Oakland Athletics – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Mon, 15 Oct 2018 20:40:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Athletics Outright Hatcher, Smolinski, Kiekhefer https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/athletics-outright-jake-smolinski-dean-kiekhefer.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/athletics-outright-jake-smolinski-dean-kiekhefer.html#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2018 19:37:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134864 2:37pm: The A’s have now announced that both Smolinski and Kiekhefer were outrighted, and the organization further announced that right-hander Chris Hatcher has been outrighted off the 40-man after clearing waivers as well.

Hatcher, 34 in January, appeared in 34 games and pitched to a 4.95 ERA in 36 1/3 innings for Oakland this past season, averaging 7.4 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 1.73 HR/9 and a 42 percent ground-ball rate along the way. Hatcher’s average fastball velocity (93.6 mph) and swinging-strike rate (7.9 percent) have plummeted from their 2015 peaks (96 mph, 12.6 percent, respectively). He’s struggled in each of the past three seasons and would’ve been arbitration-eligible, with a projected $2.4MM salary.

12:37pm: Outfielder Jake Smolinski and left-hander Dean Kiekhefer have both been outrighted off the Athletics’ 40-man roster after clearing waivers, per the MLB.com transactions page. Smolinski has already elected free agency, I’m told, and it seems likely that Kiekhefer will do so as well, as is commonplace in these scenarios.

Smolinski, 30 in February, has seen limited action with Oakland over the past two seasons after logging a career-high 319 plate appearances in 2016. The former second-rounder (Nationals, 2007) mashed at a .278/.372/.548 clip in Triple-A this season but hit just .128/.171/.205 in a tiny sample of 41 plate appearances. (His season was cut short by a blood clot in his left calf.) In parts of four seasons with the Oakland organization, Smolinski is a .227/.287/.357 with a dozen homers, 14 doubles and five triples in a combined 507 plate appearances.

That production isn’t particularly eye-catching, but the right-handed-hitting Smolinski has been a menace in platoon settings, hitting .282/.351/.473 against left-handers to this point in his career. Defensively, Smolinski has experience at all three outfield positions and has played anywhere from average to slightly above-average defense, per Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. He’d been arbitration-eligible for the A’s, albeit with a modest projection of an $800K salary, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

As for Kiekhefer, the 29-year-old southpaw pitched just two innings for the A’s in 2018 but enjoyed a strong minor league campaign between the Reds and A’s organizations. In 58 1/3 minor league frames, Kiekhefer posted a 3.39 ERA with a terrific 51-to-8 K/BB ratio and above-average ground-ball tendencies. Left-handed opponents posted a .224/.263/.346 slash against him between the Majors and minors this season.

Kiekhefer’s big league experience is limited to 24 innings of 6.38 ERA ball between St. Louis (in 2016) and Oakland, but he’s turned in 204 innings of 3.03 ERA ball with 7.0 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 in parts of five seasons at the Triple-A level. Given that track record, he should have little difficulty finding interest as a minor league free agent this offseason.

Players Electing Free Agency https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/players-electing-free-agency.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/players-electing-free-agency.html#comments Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:20:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134405 Quite a few players will hit the open market this fall, and they’ll do so by way of varying mechanisms. The end of the regular season triggered a recent wave of free agents, consisting of a certain subset of players — namely, those who were outrighted from 40-man rosters during the season and accepted minor-league assignments at that time despite having the right to elect free agency. Players in that situation are entitled instead to hit the open market at season’s end, if they were not added back to the 40-man roster in the meantime.

As conveyed by Matt Eddy of Baseball America, who also covers quite a few other minor moves, these players have now elected free agency:

Athletics: RHP Raul Alcantara, LHP Danny Coulombe

Blue Jays: RHP Mike Hauschild, INF/OF Darnell Sweeney

Braves: LHP Rex Brothers, RHP Miguel Socolovich

Cardinals: LHP Tyler Lyons

Indians: RHP Evan Marshall, RHP Alexi Ogando

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman, LHP Ross Detwiler, RHP Mike Morin, INF Zach Vincej

Marlins: OF JB Shuck

Mets: RHP Chris Beck, OF Bryce Brentz, RHP Scott Copeland, OF Matt den Dekker, INF Ty Kelly

Nationals: LHP Tommy Milone, OF Moises Sierra, RHP Carlos Torres

Orioles: RHP Jhan Marinez, INF Luis Sardinas

Padres: OF Matt Szczur

Phillies: INF Trevor Plouffe

Pirates: LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Casey Sadler, RHP A.J. Schugel

Rangers: C Juan Centeno, LHP Anthony Gose, RHP Drew Hutchison, INF Tommy Joseph, RHP Chris Rowley

