After pitching in his sixth minor league rehab outing on Saturday, Adam Wainwright could be back in the Cardinals rotation sometime this week, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The former ace has been limited to just four starts and 18 innings in 2018 due to three separate DL stints, the latter two for right elbow inflammation. During this rehab stint, however, Wainwright has seemingly gotten on track, tossing 17 shutout innings over his six appearances. While the longtime Cardinal can add some experience to a young St. Louis rotation, it has been some time since Wainwright has exhibited his old front-of-the-rotation form, as injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued the veteran over the last four seasons.
A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…
- The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
- The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.
- The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.
- The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
- The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of MLB.com).
- The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
- The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
- After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
- The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
- The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
- The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
- The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
- The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
- The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
- The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
- The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
- The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
- The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
Weiss, 26, has never known any organization other than the Reds. The organization drafted him in the sixth round all the way back in 2013, and he’s come up through their system as a reliever. His only major-league appearance, however, was an unmitigated disaster. On April 12th, Weiss faced the Cardinals and allowed four earned runs on a pair of walks and a pair of homers without recording a single out.
Even in the minors, Weiss has exhibited extreme control issues. At Triple-A this season, he walked 15 batters in just 11 1/3 innings pitched en route to a 12.27 BB/9, while also allowing 11 earned runs in that span. There’s at least some cause for intrigue surrounding the righty, though, as he managed 11.89 K/9 across 28 Double-A innings last year. His ERA in that span came out to a respectable 2.89, and if Weiss can harness some of that ability at the major-league level, he’d certainly be a useful arm to a major-league club.
6:23pm: Toronto is advising other organizations that it expects to trade Donaldson this evening, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links), who adds the Indians and Astros as clubs that have recently “shown interest.”
The Braves, meanwhile, seem “unlikely” to land Donaldson, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
6:07pm: The Yankees are in on Donaldson but could only take on around half his remaining salary, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. MLB Network Radio’s Steve Phillips had connected the New York organization to Donaldson, via Twitter, while also listing the Cards, Phillies, and Braves as teams still engaged in discussions with Toronto.
4:58pm: Though he had been scheduled to play another rehab game tonight, Donaldson was pulled for reasons unrelated to his physical condition, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. That seems to hint, at least, that the Jays are taking precautions in the event that an agreement is struck involving the veteran third baseman.
Meanwhile, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said this afternoon that he “would not anticipate” any deals coming together by tonight’s deadline. Of course, that doesn’t rule the team out on Donaldson or other possible targets.
12:17pm: Donaldson has indeed cleared waivers and is eligible to be traded to any team, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets the same, adding that Donaldson is likely to be traded before midnight tonight.
10:33am: The Cardinals have interest in acquiring Josh Donaldson in advance of tonight’s postseason-eligibility deadline, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Morosi adds that the chances of Donaldson being dealt to the Indians are believed to be “slim.”
It’s logical to see St. Louis emerge as a viable suitor for Donaldson, with both Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong currently on the disabled list. Neither injury has been characterized as a season-ender, to this point, but with the Cards holding a two-game lead on an NL Wild Card spot and trailing the division-leading Cubs by a matter of 4.5 games, every win is critical. Donaldson is far from a surefire upgrade given that he’s spent three months on the shelf due to a calf injury, though, and Morosi notes that the Cards would need to deem the Blue Jays’ asking price “sufficiently low” in order to move forward on a trade.
Donaldson has played a pair of games on a minor league rehab assignment, homering for Toronto’s Class-A Advanced affiliate yesterday, and he spoke to the Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley about his frustration with his 2018 health issues while also alluding to some frustration with the organization.
“I can’t control what the team wants to do with me,” Donaldson said, though he declined to further delve into his current relationship with the club. “…There’s a lot I can say about that, but I choose not to say anything about it right now. I don’t feel now is the time or the place. It’s one of those things that, as an athlete, I can only control what I can control.”
Donaldson was reportedly placed on revocable trade waivers Tuesday, when he was first eligible for waiver placement. (Major League rules stipulate that injured players must be healthy enough to take the field when run through revocable waivers.) It’s not known yet whether he cleared, though it seems unlikely that a team would place a claim on him when he hasn’t played in a big league game since late May and still has nearly $4MM remaining to be paid out on this season’s $23MM salary.
Donaldson’s very placement on waivers, though, is at least somewhat shrouded in mystery. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that there is “some grey” regarding whether he was actually eligible to go through waivers. Donaldson’s would-be rehab game was rained out Wednesday, but he wasn’t slated to be in the lineup that night due to reported soreness in his calf following Tuesday’s rehab appearance. Certainly, some soreness following a player’s first game action in three months could be expected, but it’s presently unclear whether that would prevent him from meeting the league’s standards as pertains to the health of player being put through the August waiver process.
