When the Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez over the winter, the objective was to give Lorenzo Cain an opportunity to be the regular center fielder. Things haven’t exactly worked out as planned.
While Sanchez was a major bust before being traded to the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie, Cain just hasn’t been able to stay on the field this season. After missing three months earlier this year with a torn hip flexor, Cain told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com last night that he will miss the rest of the season due to a right hamstring injury.
Cain suffered the injury when he tried to make a diving catch in the 10th inning of Thursday’s loss to the Twins. While it was originally thought to be a minor injury, it turns out that he suffered a Grade 2 strain. The Royals called up Jason Bourgeois from Triple-A Omaha yesterday and he’s expected to be used in a platoon with David Lough in center field down the stretch.
Cain batted .266/.316/.419 with seven home runs, 31 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .734 OPS in 244 plate appearances this season while playing solid defense, so he has shown enough to open 2013 as the starting center fielder. Top prospect Wil Myers is knocking on the door for a promotion to the big leagues, but the Royals still have right fielder Jeff Francoeur under contract for $6.75 million next 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.