Jason Heyward is being held out of the Braves’ lineup for the second straight night as a result of being hit on the top of his left foot by a pitch during Sunday’s game against the Nationals.
Heyward dealt with some swelling and pain on Monday which made it difficult to run, but arrived at the ballpark today ready to play. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to sit him as a precaution, but Heyward told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he plans to return to the lineup tomorrow night.
“I let [Fredi Gonzalez] know before we got here that I wanted to play,” Heyward said before batting practice Tuesday. “He said he’d like for me to take another day, just to make sure. So I’m going to do everything today and run around on it, and play [Wednesday].”
It doesn’t sound like Heyward’s foot will be much of an issue moving forward, but his lack of production is an ongoing concern. The 21-year-old outfielder is batting .237 with a .703 OPS since returning from a sore right shoulder in June, including a .200/.284/.367 batting line over his last 17 games.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.