- What seemed at first like a minor issue for Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is beginning to seem a bit more concerning. While he’s apparently dealing with tightness in his back, manager Dave Roberts says it’s “oblique-ish” in location, as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Though Seager is said to be improving, it’s still not clear when the star youngster will return to the lineup. He also weighed in on the injury, saying that he doesn’t expect to have any trouble getting ready for Opening Day, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick tweets.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell gave updates on a variety of players to reporters, including Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. That includes lefty Roenis Elias, who has been diagnosed with an intercostal strain that will sideline him for at least a few weeks. A minor thumb issue for righty Rick Porcello doesn’t appear to be posing many problems. And while it’s not strictly an injury matter, it’s worth noting Farrell’s comments on righty Tyler Thornburg, who still needs to build up shoulder strength. That’s common for hurlers that are new to the organization, says Farrell, who cites a “period of adaptation” as pitchers “go through our shoulder maintenance program.”
- Meanwhile, Red Sox lefty David Price isn’t yet ready to throw, but is able to go through a pitching motion, Drellich adds on Twitter. It’s promising, at least, that there’s forward momentum as he works through a flexor strain.
- Time is tight for Orioles righty Chris Tillman, who is still not ready to return from his shoulder issues. He will need to progress smoothly to appear in the first week of the season, manager Buck Showalter told reporters including Rich Dubroff of PressBoxOnline.com (via Twitter). There’s perhaps a bit more breathing room for O’s closer Zach Britton, who’s working through oblique pain. Showalter says that he may appear in Grapefruit League action next after a pen session today, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- Orioles righty Logan Ondrusek is taking the always-ominous trip to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Ondrusek talked about how he experienced the elbow injury, explaining that he felt it on a single pitch but didn’t think more of it until he woke up with soreness that evening. He notes that it’s tough for pitchers who are going year to year to deal with potentially significant injuries. In his case, it’s not clear how his contract will work out. Ondrusek agreed with the O’s on a MLB deal that didn’t guarantee him all of his $650K salary.
- Athletics righty Sonny Gray says he was surprised to learn of his lat strain, as Jimmy Durkin of the Mercury News reports. An MRI was ordered just to be on the safe side, which revealed “a little bit of a strain there that’s just going to take a little time to heal.” Gray says he’s confident he’ll return in relatively short order — and regain his former trajectory. “There’s no doubt in my mind that when this thing gets knocked out that I’m going to be back to being the guy I’ve always been,” he says. “It’s just another little test that I’ve got to deal with.”
The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve activated shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the 15-day DL, where he had been since May 28 with a right quad strain. To clear space, they’ve optioned infielder Andy Burns to Triple-A Buffalo. The Jays had mostly been using Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney at shortstop. Now Tulowitzki will get something of a second chance to begin his season, which wasn’t going particularly well before the injury — he had batted just .204/.289/.383 before the quad strain. Here are more quick notes from the AL East.
- The Orioles have announced that they’ve activated righty Yovani Gallardo and shortstop J.J. Hardy from the 15-day disabled list. They also optioned lefty T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. The O’s placed Gallardo on the DL in late April with biceps tendinitis. Before that, he had struggled in his first four starts as an Oriole, allowing 14 runs in 18 innings. He starts today against the Jays. Hardy has missed the last six weeks with a left foot fracture. He’s batted .244/.291/.410 so far this season — not the most impressive numbers, perhaps, but he retains value thanks to his work at shortstop.
- Righty Clay Buchholz is moving back into the Red Sox’ rotation, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal notes. Buchholz takes the place of lefty Roenis Elias, who was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket today. Buchholz himself was bumped from the rotation in late May after posting a 6.35 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 56 2/3 innings as a starter. He’s only allowed three earned runs in 9 1/3 innings in the bullpen, although his six walks in that period don’t necessarily inspire confidence. The Sox continue to struggle to fill out their rotation behind David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, with six other starters, including Buchholz, having taken the mound this season.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball:
- The Rangers will purchase the contract of southpaw Cesar Ramos on Monday so he can make a spot start in place of the injured Cole Hamels, Texas executive VP of communications John Blake tweets. There is no word yet on the corresponding moves that would create roster space for Ramos; Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram speculates that Keone Kela could be moved to the 60-day DL and Alex Claudio could head to Triple-A. Only ten of Ramos’ 251 career games have been starts, though he made seven starts as recently as 2014 with the Rays. Ramos posted a 2.75 ERA and 2.87 K/BB rate in 52 1/3 relief innings with the Angels last season before being rather surprisingly non-tendered. He signed a minor league deal with Texas in January.
