providing some decent production at the plate; Holt’s .362 OBP and .411 slugging percentage last season were both career bests. There’s certainly value available for Boston in keeping Holt, and an extension would hardly break the bank (Holt is earning $3.575MM this season). The Red Sox have been discussing extensions with some higher-profile names this spring, which could explain why the team hasn’t yet approached Holt or his representatives about a new deal.
- The Cardinals were the only team that made Matt Wieters an offer this winter, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets, which is why the veteran catcher signed on with St. Louis on a minor league deal. Wieters is far from the only veteran who had a tough time finding work in the quiet free agent market, and the former four-time All-Star’s value took a severe hit following three consecutive subpar years with the Orioles and Nationals. While Wieters had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal, he at least has a solid shot at winning the job as Yadier Molina’s backup.
- Buster Posey appeared in his first Spring Training game today, catching three innings and generally looking in good condition following last August’s hip surgery. “It would have been nice to maybe ease into it a little bit but it was also nice to check off some more boxes, and we’ll see how my body responds tomorrow and Sunday. Overall I was really happy with the way it felt,” Posey told reporters, including Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi indicated earlier this month that the team would bring Posey along carefully in his recovery process, though the catcher seems to be making a case to appear in the Giants’ Opening Day lineup.
FEB. 28: Wieters would earn $1.5MM in the majors and can opt out on March 22nd, per Mark Saxon of The Athletic (via Twitter).
FEB. 27: The signing has been announced. It includes an invitation to MLB camp.
While he held out in hopes of securing a MLB commitment, the 32-year-old Wieters will settle instead for a chance to serve as a backup to Yadier Molina. The competition is fairly limited. Francisco Pena seemingly held the edge at the outset of camp after re-joining the organization on a minors pact. Joe Hudson is the only other backstop in camp with MLB experience.
Wieters can still put the ball over the fence, and posted career-best plate discipline marks in 2018, but he has not been very productive with the bat of late. Since the start of the 2016 season, he’s producing at only a .235/.303/.376 rate through 1,200 trips to the plate. That’s a far cry from the .254/.317/.436 output that Wieters managed over the prior half-decade.
Wieters isn’t generally regarded as a high-quality overall defender at this stage of his career, and fares poorly in particular in pitch-framing metrics, but does still block, throw, and manage a staff well. It’s possible there’s still some hope that he’ll restore some of his lost luster with the bat, making this a nice low-risk move for the St. Louis organization.
For the Cards, the addition deepens the catching unit as Molina closes in on his 37th birthday and works to recover from an offseason knee procedure. The switch-hitting Wieters has historically performed better against right-handed pitching, as has Molina, but neither carries significant career platoon splits. If Wieters can beat out Pena for the job, he seems like a potentially solid mate for Molina.
The Athletics are at least “considering” pursuit of veteran backstop Matt Wieters, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). It’s unclear just how much interest the Oakland organization has; multiple unnamed rival organizations are also said to be involved.
Wieters, now 32, first qualified for free agency after the 2015 season. At the time, he was considered a high-quality, everyday backstop, but he was also coming off of two injury-plagued campaigns and took a qualifying offer to remain with the Orioles. Despite a subpar 2016 campaign, the Nationals promised him $21MM over two years (while also giving Wieters an opt-out chance that he did not ultimately take).
Add it all up, and Wieters owns a tepid .235/.303/.376 batting line in 1,200 plate appearances over the past three campaigns. Though he still draws average reviews for his blocking and throwing, Wieters has graded out as a negative in the pitch framing department. Of course, he’s also a respected veteran who seemed to suit the pitchers who worked with him in D.C., so there’s room for interpretation regarding his defensive value.
Wieters obviously does not profile as a regular receiver at this point, but the former fifth overall pick does still seem like a reasonable target for the right team. The fact that he hits from both sides of the plate adds to the appeal, along with his clubhouse gravitas. For the Athletics, there’s clearly room to improve a depth chart that’s presently topped by Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann. Wieters ought to be an affordable option and still has a bit of pop; perhaps the A’s will stake a bet on the hope that he’ll be reinvigorated in a timeshare situation.
