Fading Tigers could make August deals


They’ve yet to admit that they’re sellers, but the Tigers have some trade possibilities while sitting 9 1/2 games back of the Twins in the AL Central and 14 games off the pace in the wild card.
Indications are that Johnny Damon, who is on a one-year, $8 million contract, has yet to be placed on waivers. He’s slumping again recently, but he’s hitting .278/.364/.420 for the year. He probably wouldn’t make it all of the way through waivers, but the Red Sox or Rays could claim him and work out a deal with Detroit. He’d seem to be a huge upgrade over Willy Aybar in the DH slot for Tampa Bay.
Definitely yet to go on waivers, according to a flip-flopping Ken Rosenthal anyway, is Brandon Inge. Inge would probably get claimed quickly, given that he has only about $1.5 million left on his contract. He’d be a possibility to solidify third base for the Angels or White Sox or serve as a backup for the Yankees. The Tigers, though, may prefer to keep him and try to re-sign him for 2011.
Jhonny Peralta, who was picked up last month to help fill in for an injured Inge, would be sure to clear waivers. He’s another slumping Tiger, having hit just .188/.278/.333 for his new team. Still, he could be of use to the Braves with Chipper Jones down.
Jeremy Bonderman, another free-agent-to-be, would clear waivers because of his $12.5 million salary. His 4.96 ERA isn’t very impressive, but he has an 86/35 K/BB ratio in 119 2/3 innings and he posted a 3.60 ERA and a 16/2 K/BB ratio in his three starts against NL teams during interleague play.
Finally, there’s Carlos Guillen. As a declining, injury-prone player with a $13 million salary, he’s not going to top anyone’s list of potential August acqusitions. However, if the Tigers were willing to eat his salary, he could come in real handy as a part-timer with his ability to play three infield spots and left field. I don’t think he’s a Chipper replacement, but he could be of use in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the fact that he’s owed another $13 million next year figures to keep him in Detroit.

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.