Welcome to another edition of Crash Course! We are now just over a month away from the trade deadline, and should see rumors and news ramping up over the next week or so. As always, hat tip to FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference, and MLB Trade Rumors, as they were all accessed in the creation of this article. Without further ado, here’s your chance to catch up on this week in baseball.
- There was a lot of roster movement in Baltimore this week. Going off of a move from last week, Caleb Joseph joined his brother in Baltimore to replace recently optioned prospect Chance Sisco.
- Unfortunately for Corban Joseph, he was sent down just a day later, as his roster spot was taken by Andrew Cashner who returned from the disabled list and posted a rather solid return outing which saw him pitch four scoreless.
- Colby Rasmus returned from the disabled list as well, taking Joey Rickard‘s spot and homered off of Max Scherzer in his first at bat back.
- Early in the week, Steve Wilkerson replaced Pedro Alvarez on the active roster, and was later replaced by Donnie Hart. The decision to recall Hart probably had something to do with Richard Bleier going down for the season with a severe latissimus strain.
- Don’t look now, but Danny Valencia is quietly putting up quite the season hitting .283/.350/.453 and could certainly be a very solid trade chip at the deadline, as he is owed just about $600,000 through seasons’ end.
- The O’s made a minor mistake this week, as they released 22-year old righty Nichel Alcantara.
- He was released as he surpassed the amount of service time permitted for the Dominican Summer League, and they didn’t want to use a roster spot on him despite a career 2.75 ERA over 114.2 innings pitched, mainly as a starter. While he’s 22-years old, he still has room in his frame to fill out quite a bit, and has exhibited strong control. He’s a player who I would feel comfortable bringing in on a minors deal and assigning to Class A. There would be no risk, whatsoever.
Boston Red Sox
- The Sox made a pair of moves this week replacing Justin Haley with Robby Scott, who was later replaced by Tzu-Wei Lin.
- The Red Sox have been connected to A’s outfielder Mark Canha. It was reported that the A’s want young starting pitching out of the deal.
- I doubt it would cost the Sox very much, but I bet Dombrowski is wishing he held Roenis Elias for an extra few weeks, as that could have probably gotten the deal done.
- There was some smoke early in the week regarding Hanley Ramirez and possible involvement in a legal issue, but all flames were extinguished when it was announced that he had no involvement.
New York Yankees
- In something of a quiet week for the Yankees, Clint Frazier was recalled to replace Ronald Torreyes and A.J. Cole landed on the disabled list to be replaced with Luis Cessa.
- Speaking of Torreyes, be sure to check out my recent piece regarding he and Brandon Drury.
Tampa Bay Rays
- The Rays got some great news this week, as Kevin Kiermaier returned from the disabled list spelling the end of the Rob Refsnyder era in Tampa. Refsnyder was sent outright to Triple-A.
- In other news, Daniel Robertson returned as well, but rather than sending Willy Adames down, Austin Pruitt was the roster casualty.
- Adames does not look ready offensively, as his approach at the plate has been putrid. Seeing as how the Rays aren’t competing for anything this season, I would send him down to Triple-A to get work every day, while having Adeiny Hechavarria, Joey Wendle and Robertson hold down the infield with Christian Arroyo filling in once Hech is inevitably traded.
Toronto Blue Jays
- The Jays will be without Roberto Osuna for at least another month or so, as he was hit was a 75-game suspension based on the MLB Domestic Violence policy.
- Sam Gaviglio spent some time on the paternity leave list and was replaced by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. while Danny Barnes landed on the disabled list to be replaced by Steve Pearce.
- The big news this week, though, was the pair of struggling starters, Jaime Garcia and Aaron Sanchez being placed on the disabled list and being replaced by Marcus Stroman and Tim Mayza.
- J.A. Happ looks like an outstanding fit for the Cubs. Read more about it in part one of my trade beneficiary piece.