If the Blue Jays aren’t able to work out a trade of Donaldson (for whatever reason), he’ll return to the club to finish out what has generally been a successful four-year tenure. Donaldson took home American League MVP honors in his first season with the Jays back in 2015 and has batted .281/.383/.548 in 2066 plate appearances since being traded to Toronto in a lopsided deal back in the 2014-15 offseason.
Should Donaldson remain on the roster into September, the Jays will have to weigh whether to issue him a qualifying offer following the year. Doing so would entitle them to draft pick compensation in the event that Donaldson rejects and sign elsewhere. But the organization also runs the risk of the third baseman accepting that one-year offer, which should be for around $18MM, which would create some roster issues for the 2019 season. Toronto is set to turn third base over to uber-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. next season, and a return from Donaldson would complicate matters. Players who accept the qualifying offer can’t be traded before June 15 the following season without their consent, so it’s not as simple as just trading him this winter in the event that accepts a QO. The Jays could try to make things work by having Donaldson and Guerrero play multiple positions — Donaldson has had cameos at shortstop and first base for the Jays in the past, and either could serve as a DH — but there’s certainly some degree of incentive for the team to work out a trade before tonight’s midnight deadline.
The Cardinals have placed infielder Jedd Gyorko on the 10-day disabled list, per a club announcement. Fellow infielder Adolis Garcia has come up from Triple-A in his place. Gyorko has been dealing with a left groin strain. While there had been some hope he’d avoid a 10-day minimum stint on the shelf, he’ll instead join fellow infielder Kolten Wong.
On the positive side, the St. Louis organization has several fill-in options with at least some prior MLB experience. Greg Garcia, Yairo Munoz, Patrick Wisdom, and Garcia will all presumably see time as the Cards patch things together.
That being said, the Cardinals are at a point in the season where every win is precious. The club has sprinted into Wild Card position, but is still trying to fend off a number of challengers while also hoping to track down the NL Central-leading Cubs.
The expectation seems to be that both Gyorko and Wong will return in relatively short order. Still, there’s always the potential for aggravation of a muscle injury, and there’s an argument to be made that the club ought to look into opportunities to improve regardless.
A move to add an infielder is far from a sure thing, but there are some options that could be worth considering. Several quality veterans have already reportedly cleared trade waivers. Others could also be considered potential trade candidates, potentially including Josh Donaldson, a player the Cards have targeted previously and who is going through the waiver process as we speak.
4:08pm: The three-year term on Shildt’s contract includes the current season, as Shildt’s new contract runs through the 2020 campaign, per Jen Langosch of MLB.com (on Twitter). The Cardinals have formally announced that Shildt has shed the “interim” label on his title and is now the full-time manager.
2:35pm: The Cardinals will make official today what had increasingly become obvious: interim manager Mike Shildt is going to stay in the job beyond the present season. He’s slated to receive a three-year contract in addition to having the interim label removed. Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter) and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link) had the news.
Since taking the helm of a club that was sitting just one game over .500 just past the season’s halfway point, Shildt has guided the Cards to a 26-12 record. The club is now firmly back in contention. Of course, numerous roster moves came along with the firing of Mike Matheny, and it’s always hard to allocate praise and blame for managerial performance, but the organization obviously had cause to be pleased with the early returns on the new skipper.
Shildt opened the year as the Cards’ bench coach, which in and of itself represented a remarkable rise in the game. He never played professionally and was first came to the St. Louis organization as a scout. Shildt rose steadily from there, ultimately becoming a manager in the lower minors and climbing the ranks to run the team’s top affiliate. He came to the MLB staff in 2017 as a quality control and then third base coach.
The Cardinals know Shildt well and are clearly impressed with his work to this point, though it’s nonetheless a bit surprising to see them remove the “interim” label from Shildt after just 38 games. Typically, even when organization have hired an interim manager on a full-time basis, he’s but one of many candidates amid a larger search at season’s end. That won’t be the case with Shildt, who has already overwhelmingly captured the hearts of many Cardinals fans and drawn praise from both his players and fellow coaches.
The Cardinals have activated reliever Dominic Leone from the 60-day disabled list and placed fellow reliever Mike Mayers on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports. Additionally, the Cardinals have released reliever Ryan Sherriff, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
Leone is finally set to return after missing nearly four months with a nerve issue in his right biceps. Before Leone went on the DL on May 5, the 26-year-old opened the season with 13 innings of 4.15 ERA ball, adding 15 strikeouts against three walks. The Cardinals were counting on Leone to serve as a key member of their bullpen this year after a terrific 2017 with the Blue Jays, who traded him to St. Louis for outfielder Randal Grichuk in January.
Leone hasn’t been available for most of 2018, but Mayers, on the other hand, has seen plenty of action. The hard-throwing 26-year-old ranks third among Cardinals relievers in both innings (45 2/3) and appearances (42). Mayers has been respectable along the way, having logged a 4.14 ERA with 8.28 K/9 and 2.56 BB/9, but a couple of recent blowups have hurt his numbers. In a loss to Colorado on Saturday, he yielded two earned runs on three hits and failed to record an out – perhaps thanks to his shoulder troubles.
