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.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.