Rumor Central: Modified role for Edwin Diaz in Seattle?

April, 25, 2017
Apr 25

Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesEdwin Diaz has pitched just 6 2/3 innings for the Mariners in the first three weeks of the season.

Edwin Diaz technically remains the closer for the Seattle Mariners, even though the 23-year-old right-hander may now have a different role.

Manager Scott Servais wants to get Diaz more work, and that includes using him in some high-leverage situations earlier in the game.

"He needs to pitch," Servais tells Bob Dutton of the News Tribune. "I don’t just want to stick him down there and wait because he’s the closer. He is so young. It may depend on where we are in the game. He hasn’t pitched much lately at all. He might go five outs. He might go six outs.”

Diaz has pitched just six times this season for a grand total of 6 2/3 innings and has labored to a 5.40 ERA. With the Mariners off to an 8-12 start, Diaz has had just three save opportunities.

The Mariners' plan could result in some ninth-inning opportunities for set-up reliever Nick Vincent, who had three saves last season.

Seattle would be the latest team to use a key reliever outside of the traditional ninth-inning role, a practice the Cleveland Indians used effectively last October with Andrew Miller.

-- Doug Mittler

Archie BradleyAP Photo/Chris SzagolaAfter struggling as a starter, Archie Bradley has a 0.79 ERA in 11 1/3 relief innings.

Archie Bradley has found a new lease on life pitching out of the bullpen, but the Arizona Diamondbacks might be returning the right-hander to the rotation.

The D-backs are bracing themselves for some potentially bad news regarding Shelby Miller, who was placed on the disabled list Monday with right shoulder inflammation. Off to a strong start after a disastrous 2016 season, Miller intends to get a second opinion on his elbow Tuesday.

“Judging by their evasiveness and the general mood of the day, the news is almost certain to be bad,” writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

The D-backs will need to fill Miller’s spot in the rotation, possibly for an extended period, and Piecoro says "the most likely candidate" would be Bradley, a former starter who owns a 0.79 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 11 1/3 relief innings. The 2011 first-round pick made 34 starts over the past two seasons with a 5.18 ERA.

Manager Torey Lovullo, however, said there is some consideration to keeping Bradley in the bullpen, given his success there.

Reliever Silvino Bracho, who was promoted Monday to replace Miller on the roster, is another candidate. Kevin Zimmerman of also suggests Zach Godley, who has a 2.55 ERA at Triple-A Reno.

-- Doug Mittler

Koda GloverJonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesKoda Glover recorded his first two big-league saves over the weekend.

Everything has fallen into place of late for the Washington Nationals, who completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets this past weekend to extend their winning streak to seven games.

The most pleasant development is at the back end of the bullpen, where Koda Glover recorded his first two major-league saves on Saturday and Sunday. While the 24-year-old Glover may be the long term-answer, the Nats are hesitant to hand him the full-time job and will have him share the closing duties with Shawn Kelley.

Meanwhile, Washington continues its search for ninth-inning help after Mark Melancon departed via free agency.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports the Nats have “touched base” with the Chicago White Sox about David Robertson and the Tampa Bay Rays about Alex Colome, but “aren't even in the same ballpark” in talks regarding the two established closers.

Bowden suggests the Nationals might consider some less-expensive options that include Brandon Maurer of the Padres, Brandon Kintzler of the Twins or a trio of Oakland relievers.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Jose Reyes' roster spot not in danger?

April, 24, 2017
Apr 24

Jose ReyesElsa/Getty ImagesJose Reyes is hitting just .104, the lowest batting average of any player with at least 50-at-bats.

Jose Reyes is in the midst of a brutal slump, but it appears his roster spot on the New York Mets is not in jeopardy, at least for the time being, reports Marc Carig of Newsday.

Reyes has seven hits in 67 at-bats and a meager slash line of .104/.189/.134. Manager Terry Collins benched Reyes this past Saturday against the Washington Nationals, but the 33-year-old entered the game as a pinch-hitter and was back in the lineup on Sunday, in part because the Mets have been beset by injuries.

“Even if Reyes’ struggles continue, Mets officials are far more likely to keep him on the roster as a utilityman rather than simply cut him loose,” writes Carig. “The Mets are paying Reyes the minimum salary this season. While that would make it easy for them to cut him loose, it also is motivation to keep him.”