The left-handed Sherriff, 28, had been with the Cardinals since they used a 28th-round pick on him in 2011. He worked his way to the majors last year, impressing over 14 1/3 innings with a 3.14 ERA, 9.42 K/9 against 2.51 BB/9, and a 65 percent groundball rate. Sherriff totaled another 5 2/3 big league frames earlier this season, but he struggled before undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. Not only did that procedure end his season, but it’s also likely to keep Sherriff out for a large portion of the 2019 campaign.
- Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to rejoin the team’s rotation during the first week of September, manager Mike Shildt told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters Saturday. Wacha will first need to get through a Double-A rehab outing on Tuesday, when he could throw 75 to 80 pitches, per Goold. A left oblique strain has kept Wacha out since June 21, before which he made 15 starts and tossed 84 1/3 innings of 3.20 ERA/4.21 FIP ball. Meanwhile, reliever Dominic Leone is also on track to return to the Cardinals early next month, Joe Trezza of MLB.com tweets. The offseason trade acquisition from Toronto landed on the DL on May 5 with a nerve issue in his right biceps – an injury which has prevented Leone from properly following up the excellent 2017 he had with the Blue Jays.
- The Cardinals announced today that left fielder Marcell Ozuna has been placed on the disabled list due to inflammation in his right shoulder. It’s a tough loss for the Cards, even if it’s only an abbreviated stint, as Ozuna had hit safely in 22 of his past 27 games, batting a combined .315/.356/.532 with six homers, four doubles and a triple in that span of 118 plate appearances. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Ozuna’s shoulder has been problematic dating all the way back to last season. The Cardinals were aware of the issue when trading for him, Goold writes, and the team has tried to limit Ozuna’s throwing outside of a game setting throughout the season in order to lessen the stress on said shoulder.
1:50pm: The Cardinals have announced the waiver claim. Fowler has been moved to the 60-day DL to open space on the 40-man roster, while corner infielder Patrick Wisdom has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
1:36pm: Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports (on Twitter) that Adams is headed to St. Louis via waiver claim, meaning there’s no trade at play here. Rather, the Nationals will simply offload the remainder of his salary on the Cardinals in the deal. Adams is still owed about $877K of his $4MM salary through season’s end.
1:24pm: The Cardinals have agreed to a deal with the Nationals that will bring first baseman/outfielder Matt Adams back to St. Louis, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (on Twitter). Between this move from the Cards and the reported impending deal sending Daniel Murphy to the division-rival Cubs, it appears that the Nationals have embarked on a late-August sale. General manager Mike Rizzo has called a press conference for 3pm ET in which he will presumably address these and any other deals that have been made with the media.
With this trade, the 29-year-old Adams returns to the organization with which he cut his teeth as a pro player. The Cards selected Adams in the 23rd round of the 2009 draft and watched him eventually blossom into a solid Major League hitter across parts of six seasons in the organization. However, St. Louis flipped Adams to the Braves early in the 2017 season in order to loosen an infield logjam. Though Adams produced at a solid clip in Atlanta, he was non-tendered in the offseason and eventually signed a one-year, $4MM deal in Washington.
Thus far in the 2018 season, Adams has produced numbers that are roughly in line with his career marks. Through 277 trips to the plate — nearly all of which have come against right-handed pitching, given Adams’ deficiencies against left-handers — he’s logged a quality .257/.332/.510 slash with 18 home runs and nine doubles.
It’s not clear just yet how the Cardinals will utilize Adams. He’s limited to first base or the occasional dalliance into left field, and the Cards already have options at both of those positions in the form of Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna, respectively. But Carpenter is capable of bouncing all over the infield and could see time at second base or third base in the event that the Nationals wish to get Adams some time at first base against right-handed opponents.
That’s perhaps the key element of the Cardinals’ acquisition of Adams. Prior to this deal, the only lefty bats on the roster were Carpenter, light-hitting second baseman Kolten Wong and backup infielder Greg Garcia. Switch-hitting Dexter Fowler gives the Cards another lefty bat when healthy, but he’s currently on the DL and is mired in the worst season of his professional career. Adding Adams will give the Cards a notable lefty bat both off the bench and against righty starters, helping to balance out the lineup and further fueling their recent surge under interim skipper Mike Shildt.
While Adams will surely receive a warm welcome in his return to St. Louis, the reunion could prove to be short-lived. He was non-tendered last winter in his final offseason of arbitration eligibility and will finish out the 2018 campaign with more than six years of big league service time. As such, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year and free to sign with any team he chooses. It’s possible that the Cards will have interest in retaining a slugger they know well and clearly like as a player, but Adams will be able to field interest from 29 other teams as well.