Bryan LaHair was called up from Triple-A after rosters expanded on September 1 and has gone 3-for-8 with a double through his first two starts, but will the Cubs give an extended opportunity to the 29-year-old Pacific Coast League MVP?
LaHair started in left field Sunday and at first base yesterday, but with Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena entrenched at those positions his playing time down the stretch figures to be sporadic. However, with Pena an impending free agent the Cubs could decide to sit him in favor of LaHair, who hit .331 with 38 homers and 38 doubles in 129 games at Triple-A and would be a much cheaper alternative for 2012.
Pena turned down a trade to the Yankees and has said he wants to re-sign with the Cubs, but do they want him back for this season’s $10 million salary or would turning to LaHair for about $350,000 make more sense?
Huge numbers in the hitter-friendly PCL from a 29-year-old career minor leaguer hardly guarantees that LaHair would be a productive regular in the majors, but he’s batted .297 with an .897 OPS in 653 career games at Triple-A and … well, the Cubs could certainly use that $10 million to address some other issues.
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune “the organization appears to be leaning toward” re-signing Pena, in which case LaHair will probably be headed back to Triple-A for the sixth straight season.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).
Free agent closer Mark Melancon is entertaining at least two offers in the four-year, $60+ million ballpark, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The teams thought to be in the running are the Giants and Nationals, with the Giants having a slight edge due to their strong interest in him last summer (per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick).
Crasnick also said that while the Giants are keeping tabs on the top three free agent closers this winter, the other two being Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, they’re leaning toward Melancon as a (slightly) more affordable option in the ‘pen. It’s worth noting that Melancon would not cost the Giants a draft pick if they decided to sign him.
Melancon had an outstanding season in 2016, nearly reaching career-best numbers with a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and 5.42 K/BB rate in 71 1/3 innings split between the Pirates and Nationals’ bullpens. The veteran right-hander earned his third career All-Star distinction after stifling opposing hitters with a 1.23 ERA and 7.9 K/9 rate in the first half, and went on to appear in his fourth consecutive playoff run.
Despite the Giants’ apparent lead in the bidding for Melancon, Rosenthal mentioned a third mystery team who might throw their hat in the ring as well. No clubs have been name-dropped as of yet.