The Marlins just announced that they have acquired left-hander Wade LeBlanc from the Padres in exchange for catcher John Baker.
The Marlins have 11 players who are eligible for arbitration this winter and John Buck is already locked in as their primary starting catcher, so swapping Baker for LeBlanc makes plenty of sense.
LeBlanc, 27, went 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA and 51/28 K/BB ratio in 79 2/3 innings over 14 starts with the Padres this season. He will almost certainly miss pitching in the cozy confines of PETCO Park, as evidenced by his 2.97 career ERA at home and 6.16 ERA on the road, but he could be a decent fit in the back of Florida’s rotation. While they remain in the mix for C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, adding a left-handed starter was a priority for the Marlins this winter.
Baker missed most of the season following Tommy John surgery, but batted .154 (2-for-13) after being activated from the disabled list in September. The 30-year-old backstop is a .271/.356/.401 hitter in the big leagues and has a .782 career OPS against right-handed pitching, so he could make for a nice little tandem with the right-handed hitting Nick Hundley.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.
The Tigers just announced that they will not be bringing Brad Ausmus back as manager in 2018. His contract was going to be up at the end of this season and they have decided not to renew it. Ausmus and his staff will manage the club for the final week of the season.
In the press release announcing the move, Tigers GM Al Avila said “[a]s we transition the ballclub in a new direction, I feel it’s best that we have a new approach and a fresh start with the manager position.” He went on to praise Ausmus for “doing an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season,” a clear reference to the club’s decision at mid-season to blow things up. Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez were traded in July and August, as were some more minor players. The club is clearly embarking on a lengthy rebuild of which Ausmus, who was brought in four years ago to lead a contending team, will not be a part.
In his four seasons at the helm the Tigers are 312-325. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first season in 2014, but the Tigers were swept out of the ALDS in three games. In the past three seasons they finished fifth, second and will either finish in fourth or fifth this year. Injuries and poor bullpens have been the biggest problem, but clearly this Tigers team was supposed to win more over the past four years.
It’s unclear what direction the Tigers will take in their managerial search, but it’s clear they’re going to go outside of the organization, as Avila said in his statement that the status of the current coaching staff will be contingent on the wishes of whatever new manager they hire.
Happy trails, Brad Ausmus. Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager is now Baseball’s Most Handsome Unemployed coach.