Earlier today, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported that the Astros have reached an agreement with Cuban southpaw Cionel Perez on a $5.15MM signing bonus (which will cost the team a total of $10.3MM after luxury tax considerations). Ben Badler of Baseball America provides an updated scouting report on the newest member of the Astros’ farm system, noting that since leaving Cuba he’s added a two-seam fastball to his repertoire and made improvements to his slider. Badler also adds that Perez had been slated to pitch in the Dominican Winter League this summer, though it’s possible that the new signing could impact that schedule. Moreover, Badler reports that Houston has already reduced the bonuses of two high-profile international prospects — Anibal Sierra and Freudis Nova — after their physicals revealed some causes for concern. With Perez’s deal still pending a physical, it’s possible that his bonus could change.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- ESPN’s Buster Olney opines that even with the postseason eligibility deadline having passed, the Astros should pursue trades for rotation upgrades to help ensure that they’re even able to reach the playoffs. With the Pirates recently suffering a sweep and falling six back in the NL Wild Card race and the Marlins presently five back in that same hunt, Olney suggests right-handers Ivan Nova and Andrew Cashner as possible targets for Houston. Of course, neither would be likely to make more than three starts for Houston anyhow, and the Astros themselves aren’t in much better shape than Pittsburgh or Miami. Houston currently sits 3.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race, and they’re trailing Baltimore, Toronto, New York and Detroit in the standings at the moment.
- Jered Weaver is dealing with more uncertainty than he ever has in his professional career, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, as the lifetime Angels right-hander doesn’t know whether he’ll be back with the team next season. “It’s definitely a ball of confusion going on in my head, but I’m trying to focus on going out and pitching,” said the 33-year-old. Per Fletcher, even the Angels may be uncertain as to whether they’re truly interested in re-signing Weaver, as that interest level is likely dependent on whether ace Garrett Richards ultimately requires Tommy John surgery or not. Weaver’s diminishing velocity has been a notable storyline in Anaheim for the past couple of seasons, though as Fletcher points out, it’s actually ticked upward late in the 2016 campaign. Weaver has a 3.97 ERA and a 21-to-5 K/BB ratio over his past four starts, so perhaps even getting his heater back up into the mid-80s is enough for him to rediscover success. However, he’s also currently leading the league with 195 hits and 35 homers allowed, which has resulted in a 5.25 earned run average.
- The Mariners are likely to recall first base prospect Dan Vogelbach, whom they acquired in the trade that sent Mike Montgomery to the Cubs, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter link). While Vogelbach didn’t hit quite as well as he did in the Cubs’ minor league system following the trade, he did slash .240/.402/.422 with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma, demonstrating a keen eye at the plate and some pop to go along with it. Vogelbach could factor into the picture for the Mariners at first base and/or DH next season, so getting a look at him over the final few weeks of the year, even if it’s in a limited capacity, should give the Seattle front office a chance to plan for the 2017 season.
- Meanwhile the Athletics are bringing up even more young players now that the Triple-A season has ended, announcing that Renato Nunez and Matt Olson are joining the club. (Olson’s contract was selected to the 40-man roster and will fill the spot that was vacated by Billy Butler’s release.) Both players rank among Oakland’s top 15 prospects, with Nunez in particular receiving high praise from outlets like MLB.com and Baseball America. Nunez struggled somewhat as one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League, slashing just .228/.278/.412, and his primary position (third base) is presently occupied by fellow youngster Ryon Healy. However, Nunez has seen some time at first base and in left field in the minors and could be evaluated for a potential fit at either spot. Olson, meanwhile, entered the season as a Top 100 prospect at MLB.com (No. 100, to be exact) but struggled through the first half before salvaging his season with a .260/.349/.462 batting line from July 1 through season’s end. He’s seen more time in right field than at first base this season but has plenty of experience at both spots.