Rays: INF Brandon Snyder, RHP Ryan Weber

Reds: C Tim Federowicz, RHP Kevin Quackenbush

Tigers: INF Dixon Machado, RHP Jacob Turner

White Sox: RHP Tyler Danish

Forst: A's Expect Luzardo To Be "A Factor" Next Year https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/orioles-trade-rumors-mychal-givens.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/orioles-trade-rumors-mychal-givens.html#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2018 19:55:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134386
  • While some Athletics fans were hoping for a look at top pitching prospect Jesus Luardo late in the season, especially amid significant rotation injuries, the 21-year-old was kept in the minors as he worked a heavy slate of innings in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. General manager David Forst, though, expects Luzardo to be in the mix for a spot next season once he has a full winter of rest under his belt (link via Ben Ross of NBC Sports Bay Area). “I think Jesús is going to come into Spring Training and be a factor,” said Forst. “…He’s probably one of, if not the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game. So I expect he’ll come into Spring Training and be a factor for us.” Luzardo, who only turned 21 on Sept. 30, worked to a 2.88 ERA across three levels this season, though that mark was skewed a bit by four ugly starts in Triple-A late in the season that saw him yield 13 runs in 16 innings. The lefty blitzed through Class-A Advanced and Double-A despite facing much older competition and, even if he doesn’t make the team next spring, looks ticketed for Triple-A to open the year, making him a very plausible option to come up in the first half of the 2018 campaign.
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    A’s Notes: Davis, Melvin, Lucroy, Lowrie, Kelley https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/as-notes-davis-melvin-lucroy-lowrie-kelley.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/as-notes-davis-melvin-lucroy-lowrie-kelley.html#comments Fri, 05 Oct 2018 22:06:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=134135 After falling short in the AL wild card game, the Athletics are looking ahead to what they hope is another year of contention in 2019.  Baseball operations executive VP Billy Beane and general manager David Forst met with reporters (including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and NBCSports.com’s Ben Ross) today to discuss some pressing matters as the A’s enter the offseason…

    • The A’s have had “some preliminary conversations” with Khris Davis’ representatives about a contract extension, Beane said.  The two sides have already touched base about an extension multiple times this year, initially a one-year deal to cover Davis’ final year of arbitration eligibility in 2019, and then talks of a multi-year agreement over the summer.  After a league-best 48 homers, Davis is due for a big arbitration raise over his $10.5MM salary from 2018, and any sort of pricey extension is pretty rare for the low-payroll Athletics.  Still, Beane did say last year that the team was looking to identify and extend players it felt were cornerstones, and Davis’ consistent power production has certainly been a big boost to the Oakland lineup.
    • A contract extension for manager Bob Melvin is likely coming by early next week.  “Bob is one of the best in the game and he’s perfect for us.  The idea is he’s here for a long time and for the rest of his career,” Beane said.  The two sides were expected to meet after the season to discuss a new deal, and it appears as though negotiations will wrap up in quick fashion.  Oakland has a 634-599 record and four postseason appearances over Melvin’s eight seasons as manager, and this year’s 97-win campaign certainly made Melvin deserving of a longer commitment beyond the end of the 2019 season, when his current deal expires.  The length of Melvin’s next contract will be of interest, given that Slusser reported over the summer about rumblings that the trio of Melvin, Beane, and Forst might not stay together beyond 2019 — Melvin’s deal could give a hint about Beane and/or Forst’s future.
    • The A’s figure to have interest in re-signing Jonathan Lucroy, with Slusser feeling that Lucroy would be looking for a two-year deal but the team would prefer another one-year contract.  Prospect Sean Murphy looks to be the catcher of the future, though “Sean’s got all of three games at Triple-A, so it’s hard to say where he starts 2019,” Forst said.  Murphy hit .288/.358/.498 over 289 PA at Double-A this season, though his season was shortened by a broken hamate bone.  Until Murphy gets more seasoning, Lucroy would be a logical choice as a veteran bridge, and finding that multi-year free agent deal could be difficult for Lucroy given that he was forced to settle for a one-year pact in free agency last offseason and is now coming off a much weaker year at the plate.  In a separate piece yesterday, Slusser reported that there hadn’t yet been any talks between Lucroy and the Athletics.
    • Free agent second baseman Jed Lowrie reiterated that he wants to stay with the A’s, saying he has “made it abundantly clear” to all parties.  Oakland had interest in an extension back in July, so there certainly appears to be some momentum on both sides to work out a new deal.  Lowrie turns 35 in April, though a multi-year appears to be in order after back-to-back impressive seasons — the veteran hit .272/.356/.448 with 37 homers and 86 doubles in 1325 PA since the start of the 2017 campaign.
    • In an appearance on the A’s Plus podcast with Slusser back in August, reliever Shawn Kelley hinted that “it’s possible” 2018 could be his last season.  “I’ve told a lot of my close friends [and] my family, that it would take something pretty either convenient location-wise or something that maybe I couldn’t turn down to probably get me to come back to another Spring Training,” Kelley said.  That would seemingly put a return to the A’s in question, as the Kelley family’s offseason home is in Chattanooga (far removed from Oakland or the Athletics’ Spring Training camp in Mesa, Arizona), though his feelings could have changed since the time the podcast was released.  Arm issues could be one reason for Kelley’s decision, as he has two Tommy John surgeries on his record and joked that “my elbow is about 85 [years old], it feels like some days.”  Performance-wise, the 34-year-old Kelley is still pitching at a high level, bouncing back from an injury-shortened 2017 to post a 2.94 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 4.55 K/BB rate over 49 innings for the Nationals and A’s this season, though he also missed two weeks to the DL with an ulnar nerve problem.
    How Jonathan Lucroy Has Helped The A's https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/quick-hits-mets-melvin-nationals-lucroy-dunning.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/quick-hits-mets-melvin-nationals-lucroy-dunning.html#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:58:45 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133991
  • Jonathan Lucroy didn’t contribute much at the plate for the Athletics this season, but the signing of the veteran catcher has become a major move in Oakland’s run to the AL wild card game, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  Thanks to an up-and-down 2017 season, a dropoff in his framing numbers, and perhaps just the overall chilled free agent market, Lucroy had to settle for a one-year, $6.5MM deal from the A’s in March.  Catcher became a need for the A’s once Bruce Maxwell fell out of favor with the team, and Lucroy’s veteran knowledge became particularly important given the number of young arms that ended up on the roster due to injuries and a focus on the bullpen.  “I don’t even know the numbers of starters that we’ve gone through with unfortunate injuries,” closer Blake Treinen said.  “And then the amount of arms that we had in the bullpen through September, trying to keep hitters off balance, knowing what everybody has, trying to read their stuff on that day.  [Lucroy has] been pretty solid, to say the least, for us back there, and it’s a good luxury to have.”  Lucroy’s mediocre offensive numbers will limit his free agent market and keep him in Oakland’s price range, so it will be interesting to see if the A’s could pursue a reunion with the catcher in free agency this winter.
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    A's To Start Liam Hendriks In Wild-Card Game https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/al-notes-yanks-as-twins-os-davis-rangers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/al-notes-yanks-as-twins-os-davis-rangers.html#comments Tue, 02 Oct 2018 23:06:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133932 The Yankees and Athletics have named their starters for Wednesday’s American League wild-card game. New York will turn to right-hander Luis Severino, the team confirmed, while Oakland will open the game with reliever Liam Hendriks, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The fact that the A’s are counting on Hendriks in such an important role would’ve been a shock back in July, when they outrighted him, but the 29-year-old reemerged as an effective member of the team’s pitching staff in September. Severino, meanwhile, is in line to start his second straight AL wild-card contest. Last year’s showing was disastrous, as Severino allowed three earned runs and only recorded one out against the Twins before exiting what proved to be a comeback win for the Yankees. In an MLBTR poll over the weekend, the plurality of voters expressed that J.A. Happ should start the game over Severino. The Yankees disagree.

