Make no mistake: the Angels are looking at Friday’s promotion of top prospect Mike Trout to the majors as a short-term fix. The plan is for the 19-year-old to help out this weekend and then return to the minors if the hamstring injury suffered by Peter Bourjos last night proves as minor as hoped.
The only way for Trout to change that is to have the weekend of his life and to convince the Halos that they’re much better off with him than they would be without. Trout possesses that kind of talent; he’s hit .324/.415/.534 as a 19-year-old in Double-A.
Still, it’s going to be a tough sell. Bourjos is the Angels’ lone outfielder not making a boatload of money, and he’s exceeded expectations offensively this season while playing center as well as anyone in the majors. Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter have both been big disappointments, but Wells finally found his stroke last month and it’s hard to imagine the Angels sending Hunter to the bench.
There is one route the Angels could go, but it’d be a big risk: they could release Bobby Abreu. Abreu is getting on base 40-percent of the time as the team’s primary DH, but he has just three homers and 35 RBI in 85 games. Of course, he’s been more productive than Wells or Hunter, but unlike those two, he has no defensive value at all.
Still, the real reason for the Angels to consider releasing him is that he’s 74 plate appearances away from having his $9 million option for next season vest.
If the Angels did cut him, they’d most likely face a grievance and it’s possible they’d end up paying him that $9 million anyway.
Plus, Abreu still has value, even if he’s not worth $9 million per year anymore.
So, Abreu will likely stick and Trout will probably head back to the minors next week and stay there until Sept. 1 or one of the aforementioned players lands on the DL.
But it would be fun to see him force the issue.
The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.
As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.
The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.
Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.
It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.
While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.