Carig adds there are no immediate plans to promote shortstop Amed Rosario, their top prospect who also has played third base. Rosario is hitting .403 at Triple-A La Vegas.

If the Mets look outside the organization, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggested Sunday that one logical fit would be White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, who will be a free agent after making $11 million the season. Frazier was linked to the Mets in spring training due to lingering injuries to regular third baseman David Wright.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Giants close to promoting Drew Stubbs?

April, 24, 2017
Apr 24

Drew StubbsRob Leiter/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesDrew Stubbs hit .225/.330/.338 with the Braves, Rangers and Orioles last season.

Journeyman outfielder Drew Stubbs could be back in the major leagues with his seventh different team if Denard Span lands on the disabled list.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the club is considering a DL stint for Span after the center fielder sprained his right shoulder while making a running catch and slamming into the outfield wall against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night. The Giants have just one center fielder on their roster in Gorkys Hernandez, so they need to decide quickly.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports it is “inevitable” that the Giants will call up an outfielder, and the most likely candidate is Stubbs, who signed a minor league contract earlier this month.

The 32-year-old Stubbs is hitting .256 at Triple-A Sacramento but did homer in back-to-back games over the weekend.

Stubbs owns a career .244/.314/.394 slash line with six major league teams, including stints with the Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles last season.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Could Ian Desmond return as an outfielder?

April, 24, 2017
Apr 24

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsIan Desmond was prepared to switch positions after signing with the Rockies.

The Colorado Rockies may scrap their original plans to use Ian Desmond at first base once the two-time All-Star is activated from the disabled list.

With Mark Reynolds off to a fast start at first base with a .318/.378/.621 slash line and five homers, manager Bud Black hinted Sunday that Desmond could be used in the outfield.

"Do we have to shuffle some things at times? Absolutely,” Black told reporters, including Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. "But, hey, I can’t wait to get Ian Desmond back. You know why? He’s a good player.”

Desmond, who has yet to play in the major league at first base, fractured his hand in a Cactus League game on March 12 after signing a five-year, $70 million deal over the winter.

The 31-year-old came up as a shortstop with the Washington Nationals before being moved to the outfield last season with the Texas Rangers. Black said there are no plans to use Desmond at shortstop, even though incumbent Trevor Story has started slow with a .169 BA and a .270 OBP.

Desmond could be a candidate to play left field, but Gerardo Parra (.333 BA) has played well there in the first three weeks of the season.

Desmond began swinging a bat over the weekend and could return in early May, suggests ESPN's Stephania Bell.

- Doug Mittler

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesPirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters that the team is looking externally for outfield help following Starling Marte's 80-game suspension for PEDs.

To fill the void left by the suspended Starling Marte, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking outside the organization for outfield help, GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Marte has been suspended 80 games for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug nandrolone. He is eligible to return in mid-July but wouldn't be able to play in the postseason, should the Pirates qualify.

With Andrew McCutchen moving back to center field in Marte's absence, Jose Osuna, John Jaso and Adam Frazier have all played right. Osuna and Jaso both made costly misplays in this weekend's series against the New York Yankees. McCutchen was the worst fielding center fielder in the majors last season, according to some measures, with minus-28 defensive runs saved.

“If we felt there was something better internally at this point in time, we’d make that move,” Huntington said. “As we sit here today, this is the right 25 for us, in our minds.”

Huntingon said that the Pirates don't plan to promote top outfield prospect Austin Meadows, who is slashing .200/.269/.283 in 16 games with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Before his suspension, Marte was slashing .241/.288/.370 through 13 games this season. Last year, he became one of just four outfielders since 2010 -- and the first Pirate since Barry Bonds in 1990 -- to bat .300 and steal 40 bases in a season (.311, 47 steals). An All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2016, Marte also led all left fielders in defensive runs saved (19).

-- Alex Tekip

Francisco LindorDavid Richard/USA TODAY SportsFrancisco Lindor was the 2016 American League winner of the Platinum Glove Award, given to each league's best defender.

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor rejected a big payday, according to reports from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Sports Illustrated.

