Blue Jays set to re-sign McDonald for $1.5 million

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While trade rumors swirl around Roy Halladay, it looks like Alex Anthopoulos’ first move as the Blue Jays’ new general manager will be re-signing John McDonald for one year and $1.5 million.
McDonald has spent the past five seasons in Toronto, starting a total of 301 games, but was primarily a backup this year as Marco Scutaro emerged as the Blue Jays’ everyday shortstop. However, with Scutaro now a free agent McDonald may be given a chance to claim the starting job in 2010.
If that happens it’ll be great news for the Blue Jays’ defense and terrible news for the Blue Jays’ offense, because McDonald is one of the most extreme good-glove, no-hit players of this era. He’s a career .238/.276/.317 hitter, which works out to an adjusted OPS+ of 57 that ranks dead last among all active position players with at least 1,500 plate appearances.
Despite building a strong case as the worst hitter in baseball, McDonald has stuck around for over a decade because of his glove. He didn’t join the Blue Jays until after his 30th birthday, but while in Toronto he’s graded out as 12.7 runs above average in 2,513 innings at shortstop according to Ultimate Zone Rating. McDonald’s defensive reputation is even better than those numbers, although that’s perhaps due to the superior range he flashed in his 20s.
As a 35-year-old veteran with a good glove McDonald is worth the modest one-year commitment from a team with a big hole at shortstop, but Anthopoulos should definitely be looking for a more capable starter. Whether that means making an effort to re-sign Scutaro, targeting a different free agent, or swinging a trade, one of his offseason goals should be making sure that McDonald doesn’t head into spring training atop the depth chart.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.