When the Blue Jays took back Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli as the price for shedding Vernon Wells’ deal in a trade with the Angels, it was with the idea of sending both elsewhere before the season started. It worked out fine with Napoli, who was moved on to Texas for Frank Francisco, but the Jays never could find a taker for Rivera and they designated him for assignment following Sunday’s game.
With a .243/.305/.360 line, six homers and 28 RBI in 248 at-bats this season, Rivera hadn’t done anything since Opening Day to enhance his trade value. He was hitting .327 in 55 at-bats against lefties, but versus righties, he came in at .219. Considering that he’s making $5.25 million and he has no defensive value at all, no team was too interested in adding him to its bench. Perhaps that will change if he gets his release and a club will only have to pay him the minimum.
Getting another chance in Toronto is 23-year-old Travis Snider. Snider was sent down after hitting .184/.276/.264 with one homer in 87 at-bats to begin the season, but he had come in at .333/.403/.488 in 201 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas. There is a huge caveat there: Las Vegas is a premier offensive environment in the already hitter friendly PCL. However, Snider hit .380/.449/.570 in his 19 road games while playing with the 51s.
What isn’t so impressive was that Snider had just two homers. He did have 21 doubles and two triples, but for the year now, he has just three homers in 288 at-bats between the majors and minors. That’s a far cry from what was expected from the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
Snider is still plenty young, but he really needs to seize this latest chance the Blue Jays are giving him. He’ll likely be pretty much an everyday outfielder with Jose Bautista back at third. If he fails again, he might turn into offseason trade bait for the club.
Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.
Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.
Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.