- The Rays transferred Alex Cobb to the 60-day DL in order to create a 40-man roster spot for Jhan Marinez, the club announced. Cobb has been out of action for almost a full year recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected back late this season.
- The White Sox have recalled right-hander Miguel Gonzalez from Triple-A and optioned righty Erik Johnson in a corresponding move, tweets Scott Gregor of the Daily Herald. Gonzalez will start for the White Sox on Monday in Toronto. Gonzalez joined the Sox as a free agent earlier this month after the Orioles unexpectedly released him. The 31-year-old has made 95 career starts and owns a lifetime 3.82 ERA to go with a 6.47 K/9 and 2.96 BB/9.
- The Red Sox recalled lefty Henry Owens and right-hander Pat Light, sending southpaw Roenis Elias and righty Noe Ramirez to Triple-A in corresponding moves, per a team announcement. Owens, 23, will start the Red Sox’s game against Houston tonight. He made 11 starts for the Sox last year and logged a 4.57 ERA with a 7.14 K/9 and 3.43 BB/9 in 63 innings. Light has been in Boston’s system since the club used a first-rounder on him in the 2012 draft, and he’s just now breaking into the majors. Light owns an underwhelming 4.63 ERA in 266 1/3 minor league innings, though he has flashed impressive strikeout ability since moving to a relief role last season and can hit 100 mph.
- The Reds announced that right-hander Tim Melville (who was designated for assignment Friday) cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Louisville. The 26-year-old Melville allowed 11 earned runs in nine innings — including two starts — while recording eight strikeouts against nine walks before the Reds designated him. Melville worked to a 4.63 ERA in 151 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level last year in the Tigers organization.
- The Tigers have placed closer Francisco Rodriguez on the family medical emergency list and recalled left-hander Matt Boyd from Triple-A, the team announced. There’s no word yet on how long Rodriguez will be away from the club. K-Rod has converted on 4 of 5 save opportunities for the Tigers this season, but the process hasn’t been pretty (.75 K/BB ratio, 7.11 ERA). Boyd, whom Detroit acquired from Toronto in the David Price trade last year, debuted in the majors in 2015, logging a combined 13 appearances with the Tigers and Blue Jays. The 25-year-old pitched to an unsightly 7.53 ERA in 57 1/3 innings, though he has been quite successful at the Triple-A level (2.53 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 10 starts dating back to last season).
Here are the latest minor transactions from around baseball:
- The Twins have called up right-hander Tyler Duffey from Triple-A and optioned infielder Jorge Polanco, the team announced. Duffey will start the Twins’ game Sunday against the Nationals in place of Ervin Santana, who has back tightness. Duffey, 25, broke into the majors last season and was excellent for the Twins, throwing 58 innings of 3.10 ERA ball with an 8.22 K/9 and 3.10 BB/9. Duffey’s standout performance has continued this year in Triple-A Rochester, where he has pitched to a 1.72 ERA and 2.98 FIP in three starts. Polanco, who’s regarded as a top-100 prospect, got the call to Minnesota last week but didn’t last long. The 22-year-old logged only eight plate appearances, giving him 28 in the big leagues since 2014.
- The Rays wasted no time sending top pitching prospect Blake Snell back to Triple-A after his stellar debut at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets. With Snell returning to Durham, the Rays have selected the contract of right-hander Jhan Marinez. Snell threw five innings of one-run ball in his first major league start, holding the Yankees to two hits and a walk while striking out six. Snell got a no-decision in the Rays’ 3-2 loss. Marinez, 27, could now make his first trip to a major league mound since he picked up 2 2/3 frames for the White Sox in 2012.
- The Blue Jays have optioned southpaw Chad Girodo to Triple-A to make room for right-hander Drew Hutchison, who will start their game Sunday against the A’s, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (Twitter link). Girodo has tossed two scoreless innings for the Jays this year. Hutchison racked up 62 appearances (60 starts) and 335 innings with the Jays from 2014-15, but he struggled to prevent runs (4.97 ERA) despite a quality K/9 (8.41) and decent BB/9 (2.79).