    Andrew Triggs Undergoes Thoracic Outlet Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/andrew-triggs-to-undergo-thoracic-outlet-surgery.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/andrew-triggs-to-undergo-thoracic-outlet-surgery.html#comments Sat, 29 Sep 2018 01:06:01 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133013 Sept. 28: The A’s announced tonight that Triggs had his surgery on Wednesday. The procedure included a first rib resection and scalenectomy, per the team’s release.

    Sept. 18: Athletics righty Andrew Triggs is slated to undergo surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, per a club announcement. According to the team, it plans to provide further details after the procedure is completed.

    Needless to say, it’s disappointing news for both the 29-year-old hurler and the organization, which has seen numerous controllable hurlers go down to injury this season. Of course, that also hasn’t stopped the club from posting a stunningly successful campaign.

    Entering the 2018 season, there was hope that Triggs would build off of a 2017 season in which he posted a 4.27 ERA in a dozen starts before undergoing season-ending hip surgery. Instead, he limped to a 5.23 ERA through nine outings before hitting the shelf.

    There’s no sense in guessing at an outlook at this point. In comparison even to Tommy John surgery, recovery from which is not as linear or as certain as is sometimes presumed, surgical treatments for thoracic outlet syndrome have produced quite a range of timelines and outcomes. It’s certainly not promising for his long-term prospects in the big leagues, though plenty of pitchers have been able to make it back to the MLB mound after undergoing surgical treatment for the syndrome in recent years.

    Athletics Plan To Discuss Bob Melvin Extension After Season https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/oakland-athletics-rumors-bob-melvin-extension-manager.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/oakland-athletics-rumors-bob-melvin-extension-manager.html#comments Sat, 29 Sep 2018 00:28:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133637 The Athletics have been baseball’s most unexpected success story in 2018, and on the heels of a playoff berth and at least 96 wins, the front office plans to sit down with manager Bob Melvin to discuss a contract extension after the season, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports.

    Regardless of how the 2018 season had played out, it seemed like the organization had Melvin in its long-term plans. The Yankees reportedly wanted to interview Melvin for their managerial vacancy last winter but were denied permission, and general manager David Forst went on record with John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle shortly thereafter to publicly declare that Melvin is “absolutely the right guy” to guide the Athletics’ emerging young core.

    That statement rings truer than ever now as Melvin’s upstart Athletics gear up for an American League Wild Card showdown against the Yankees next week. Melvin and his staff have helped to guide a group that has, remarkably, seen top starter Sean Manaea undergo shoulder surgery that’ll likely keep him out through 2019 and lost another four rotation pieces (or potential rotation pieces) to Tommy John surgery in Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Daniel Gossett and top prospect A.J. Puk.

    Oakland has incredibly relied on a patchwork rotation of Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson and a blast-from-the-past pairing of former green-and-gold stars Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson. With the starting staff in shambles (relative to Opening Day expectations), Oakland’s bullpen, anchored by a juggernaut breakout from Blake Treinen, has thrived. Trade acquisitions Fernando Rodney, Jeurys Familia and Ryan Buchter have all thrown well, while free-agent pickup Yusmeiro Petit has been an invaluable multi-inning piece and rookie Lou Trivino has been similarly excellent. Meanwhile, a rising core of position players headlined by emerging superstar Matt Chapman, young slugger Matt Olson and out-of-nowhere center field sensation Ramon Laureano paired with steady veterans Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien to propel a second-half surge for the ages.