A trio of Nationals players have cleared revocable trade waivers and are now eligible to be traded to any club, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, catcher Matt Wieters and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman all went unclaimed by rival teams.
Of the trio, Gonzalez would be the likeliest to hold appeal to a contending team. While his numbers are down somewhat in 2018, Gonzalez is still averaging 8.0 K/9 and just 0.94 HR/9 with a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate. He’s averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings and is sitting on a 4.51 ERA through 133 2/3 innings, though his 4.26 FIP and 4.38 xFIP are slightly more encouraging than his ERA. Gonzalez’s average fastball velocity (89.7 mph) is nearly identical to his 2017 mark, and he’s actually had a modest improvement in his swinging-strike rate (from 8.7 percent to 9.2 percent).
[Related: How August Trades Work]
Gonzalez, 33 next month, is a free agent at season’s end and is earning $12MM in his final season of club control. There’s still about $2.5MM of that sum yet to be paid out on his contract, so it’s not a big surprise to see him pass through waivers unclaimed. However, now that he’s done so, the Nationals can negotiate with any club and agree to include some cash to help offset the remainder of that salary in exchange for what would likely be some modest prospect value.
While the Nationals aren’t embarking on a full-scale rebuild, they’ve signaled a willingness to move impending free agents who are unlikely or ineligible to receive qualifying offers (as was the case with Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams). Given his inconsistent season, Gonzalez likely falls into that same bucket, so it’ll be interesting to see if trade talk surrounding the veteran lefty picks up between now and the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. Gonzalez recently checked in at No. 8 on MLBTR’s ranking of the top 20 remaining August trade candidates. A source confirmed to MLBTR that Gonzalez won’t reach 10 years of MLB service this season and therefore does not have 10-and-5 rights allowing him to veto a trade.
Like Gonzalez, Wieters is a free agent at season’s end, but he’s in the midst of a second disappointing campaign with the Nats. The switch-hitter has managed just a .240/.325/.365 batting line in 192 plate appearances during an injury-shortened second season in D.C. He’s owed about $2.19MM through the end of the season, making it unlikely that any team would pursue a trade to acquire the final month or so of his services (at least, without some significant financial help from the Nats).
Zimmerman, 34 in September, is still owed $3.57MM of this season’s $18MM salary in addition to an identical $18MM salary next season and a $2MM buyout on an $18MM option for the 2020 season. That remaining $23.57MM made him a no-brainer to clear waivers, but the veteran has remained productive into the late stages of his contract. He’s hitting .260/.332/.526 this season, though Zimmerman’s full 10-and-5 rights would mean he’d have to approve any trade. Ultimately, his clearing is more or less a formality, because there’s almost no realistic scenario in which he’s traded this year.
Nationals sluggers Bryce Harper and Matt Adams were claimed by unidentified organizations on revocable trade waivers, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter link). They join fellow left-handed hitting Nats veteran Daniel Murphy as pending free agents who were not able to make it through the waiver wire.
The fact that teams were awarded claims on these players does not, of course, mean that any or all will actually change uniforms. There are always complicated strategies at play when waiver claims are made in August, and relatively few actually result in transactions.
Nevertheless, the claims do establish a timeline and process for determining whether or not these particular players will be dealt. Harper reportedly hit the wire on Friday, at the same time as Murphy and several other (then-unnamed) Nats players. It’s certainly possible, then, that these three situations will be resolved early this afternoon. Any players placed on waivers on Friday would be due for a decision today.
With regard to each player, the Nats can either work out a trade, revoke the claim, or allow the player to go to the claiming team for no compensation. As the D.C. organization continues to stare at a yawning gap in the NL East race, it clearly faces some difficult decisions.
[RELATED: How August Trades Work]
It is difficult to imagine that the Nationals will simply allow another organization to take over Harper’s contract. After all, the homegrown superstar is a sure bet to receive and reject a qualifying offer this fall, putting the Nats in line to recoup draft compensation if they can’t re-sign him.