- Ryan Tepera seems like he would be a good fit for the Indians, and Yandy Diaz could be the piece that could get it done. With Donaldson leaving, Diaz could step in at third to hold the fort down until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reaches the major leagues, at which point he can slide into the second base for the Jays who have had something of a revolving door of struggling infielders.
Chicago White Sox
- Leury Garcia and Avisail Garcia both returned to the active roster replacing Jose Rondon and Trayce Thompson, the latter being designated for assignment.
- Michael Saunders and Johnny Giavotella were both released from Triple-A. At this point, it’s looking like Indy ball for the pair.
- In another attempt to fortify the bullpen, the Tribe called upon George Kontos to replace Evan Marshall on the active roster, while bringing Marc Rzepczynski in on a minor league contract.
- Ryan Tepera makes a ton of sense for the Tribe who could certainly use a controllable reliever to extinguish the dumpster fire that has become their bullpen.
- Johnny Barbato came in to replace Drew VerHagen in the bullpen, but got lit up, and landed on the disabled list himself, two days later only to be replaced by Artie Lewicki.
- At least Francisco Liriano is back with the Tigers, as he continues to audition for contenders. Ronny Rodriguez was sent down to the minor leagues.
- Josh Thole joined the Tigers on a minor league deal. Perhaps best known as the personal catcher for R.A. Dickey, Thole has always been lauded for his glove which has kept him relevant in the game.
Kansas City Royals
- The big story this week is the Kelvin Herrera trade, which I covered at length earlier this week.
- In other news, Lucas Duda returned from the disabled list to displace Paulo Orlando, and Heath Fillmyer was recalled to replace Herrera.
- Controversial pitcher Luke Heimlich is reportedly on the Royals’ radar, after going undrafted over the past two amateur drafts.
- Rosell Herrera has been starting on the Royals and has been making the best of it. He has hit .290/.313/.452 over his first eight games for the Royals. Hopefully he keeps it up. He has long been a favorite of mine.
- It was a quiet week the St. Paul, the only legitimate move saw Fernando Romero sent down to the minor leagues to make room for Alan Busenitz.
- At just 23, Romero has struggled a bit, but has shown all the makings of a very effective major league starter in the near future.
- The Astros shuffle their roster less than any other team in the major leagues. Once again, not a single roster move was made.
- It was announced that Kyle Tucker is very likely to make his debut this summer. I would hope so with the year he’s having. .314/.382/.509 with 23 doubles, ten home runs, 57 RBIs and 13 stolen bases over 69 games at 21-years old in Triple-A is no small feat.
- The downside to having so much talent in an organization is that there sometimes isn’t enough room for all of it. That was the case this week when the ‘Stros released 25-year old reliever Kevin Hill from Double-A despite a 1.96 ERA over 18.1 innings for the Hooks, and a career 2.67 ERA over 118 innings pitched. In my draft simulation during 2016, Hill was my 14th round pick, as I cited his relatively high floor as the main reason that I selected him. I certainly believe someone takes a shot on him.
Los Angeles Angels
- The free-falling Angels made a few no risk pick-ups in Hansel Robles and Deck McGuire, while shuffling the usual suspects including Jake Jewell and Michael Hermosillo to and from Triple-A Salt Lake.
- Jose Fernandez was also sent down this week, and Juan Graterol was granted his release.
- Matt Joyce returned to replace Jake Smolinski and Nick Martini was recalled to replace Chris Bassitt in a pair of roster moves in Oakland.
- As I mentioned earlier, the Red Sox and A’s have been having discussion regarding Mark Canha.
- The A’s would be foolish not to pursue this lead. While I’m not suggesting that Canha is a weak player, he has certainly been streaky throughout his career. If I’m the A’s I would pursue Jake Thompson.
- If the A’s want some young starting depth from Boston, William Cuevas is sporting a 3.71 ERA over 80 innings pitched in Triple-A Pawtucket, which is in line with his career 3.79 ERA over 912.1 minor league innings. He’s still just 27-years old and could represent quite the buy-low option. While I wouldn’t send him for Canha straight up, he’s a name to consider.