    Pulling the strings behind it all has been Melvin, who in addition to perhaps being rewarded with a new contract could also take home American League Manager of the Year honors. He’s currently signed through the 2019 season — the same season through which Forst and executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane are signed — but it seems as though the Oakland front office is understandably interested in prolonging that relationship. The 56-year-old Melvin has been Oakland’s manager since June of 2011 and is 633-597 since being appointed. This will be the Athletics’ fourth postseason appearances under his watch and the team’s fourth winning effort in his seven full seasons at the helm.

    Beane: Laureano Viewed As Long-Term Center Fielder https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-west-notes-paxton-buttrey-laureano-astros-roster.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-west-notes-paxton-buttrey-laureano-astros-roster.html#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2018 19:45:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133631
  • Ramon Laureano’s brilliant play with the Athletics since debuting in early August has earned him the team’s everyday center fielder role moving forward, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. That spot had been earmarked for Dustin Fowler, a more high-profile prospect acquisition in last summer’s Sonny Gray blockbuster with the Yankees, but he now looks like a corner option for the foreseeable future. Oakland added Laureano in a trade that barely went noticed last November, sending minor league righty Brandon Bailey to the Astros in return. Since debuting, though, Laureano has posted a .295/.364/.486 batting line with terrific center field defense and a perfect seven steals in seven attempts. A’s EVP Billy Beane tells Slusser that the “job is [Laureano’s],” adding that the 24-year-old “has played that position just about as well as anyone we’ve ever had here.”
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    Liam Hendriks Hires MVP Sports Group https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/liam-hendriks-hires-mvp-sports-group.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/liam-hendriks-hires-mvp-sports-group.html#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2018 17:28:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133624 Athletics right-hander Liam Hendriks has hired new representation, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). He’ll be moving to the MVP Sports Group.

    Earlier this year, Hendriks was outrighted off of the A’s 40-man roster. The 29-year-old elected to stick around, rather than giving up the balance of his $1.9MM salary.

    That proved a wise choice, finances aside, as he ultimately got a call back after some time at Triple-A. In fact, Hendriks was quite dominant in his 25 1/3 frames at the highest level of the minors, running a ridiculous 43:4 K/BB ratio.

    Since coughing up two earned in his first game back in the big leagues, Hendriks has been lights-out. He has now thrown 10 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, with nine strikeouts against two walks. Over that stretch, he has allowed only five hits while inducing 15 grounders.

    In the course of that run, Hendriks has also come to occupy an “opener” role for the Oakland organization. The Aussie has officially now made seven starts, his first since way back in 2014, though he has only once stayed for more than an inning.

    Hendriks is eligible for arbitration again this winter. While it once seemed entirely unlikely he’d be tendered a contract, that now seems to be an easy call — particularly with Hendriks showing a velocity bump after some early-season injury issues.

    That means that Hendriks will be one of the first players to test the arb market with an opener’s resume, though his is of relatively short duration. Notably, too, he will remain under team control for an additional season. Though he opened the present campaign with 4.038 years of MLB service, the lengthy stint in the minors will leave him shy of five full years.

    Past, Present & Future: American League Closer Turnover https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/mlb-closer-changes-2018-american-league.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/mlb-closer-changes-2018-american-league.html#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2018 17:01:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133145 By the end of the 2017 season, the list of pitchers closing out games for their respective teams included Matt Belisle, Alex Claudio, Juan Minaya and Mike Minor. Three of them were without a career save coming into the season—Belisle had five in 13 MLB seasons—and none had been expected to fill a significant late-inning bullpen role. By way of injuries, trades or ineffectiveness from those ahead of them on the depth chart, they were given a chance to record the final out in a close win and proved themselves capable.

    Things haven’t changed much this year. Raise your hand if you thought Wily Peralta would have one save in 2018. He has 13! Of the 15 American League teams, only four currently have a closer situation that mirrors what they had on Opening Day. When it comes to closers, uncertainty is the only certainty. And that’s why Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are Hall of Famers and the relief pitchers who will join them in Cooperstown in the future are few and far between.

    Here’s a look back at each American League team’s closer situation on Opening Day versus where they are now and where they will be as they head into the offseason. (Click HERE to view the National League.)

    [Related: MLB closer depth chart at Roster Resource]

    Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Committee — Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens
    September 2018: Mychal Givens

    Future Outlook: Brach got the majority of the committee’s save chances prior to Zach Britton reclaiming the job shortly after returning from the disabled list in late June. Soon after, Givens was the last man standing following a series of July trades (Brach to the Braves; Britton to the Yankees). O’Day, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending hamstring surgery and was later traded to Atlanta in a separate deal.

    A valuable setup man for most of the past three seasons, Givens has done a fine job since taking over ninth-inning duties. In his last 19 appearances, he has a 2.18 ERA and eight saves in 10 chances. With so many holes to fill on the roster, upgrading at the closer position is probably low on the Orioles’ priority list. Givens, therefore, likely enters 2019 with the job — if he isn’t traded himself this offseason as the O’s continue their rebuilding efforts.