That said, salary considerations and the desire to restock the farm certainly cannot be dismissed as motivating factors. Harper is owed nearly $5MM between now and the end of the season. If the Nationals decide that hopes of clawing back into the NL East race are too remote to warrant further expenditure, then perhaps the team will be willing to engage in real negotiations with whatever organization claimed Harper.
Adams certainly seems likelier to move among the two players. He has devastated right-handed pitching, with a .264/.345/.538 slash and 17 home runs in 238 plate appearances taken with the platoon advantage. His $4MM salary is an easy one to stash in most budgets. And at this time of year, it’s not that concerning that Adams isn’t a terribly flexible defensive player. Organizations in need of the bench pop could surely juggle things for a few days before rosters expand on September 1st. And Adams looks to be quite an interesting postseason asset.
Notably, the timing does leave the Nationals with at least a bit of leverage and remaining wiggle room — particularly, with respect to Murphy and Adams. The club could still hold out for some kind of return, pulling the veterans back if nothing is forthcoming. Then, if the situation in the standings still seems desperate later this month, the Washington organization could place all or some of the players back on waivers — knowing, this time, that they’d lose them for nothing more than salary relief if a claim is placed.
The most interesting factor here, of course, is not yet known: which teams won the claims? The Nationals could be negotiating with any number of different clubs on these three players. Truly, it’s difficult even to guess with any degree of confidence. National League rivals had priority, in reverse order of winning percentage. All three players are plausible targets for a variety of contenders. Particularly with regard to a premium performer such as Harper, it’s even possible that a non-contender could have inserted itself into the process.
It’s also worth noting that, per Castillo, several other Nationals veterans were recently placed on revocable waivers. The list is said to include at least three additional pending free agents: starter Gio Gonzalez, right-handed-hitting slugger Mark Reynolds, and catcher Matt Wieters. Whether or not they cleared waivers has yet to be reported.
It’s been somewhat quiet on this front in 2018, but we’ll use this post to keep track of the names of all of the players who’ve reportedly cleared revocable trade waivers. As is the case every year, there are a few things that should be re-emphasized before diving into names.
First and foremost, the vast majority of Major League players will be placed on revocable trade waivers this month — many assuredly already have been — with most instances going unreported. By month’s end, there will likely be dozens of players who have cleared waivers without garnering any sort of headlines. It also bears repeating that players can still be traded in September, but Aug. 31 serves as the deadline for postseason eligibility, making it a sort of soft trade deadline. Deals of note are rarely consummated in September, though Juan Nicasio did change hands after Aug. 31 in 2017.
Lastly, for those who aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of waiver trades or simply need a quick refresher, MLBTR published a full explanation of how August trades work to kick off the month. We’ll keep this post updated throughout the remainder of the month for those who wish to bookmark it.
Onto the names…
(Last update: 8/29)
- Jerry Blevins, Mets (link): Blevins has a long track record of shutting down left-handed opponents, but lefties have clobbered him so far in 2018 while righties have been unusually ineffective. He’s a specialist who’s owed $1.23MM through season’s end before reaching free agency, making him an expensive piece with a fairly limited role.
- Kendrys Morales & Marco Estrada, Blue Jays (link): Both relatively expensive veterans went unclaimed, with Morales still owed $13MM through the end of the 2019 season and Estrada owed more than $2.5MM through the end of the current campaign. Morales has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters but comes with no defensive value, largely limiting him to an AL club or an NL club with an opening at first base. Estrada has pitched through back struggles for the past couple of seasons and recently acknowledged that he’s been playing through discomfort again recently. He has an ERA north of 6.00 dating back to July 30.
- Josh Harrison, Pirates (link): A run of success in advance of the non-waiver deadline led the Bucs to add two controllable pitchers, but the team has since sunk in the standings. That could lead to some late-August salary dumping, with Harrison among the most likely candidates to be moved. He’s not hitting much this year and is playing on a fairly hefty $10MM annual salary, but it’s certainly possible to imagine a contender adding the scrappy, athletic, and versatile utilityman. It seems likely the Pirates will be paying Harrison $1.5MM in buyouts at season’s end regardless, so perhaps the team will cover that expense while trying to offload Harrison’s remaining 2018 salary.
