UPDATE: Done deal, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Kosuke Fukudome is an Indian.
11:04: Multiple sources are now reporting that the Tribe would send two minor leaguers, as yet unidentified, put a pitcher and a position player to Chicago. It’s also being reported that the Cubs will pick up all but $775,000 of the $4.5 million Fukudome is still owed for 2011. A deal is expected to be done before game time tonight.
10:01 AM: Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Indians are in “serious talks” for Cubs’ outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Danny Knobler says “it’s very close to happening.”
Lots of barriers to something happening here. For one thing, money, in that Fukudome is owed over $4 million for the rest of the year and the Indians aren’t the habit of adding salary. For another thing, Fukudome has a no-trade clause. It’s limited, but I’m guessing one could make a lot of money betting on things like “a given player’s no-trade clause includes Cleveland.” Finally, his contract contains a clause that prohibits teams from offering him arbitration, so the Tribe won’t be able to get picks for him. Of course, as was the case with Carlos Beltran, it’s an open question as whether offering him arbitration would have made sense anyway.
If they can get past all of that — and from the sound of it, they’re close to doing that — adding Fukudome to the Indians wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He has gotten on base at a decent clip this year, and given how thin the Indians’ outfield is right now, he could be useful.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.