    Boston Red Sox Red Sox Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Craig Kimbrel
    September 2018: Craig Kimbrel

    Future Outlook: Kimbrel, who recently became the fourth pitcher in MLB history to record at least 40 saves in five different seasons, has been a huge part of Boston’s historic season. As a free agent following the 2018 campaign, the 30-year-old will command a contract that rivals the highest-paid relievers in the game. Can the Red Sox afford to let him walk? Just in case he does, they’ll have to plan accordingly.

    With Joe Kelly also set to become a free agent, Matt Barnes is the logical choice to inherit the closer’s gig. He’s earned the opportunity with a 3.28 ERA and 25 holds while serving as the primary setup man on the best team in baseball. The 28-year-old also has an impressive 13.9 K/9 in 60.1 innings of work, an increase from 10.7 K/9 in ’17 and 9.6 K/9 in ’16. The only question is whether a team capable of winning over 100 games will entrust the role to someone with two career saves. If Kimbrel signs elsewhere, it seems likely that the Sox would pursue alternatives in free agency and/or trades.

    Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Joakim Soria
    September 2018: Committee — Nate Jones, Jace Fry, Minaya, etc.

    Future Outlook: Soria was as good as he’d been in years, posting a 2.56 ERA with 16 saves and 11.4 K/9 in 40 appearances. The White Sox cashed in by sending him to the Brewers for two pitching prospects in late July. Since then, they’ve handed off the closer’s job to a committee that included just about any relief pitcher on their active roster—seven different pitchers have recorded saves since the Soria trade.

    The next step for the rebuilding White Sox is to put together a roster that can, at the very least, be a .500 team and potential playoff contender. Having a reliable closer would be an important part of that plan. Jones looks the part, but he’s missed most of the last two seasons recovering from elbow surgery and still might not be ready to take on the workload of a primary closer. A healthy Zack Burdi, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016 and one time “closer of the future,” could also be in the mix at some point, though he spent 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. They’ll likely play it safe, however, and add at least one veteran with closing experience this offseason.

    Cleveland Indians | Indians Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Cody Allen
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Allen and Brad Hand

    Future Outlook: Allen has a lot of mileage on his arm, averaging 71 relief appearances per season since 2013, and it’s showed at times during the current season. With Andrew Miller on the disabled list and Allen’s ERA creeping up near 5.00, the Indians’ acquisition of Brad Hand from the Padres on July 19th was a no-brainer.

    Not only has it helped them down the stretch—Hand has a 2.45 ERA and eight saves while Allen has 10 consecutive scoreless appearances—it also gives the Indians a very good closer option for 2019. Allen and Miller are both headed for free agency while the 28-year-old Hand is under contract through 2021. The job should be his moving forward.

    Detroit Tigers Tigers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Shane Greene
    September 2018: Shane Greene

    Future Outlook: With a 5.20 ERA and six blown saves in 37 chances, Greene is probably lucky to have held on to the job for the entire season. But on a rebuilding Tigers team, who is going to close out games for them is the least of their worries. With that said, Greene probably fits best as a setup man. Even if they don’t upgrade this offseason, All-Star Joe Jimenez (11.2 K/9, 22 holds, 3 saves, 2.88 FIP) could supplant Greene in 2019.

    Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Co-Closers – Chris Devenski and Ken Giles
    September 2018: Roberto Osuna

    Future Outlook: Despite a drop in strikeout rate—8.0 K/9 in ’18; 11.7 K/9 in ’17—Osuna has continued to perform at a high level amid abuse allegations that led to a 75-game suspension under MLB’s domestic abuse policy. The Astros still decided to acquire him in a trade with the Jays despite the ongoing investigation.

    Barring any struggles during the team’s playoff run — he’s postseason eligible in spite of that suspension — or any further off-the-field troubles, the 23-year-old Osuna seems likely to enter 2019 as the Astros’ closer. He’s under club control through the 2020 season.

    Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Kelvin Herrera
    September 2018: Wily Peralta

    Future Outlook: Soon after Herrera was traded to Washington in mid-June, Peralta emerged from the closer committee to become one of the unlikeliest ninth-inning success stories of 2018. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the 29-year-old has 13 saves in 13 chances and a 9.5 K/9 rate.

    After getting booted from the Brewers’ rotation last May, he had a disastrous 11-appearance stint as a relief pitcher (17 1/3 innings, 23 ER, 28 H, 15 BB) before getting designated for assignment in late July. He signed a Major League deal with Kansas City this offseason, only to be designated for assignment again and outrighted to Triple-A. He returned to the Majors one day before the Herrera trade and picked up his first MLB save eight days later.

    Peralta has a $3MM club option in 2019, which could very well be exercised. Even if it’s not, he’s remain under team control for one more season via arbitration. While he’s been better than anyone could’ve anticipated in his current role, his 22 walks in 31 1/3 innings serve as a red flag that will likely keep the Royals from locking him into the job next season without some form of competition.

    Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Keynan Middleton
    September 2018: Ty Buttrey

    Future Outlook: Blake Parker, who finished 2017 as the closer, picked up the team’s first save of 2018 after finishing last season in the role. But it was Middleton who got the call for the next six save chances, all successful, making it clear that he was manager Mike Scioscia’s preferred choice in the ninth inning. A few weeks later, however, Middleton had undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery and it was back to the drawing board for the Angels.