- On Monday, Chris Herrmann and Juan Nicasio returned from the disabled list to replace Robert Whalen and David Freitas and later on in the week Nick Vincent came back from the disabled list to replace Ryan Cook.
- Recently acquired Deck McGuire was shipped to the Los Angeles Angels after being designated for assignment to make room for Elvis Andrus who returned from the 60-day disabled list.
- Jose Trevino and Ricardo Rodriguez both had short stints on the active roster this week, but were sent back down when Robinson Chirinos and Chris Martin were recalled.
- In other news, Austin Bibens-Dirkx replaced Yohander Mendez on the active roster to give the Rangers some more length in the pen.
- The Braves got some good news and some bad news this week. The bad news was, Mike Soroka was placed back on the disabled list, but at least Ronald Acuna is almost ready to come back, as made pretty clear by the Braves sending down Preston Tucker to make room for Lucas Sims.
- Arodys Vizcaino landed on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, and was replaced by Evan Phillips. Philip Gosselin was designated for assignment and should clear waivers based on salary.
- If they Braves are going to be as stingy as they were in the Kelvin Herrera sweepstakes, they could have some trouble fighting off the Nationals and Phillies down the stretch.
- In other news, Danny Santana was recalled from Triple-A to serve in a bench capacity.
- The only thing that happened in Miami last week was Jose Urena landing on the disabled list, and being replaced by Nick Wittgren.
- It is being labeled as a shoulder impingement, therefore, I wouldn’t be too concerned.
- I actually just found out about this, despite it happening about three weeks ago, but the Marlins brought in lefty Scott Sebald from the Frontier League and just promoted him to Class A Full Season. Sebald was one of my favorite indy players going into the season, as I would place his ceiling at a solid four. He’s a name to monitor.
New York Mets
- The Mets roster was a moving target all week. Here is a timeline to make this simple.
- On Tuesday, Jay Bruce landed on the disabled list with a sore hip, and the Mets added Tim Peterson to the roster to provide some additional bullpen depth.
- Wednesday saw Chris Flexen replace Hansel Robles in the bullpen.
- Thursday was the craziest day, as Drew Smith and Kevin Kaczmarski were both called up to make their major league debuts, and Paul Sewald and Chris Flexen were optioned to the minors. Hansel Robles was designated for assignment as well.
- The Mets were running with an extra pitcher and they decided to readjust their layout to the more standard pitcher/position player alignment.
- The Mets acquired Smith from the Rays for Lucas Duda last season. He looks like a taxi guy long-term.
- Kaczmarski was one of my favorite guys in the 2015 draft. He has strong contact ability from the left side, good speed and decent plate discipline. I see him as a player who could see a substantial amount of time if the Mets embark on a rebuild.
- The Robles situation was just another example of why the Mets’ need a change in the front office. Was Robles’ performance deserving of removal from the roster, arguably so, but the problem was, when Sandy Alderson made a negative comment about Robles’ game after the transaction. Not only does that make you look bad, but it cuts off whatever little bit of leverage you did have and it could impact how players view the organization. It was certainly an embarrassing report.
- Finally, Jason Vargas landed on the disabled list and was replaced by Chris Flexen.
- It’s a calf injury, therefore, you shouldn’t be too concerned.
- This week saw a lot of roster corner shuffling. Hector Neris got the boot after struggling early on, and spent the week in Lehigh to make room for prospect Austin Davis, a 25-year old lefty who has shown no indication that he can’t be a very solid mainstay middle reliever.
- This is especially notable, seeing as how Neris began the season as the closer for the Phillies. Fun fact, Neris is the second longest tenured pitcher on the Phillies behind Luis Garcia and trails only Cesar Hernandez in position players, as he debuted about a month before Maikel Franco.
- In other bullpen news, Zac Curtis replaced Jake Thompson and Pat Neshek is almost ready to make his return.
