The last we heard about Juan Carlos Oviedo — the man formerly known as Marlins’ closer Leo Nunez — he was back in the Dominican Republic working through legal issues after admitting in September that he faked his identity.
The Marlins provided a bit of an update on the matter this afternoon and while details were scarce, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that team president Larry Beinfest is hopeful Oviedo’s situation will be resolved so that he will pitch in the majors next season.
“I’m not real comfortable going into the ins and outs of it, but we have been in communication with Baseball,” Beinfest said. “There’s been some work quietly on the immigration side and his status. He’s been very cooperative and the team has worked very hard to try to get clarity because I think it’s better for everybody, but yes, we do understand how we have to deal with him given his situation.
“We’re all hopeful he’s going to be back here as Juan Carlos Oviedo and back in the country and issued a visa, then we can work on the business side of it.”
Oviedo was placed on the restricted list in September, but is not expected to face any criminal charges in the Dominican Republic.
While Oviedo may pitch in the majors next season, it might not be with the Marlins. With his salary projected to fall in the $5-6 million range as a fourth-time arbitration-eligible player and the saturated market for closer-types this winter, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be non-tendered before the December 12 deadline.
The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.
It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.