- The Yankees, owners of arguably the majors’ premier offense and its second-best record (32-16), “need pitching more than anything else,” general manager Brian Cashman said Saturday (via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Cashman made that observation before right-hander Sonny Gray’s latest subpar start – a 3 2/3-frame, five-run performance in a loss to the Angels. Gray has now posted a 5.98 ERA/4.78 FIP with 7.97 K/9 and 5.07 BB/9 in 49 2/3 innings this year, which wasn’t the type of production the Yankees had in mind then they acquired him from the Athletics last July. His 2018 woes – not to mention a general lack of front-end starters behind ace Luis Severino – could force the World Series hopefuls to revisit the trade market for rotation help in the next couple months.
Rays outfielder Carlos Gomez has been activated from the 10-day disabled list; he’d been sidelined since May 16th with a strained groin. The injury was thought to be minor at the time, and the fact that Gomez missed only the ten-day minimum leaves little room to doubt his health at this time. That doesn’t mean his performance comes without questions, though, as the veteran is slashing just .200/.252/.345 on the season. No corresponding move was required for Tampa Bay, as their roster was two men short following yesterday’s surprising trade with Seattle.
And now a flurry of other injury-related items from around the league…
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that Anibal Sanchez could be the Braves’ starter on Tuesday following a successful rehab start on Friday. Mark Bowman of MLB.com takes it a step further by quoting manager Brian Snitker, who reportedly said that Sanchez is indeed penciled in to start Tuesday’s game. Sanchez has a 1.29 ERA in three appearances (two starts) on the season.
- Adam Berry of MLB.com writes that Starling Marte will be activated from the DL by the Pirates today if he reports to the ballpark feeling ready to play. It’d be a remarkably quick return for the 29-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined with an oblique injury. Injuries of that type have a reputation for lingering and causing players to miss extended time. One has to wonder what Marte’s potential activation would mean for the red-hot Austin Meadows, who’s managed more homers in the big leagues thus far (3) than strikeouts (2).
- The Yankees have reinstated first baseman Greg Bird from the disabled list, optioning infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Marc Carig of The Athletic notes that the move makes plenty of sense considering the versatility of Gleyber Torres and the fact that a removal of Neil Walker from the roster isn’t reversible. Bird entered the season with plenty of hype surrounding him, but has yet to make his 2018 debut thanks to right foot surgery.
- In a move that was widely expected, the Marlins placed Martin Prado (hamstring) on the 10-day DL today, recalling J.T. Riddle from Triple-A to take his place on the roster. It’s the latest in an unfortunate series of injuries for the formerly-durable Prado, who made only 147 trips to the plate last year following eight straight seasons with at least 500 PA.
It seems that Marlins infielder Martin Prado has suffered a rather significant left hamstring injury, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. The 34-year-old has endured a run of significant problems with his hamstring muscles in the past year or so. Details aren’t yet known, but it certainly sounds as if Prado will be sidelined for a lengthy stretch. He’s owed $13.5MM this year and $15MM for the 2019 campaign. The long-productive infielder has struggled to a .169/.221/.180 batting line in 95 plate appearances on the season.
Here’s more on the injury front:
- The Nationals finally got some promising injury news, as they’ll send both Daniel Murphy and Brian Goodwin on rehab assignments beginning tomorrow. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted the news with regard to the former; Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweeted manager Davey Martinez’s announcement on both players. Murphy has yet to appear in the 2018 campaign after offseason microfracture surgery, while Goodwin has been slow to return from a wrist injury.
- It’s still unclear just how long the Cardinals will go without shortstop Paul DeJong, but he says he has been given a four-to-eight week estimate by the medical professionals, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. More than anything, it seems that broad range indicates that there’s not a lot of clarity at this point as to how long it’ll take to heal. All involved will obviously hope that it hues toward the earlier estimate, as the replacement options all have their warts as semi-regular shortstops.
- It seems the Athletics will go without reliever Santiago Casilla for a stretch. He has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports (Twitter links). Details of his anticipated absence are not yet available, but it’s said to be likely that Casilla will end up on the DL. At the same time, he says he does not believe it’s a serious malady. The veteran entered play today with an ugly 14:13 K/BB ratio, but had allowed eight runs on only 11 hits in his 21 innings of action.
- Though he seemingly avoided a more concerning fate, Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo will likely head to the DL to rest his ailing right knee, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com was among those to report (Twitter links). Trumbo was diagnosed with a fairly significant case of arthritis, which won’t necessarily put him on the shelf for long but also probably isn’t the best news for a defensively limited player who’s owed $12.5MM this year and $13.5MM next. He has been productive thus far in 2018, though, with a .309/.317/.469 slash through 82 plate appearances. On the other hand, it’s somewhat worrisome that he has managed only a pair of home runs and a single walk in that span.
- In other AL East news … so long as there are no surprises in the interim, Nate Eovaldi will finally start for the Rays on Tuesday, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Yankees announced that reliever Tommy Kahnle is back from the DL, which represents a promising development given the uncertainty that surrounded him when he went on the shelf. And while the Blue Jays still aren’t planning on a near-term return from Troy Tulowitzki, skipper John Gibbons says the veteran shortstop is at least ready to begin running, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets.
