Alex Avila was held out of the starting lineup this afternoon against the White Sox after he hurt his jaw in a collision with teammate Prince Fielder during yesterday’s game, but the hope was that he wouldn’t have to miss much time after he passed a concussion test. However, Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Chris Iott of MLive.com after today’s game that Avila had a headache during batting practice and won’t return to the lineup until he’s back to 100 percent.
“He wasn’t going to play under any circumstances,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after his team’s 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox. “And I can’t tell you about tomorrow. That’s a real touchy one when you start messing with upstairs. I’ll have to feel 100 percent that he’s totally cleared before I play him.”
It’s not clear if Avila will be sent for more tests, but obviously the Tigers aren’t going to take any chances if the headaches continue. Gerald Laird started behind the plate this afternoon and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Bryan Holaday, a September call-up, is the third catcher on the active roster.
Avila, 25, is batting .247/.355/.388 with eight home runs, 43 RBI and a .743 OPS in 107 games played this year. He has thrown out 31 percent (33 out 106) of attempted basestealers.
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.