    Parker got the majority of save chances with Middleton out. And as was the case in 2017, he got the job done with a 3.21 ERA and 13 saves in 16 chances from May 14th—the day after Middleton’s last game— through September 3rd. But Buttrey, acquired from the Red Sox in the July deal for Ian Kinsler, is getting a chance to show what he can do as of late. In six appearances from September 7th through September 18th, the 25-year-old tossed seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and four saves. He has failed to convert his last two save chances, though.

    Regardless, there probably wasn’t enough time for Buttrey to seal the job for 2019. He will be a candidate alongside Parker, though, unless the Angels acquire a closer this offseason.

    Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Fernando Rodney
    September 2018: Trevor Hildenberger

    Future Outlook: After saving 25 games and solidifying the ninth inning for Minnesota over the first four months of the season, Rodney was traded to Oakland in AugustRyan Pressly, who would’ve been the logical choice to succeed him, was traded to Houston in late July. A closer committee appeared likely, but Hildenberger has been the go-to guy with seven saves in eight chances since Rodney’s departure. Taylor Rogers, while serving mostly in a setup role, has not allowed a run over his last 23 2/3 innings while logging two saves and 11 holds over that span.

    Between Hildenberger, Rogers, Addison Reed and Trevor May, who has five walks and 31 strikeouts in 23 innings in his first season since Tommy John surgery, the Twins have some decent late-inning options for 2019. It’s probably not enough to keep them away from the offseason closer’s market, though.

    New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Aroldis Chapman
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Zach Britton and Dellin Betances

    Future Outlook: Chapman might not have enough time to reclaim the closer’s job before the end of the regular season—he returned from the disabled list last Wednesday—or even the playoffs for that matter. But there’s no reason to think a change is on the horizon in 2019. The 30-year-old lefty, who is 31-for-33 in save opportunities and is striking out 16.1 batters per nine innings, will be entering year three of a five-year, $85MM contract.

    Oakland Athletics Athletics Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Blake Treinen
    September 2018: Blake Treinen

    Future Outlook: Treinen has been one of the breakout stars in 2018, saving 37 games while posting an 0.80 ERA and striking out 11.1 batters per nine innings for a playoff-bound A’s team. The 30-year-old is still under team control for two more seasons, although he’s in line for a significant raise from the $2.15MM he made in ’18. Barring injury, there’s no doubt that he’ll retain the job in 2019.

    Seattle Mariners Mariners Depth Chart 

    Opening Day 2018: Edwin Diaz 
    September 2018: Edwin Diaz

    Future Outlook: No other closer, arguably, has contributed more to his team’s success than the 24-year-old Diaz, who has 14 more saves (56) than any other pitcher in baseball and 13 more save chances (60). The Mariners play a lot of close ballgames—they are 36-21 in one-run games—and Diaz rarely gives his opponent a chance in the ninth inning. He has held his opponent scoreless in 59 of his 71 appearances and hitless in 44. He also has 41 multi-strikeout games.

    The 24-year-old is going to get paid once he reaches arbitration, although he could fall just short during the upcoming offseason. The Super Two cutoff has not fallen under 2.122 (two years, 122 days) since 2009. Diaz will be one day shy of that total.

    Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Alex Colome
    September 2018: Co-Closers – Sergio Romo/Jose Alvarado

    Future Outlook: When Colome was traded to Seattle on May 25th, the Rays were two games under .500 and 10 games out in the division. It’s not clear whether they were throwing in the towel or whether they just had enough confidence in Romo, who had 84 career saves coming into the season, and the remaining group of young arms. In any case, it’s worked out just fine.

    Since the trade, the Rays are 64-44 with Romo as the primary closer (3.38 ERA, 23-for-28  in save chances) and Alvarado, a 23-year-old lefty, also playing an integral role (1.98 ERA, 7 saves). Not that you can count on the Rays to do anything conventional like name a closer prior to the season or at any point during the regular season, but Alvarez and the hard-throwing Diego Castillo would be the leading in-house candidates if they did. Tampa Bay could also look to bring Romo back into the fold.

    Texas Rangers Rangers Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Keone Kela
    September 2018: Jose Leclerc

    Future Outlook: No relief pitcher has boosted their value more in the second half of the season than Leclerc, who spent the first four months in a setup role. Once Kela was traded to the Pirates on July 31st, it was the 24-year-old Leclerc’s chance to shine. It’s hard to imagine a more convincing way to show that he wouldn’t be relinquishing the job anytime soon.

    Aside from converting each of his 11 save opportunities, Leclerc has allowed just two hits and six walks over 17 scoreless innings while striking out 28. The Rangers will look to bolster their bullpen this offseason, but finding a new closer isn’t likely to be on the agenda. Leclerc is controlled through 2022.

    Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

    Opening Day 2018: Roberto Osuna
    September 2018: Ken Giles

    Future Outlook: Despite being the primary closer on the World Champion Astros, it was clear  that Giles was not trusted with the game on the line. The trade to Toronto in late July gave the 28-year-old a chance to re-establish himself, out of the spotlight, as a reliable late-inning reliever. So far, so good.

    After a few shaky appearances to begin his Blue Jays tenure, Giles has settled into the closer’s role with 1.29 ERA over his past 15 appearances with 12 saves in 12 chances. It might not be enough to prevent the Jays from pursuing another option this winter, but Giles should at least be in the mix.