- While the Padres had hoped to welcome back catcher Austin Hedges in relatively short order, he’s now halting his rehab after his problematic right elbow flared up, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell writes. It still seems there’s little reason to fear that Hedges is dealing with a real structural problem, though surely it’s frustrating for the organization that he hasn’t yet fully turned the corner.
- Meanwhile, the Angels provided an update on hurler Matt Shoemaker, though it mostly suggests ongoing uncertainty with regard to the root of his arm issues. As the club announced, and MLB.com’s Maria Guardado tweets, the latest examination “ruled out peripheral nerve involvement” but “showed mild edema in the forearm.” Shoemaker is also said to have undergone a bone scan. The results of that weren’t specifically cited, but it seems to suggest that the organization is looking at quite a lot of possibilities to figure out what’s really causing problems for the starter.
The Yankees announced on Friday that they’ve released first baseman/outfielder Adam Lind for the second time this year. Lind inked a minor league pact with the Yankees during Spring Training and was released to pursue other opportunities, though he ultimately landed back with the Yanks on a second minor league pact. That seems unlikely this time, as he’ll now search for a different opportunity with a better path to the Majors than he has with the Yankees, where Greg Bird is nearing a return and Tyler Austin is showing power at the big league level.
New York also announced that the organization has acquired the rights to catcher Wilkin Castillo. who’d been playing for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. He’ll head to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in place of veteran Erik Kratz, who was traded to the Brewers today.
The 34-year-old Lind has appeared at two levels with the Yankees thus far, slashing a combined .302/.362/.477 with three homers in 94 plate appearances. The bulk of the damage he’s done, though, came in an eight-game stint with Class-A Advanced, while his work with the team’s Triple-A affiliate has been less inspiring.
That said, there’s no reason to think that Lind won’t catch on elsewhere as a depth option in the upper minors at the very least, if not in a greater role. He’s been an above-average bat in four of the past five MLB seasons, has a long history of hitting right-handed pitching at an especially strong clip, and produced a robust .303/.362/.513 slash with 14 homers in 301 PAs for the Nationals just last season. He’d make sense as a Triple-A stash for any number of clubs, while clubs like the Rockies have seen their first baseman struggle in the Majors and others, such as the Twins, have recently incurred an injury at that position (Joe Mauer, concussion).
Castillo, meanwhile, received a small bit of big league experience with the Reds way back in 2008-09 but hasn’t appeared in the Majors since. He has just 22 games and 37 MLB plate appearances under his belt and is a career .244/.280/.352 hitter in parts of 10 Triple-A seasons. He should be a familiar face for those in Scranton, having spent 45 games there last season.
The Brewers made a significant series of roster moves on Friday, acquiring veteran backstop Erik Kratz from the Yankees in exchange for cash and designating Jett Bandy for assignment to clear a spot on the roster. Both teams have announced the trade. Additionally, Milwaukee announced that shortstop Orlando Arcia and righty Jorge Lopez have been optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs in favor of veteran infielder Eric Sogard and right-hander Adrian Houser.
Set to turn 38 in June, Kratz is off to a .269/.356/.538 start with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. While he doesn’t have a lengthy track record at the big league level, he’s shown throughout parts of eight big league seasons that he possess some pop, homering 24 times in 649 plate appearances and notching a .163 ISO. Of course, Kratz’s overall .203/.250/.366 slash line in that time has been sub-par and serves to illustrate why his time in the Majors has been sporadic. To his credit, he’s halted 34 percent of stolen-base attempts against him in the Majors and has been similarly effective throughout his minor league career (32 percent).
As for Bandy, the Brewers will have a week to trade him, Ttry to pass him through outright waivers or release him. The 28-year-old showed a bit of promise early in his career with the Angels but has struggled in two seasons with Milwaukee, hitting just .202/.282/.326. While Milwaukee GM David Stearns has made his share of shrewd moves since taking over the team’s baseball operations department, the decision to flip Martin Maldonado to the Angels in exchange for Bandy likely ranks among his most regrettable swaps, as Maldonado has provided more with the bat and also took home an AL Gold Glove last season in his first year with the Halos.
Arcia, meanwhile, looked to have gone a long way toward establishing himself as a regular in the Milwaukee infield last season. After struggling as a 21-year-old in his debut back in 2016, the longtime top prospect hit .277/.324/.407 with 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases last season. The 2018 season, however, has proven to be a full course reversal at the dish.
Through 146 trips to the dish this season, Arcia has mustered a feeble .194/.233/.273 slash with two homers and five doubles. His walk rate is down two percent, his strikeout rate is up five percent, and his 28.6 percent hard-contact rate is considerably south of the league average. Arcia has contributed quality glovework, to be sure, but that apparently wasn’t deemed enough to salvage his spot on the roster for the time being.