- Alex Cobb & Andrew Cashner, Orioles (link): Both Cashner and Cobb have struggled through disappointing seasons after signing multi-year deals this past winter. Cobb, in particular, was a lock to clear waivers with three years remaining on an ill-fated four-year deal that promised him $57MM. Cashner’s two-year deal is worth a more palatable $16MM in total, but he’s barely been able to keep his ERA under 5.00 while delivering middling K/BB numbers and career-worst 42.6 percent ground-ball rate.
- Gio Gonzalez, Matt Wieters & Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals (link): A trio of expensive Nats vets reportedly cleared waivers at the same time, though there’s virtually no chance that Zimmerman is moved with more than $23MM owed to him through next season and full trade veto power via his 10-and-5 rights. Wieters hasn’t hit enough to make himself a very desirable trade chip, though perhaps a contender would add him as a backup if the Nats absorbed most of the just over $2MM remaining on his contract. Gonzalez is the most plausible of this bunch, though, as very few starters have made it through waivers. While he was still owed about $2.5MM at the time he was reported to have cleared and is having a down season, Gonzalez still misses bats and induces grounders, and he has a lengthy track record of solid mid-rotation work.
- Andrew McCutchen, Giants (link): Cutch was owed $3.155MM at the time he cleared waivers, and while he’s not the MVP-caliber bat he was in his mid-20s now that he’s approaching his 32nd birthday, he’s still a solidly above-average hitter. In 538 plate appearances with the Giants, he’s slashed .255/.353/.412 with 14 home runs, 26 doubles and two triples. McCutchen’s 44.6 percent hard-hit rate is the best of his career and ranks 22nd among qualified hitters. The Giants would likely be willing to pay down some of his deal to get a decent prospect, and there should be trade interest.
- Starlin Castro, Marlins (link): Castro is owed the balance of this year’s $10MM salary plus another $11MM in 2019 and at least a $1MM buyout on a $16MM option for the 2020 season. He’s given the Marlins slightly above-average offense with respectable defense at second base, but there aren’t too many contenders looking for upgrades at second base. Even if he’s not moved in August, the Marlins will likely shop him again this winter.
- Justin Smoak, Blue Jays (link): It’s at least a moderate surprise that Smoak, an affordable switch-hitting slugger in the midst of a productive season, cleared waivers. He was hitting .255/.365/.463 with 18 homers at the time he was reported to have cleared, and while that’s not up to his Herculean 2017 levels, it’s still plenty productive. He’s earning $4.1MM in 2018 and has a cheap $6MM club option for the 2019 season that the Jays will surely pick up if he is not dealt.
- C.J. Cron, Rays (link): Cron has rewarded the Rays for buying low on him this past offseason, delivering a career-best .250/.317/.480 slash with a personal best 24 home runs through 454 plate appearances as of the time he was reported to have cleared waivers. He’s earning just $2.3MM in 2018 and is controlled for another two seasons, though he doesn’t bring any defensive or baserunning value to the table. Cron also doesn’t walk at an especially high clip, so he’s unlikely to emerge as a serious on-base threat.
- Wilmer Flores, Mets (link): Flores has experience at all four infield positions and was hitting .275/.326/.444 at the time he was reported to have cleared waivers. But he’s been unusually inept against left-handed opponents in 2018 and is due a raise on this season’s $3.4MM salary in arbitration this offseason. He could deepen a team’s bench, but contenders would likely have had more interest were he performing well against southpaws. The Mets maintain that they’re aiming to contend in 2019, so perhaps they prefer to hang onto Flores.
- Lucas Duda, Royals (link): Duda has played far too much against lefties in 2018, dragging down his overall numbers, but he’s still a threat against right-handed opposition. He’s limited to first base, but with a $3.5MM salary he’d be an affordable bench bat for any contending club.