- The Marlins have placed third baseman Martin Prado on the paternity list and selected the contract of left-hander Cody Ege, per a club announcement. Ege, 24, will make his major league debut after recording stellar numbers in 161 2/3 minor league innings. Ege owns a 2.23 minors ERA to go with an 11.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
- The Diamondbacks have recalled right-hander Enrique Burgos from Triple-A and optioned righty Silvino Bracho, the team announced. Burgos accrued 27 innings out of the D-backs’ bullpen last season and put up a lofty ERA (4.67) that belied an impressive strikeout rate (13.0 per nine). Bracho threw just 1 2/3 innings for Arizona prior to the demotion, surrendering five hits and three earned runs.
- The Padres have placed utilityman Alexi Amarista on the 15-day DL (retroactive to April 20) with a right hamstring strain and recalled Cesar Vargas from Double-A, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link). Amarista owns a career .229/.277/.325 batting line in 1,601 major league plate appearances, but he was off to a solid start this year (.333/.440/.333 in 26 PAs). Vargas will start the Padres’ game against the Cardinals tonight. The Mexico native could be a diamond in the rough, as Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs details.
- The Nationals signed righty Jaron Long to a minor league deal, the team announced. Jaron Long, the son of Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, spent 2013-15 working through the Yankees’ minor league system. Long, 24, has put up some solid totals in the minors (3.26 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9), but he hasn’t yet earned a call-up to the majors.
- The Tigers have claimed catcher John Hicks off waivers from the Twins, Anthony Fenecki of the Detroit Free Press was among those to report (on Twitter). Hicks owns a .279/.325/.408 line in 1,690 minor league PAs and has thrown out a whopping 48 percent of base stealers at various levels. The 26-year-old debuted in the majors last season with the Mariners, collecting only two hits and a walk in 34 trips to the plate.
- The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Arnold Leon cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A (Twitter link via Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com). Leon gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings with the Jays before they designated him for assignment April 13. He made his major league debut last year with Oakland and posted a 4.39 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. Leon induced an average amount of ground balls (45.9 percent) and averaged 6.4 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 during that time.
- The Royals have released minor league left-hander Brandon Zajac, tweets Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. Zajac was a 23rd-round pick of the Giants in 2013.
- The Braves have recalled lefty reliever Matt Marksberry from Double-A and optioned right-hander Casey Kelly to Triple-A, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The Braves needed a fresh arm in place of Kelly, who threw three innings of one-run ball for them on Friday. Marksberry, who has put up a 3.63 ERA over 203 1/3 career minor league innings, tossed 23 1/3 frames for the Braves last season. He compiled a 5.01 ERA to accompany an 8.1 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9.
- The Mets sent right-hander Rafael Montero to Triple-A to make room for the return of starter Jacob deGrom, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN. New York called up Montero on April 12 and he went on to surrender three earned runs on five hits, one walk and three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. DeGrom hasn’t pitched since April 8 because of right lat tightness and medical complications with his recently born son, Jaxon, who was released from the hospital Monday.
- The Red Sox recalled left-handler Roenis Elias on Friday and sent righty William Cuevas to Triple-A, per the Boston Herald. Elias, whom Boston acquired from Seattle during the offseason in the Wade Miley/Carson Smith trade, will work out of the Red Sox’s bullpen. Elias has made a pair of starts for Pawtucket this year after totaling 49 as a Mariner the previous two seasons. During that time frame, Elias combined for 277 2/3 innings of 3.99 ERA ball to go with a 7.75 K/9 and 3.47 BB/9. Cuevas, who has been in the Boston organization since 2008, made his major league debut this season to poor results before the demotion. The 25-year-old allowed five base runners (three hits and two walks) and two earned runs in 2 1/3 frames.
Here’s the latest out of Boston as the club prepares for what should be a mostly predictable Spring Training:
- Christian Vazquez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. He went under the knife last April and will have to prove he can regularly catch to make the roster. Pitchers generally take 14 to 15 months to recover from the surgery while position players can pursue an accelerated timeline. Not many catchers are available for comparison. Matt Wieters is a recent example. He went under the knife in mid-June 2014 and returned to regular action in early-June 2015. If Vazquez follows the same timeline, he could be ready just in time for the regular season.
- If Vazquez is healthy, the Red Sox have a roster crunch behind the dish, per Speier. Veteran Ryan Hanigan and touted youngster Blake Swihart are also set to compete for playing time. Both Vazquez and Swihart have club options, but they’re also viewed as the future of the franchise. If they look sharp during the spring, Hanigan could be shopped on the trade market. More likely, Vazquez will be given extra time to recover from injury or develop his bat. The club could also opt to have Swihart work on his defense.