- The Padres expressed some interest in Franco this week, which is certainly interesting news. I would be completely opened to a Franco trade from Philly’s perspective, but in order for it to work to the Phillies’ advantage, they should acquire a rental infielder (not Manny Machado) to help fortify the right side of the infield while J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery figure it out. I’m thinking about guys like Danny Valencia, Jed Lowrie, maybe even Adrian Beltre if the price was right. The point is, a stable one year veteran would be the best case scenario as they wouldn’t cost as much as acquiring a guy like Machado would, and would provide more value on and off the field than Franco does. That’s not to say Franco’s a bad clubhouse guy, but Kingery and Crawford could certainly use some veteran leadership coming from their positions.
- Speaking of Crawford, he is expected to miss about six to eight weeks with a broken hand after being hit by a pitch. Mitch Walding was called up from Triple-A and Danny Espinosa was signed on a minor league deal to provide some depth in Lehigh, as Walding and Jesmuel Valentin are both in the majors, and Roman Quinn is hurt.
- Just to reiterate, congrats to the Nats on getting an outstanding deal in Kelvin Herrera. He’s one of my favorite players of all time, and it kills me that I’m going to have to root against him over the next few months, as a Phillies’ fan.
- Other than the trade, the Nats were rather quiet this week, as Matt Adams landed on the disabled list on the same day they added Kelvin Herrera, and Jefry Rodriguez replaced Wander Suero.
- There was a lot of bullpen shuffling coming from the Cubs’ organization this week. Here is a timeline.
- On Tuesday, Brian Duensing was placed on the bereavement list, and was replaced by Rob Zastryzny.
- Justin Hancock was called up on Wednesday to replace Brandon Morrow, who landed on the disabled list with back tightness on Thursday.
- Hancock was later sent back down when Duensing returned, and was called back up two days later when Rob Zastryzny landed on the disabled list with a back strain.
- While Cory Mazzoni was called-up, I’m not sure exactly what happened with Luke Farrell. I’ve seen conflicting reports, with some saying he was designated for assignment and other calling it optional assignment.
- Please excuse any formatting issues here. On Sunday, I read a comment about Reds’ GM Dick Williams claiming that they were entering the building phase of the rebuild, and I had this to say in a comment posted directly to the article.
- The Brewers made two moves this week and both were rather notable. The first was Boone Logan getting the boot despite still being owed over $2 million on the season with over $600k for next year in a buyout. He was replaced by Freddy Peralta.
- Domingo Santana also wound up optioned based on his absolutely dreadful campaign this season, and was replaced with the recently acquired Brad Miller.
- Santana needs a change of scenery. This down season isn’t very surprising, seeing as how he spent his offseason watching the Brewers pick up a pair of all-star level outfielders, thus essentially displacing him, and hearing that there is an increased chance of being traded, yet remaining in an organization in a reduced role despite coming off of a very strong .278/.371/.505 season that saw you hit 30 home runs and steal 15 bases. I can guarantee you I would lose all motivation in that situation too.
- There was a bit of shuffling in Pittsburgh this week, as Jacob Stallings has been filling in for Francisco Cervelli, who landed on the 7-day disabled list, and Clay Holmes replaced Michael Feliz who landed on the disabled list with some shoulder inflammation.
- Speaking of Cervelli, he could be a great fit for the Nationals this summer. The Pirates will be fine at catcher long-term, as Deon Stafford is one of my favorite prospects in the league. Stafford was a day two pick in 2017 out of St. Josephs University who is uncharacteristically athletic for a catcher and has been showing great promise in the minors. Expect him to shoot up lists soon.
St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cards lost Michael Wacha to an oblique strain and Matthew Bowman to some blisters this week, but Greg Holland is back and John Gant is up.
- Otherwise, it was a quiet week in St. Louis.
