The Cleveland Indians have traded reliever James Hoyt to the Miami Marlins for cash considerations, per TribeInsider (via Twitter). Hoyt was designated for assignment on July 28th.
The Marlins continue their efforts to re-stock their pitching supply after more than half their active roster tested positive for coronavirus. They will need to field a big league roster as soon as Tuesdaywhen they’re set to resume play. Basically, if there’s a pitcher with major league experience on waivers these days, chances are the Marlins will claim them. In the past week, they claimed Josh D. Smith and Justin Shafer from the Reds and Mike Morin from the Brewers. They also signed Pat Venditte and traded for Richard Bleier from the Orioles.
Hoyt pitched for the Astros from 2016 to 2018, making 66 appearances out of the pen across those three seasons. While he owned an unexceptional 4.40 ERA, a 3.84 FIP and 3.92 K/BB ratio suggested a better effort. He made just 8 appearances in his lone season with the Indians, serving primarily as organizational depth. In Triple-A, he continued to put up solid numbers (2.93 ERA, 3.50 K/BB across 30 2/3 innings).
While no spring chicken at the age of 33, Hoyt represents a solid low-cost option for the Marlins as they look to fill out their roster. For Hoyt, these are obviously not the conditions under which he would choose to break out as an MLB regular, but he nonetheless has the opportunity to do exactly that if he can provide Miami some stability out of the pen.
The Tampa Bay Rays have recalled infielder Daniel Robertson just a couple days after sending him to their alternate training site. Catcher Kevan Smith was placed on the injured list, per the team.
Smith, 32, has been suffering from cold symptoms, prompting some coronavirus concern, though hes tested negative, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Given his symptoms, he will need a second negative test before being cleared to return to the team. Smith has served as a defensive replacement early this season, catching 5 innings over the course of three appearances with just a lone plate appearance.
Mike Zunino and Michael Perez are the other catchers currently on the Rays active roster. Ronaldo Hernandez, Rene Pinto, and Brett Sullivan are the other backstops in Tampa’s 60 player pool. Assuming the veteran receiver gets his second negative test and returns to normal health, Smith shouldn’t be away from the team for long.
Robertson has not yet made an appearance this season, though he’s been a steady utility presence for the Rays the past three seasons. The 26-year-old right-hander splits his time evenly between second, third, and short with occasional emergency spells in the outfield. His usefulness to the Rays is in his utility. Inconsistent results at the plate have kept him from a regular role. An 11.6 BB% suggests a sound approach at the plate, though his career strikeouts rate (25.2%) is a little higher than would be ideal. The bigger issue with Robertston would appear to be a shortage of pop (career .122 ISO).
In other Tampa news, highly-touted two-way player Brendan McKay has returned to the club’s alternate training site after previously testing positive for COVID-19, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. He will need multiple weeks to get ready.
The Astros have placed pitcher Chris Devenski on the injured list, retroactive to July 29th, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 (via Twitter). To replace him on the roster, Houston selected the contract of Carlos Sanabria.
As with many clubs around the game, consistently fielding a competent pitching staff is going to be bit of a whirlwind this season. Devenski has been a cog in their bullpen for the past four seasons, though a 4.56 ERA/4.57 marks an underwhelming last couple of seasons. Still, the Astros are working a lot of young arms into the mix this season, and Devenski’s veteran presence could help stabilize the relief corps.
For now, however, they’ll look elsewhere. Ryan Pressly continues to be held out of action, though he’s very close to being game-ready, per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Pressly figures to be a significant presence in the back end of the bullpen, especially with Will Harris now in Washington.
McTaggart also notes that Forrest Whitley has been dealing with some arm soreness. Despite a difficult season in 2019, Whitley will almost surely make his debut this year since there’s no Triple-A season. Still, he’ll have to get healthy first.
Sanabria, 23, will make his major-league debut should he get into a game. The 6’3″ right-hander pitched only as high as Double-A in 2019, making 37 appearances with a 3.11 ERA despite 5.9 BB/9. He’s a live-armed pitcher with some promise if he can get his command right. Fangraphs has him as the Astros’ 22nd ranked prospect.
