Jason Donald, who was the favorite to act as the Indians’ primary third baseman before suffering a broken hand on March 4, was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Columbus on Friday.
The move comes as no surprise, given Jack Hannahan’s strong play at the hot corner for Cleveland. Hannahan, a journeyman long known more for his glove than for his bat, hit two homers Tuesday and is batting .290/.364/.522 in 69 at-bats for the season.
With Adam Everett also playing well in his utility role, there simply wasn’t room for Donald right now. Odds are that he’ll be return as a part-timer within a couple of months, but he’s likely better off playing regularly for Columbus than he would be starting once or twice a week in Cleveland anyway.
Of course, the Columbus infield is getting crowded, too. The Pirates announced today that Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez cleared waivers and was returned to the Indians. Rodriguez, who went 1-for-12 after making the Pirates out of spring training, is slated to join Donald, Luis Valbuena and top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall on the Clippers roster.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.