- This week saw a few minor moves, as Jake Barrett replaced Matt Koch and was later replaced by Braden Shipley, but the big news is that Paul Goldschmidt woke up this week, and not a minute too soon either, as the Dodgers have been making up ground fast.
- It’s amazing to me that a “down-year” for Goldschmidt has him at a .904 OPS.
- Yency Almonte spent a bit of time in the bigs this week pitching two scoreless innings to start off his major league career. He replaced Ryan McMahon and was replaced by Pat Valaika. He then returned when Bryan Shaw was placed on the disabled list with a calf strain.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- The Dodgers got Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Chase Utley back from the disabled list this week causing Brock Stewart, Kyle Farmer and Adam Liberatore to be sent back down to the minors.
- In case anybody forgot, Andrew Tolesstill exists and is hitting .307/.365/.432 over his first 96 plate appearances in Triple-A this season. I believe he gets traded this summer.
San Diego Padres
- The Padres did a ton of shuffling this week, so I’m going to go with a timeline to make it as easy for me to explain as possible.
- Joey Lucchesi returned from the disabled list on Wednesday and replaced Bryan Mitchell,who went down with an elbow impingement.
- Thursday saw Phil Hughes land on the disabled list with a rhomboid strain, and Franmil Reyes and Colin Rea optioned to the minor leagues to make room for Wil Myers and Phil Maton.
- On Sunday, Maton was sent down, alongside catcher Rafael Lopez, and Jordan Lyles was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. Austin Hedges was activated from the disabled list, Kazuhisa Makita was recalled from Triple-A, and Robert Stock was called up to make his debut. Tyler Webb was designated for assignment.
- Robert Stock’s journey to the majors was a long one. Drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Cardinals as a catcher, he struggled and only made it to Class A Advanced. He was cut loose and bounced around from Houston to Pittsburgh, to Cincinnati to the Independent Leagues and finally to San Diego. In that time, he also changed from a catcher to a full-time reliever. He certainly earned his promotion with a 1.95 ERA over 32.1 innings in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
San Francisco Giants
- Kelby Tomlinson filled in for Brandon Crawford while his wife had a baby (congrats), and Austin Slater replaced Mac Williamson on the active roster, but the real story here is Hunter Strickland landing on the disabled list after punching a wall out of frustration.
- Hunter, I totally understand. Sometimes, you just get mad and it becomes instinctual, but your right hand is worth $1.55 million. Next time just put your headphones on and listen to some DMX or Eminem, it usually gets the job done just as well.
- In all seriousness though, Strickland’s temper has made headlines before, most notably in an ugly fight with Bryce Harper. Seeing as how he is under team control through 2021 with the Giants, and has been on of the most consistently effective relievers in the league, it might make sense to either assign him a sport psychologist, or mandate that he go through anger management training. He’s an exceptionally talented kid, but he really needs to learn how to control it.
“Dick, you are eons away from the building phase. How many prospects have panned out for (Cincinnati) over the past two years?
(Tyler Mahle) looks like a decent three or four.
Jose Peraza (has a) great glove, mediocre bat.
Jesse Winker (has an) average bat now, still needs work.
(Sal Romano) and (Luis Castillo) (have been) awful this year.
You need more than a few role players to begin the building phase. Look at every club that has had a successful rebuild.
The Astros had Carlos Correa, George Springer, Lance McCullers and Jose Altuve before they brought in Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Charlie Morton and Justin Verlander.
Philly had Odubel Herrera, Aaron Nola, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins before the got Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana
The Cubs had Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks and Kris Bryant before they brought in Ben Zobrist or Jose Quintana.
and Atlanta STILL hasn’t even made much noise in regard to bringing in vets.
Bottom line: Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes, Michael Lorenzen, Adam Duvall, Scooter Gennett, Scott Schebler maybe Matt Harvey and Billy Hamilton, if they can get anything, and I would argue Anthony DeSclafani still should be traded and at least two prospects need to step up as core pieces before you can even think about building it. Doing so will rush the rebuild and risk it fizzing out.”