Nationals may look into replacing Dukes with Dye

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After releasing Elijah Dukes this morning the Nationals may look to replace him with Jermaine Dye, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.
Ladson notes that platooning the left-handed-hitting Willie Harris with right-handed hitters Justin Maxwell or Mike Morse in right field is the Nationals’ most likely post-Dukes plan, but adds that “they do have interest in” Dye if things don’t work out with the in-house options (general manager Mike Rizzo denied any specific discussions about Dye).
Dye hit .250/.340/.453 with 27 homers in 141 games last season for the White Sox, which is more or less average production for a right fielder. However, he’s also 36 years old, batted just .179 in the second half, and is pretty terrible defensively at this point. Dye had a 103 adjusted OPS+ last season. Dukes’ career adjusted OPS+ is 104, and he’s a decade younger with a much better glove.
Of course, Dye certainly won’t cause as many headaches as Dukes and that seems to have been the driving force behind this morning’s move regardless of how many times the Nationals insist it was done strictly for “baseball reasons.” Generally speaking 25-year-old players don’t get released for “baseball reasons” when they still have minor-league options remaining. They get sent to the minors or waived or traded or designated for assignment, but usually not released.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.