    Nate Jones (if $4.65MM club option is declined)
    Joe Kelly
    Craig Kimbrel
    Ryan Madson
    Andrew Miller
    Fernando Rodney (if $4.25MM club option is declined)
    Sergio Romo
    Joakim Soria (if $10MM mutual option is declined)
    5 Middle Infielders That Posted Surprisingly Strong 2018 Seasons https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/5-middle-infielders-that-posted-surprisingly-strong-2018-seasons.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/5-middle-infielders-that-posted-surprisingly-strong-2018-seasons.html#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2018 16:29:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133384 It’s an exceedingly quiet day on the transactional front, which affords an opportunity to look at some higher-level developments around the game as the 2018 season comes to an end. My perusal of the stat pages revealed that there are several interesting middle infielders — by trade, if not always by use this year — who have posted surprisingly strong campaigns.

    There are obviously other shortstops and second basemen who have likewise excelled beyond expectations — e.g. Scooter Gennett and Trevor Story — but it feels as if they’ve received proper recognition and examination already. It’s worth taking a closer look at this handful of players:

    • Jurickson Profar, Rangers: Yes, folks, the former top overall prospect in baseball has finally arrived … at the ripe old age of, um, 25. Through 567 plate appearances this season, Profar has produced a .255/.337/.457 slash with 18 home runs and ten steals. He has gone down on strikes just 79 times while drawing 52 walks. While the defensive work hasn’t been valued as highly — whether due to frequent position shifts, Profar’s shoulder issues, short-sample blips, or otherwise — he has made up for that with highly valued work on the bases. All said, it’s the sort of campaign that was once envisioned for a player who debuted at 19 years of age. He’ll remain arbitration eligible for two more campaigns and could step in at third base if Adrian Beltre departs, though Profar’s capabilities in the middle infield still help buttress the Rangers’ options (including in potential trade scenarios).
    • Johan Camargo Braves: While Camargo has been handling third base this year, and doing so with aplomb, he spent most of his time in the minors at short and could still factor there in the future, so he gets a spot on this list. Interesting young infielders abound in Atlanta, but this one has come from way off the radar to turn in a season every bit as impressive (if not moreso) than those of his more celebrated brethren. If his 2017 results suggested some likelihood of regression, Camargo’s 2018 follow-up indicates that he has made serious strides. Through 499 plate appearances, he owns a .273/.353/.457 slash with 18 home runs. He’s drawing free passes in ten percent of his trips to the dish (double his rookie rate) while strikeout out twenty percent of the time. Only a surprisingly poor baserunning grade (-3.4 BsR) has held him to an even 3.0 fWAR on the season.
    • Joey Wendle, Rays: Entering his age-28 season, Wendle had appeared in just 36 MLB contests. Thus far in 2018, he has contributed 521 plate appearances of .301/.356/.439 hitting with seven long balls and 15 steals. Wendle may struggle to sustain those numbers, given that he’s relying upon a hefty .355 BABIP and isn’t quite supported by Statcast (.341 wOBA vs. .320 xwOBA). Still, he offers value in the other facets of the game and at worst seems to be quite a useful, affordable asset for the surprising Rays. It’s all the better for Tampa Bay given that Wendle was acquired out of DFA limbo over the winter.
    • Marcus Semien, Athletics: We can probably stop waiting for Semien to break out at the plate. He’s yet again firmly ensconced between the 90 and 100 wRC+ range — smack dab in the middle, in fact, at 95. He might finish with only about half the dingers he smacked in 2016 (27), but is reaching base at a palatable enough clip. So … his inclusion on this list is almost entirely dependent upon what one thinks of his glovework. Semien is humming along at +8 DRS and +7.8 UZR after mostly posting poor metrics in past seasons. He hasn’t entirely eliminated the errors that once plagued him, though with twenty this year he’s still well shy of the 35 he recorded in 2015. What he is doing is earning big marks for ranging to balls and converting them into outs. The result? 3.6 fWAR and 4.0 rWAR.
    • Jose Peraza, Reds: There isn’t a ton to get excited about with Peraza, who has posted solidly average marks in most regards while providing an extra boost on the bases. Still, that makes him a potential regular player — much more than he seemed capable of after his first full MLB run in 2017. At 24 years of age, he’s youthful and controllable. Peraza has made clear strides in the power department, where he has socked nearly as many dingers (13) as he had at all levels in the prior three seasons combined (14). He’s also converting his frequent contact into a high-enough batting average (.290) to support a reasonable on-base percentage (.328) despite a piddling (albeit still-improving) 4.4% walk rate. Though the defensive metrics aren’t in love with the glove, it’s good enough to hold down the position. The overall package is sufficient to induce the Reds to pencil in Peraza at short for some time, giving top prospect Nick Senzel a look in the corner outfield this fall rather than exploring other potential infield configurations.
    AL West Notes: Manaea, Keuchel, Felix https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-west-notes-manaea-keuchel-felix.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/al-west-notes-manaea-keuchel-felix.html#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2018 19:32:28 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133147 There’s a bit of surprisingly good news for an Athletics team that has weathered a withering run of injuries to young pitchers. As MLB.com’s Jane Lee was among those to report (Twitter links), the Oakland organization says it was actually rather encouraged by the outcome of Sean Manaea’s shoulder procedure yesterday. Though the team likely won’t be able to rely on him as a contributor in 2019, it seems there’s some hope that Manaea could be ready to return late in the season. And the long-term outlook is generally good, which is particularly promising for a hurler who is only just reaching arbitration eligibility.

