According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker the Chiba Lotte Marines have received at least one acceptable bid for infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka and have scheduled a press conference for Friday to announce the winning MLB team.
Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, and San Diego are among the teams said to be interested in Nishioka, but various reports have pegged Minnesota as the surprising front-runners for the switch-hitting batting champion whose 206 hits this season were the most since Ichiro Suzuki in 1996.
Once the top bid is announced the winning team will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Nishioka, at which point the posting fee will be refunded if the two sides can’t come to an agreement. Nishioka batted .346 with 22 steals this season, but his track record includes far less impressive production and lots of injuries, and there are some questions about whether he has the arm strength to be an everyday shortstop.
Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.
It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.
Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.