Per Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, the Indians tried to offer Lindor an extension before Opening Day, "but not even dangling what one source said was a package around $100 million did the trick." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that the Indians made a "substantial" offer to Lindor, but wasn't able to confirm if it was in the neighborhood of $100 million. Hoynes notes that there aren't any extension talks between the Indians and Lindor, or other players on the roster, at the moment.

Lindor, 23, is in his third major league season and is already considered one of the top shortstops in the game. In 15 games this year, he's slashing .328/.400/.639 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. In 2016, Lindor posted a slash line of .301/.358/.435 with 15 home runs, 78 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and was the American League winner of the Platinum Glove Award, given to the best overall defender in each league.

The reported $100 million extension would have broken the record for the highest-paid player in Lindor's service class. The previous record for an extension for a player in Lindor's class is the seven-year, $58 million deal Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons signed with the Atlanta Braves before the 2014 season.

About a month ago, Brody Chernoff, the son of Indians GM Mike Chernoff, might have accidentally leaked news of a possible extension for Lindor during a radio interview in a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox.

--Alex Tekip

Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsThe retired Yankees star and former Florida governor have reportedly joined forces in their pursuit of the team.

Once bidding rivals to buy the Miami Marlins, Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush have now joined forces in their pursuit of the franchise. According to the Miami Herald, the retired New York Yankees star and former Florida governor are competing against New York financier Wayne Rothbaum, manager of Quogue Capital.

Jeter, who last played in 2014 and owns a house in Tampa, reportedly expressed interest in a Marlins bid earlier this month. But with a net worth of about $220 million after taxes, the five-time World Series champion doesn't have the capital to be the main investor in a franchise believed to be worth more than $1 billion.

Current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has been fielding offers for the team, which moved into county-owned Marlins Park in 2012.

Bush lives in nearby Coral Gables. His brother, former President George W. Bush, was part-owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1998.

-- Nick Ostiller

Rumor Central: Mets concerned with slow start by Jose Reyes?

April, 18, 2017
Apr 18

Jose ReyesJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJose Reyes is off to a slow start for the Mets with four hits in 46 at-bats.

Are the New York Mets worried that the meager production from Jose Reyes is more than just an early-season slump?

Reyes has just four hits in his first 46 at-bats (.087 BA) and is the prime reason the leadoff spot has become a black hole for the team. Mets leadoff hitters own a .086 BA and a .172 OBP, easily the worst marks in the majors.

Reyes is 1-for-29 with a .034/.097/.034 slash line while batting first in the order.

“His struggles have some in the organization wondering if time is finally catching up with the 33-year-old four-time All-Star and former batting champion and he is declining quicker than expected,” writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.

Ackert’s piece did not mention whether the Mets are pondering a benching of Reyes, who has received ample playing time at third base due to David Wright's persistent health issues. Mets manager Terry Collins has told reporters, "We've got to get him going."

Reyes was dropped to seventh in the order for most of last week. Curtis Granderson also has struggled as a leadoff hitter (.174 BA), and the Mets have also tried Michael Conforto, who had two hits and a walk in his one game batting first.

-- Doug Mittler

Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire Doug Fister had a 4.64 ERA in 32 starts for the Astros last season.

Has free-agent right-hander Doug Fister overstated his value?

The veteran starter is still looking for work a few weeks into the season, presumably because he is holding out for a major-league deal. But Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests there could be a Catch-22 here.

“One NL executive said the reason Fister remained unsigned through Thursday is because his stuff is considered marginal, and teams are unwilling to give him a major-league deal until he showed something in the minors,” wrote Cafardo over the weekend.

Fister’s market value could increase as teams invariably suffer injuries. The New York Mets reportedly kicked the tires on Fister earlier this month following injuries to Seth Lugo and Steven Matz, but any talks appear to have stalled.

The 33-year-old Fister had a 4.64 ERA in 32 starts for the Astros in 2016. Fister owns a 77-76 record with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in eight seasons with the Mariners, Tigers, Nationals and Astros.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Could Sonny Gray be trade bait this summer?

April, 17, 2017
Apr 17

Sonny GrayAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezSonny Gray was an All-Star in 2015 but stumbled to a 5.69 ERA last season.