- Speier also looks at how the team’s pitchers performed with each catcher. In small samples, Eduardo Rodriguez was best with Swihart. Rick Porcello had similar numbers with Swihart and Hanigan. Clay Buchholz was much better with Vazquez as was Joe Kelly. All in all, the analysis is interesting but thoroughly inconclusive.
- The Red Sox know the plan for the late innings, write Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Junichi Tazawa, Carson Smith, and Koji Uehara will form the bridge to Craig Kimbrel. The other three bullpen jobs are open to competition. The favorite for the long relief role is Roenis Elias. He’s had modest success as a major league starter in Seattle. Knuckleballer Steven Wright is also in the picture, and he’s out of club options. The club reportedly liked Robbie Ross’ performance late last season, but he does have options. Bradford thinks Tommy Layne (out of options), is the favorite for a LOOGY role. The club is reportedly on the lookout for other lefty specialists too. Bradford also highlights a few dark horse candidates to track.
An exceptionally busy offseason for Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto continued on Monday, as the Mariners acquired left-hander Wade Miley and right-handed reliever Jonathan Aro from the Red Sox in exchange for lefty Roenis Elias and right-handed reliever Carson Smith. Both teams have formally announced the trade.
Miley, 29, has a long history with Dipoto, who not only was a consultant with the Red Sox after electing to leave his job with the Angels this summer but also served as the Diamondbacks’ scouting director when Miley was drafted back in 2008. Miley is controlled for at least two more seasons for a total of $15.25MM, and his contract also contains a $12MM club option for the 2018 season. He’ll give the Mariners a reasonably priced arm to slot into the rotation behind Felix Hernandez alongside Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
Miley’s first season with Boston got off to a slow start, but the lefty rebounded from a ghastly 8.62 April ERA to 4.10 ERA with a 137-to-58 K/BB ratio across his final 178 innings of the 2015 season. Miley has been a healthy and consistent innings eater dating back to his sophomore season in 2012, averaging 198 innings of 3.92 ERA ball per year despite spending three years with the hitter-friendly Chase Field as his home park and a fourth season in the American League East. One can imagine that the move to the spacious Safeco Field will benefit Miley considerably.
Aro, 25, posted outstanding numbers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015 and ultimately made his big league debut. He logged a 3.04 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in 74 minor league innings. He yielded eight runs in 10 1/3 Major League innings and averaged 92.5 mph on his fastball while posting an eight-to-four K/BB ratio. MLB.com ranked Aro 26th among Boston farmhands, noting that his fastball features some sink and can touch 95 mph. He has a slider and changeup as well, with the former grading as at least average. Their scouting report feels he can pitch successfully in multiple-inning relief stints and calls Aro “durable.”
Seattle’s decision to part with Smith comes as somewhat of a surprise. The 26-year-old delivered 70 brilliant innings of relief, pitching to a 2.31 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and an exceptional 64.8 percent ground-ball rate. Smith ranked sixth among qualified relievers in ground-ball rate and struck out a greater number of batters than nearly any pitcher on the top 30 in that regard. He’s controllable for another five seasons and will give president of baseball operation Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox another elite relief arm to pair with the likes of Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara in the late innings.
The Red Sox will also pick up a left-hander with significant big league experience in the form of Elias. The 27-year-old has spent the past two seasons mostly at the big league level, logging a 3.97 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate. Elias has yielded an unspectacular .255/.333/.411 batting line to right-handed hitters but dominated lefties, holding same-handed batters to a .218/.304/.332 clip. His control against lefties could stand to improve a bit, but he’s a generally useful weapon against them and could conceivably be tougher if shifted to a bullpen role, where he could throw harder in shorter stints.
A bullpen slot could be his best shot at cracking the roster next spring, as an immediate spot in the Boston rotation doesn’t seem too likely. The Red Sox currently have David Price, Clay Buchholz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly, to say nothing of highly regarded left-handers Henry Owens and Brian Johnson more or less ready for big league action.
Of course, Elias could simply be rotation depth for the Red Sox in the event that they trade another arm or two, or he could be flipped to another club himself. Earlier this offseason, the Marlins were said to have some interest in him when discussing potential Marcell Ozuna deals (though they were looking for considerably more than Elias alone in exchange for Ozuna). Elias is controllable through the 2020 season and won’t be arbitration eligible until at least the 2017-18 offseason.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX reported earlier this afternoon that the two sides were making progress on a deal that would send Miley to Seattle. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported the trade was in place (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that Aro, Elias and Smith were involved.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
12:10am: Frisaro tweets that while he hasn’t confirmed anything, he gets the sense that the Marlins covet Walker. However, he adds that the Marlins also aren’t going to give away Ozuna’s potential 30-homer bat in exchange for Elias, thus suggesting that if a trade is ultimately reached, it will be substantial in nature.
