Tuesday’s headlines were dominated by the Mets, who dealt Billy Wagner to the Red Sox, put Johan Santana on the disabled list in preparation for season-ending elbow surgery, and revealed that J.J. Putz has also been shut down for the year following a setback in his recovery from elbow problems. None of that qualifies as good news, exactly, but some of it is “not horrible” and at this point Mets fans will take even that.
Wagner changed his mind minutes before the Tuesday afternoon deadline to accept a trade to Boston, so New York dumped his remaining salary and $8 million option or $1 million buyout for next season while picking up two players to be named later. To get Wagner’s approval the Red Sox agreed to decline his 2010 option, but will retain the right to offer him arbitration and receive draft-pick compensation if he leaves.
Few teams can afford to drop $3 million on a 38-year-old reliever who returned from Tommy John surgery a week ago and at most the Red Sox could get a dozen or so innings out of Wagner, but he’s certainly a nice luxury item to take a flier on and has looked very capable of making a big impact through two post-surgery appearances. Plus, the draft picks may prove more valuable than the two PTBNLs surrendered.
Meanwhile, fears about Santana needing to go under the knife proved accurate, but rather than anything career-threatening he merely needed bone spurs removed from his elbow. Santana clearly hasn’t been himself of late, managing just 60 strikeouts in his last 101 innings, but underwent the same procedure years ago in Minnesota and bounced back just fine. He should be at full strength in time for spring training.
While the Mets place their 20th player of the season on the DL, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Dexter Fowler has been put on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his right knee during Monday night’s marathon win over the Giants, and with Carlos Gonzalez also sidelined by a hand injury the Rockies called up 24-year-old prospect Eric Young Jr. from Triple-A. Young’s father swiped 465 bases over 15 seasons in the majors and Junior is the same type of player, racking up 58 steals in 119 games at Triple-A.
* Chris Davis returned from the minors Tuesday and the Rangers reportedly plan to give him regular starts at Hank Blalock’s expense. Blalock has hit .199 with a putrid 39/3 K/BB ratio in the second half, so there’s nothing to lose by giving Davis another shot. He’ll always strike out a ton with poor batting averages, but Davis hit .327 in 44 games at Triple-A and is much better than he showed prior to the demotion.
AL Quick Hits: Zack Greinke racked up a Royals record 15 strikeouts in eight innings of two-run ball Tuesday, dropping his ERA to an AL-best 2.43 … Joba Chamberlain allowed seven runs on eight singles, one double, and three walks Tuesday … Ichiro Suzki (calf) sat out his second straight game Tuesday and figures to sit Wednesday too … Jake Peavy (ankle) said Tuesday that he might not be ready to join the White Sox’s rotation this weekend because of elbow soreness … Jacoby Ellsbury swiped his 55th base Tuesday to set a Red Sox record … Carl Crawford (back) is expected to remain sidelined until at least Friday … Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) tossed two scoreless innings and was reportedly clocked in the mid-90s in a rehab appearance Monday at Triple-A … Jon Lester turned in a Quality Start for the 11th time in 12 tries Tuesday … Delmon Young was 4-for-5 with a walk-off single Tuesday, giving him 15 RBIs in 19 games this month after totaling just 27 through the end of July.
NL Quick Hits: Stephen Strasburg is expected to make his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League … After missing six straight games Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) was put on the disabled list Tuesday, leaving Eugenio Velez to fill in … Carlos Zambrano was rocked for eight runs in Tuesday’s return from the DL … Jordan Schafer will miss the remainder of the season following wrist surgery … Albert Pujols drove in the lone run Tuesday as Adam Wainwright out-dueled Wandy Rodriguez in a 1-0 game … Hiroki Kuroda (concussion) is slated to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, but remains weeks from returning … Andrew McCutchen delivered a walk-off homer Tuesday to hand Brad Lidge his ninth blown save … Jimmy Rollins went deep twice Tuesday, giving him seven homers this month … Gary Sheffield left Tuesday’s game with back tightness … Jake Fox got another start Tuesday as Alfonso Soriano (knee) remained sidelined … Joe Blanton turned in his 11th straight Quality Start on Tuesday.
Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2015 season came in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The game was tied 3-3, but the Jays were threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Jose Bautista launched a 1-1 Sam Dyson fastball for a no-doubt tie-breaking three-run home run that would send the Jays into the ALCS to face the eventual world champion Royals.
Bautista didn’t immediately run to first base after hitting the home run. He admired it, looked at Dyson, and then flipped his bat triumphantly. As far as bat flips go, it was a 10 out of 10. Yasiel Puig was proud.
The six-time All-Star admitted “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since that moment in the ALDS, as Jonah Birenbaum notes for The Score. Bautista also served as the assistant coach for musician Drake at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. As Drew noted earlier, Bautista had a pretty nice view at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as well.
The Jays are hopeful to sign Bautista, 35, to a multi-year extension. In six seasons since breaking out with the club in 2010, he has hit .268/.390/.555 with 227 home runs and 582 RBI in 3,604 plate appearances. No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2010 season, as Miguel Cabrera is the closest at 199. And only Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols have driven in more runs in that span of time. It’s easy to see why, despite his age, the Jays want to keep Bautista around a little while longer.
Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?
Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”
Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.
Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.
Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.
He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.
Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.
It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …
Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.
Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.
You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.
There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”
If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.
A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.
Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.
If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.