The Los Angeles Angels announced a pair of roster moves after last night’s ballgame. Right-hander Kyle Keller has been optioned to their alternative training site. In his place, righty Jose Rodriguez has been selected to join the major-league roster.
Keller, 27, made two appearances this season, allowing 2 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. He was acquired this past offseason from the Miami Marlins for Jose Estrada. Keller made his major-league debut with ten appearances last season. He has consistently put up more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings in the minor leagues since being selected in the 18th round of the 2015 draft. He’ll likely find his way back to the major-league roster at some point this season.
Rodriguez, 24, made 9 appearances for the Angels last season as a long man out of the pen (1 start), putting up a 2.75 ERA across 19 2/3 innings. Rodriguez has primarily been a starter in the minors, though it’s been a less-than-stellar last couple of seasons in the upper levels of the Angels’ system. He posted a 6.57 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.
Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez has been shut down for the 2020 season as a result of the myocarditis he has experienced following a bout with COVID-19, according to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. While the Red Sox are confident that Rodriguez will make a full recovery in the long term, his heart issues have persisted and will prevent him from pitching this season.
Since going on the injured list in early July due to COVID-19, Rodriguez has dealt with mild heart inflammation that developed as a result of the illness. Thankfully, the condition hasn’t negatively affected the function of Rodriguez’s heart, though it has not subsided to the point where he’s expected to recover in time to pitch this year.
Needless to say, the outlook for the Red Sox rotation sans Rodriguez is a rather bleak one. Even with the 27-year-old southpaw in the mix, the rotation looked like a thin unit, but it was certainly a bit more inspiring than the patchwork unit Ron Roenicke will henceforth have to count on.With Chris Sale on the shelf for the year, Rodriguez was expected to shoulder a bigger load atop the Red Sox rotation, which currently consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, and Zack Godley.
Rodriguez emerged as one of the hottest pitchers in baseball late last year, authoring a career-best season on virtually every measurable front. He posted his best marks yet in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA. And if that wasn’t enough reason to be excited for another year of progress, he was at his best in the final month of the season, averaging 12.7 K/9 over his last six startshis highest rate in a single month of his five-year career (minimum three starts).
Of course, the focus right now shouldn’t be on the on-field consequences of Rodriguez’s absence, but on his long-term health and recovery. We hope to see E-Rod make a swift return to full health and back on the mound in 2021. For now, his situation is a reminder that even young, world-class athletes are not immune to complications from COVID-19.
The White Sox have placed shortstop Tim Anderson on the 10-day injured list with a strained right groin, according to James Fegan of The Athletic. In turn, they’ve recalled catcher Yermin Mercedes to fill Anderson’s roster spot. It will be Mercedes’s first foray in the Majors after nearly a decade in pro ball.
Anderson, 27, is the reigning American League batting champion, and he picked up where he left off. Through the young season’s first seven games, Anderson has slashed .333/.355/.567 with seven runs scored. The White Sox leadoff man is a big part of their offensive attack, but his effectiveness would be severely limited with a strained groin. Considering the role speed plays in Anderson’s game both with the bat and in the field, Chicago will want to do their best to get him fully up to speed before returning to the diamond.
In his absence, Leury Garcia can slide over to shortstop from the keystone. It’s a small bit of serendipity that the White Sox only just purchased the contract of highly-regarded prospect Nick Madrigal to take over at second base. Garcia has been the primary second baseman thus far while also appearing in right field and at shortstop. He doesn’t bring much to the dish, however, as a career .256/.291/.359 hitter. Danny Mendick, 26, could also help fill the void at shortstop. Garcia and Madrigal make up the middle infield in tonight’s ballgame against the Royals.
Mercedes, 27, started in professional baseball as a catcher with the Nationals back in 2011. After a pitstop with the Baltimore Orioles, Mercedes has spent the last two seasons in the White Sox organization. He can play anywhere on the four corners, finishing last season in Triple-A with a triple slash of .310/.386/.647 with 17 home runs in just 220 plate appearances. He brings some potential with the stick but finding him a position has been much of the struggle in recent seasons. He’s not likely to get a lot of playing time in Chicago, not with designated hitter options like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu, James McCann, Yasmani Grandal, Zack Collins, and Eloy Jimenez already vying for at-bats.