    More from some other prominent AL West hurlers …

    • Astros southpaw Dallas Keuchel is headed for free agency in less than two months, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to think about it. As Mark Berman of FOX 26 was among those to convey (video link on Twitter), the lefty says he isn’t interested in pondering his future, preferring instead to “enjoy this team and this year.” That’s surely a sensible position to take for a variety of reasons. The 30-year-old and his teammates are, after all, trying to ramp up for a second consecutive World Series run. And he can best increase his market options and earning power by continuing to throw the ball well. Through 196 2/3 solid frames this year, Keuchel carries a 3.71 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 along with a 53.3% groundball rate. That last figure, while still strong, is well under Keuchel’s established levels, though he is compensating in some regards by holding opposing hitters to less home runs (11.2% HR/FB, 0.78 HR/9) than he has typically.
    • The Mariners shouldn’t worry about the $27MM they owe Felix Hernandez in deciding his future with the club, veteran journalist Bob Dutton writes on the KLAY 1180 blog. Simply put, that’s a sunk cost. And Dutton says the M’s ought to ignore it — at least, perhaps, unless they are able to arrange some kind of trade scenario utilizing the contract. That’s not to say that the end ought to come before the start of the 2019 season, but Dutton argues it’s not a possibility the organization should shy from considering.
    Sean Manaea Undergoes Shoulder Surgery, Likely To Miss 2019 Season https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/sean-manaea-to-undergo-shoulder-surgery.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/sean-manaea-to-undergo-shoulder-surgery.html#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2018 03:55:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132661 Sept. 19: Oakland announced that Manaea underwent a subacromial decompression, acromioplasty and posterior labral repair today. There’s no indication that his timetable is any more favorable than it was when Melvin announced the surgery last week.

    Sept. 11, 4:22pm: The news on Manaea’s timeline is brutal, as manager Bob Melvin now tells reporters that the expectation is that Manaea will miss an entire year (Twitter links via Jane Lee of MLB.com and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). The team will know more after the surgery, but that early estimate is a crushing reality for the upstart A’s, who may now be without their most talented starter for the entirety of the 2019 season.

    2:17pm: The Athletics announced today that lefty Sean Manaea will undergo surgery on his pitching shoulder. He had been on the disabled list since late August with what was then labeled as an impingement.

    Certainly, the procedure will be expected to keep Manaea sidelined for the remainder of the 2018 season. Beyond that, though, it’s not clear what to expect. The organization says that it “will provide further details after the surgery.”

    While it had become increasingly clear of late that Manaea would not make it back late this year, this is still a particularly disappointing way to wrap things up. We’ll need to wait to learn more about the prognosis, but shoulder surgeries are always of particular concern for pitchers.

    Manaea had turned in 161 2/3 innings of 3.59 ERA pitching this year, helping spur a remarkable run for the Oakland ballclub. To be sure, his peripherals weren’t quite as exciting. With 6.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and a 44.0% groundball rate, ERA estimators viewed him more as a quality rotation piece than a front-end starter (4.26 FIP, 4.33 xFIP, 4.46 SIERA).

    Despite the questions, the 26-year-old is an indisputably talented and valuable pitcher. He’s slated to qualify for arbitration this coming offseason as a Super Two player, so missing some time late in the year will put a bit of a dent in his earnings. Still, with 464 MLB frames of sub-4.00 ERA pitching already under his belt, Manaea ought to earn well through the arb process.

    Tigers, Athletics Complete Mike Fiers Trade https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/tigers-athletics-complete-mike-fiers-trade.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/tigers-athletics-complete-mike-fiers-trade.html#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2018 19:43:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=133078 The Tigers and Athletics have announced the completion of the mid-season trade that sent starter Mike Fiers to Oakland. Righty Logan Shore will head to the Tigers in the deal, making him the second player to be named later.

    About one month back, the sides announced the first PTBNL: young righty Nolan Blackwood. In the meantime, Fiers has continued mostly to pile up good innings for the A’s.

    Shore, a 2016 second-rounder, is a rather notable prospect to be on the move. The 23-year-old turned in four strong outings at the High-A level before bumping up to Double-A. He has struggled to a 5.50 ERA there in 13 starts, but still seems to be a quality asset to add to the Detroit system. He’s just over two years removed from being selected in the second round of the 2016 draft and, in 2017, turned in a 3.68 ERA with an exceptional 87-to-16 K/BB ratio in 80 2/3 innings of work.

    At last look, Shore sat in the No. 14 spot on the MLB.com ranking of the A’s farm. He’s known more for “pitchability than stuff,” as that outlet puts it, so he’s valued more for his floor than his ceiling. Of course, even a perceived floor requires health, and that’s one area that has been a problem in Shore’s brief time as a professional; he was slowed by a lat issue earlier this season and had a pair of trips to the disabled list last year in an otherwise encouraging campaign.

    As for Fiers, the 33-year-old has been quite a boon for an otherwise injury-ravaged Athletics pitching staff. He’s taken the mound eight times since donning the green and gold, pitching to a sterling 3.09 ERA with 44 punchouts against just 10 walks in 43 2/3 innings of work. He’s still been far too homer-prone in that time (10 homers allowed), but Fiers has generally been one of Oakland’s most effective starters since joining the team. Oakland can control him through the 2019 season via arbitration.