There was no talking Josh Hamilton into taking part in the Home Run Derby, so Robinson Cano went with some pretty good fallbacks Monday: Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo.
Bautista leads the AL with 26 homers at the moment, one more than Hamilton. Cano and Trumbo both have 20 apiece, while Fielder lags behind with 12. All told, the AL Home Run Derby team has 78 homers this year, compared to 68 for Matt Kemp’s NL squad, which is comprised of himself, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran.
Besides Hamilton, David Ortiz, who participated the last two years, opted out of consideration for the AL squad this year. Adam Dunn, who is third in the AL with 24 homers, is a surprising omission, but he too may have declined.
Cano was named captain of this year’s squad by virtue of winning the Home Run Derby last year. He hit 12 homers in the finale to edge Adrian Gonzalez.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.