The Oakland Athletics are building an impressive crop of young starters that could make Sonny Gray a valuable trade chip by the summertime, suggests Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton and Sean Manaea are all progressing nicely in the Oakland rotation, perhaps giving the A’s flexibility to trade from their pitching surplus for outfield help. “Sonny Gray could bring those kind of pieces, and more,” Rosenthal suggests.

Any deal for Gray, of course, is contingent on the 27-year-old right-hander restoring his value following a brutal 2016 season.

Gray won a combined 28 games with a 2.91 ERA in 2014 and 2015, but he stumbled badly last year with a 5-11 record and 5.69 ERA. He makes an affordable $3.75 million in 2017 and is under club control for two additional seasons.

Gray, who began the season on the disabled list with a lat strain, will pitch three innings in an extended spring training game on Monday. He will then likely go on a minor-league rehab assignment and could be back in the rotation by early May.

- Doug Mittler

Ryan BraunJennifer Stewart/Getty ImagesRyan Braun enjoyed a bounce-back season with 30 homers and a .903 OPS in 2016.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers have “remained in contact” about a possible blockbuster deal involving outfielder Ryan Braun, reports Jon Paul Morosi of, citing sources.

Morosi did not say if any talks had picked up in intensity but noted the Dodgers are one of the six clubs that can acquire the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player without his permission.

A key date in trade talks is not only the non-waiver deadline of July 31 but also May 24, when Braun will attain 10 years of major-league service and five years with the same team, giving him the right to veto any deal.

Braun, however, stressed the veto power will not be a major factor since he has a strong relationship with Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and general manager David Stearns.

"Obviously, things can change. Circumstances can change. Who knows where the future takes us? But I don't foresee [the no-trade protection] having much of an impact on anything moving forward,” Braun told Morosi.

The rebuilding Brewers nearly traded Braun last summer and have a financial incentive to complete a deal. The six-time All-Star has at least four years and $76 million left on his contract, including this season, and any transaction would involve the Dodgers absorbing a large chunk of salary.

The Dodgers are looking for an offensive upgrade against left-handed pitching and one option would be the 33-year-old Braun, who owns a .336 career batting average with a 1.029 OPS against southpaws.

Morosi also lists the San Francisco Giants, who have hit a meager .105 against lefties, as a team that could be a fit for Braun.

- Doug Mittler

Chris TillmanAP Photo/Carlos OsorioThe Orioles have several options to fill in for injured right-hander Chris Tillman.

Alec Asher will get the first opportunity to fill in for the injured Chris Tillman in the Baltimore Orioles' rotation when he faces the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. But even a strong outing may not assure the right-hander of another start.

“The Orioles’ decision to start Asher suggests the club will use its best matchups on a case-by-case basis to fill the rotation hole created by [Tillman] opening the season on the disabled list,” writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

The 25-year-old Asher, acquired from the Phillies just prior to Opening Day, pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his first outing for Triple-A Norfolk. Encina writes that the Orioles had an added incentive to choose Asher since he would be a better fit against Toronto’s righty-dominated lineup.

That implies the O’s could switch to left-hander Jayson Aquino the next time they use a fifth starter, assuming they are facing a team with more lefty hitters.

The Orioles are hoping that Tillman, a 16-game winner in 2016 who began the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, will be back in early May. Saturday marks the first time this season that Baltimore needs a fifth starter.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Sonny Gray back by the end of April?

April, 14, 2017
Apr 14

Sonny GrayTim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsSonny Gray, who began the year on the disabled list, will pitch in an extended spring training game on Monday.

If all goes well, the Oakland Athletics could have ace right-hander Sonny Gray back in the rotation by the end of the month.

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters, including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, that Gray is on pace to return in late April “or first of May, something like that.”

Gray, who began the season on the disabled list with a lat strain, will pitch three innings in an extended spring training game on Monday, and then likely go on a minor league rehab assignment.

Once Gray returns, the odd man out could be Jesse Hahn, who allowed three runs over six innings in a loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. Hahn moved into the rotation after Raul Alcantara was pounded for eight runs in two innings against the Rangers last week.

The 27-year-old Gray won a combined 28 games with a 2.91 ERA in 2014 in 2015, but he stumbled badly last season with a 5-11 record and a 5.69 ERA.

-- Doug Mittler