Trevor Hoffman keeping his eye on the Diamondbacks

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Just one day after we learned that Trevor Hoffman would return for another season if given a chance to close, the all-time saves leader tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he sees a potential fit with the Diamondbacks.

The chances of Hoffman finding another closing gig are slim, but he isn’t completely off base. Not only are the D-Backs without an in-house favorite for the ninth inning next season, but they also recently hired former Padres GM Kevin Towers as their new general manager.

“I’ve known K.T. for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help,” Hoffman said about playing in Phoenix, which would keep him close to home. “But I don’t know. I’m coming off a tough year. I don’t know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate.”

“Usually [money] is what it always comes down to,” Hoffman said. “It’ll be interesting to see if [the D-backs] get back to me. I’m open for anything. I want to take a look at all my options.”

Hoffman, who turned 43 last month, posted a 5.89 ERA and 30/19 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings with the Brewers this past season. Much was made of his early season struggles — something his agent Rick Thurman blames on triceps tendinitis, by the way — but Hoffman actually had a 2.66 ERA and 13/6 K/BB ratio over 20 1/3 innings during the second half of the season, reaching the 600-save plateau in September.

Thurman said he has has yet to speak directly with Towers, but talked to the Diamondbacks last Friday about Hoffman and a number of his other clients, including Brian Fuentes and Octavio Dotel, both of whom also closed games last season.

Hoffman could probably find a job if he is willing to work on the cheap, but don’t forget that Rafael Soriano, Scott Downs, J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara, among others (including that Mariano guy), are all free agents, as well. With only so many closer gigs to go around, the reality is that we may have seen the last of “Hells Bells.”

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.