Daily Dose: Bedard hits the DL again

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Erik Bedard came off the disabled list on July 7, went 0-1 with a 4.15
ERA in 17 innings spread over four starts while working on a limited
pitch count, and landed back on the shelf Sunday. Shoulder problems are
once again to blame, and the Mariners are calling the latest issue
inflammation while hoping to get him back in a couple weeks.

While the latest trip to the DL ruins whatever chance the Mariners
had of dealing Bedard prior to Friday’s deadline, the injury should
make it easier for him to pass through waivers unclaimed after July 31.
In other words, if he comes back in two weeks and looks healthy,
Seattle may still have an opportunity to cash Bedard in before he hits
free agency. He’s continued to pitch well throughout the injuries.

While the Mariners keep chugging along just 10 wins from last year’s total, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Brett Gardner has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees, as the
25-year-old rookie hit .275/.354/.400 with 20 steals in 25 attempts and
great defense through 85 games while splitting time with Melky Cabrera
in center field. Unfortunately he suffered a broken left thumb while
sliding into second base Saturday and will be in a cast for the next
couple weeks before being evaluated further.

Triple-A center fielder Austin Jackson is one of baseball’s best
outfield prospects and is hitting .311/.375/.429 with 17 steals in 92
games, but manager Joe Girardi indicated Sunday that the 22-year-old is
unlikely to be called up as Cabrera gets another chance to play every
day. In terms of offense his .285/.347/.433 mark is nearly identical to
Gardner, but Cabrera’s glove and wheels are downgrades.

* After going 0-for-4 in his big-league debut Saturday, Michael
Saunders notched a pair of hits Sunday while driving in his first
career run. Seattle cleared room for Saunders by designating Wladimir
Belantien for assignment in preparation for a trade, leaving Ryan
Langerhans as his only real competition for playing time and all but
guaranteeing the 22-year-old top prospect regular starts down the
stretch.

Saunders batted .290/.374/.484 at Double-A last season before
struggling after a promotion to Triple-A, but mastered Tacoma while
hitting .310/.378/.544 with 13 homers, 30 total extra-base hits, and a
25/48 K/BB ratio in 64 games prior to the call-up. Saunders projects as
a 20-homer hitter with a .275-.290 batting average, double-digit
steals, and solid defense, but he’s not a mixed-league option yet.

* John Smoltz was regularly clocked at 91-93 miles per hour with his
fastball and showed a good slider while getting six strikeouts in five
innings Sunday, but once again struggled by allowing six runs on nine
hits. Lack of fastball command has really hurt Smoltz and he certainly
hasn’t looked great through six starts, but with a 28/5 K/BB ratio in
30.2 innings his 1-3 record and 7.03 ERA are misleading.

* While making absolutely zero promises regarding the ratio of fantasy insight to inane rambling, I’m now on Twitter
and have quickly become addicted to posting stuff throughout the day.
Whether you’re interested in reading the minutiae of my life, my
complaints about the Twins, or half of random conversations I’m having
with people you likely don’t know, come check out @aarongleeman on Twitter!

AL Quick Hits: Justin Morneau went deep twice Sunday, and now
leads the AL in homers and RBIs … With their efforts to acquire Roy
Halladay stalled the Phillies have been scouting Cliff Lee, who threw
seven innings of two-run ball Sunday for his seventh win … With the Red
Sox facing a right-hander Sunday, Mike Lowell was benched in favor of
Adam LaRoche … Bartolo Colon will stay in the rotation and start
Wednesday, with Jose Contreras pushed to Thursday … Cleveland got
reliever Jess Todd from St. Louis to complete the Mark DeRosa trade …
Already battling the flu, Kevin Millwood left Sunday’s start with a
strained gluteus … Brett Cecil stayed on a roll Sunday with seven
frames of one-run ball … Tony Pena Jr. will go to the low minors to
work on becoming a pitcher after posting a .548 OPS as a “hitter” …
Cleveland turned down Boston’s offer of Michael Bowden, Justin
Masterson, and an unnamed outfield prospect for Victor Martinez.

NL Quick Hits: Geovany Soto (oblique) is slated to take batting
practice Monday and could return as soon as next week … Max Scherzer
shut out the Pirates for seven innings Sunday, striking out eight
without a walk … Because of setbacks, Chris Young (shoulder) isn’t
expected to return until September, if at all … Micah Owings exited
Sunday’s start after three innings with shoulder soreness … Dmitri
Young’s comeback officially ended with a torn quadriceps … Joe Blanton
tossed eight innings of two-run ball Sunday and is 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA
and 82/27 K/BB in 15 starts since an ugly April … Still bothered by a
sore hand, Manny Ramirez sat out Sunday’s game … Chad Gaudin stayed on
a roll Sunday by allowing one run over seven innings in a no-decision …
John Lannan cut his ERA to 3.25 after giving up one run in eight
innings Sunday … Colby Ramus was out of the lineup Sunday and will have
his sore heel examined Monday … Derrek Lee missed his second straight
game Sunday with back spasms, giving Jake Fox the start.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.