Major League Baseball released a statement this afternoon providing updates on a number of clubs, including the Marlins, who have been out of action for the last week after a COVID-19 outbreak within the organization. As of now, Miami is set to resume its season on Tuesday with a four-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore, which will take place over three days and include a doubleheader. The Marlins will be the designated “home” team for two of those games.
MLB’s announcements, which also include the latest on the Cardinals and Phillies, can be found in their entirety here, courtesy of MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
For a second consecutive day, the scheduled Brewers-Cardinals matchup has been postponed. The decision comes after this morning yielded news that the Cardinals have several more positive tests on their hands. As of now, there’s no word on when the Cardinals can be expected to take the field again.
Meanwhile, the Phillies and Yankees will begin a four-game home-and-home series on Monday. The Phils were also sidelined this week after potential exposure to the coronavirus during last weekend’s series against the Marlins. However, it appears that Philadelphia has avoided the worst-case scenario, with MLB revealing that two of the three positive tests in the Phillies organization appear to have been false positives. No players have tested positive for COVID-19 since the team’s last contact with the Marlins on Sunday.
The proliferation of the virus within the Marlins organization has posed an early threat to MLB’s plans to conduct a baseball season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and the developing outbreak within the Cardinals could be similarly crucial to the outlook for the remaining two months of play.
These intra-team infections mean that the MLB schedule is fluid and evolving, with postponements forcing on-the-fly adjustments to the schedule. This can have a ripple effect throughout the league, as several other teams in MLB’s East division have been forced into schedule alterations despite maintaining comparatively good health. Health concerns notwithstanding, teams like the Phillies and Marlins might be faced with especially demanding schedules as they attempt to squeeze more games into a shorter time period for the remainder of the season.
Additionally, extended “break” periods like those endured by the Phillies and Marlins over the last week could interrupt players’ mojo during an already irregular season; whereas daily games allow players to establish a rhythm, a “stop-and-start” schedule means that players will be expected to jump right back into competitive games after several days off, perhaps akin to a team awaiting an opponent after handily winning a playoff series. We’ll have to see whether that produces any noticeable effects, and even then it will be an imprecise science, but it’s one of many difficult circumstances unique to the 2020 season.
The Yankees announcedtoday that they have reinstated pitcher Masahiro Tanaka from the injured list and designated catcher Chris Iannetta for assignment. Tanaka is set to make his season debut after a scary injury suffered in early July, when he suffered a mild concussion after a Giancarlo Stanton line drive struck him in the head.
Tanaka will be thrust into the middle of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, wasting no time getting into the swing of the season. It’s encouraging to see the 31-year-old ready to return to action after a frightening incident during Yankees summer training forced Tanaka to be hospitalized on July 4. Fortunately, he sufferedonly a mild concussion and recovered quickly. With the Yankees sitting at 5-1, he’ll have missed just one start, which seems like the best-case scenario given the alarming nature of his injury.
In the meantime, the Yankees fared pretty well without their longest-tenured starting pitcher, relying on the foursome of Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton (along with a cameo from Jonathan Loaisiga) to start games. It’ll be a welcome sight to have Tanaka back on the mound, with his track record of consistency and playoff success making him a fan favorite in New York.
Last season was in fact one of Tanaka’s worst statistically since joining the Yankees in 2014. Despite garnering his second All-Star selection, he posted the second-worst ERA of his career (4.45) and struck out batters at a career-low rate (7.4 K/9).
The removal of Iannetta from the Yanks’ 40-man roster leaves just two catchers, Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka. Beyond that duo, Erik Kratz, Josh Thole, and Max McDowell are members of the 60-man player pool. The other 29 teams will now have the opportunity to acquire Iannetta via trade or waivers. If no one bites, the 37-year-old will likely hit the open market and have a chance to latch on with a new club.
