The Phillies optioned right-handed reliever Michael Schwimer to Triple-A Lehigh Valley today in order to make room for Jeremy Horst’s return from the paternity leave list. That’s hardly headline news. But the story behind the roster move is a bit more interesting.
Here’s the scoop from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
According to multiple sources, the demotion did not sit well with Schwimer. Two sources said the pitcher had recently complained of a sore arm and believed he should have been placed on the disabled list instead of being sent to the minors. Schwimer apparently made his feelings known to club personnel.
It is against Major League Baseball rules to send an injured player to the minors during the season. Of course, the definition of “injured player” can be subjective.
The usually gregarious Schwimer declined to speak with reporters as he strutted out of the clubhouse before batting practice Thursday. One person who had spoken to Schwimer said the pitcher was “making noise about his arm hurting and getting a second opinion.”
Players who are on the disabled list continue to receive major-league pay and service time, so there are motivations at play here that we usually don’t think about in the day-to-day routine of a baseball season. Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock declined to comment on the situation, but if Schwimer continues to insist that he’s injured, it could open the door to a grievance being filed.
Schwimer, 26, has a 4.46 ERA and 36/16 K/BB ratio over 34 1/3 innings with the Phillies this season.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.