Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Indians are one of nine teams who have expressed interest in free agent Casey Blake.
Blake was limited to just 63 games this season in the final year of a three-year, $17.5 million contract. The 38-year-old batted .252/.342/.371 with four homers, 26 RBI and a .713 OPS over 239 plate appearances before undergoing season-ending surgery on his neck in early September.
Blake previously played with the Indians from 2003 until July of 2008 when he was swapped to the Dodgers in the trade that brought Carlos Santana to Cleveland. Sorry to bring that one up again, Dodgers fans.
While Blake is a major question mark health-wise, Hoynes writes that the Indians view him as a potential backup at the corner infield and outfield positions and also believe he could help balance out their lefty-heavy lineup. He’ll likely have to settle for a one-year, incentive-laden deal.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.
Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.
Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.
Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.