Russell Martin will have a new backup this season, as the Yankees acquired journeyman catcher Chris Stewart from the Giants in exchange for minor-league right-hander George Kontos and optioned Francisco Cervelli to Triple-A.
Cervelli has been in the majors since 2009, backing up Jorge Posada and then Martin while hitting .272 with a .338 on-base percentage and .354 slugging percentage in 181 games. He’s also thrown out 27 percent of steal attempts.
Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger described Cervelli as “red-eyed and stunned” when told of his demotion, and rightfully so because he’s an above average backup catcher and beyond worthy of a big-league roster spot.
I’m not sure the same can be said about Stewart, who’s hit just .200 with a .563 OPS in 93 games as a major leaguer and .259 with a .695 OPS in 421 games at Triple-A. In other words, Cervelli has hit as well in the majors as Stewart has at Triple-A, but the key difference here is that Cervelli had a minor-league option remaining and thus the Yankees can keep him in the organization while adding some catching depth.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.
Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.
The Blue Jays completed a four-game series sweep against the Athletics on Thursday afternoon and won their second consecutive game in walk-off fashion. Last night, the Jays went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, but a two-run home run by Justin Smoak followed by a solo home run from Kendrys Morales led to a 3-2 walk-off victory.
Thursday’s game was already interesting enough as starter Marcus Stroman, catcher Russell Martin, and manager John Gibbons were all ejected by home plate umpire Will Little. Despite the adversity, the Jays battled the A’s, tying the game at four apiece when Morales blasted a solo home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the 10th inning, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Steve Pearce. Pearce worked the count full before pulling a fastball down the left field line for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Jays an 8-4 victory to complete the sweep.
Before Pearce, the last Jays hitter to hit a walk-off grand slam was Gregg Zaun on September 6, 2008 against the Rays, per SportsNet Stats.