10:25pm: Walker “isn’t available,” tweets Crasnick, and Paxton’s health concerns might not great enough that the Marlins wouldn’t part with Ozuna, raising the question of whether or not Elias or Karns would entice Miami.
10:00pm: Frisaro now tweets that the Marlins and Mariners could be aiming to complete a larger deal than just Ozuna for a pitcher. Crasnick tweeted earlier today that many expect Dipoto to trade Mark Trumbo again this winter (he dealt Trumbo from Anaheim to Arizona when he was GM of the Angels), though Trumbo’s lofty arb projection ($9.1MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) and the presence of Justin Bour in Miami make Trumbo an imperfect fit for the Fish.
9:48pm: MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins are “fielding a lot of calls” on Ozuna currently, adding that he’s not sure anything is imminent. MLB.com’s Greg Johns also adds (Twitter link) that it “doesn’t sound like anything is imminent.”
9:20pm: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald cites multiple sources in reporting that the Marlins could be looking at Elias and/or Karns (Twitter link).
8:55pm: The Mariners and Marlins are working on a trade that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna from Miami to Seattle, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). If consummated, the move would continue what has been an incredibly active offseason for new Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto.
The 25-year-old Ozuna has been an oft-speculated trade candidate after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria soured him this season. Miami reportedly has hoped to acquire young pitching in any trade of Ozuna, and the Mariners have plenty of controllable arms that could attract the Marlins’ attention. Left-handers James Paxton and Roenis Elias both have substantial amounts of team control remaining, as does right-hander Taijuan Walker and even the recently acquired Nate Karns. Of course, each of those names is just a speculative fit and any could require additional pieces from either side to change hands. Walker and Paxton probably have the highest ceilings of the bunch, though each has a notable injury history at a young age.
Ozuna enjoyed an excellent 2014 campaign in which he batted .269/.317/.455 with 23 homers in his age-23 season despite his pitcher-friendly home park. However, he slumped out of the gates in 2015 and at one point went through a dismal 1-for-36 slump that earned him a trip to Triple-A. Ozuna hit well in the minors, and the length of his demotion led agent Scott Boras to question the Marlins’ motives, alleging that the team was keeping his client in Triple-A to lessen the likelihood of reaching Super Two status by suppressing his service time. Ozuna ultimately fell shy of Super Two designation by roughly one week of service time. Upon returning, Ozuna likened the demotion to a “jail sentence,” which unsurprisingly didn’t sit well with Loria. I profiled Ozuna as a trade candidate at length shortly after his recall, and it’s worth noting that Ozuna produced a robust .286/.329/.487 line from the time that piece was written through season’s end. He’s controllable for another four seasons and won’t be arb-eligible until next winter.
If the Mariners are to acquire Ozuna, he’d presumably become an option in right field, thereby shifting Nelson Cruz into a primarily designated hitter role. Leonys Martin’s glove probably makes him the preferred option in center field, while Dipoto has already expressed that he expects Franklin Gutierrez and Seth Smith to platoon in left field.
To call Dipoto “active” thus far would be an understatement. Since taking over as the top baseball operations decision-maker in Seattle, he’s acquired Karns from the Rays in a six-player trade, landed late-inning reliever Joaquin Benoit from the Padres in exchange for a pair of prospects, acquired Martin from the division-rival Rangers and picked up utilityman Luis Sardinas from the Brewers in exchange for a minor league outfielder. Dipoto has also re-signed Gutierrez and brought Chris Iannetta to Seattle on a one-year deal in addition to making a pair of waiver claims in the first month or so of the offseason.
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- The Mariners have told lefty Joe Beimel that he will get an Opening Day slot, meaning that he'll need to be added to the club's 40-man, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). In addition to the 36-year-old, Seattle will need to add 25-year-old lefty Roenis Elias to the 40-man after he made a surprise run through camp to join the Opening Day rotation, as Shannon Drayer of ESPN Radio Seattle reports on Twitter. To clear room, the club designated Carlos Triunfel and Xavier Avery for assignment.