Tyler Saladino figures to be the primary beneficiary of the Brewers’ decision to offer Arcia a mental reset of sorts, as he’s hit well in his brief time since being acquired from the White Sox and offers a solid glove in his own right. While the 28-year-old certainly doesn’t possess the same upside as Arcia, who once ranked as one of the game’s 10 to 15 top overall prospects, he’ll serve as a stopgap while Arcia seeks to remedy his swing and improve upon his plate discipline in a lower-pressure setting.
The Yankees announced today that they have selected the contract of lefty Ryan Bollinger. He will be added to the active roster for tonight’s game.
A corresponding 40-man move is not necessary, as the Yankees had an open spot still available. The club still has plenty of flexibility for the time being, as several players currently on the 10-day DL could potentially be shifted to the 60-day DL should a need arise.
Bollinger will make it to the majors about nine years after he was taken in the 47th round of the 2009 draft by the Phillies. He never pitched with the Philadelphia organization, but did spend three seasons in the low minors with the White Sox beginning in 2011.
For the past three seasons, Bollinger has pitched outside of the affiliated ranks, making several indy ball stops and appearing last year in the Australian Baseball League. River Ave. Blues covered his unheralded signing, providing a video of Bollinger pitching in Germany and rightly noting: “Would be something if this guy made it, huh?” Indeed.
Since joining the Yankees organization over the offseason, Bollinger has worked as a starter in the upper minors. In 29 innings, he owns a 1.86 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. It seems reasonable to presume that the 27-year-old will join the Yankees’ bullpen upon his arrival. It remains to be seen, though, how long he’ll hold onto his active and 40-man roster spots.
- Yankees first baseman Greg Bird could make his season debut during the upcoming week, manager Aaron Boone told Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News and other reporters Sunday. Bird hasn’t played this year on account of the right ankle surgery he underwent in late March, after missing most of last season with foot problems and all of 2016 with a torn labrum. Owners of the majors’ best record (29-13), the Yankees have gotten off to a great start without the talented Bird, thanks in part to first base fill-in Tyler Austin’s production. The 26-year-old rookie has smacked two HRs on Sunday to give him eight on the season and raise his OPS to .930 through 100 PAs.
- The Yankees have brought back right-hander David Hale on a minor league contract, according to a team announcement. Hale, who will report to Triple-A, has now signed three separate minors deals with the club since January. He saw action with the Yankees under each of his previous two accords and combined for five innings of two-run ball. Between inking those pacts, the Twins claimed Hale off waivers from New York on April 26. Hale made just one appearance as a Twin, with whom he threw three frames of four-run ball, before they designated him for assignment. The Yankees have also designated Hale this season (twice, in fact), the latest occurrence coming earlier this week. The 30-year-old then elected free agency, where he sat on the market for a day before returning to the Yanks. Hale owns a 4.58 ERA during his 186 2/3-inning major league tenure.
Aaron Boone recently offered some words of encouragement regarding the imminent return of first baseman Greg Bird to the lineup (h/t Marc Carig of The Athletic). But while Bird’s activation appears to be “around the corner”, news surrounding fellow Yankees hitter Jacoby Ellsbury is not as promising. Ellsbury is reportedly dealing with a minor back injury and as such is not participating in baseball activities at this time. The outfielder made just 406 plate appearances last season and has yet to make his 2018 debut. Unfortunately, Ellsbury’s absence is not the end of the bad news for the Yankees this week, as it turns out hard-hitting outfield prospect Estevan Florial will require surgery on a broken hamate bone (according to a tweet from George A. King III of the New York Post). The injury will keep him sidelined until at least August. Florial was off to somewhat of a slow start at the High-A level, posting a .246/.353/.343 slash line across 156 plate appearances.
More out of the East…
- Phillies righty Jerad Eickhoff is set to begin a rehab assignment, according to Matt Breen of the Philly Enquirer. He’ll kick it off at Triple-A LeHigh Valley. Eickhoff has been sidelined since spring training due to a lat strain, and at this time it’s not clear how he’d fit into a suddenly crowded Phillies rotation that includes Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin.
- The Red Sox haven’t gotten any particularly good news about Carson Smith in recent days. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, manager Alex Cora says the club can’t determine at this time whether or not the righty will pitch again this season. Smith was off to a serviceable start this season, posting a 3.77 ERA and 11.30 K/9 in his first 14 1/3 innings before going down with a shoulder subluxation.
- The Blue Jays are describing left-hander Jaime Garcia’s injury as “left shoulder inflammation”. He’s been placed on the DL retroactive to May 16th. The Jays brought Garcia into the fold this past offseason on a one-year deal worth a guarantee of $10MM, but he’s disappointed thus far with a 6.28 ERA across his first 38 2/3 innings. In a related move, the club has recalled righty Deck McGuire from Triple-A Buffalo.
Righty David Hale has elected free agency after clearing outright waivers, the Yankees announced today. He had recently been designated for assignment.
Roster churn is nothing new for Hale, who has had multiple stints in New York and one with the Twins this year, in addition to the time he has spent at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 30-year-old has allowed 15 earned runs in his 22 2/3 innings at all stops on the year.
This is the most extensive action that Hale has seen at the game’s highest level since the 2015 season. All told, he carries a 4.58 ERA with 6.1 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 over 186 2/3 MLB innings.