The Dodgers have made a change to their pitching staff, optioning right-hander Tony Gonsolin and recalling Mitch White from the team’s alternate training site, as reported by J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register. White is poised to make his Major League debut.
White, a 25-year-old right-hander and former second-round selection, will likely get his first crack at the Major Leagues as a reliever after being brought up primarily as a starting pitcher. The California product was regarded by multiple outlets as a top-100 prospect in baseball prior to the 2018 season. Since then, he’s produced mixed results in the upper minors. After a down year in 2018, he spent last season between Double- and Triple-A, posting a cumulative 5.09 ERA. In 93 2/3 minor-league innings last year, he struck out 105 batters. In Triple-A, he appeared in 3 games as a reliever, a role in which he continued during the Arizona Fall League.
Gonsolin is yet another young, bright arm in the Dodgers organization. He started last night’s game against the Diamondbacks, tossing four scoreless innings and allowing just one hit. He’ll likely be given plenty of chances to pitch for Los Angeles this year, but the current roster was simply short one in the bullpen after Josh Sborz was optioned yesterday. Gonsolin was impressive as a rookie last year, posting a 2.93 ERA in his first 40 innings as a big leaguer. He’s been deployed both as a starter and reliever for the Dodgers.
Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain has opted out of the rest of the 2020 season, according to a team press release. President of baseball operations David Stearns commented on the situation in the release, saying “Lorenzo Cain has informed us that he will not participate for the remainder of the 2020 season. We fully support Lorenzos decision, and will miss his talents on the field and leadership in the clubhouse.”
Cain becomes the 18th player to opt out of playing in 2020, not counting Nick Markakis who initially opted out but chose to resume playing for the Braves. Cain is certainly one of the biggest names on that list, a long-time veteran with a decorated resume that includes two All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove, and a World Series ring as a member of the 2015 Royals.
There hasn’t been any word as to whether or not Cain was opting out due to any personal medical reason, and if Cain isn’t at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, his decision will mean that he is walking away from the prorated portion of his original $16MM salary for the 2020 season. It’s no small amount of money, obviously, though less of a financial cost for a player who has already banked well over $50MM in career earnings, and is slated to earn $33MM over the 2021/22 seasons as per the terms of the five-year, $80MM deal he signed with Milwaukee in January 2018.
Like all teams, the Brewers have had their share of COVID-19 cases, with Luis Urias and Angel Perdomo both testing positive before the start of Summer Camp. (Eric Lauer also missed time after exposure to someone who was COVID-positive, though Lauer himself didn’t have the virus.) It’s fair to wonder whether Cain’s decision was prompted not necessarily by his own team, but rather the wider scope of coronavirus cases around the National League in particular, with the Marlins and Cardinals. Milwaukee, in fact, was supposed to be the Cardinals’ opponent this weekend before an outbreak within the St. Louis clubhouse led to two postponed games and almost certainly will prevent the two clubs from playing on Sunday.
From a baseball perspective, losing Cain is certainly a blow to a Milwaukee team that had aspirations of another postseason appearance, at minimum. While Cain was coming off an injury-hampered 2019 season that saw post only a .697 OPS over 623 plate appearances, he still managed to generate 1.5 fWAR due to his typically excellent center field defense. Prior to 2019, Cain has been a solidly above-average offensive performer over his previous five seasons, hitting .301/.361/.433 over 2805 PA from 2014-18 with the Royals and Brewers.
Without Cain, Ben Gamel now looks to be the Brewers’ primary center fielder. Gamel has shown decent potential as both an everyday player with the Mariners and a part-timer with the Brewers, hitting a respectable .266/.336/.391 over 1199 PA from 2017-19, though the jury is still out on his center field glovework. Gamel has a -5.0 UZR/150 and minus-1 Defensive Runs Saved over only 181 career innings in center, as the vast majority of his big league playing time has come as a corner outfielder. Avisail Garcia is the only other realistic center field candidate on Milwaukee’s active roster, so the Brew Crew could turn to one of the other options (Keon Broxton, Corey Ray, or Tyrone Taylor) within their 60-man player pool.