Shortstop Brian Dozier got the bad news after riding the pine for the second straight game Tuesday; the Twins sent him down and called up Pedro Florimon following the loss to the Tigers.
The timing is decidedly odd. There was plenty of reason to send Dozier down a month and a half ago — I even wrote an entry calling for it — but his play had improved a bit since. He was hitting .225/.249/.306 and had committed 11 errors in 45 games as of my writing. In 39 games since, he hit .245/.297/.364 with six errors.
Obviously, that’s still not the kind of performance the Twins were hoping for, but since it’s mid-August and rosters expand in 16 days anyway, it’s hard to tell what Minnesota’s motivation was here, unless maybe there was an off-the-field situation that factored into the thinking.
The switch certainly has nothing to do with Florimon’s performance. He’s hit .231/.274/.295 in 78 at-bats since the All-Star break for Triple-A Rochester, which is even worse than his overall .251/.308/.345 line in 307 at-bats for the season. He’ll be an upgrade defensively over Dozier, but he’s never going to hit. Odds are that he’ll serve as the backup to Jamey Carroll at shortstop.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.
Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.
Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.