- Logan Forsythe, Twins (link): Forsythe, acquired in the Brian Dozier trade largely as a means of offsetting the duo’s identical $9MM salaries, wasn’t even a lock to stick around with Minnesota after being acquired, but he’s batted .361/.418/.426 through his first 67 PAs in Minnesota, helping to rebuild some stock after a miserable season in L.A. He won’t net the Twins much of anything in a trade if he’s moved, but the Twins might not mind simply shedding the remaining $2.1MM on his salary (as of Aug. 19).
- Adam Jones, Orioles (link): Jones was reported to have cleared waivers on Aug. 16 and was owed $4.27MM of his $17MM salary at the time. While he’s eligible to be traded to any team, it’s entirely up to Jones whether he moves. The five-time All-Star has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of MLB service, the past five with one team), meaning he can veto any trade. Jones reportedly already exercised those rights rather than approving a trade to the Phillies. He’s hitting .285/.317/.438 as of this writing and is in the midst of a torrid hot streak, but he has family and charity reasons (among others) for wanting to remain in Baltimore.
- Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays (link): Now 37 years of age, the Grandy Man isn’t the star that he once was, but he remains a reasonably productive bat against right-handed pitching. He’s playing the season on a one-year, $5MM deal and is still owed about $1.23MM of that salary as of this morning. While Granderson is largely limited to the outfield corners, he could be a useful bench piece for contending clubs down the stretch.
- Francisco Liriano, Jose Iglesias & Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers (link): It was a 100 percent certainty that Zimmermann, still owed $55.9MM through 2020 (including the remainder of this year’s salary) would clear waivers. Even with improved results this season (4.36 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 in 88 2/3 innings), there’s virtually no hope of the Tigers shedding that salary this month. It was less certain that rentals like Liriano or Iglesias would clear, however. Liriano’s ERA ballooned to 4.72 last night after he was roughed up by the Twins, but he’s held left-handed pitching to a terrible .141/.247/.239 slash through 81 plate appearances. With $984K still owed to him through the end of the year, he’d be a reasonably affordable lefty specialist for a contending team’s bullpen. As for Iglesias, it seems quite likely that he’ll be moved to a contender. He’s hitting a respectable, albeit unspectacular .264/.306/.389 while playing terrific defense at shortstop. He’s owed $1.54MM of his $6.275MM salary through season’s end.
- Joe Mauer & Logan Morrison, Twins (link): Morrison won’t be going anywhere after having season-ending hip surgery last week, and it seems likely that the Twins will buy out his 2019 option after a disappointing all-around season. Mauer, like Jones, has the right to veto any trade and wouldn’t be in much demand anyhow. After a strong .305/.384/.417 slash in 2017, he’s posted a more pedestrian .272/.352/.358 line in 2018 — the final season of his eight-year, $184MM contract.
The Nationals announced Monday that they’ve activated Matt Wieters from the disabled list and optioned fellow catcher Pedro Severino to Triple-A Syracuse in order to open a spot on the active roster. Wieters has been out since mid-May following a hamstring injury that ultimately required surgery.
Wieters returns to the Nats at a time when the organization is widely reported to be in the market for an upgrade behind the dish. He’ll look to change the organization’s thinking in that regard over the next three weeks, though that may prove too difficult after a disastrous 2017 season in which Wieters batted just .225/.288/.344 with lackluster defensive contributions.
To his credit, Wieters was off to a much better start to the season before sustaining his injury. Through 76 plate appearances, he’d hit .231/.342/.385 with three homers. It’s a tiny sample, to be sure, but Wieters had boosted his walk rate by five percent while trimming roughly that same figure off his strikeout rate. Of course, a couple of his walks came while batting eighth early in the season, and his chase rate on pitches out of the zone had actually increased, while his swing rate at pitches in the zone had decreased.
Even with Wieters in the fold, it seems likely that the Nats will continue to explore the possibility of adding another option who’d likely push Wieters into a backup role. Wilson Ramos is the most frequently mentioned candidate connected with the Nationals as of late — especially following GM Mike Rizzo’s blunt comments about Miami’s asking price on J.T. Realmuto being too high. ESPN’s Buster Olney wondered yesterday, too, whether the Nationals would inquire on Martin Maldonado, should the Angels fall any further out of the race for a Wild Card spot in the American League (Twitter link).