Domonic Brown leaves Dominican after poor showing

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The Phillies would love to be able to retain Jayson Werth, but the free agent outfielder is represented by Scott Boras and his asking price at this point in the offseason is thought to be sky high.  If Werth signs elsewhere, which seems likely, the Phils are probably going to hand right field duties to 23-year-old Domonic Brown at the opening of the 2011 season.

Brown hit the cover off the ball down on the farm in 2010 to the tune of a .318/.391/.602 batting line in 65 games at Double-A and a .346/.390/.561 batting line in 28 games at Triple-A.  He has serious power potential along with good speed on the basepaths and he should be a reliable defender.

There’s little doubt that Brown is going to develop into a productive big league ballplayer, but how long will that development take?

According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Brown left his Dominican Winter League team this weekend after hitting just .069 in nine games.  This is the same guy that hit .210/.257/.355 in 70 plate appearances at the major league level in 2010.

Dabbling in small sample sizes is always problematic, but it’s quite common for young players to hit well in the minors and then fail to produce on the big stage (see: Andy LaRoche, Alex Gordon).  If things don’t go well for Brown in spring training next year, perhaps the Phillies will look at other options to replace Werth.  Or maybe they already feel a need to lock up insurance on the free agent market.

One thing’s certain: Brown needs to do some damage down in Clearwater, Florida next March.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.