Two weeks after being traded to the Blue Jays in the deal that sent manager John Farrell to the Red Sox, Mike Aviles is on the move again.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the Blue Jays have shipped Aviles and utility man Yan Gomes to the Indians in exchange for right-hander Esmil Rogers.
Aviles, who turns 32 next March, batted .250/.282/.381 with 13 home runs, 60 RBI and a .663 OPS in 136 games this season for the Red Sox. He earned $1.2 million in 2012 and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter.
The Indians already have Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis as starters at shortstop and second base respectively, so Aviles could be in the mix at third base or as a backup infielder. It helps that he’s right-handed, as the Indians batted just .234/.312/.352 with a .664 OPS against southpaws this season. Aviles has a .797 career OPS against left-handed pitching.
Gomes, 25, batted .204/.264/.367 with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .631 OPS in 43 games with the Blue Jays this season while making starts at first base, third base, left field and behind the plate. The Brazil native could provide some versatility off the bench and some pop from the right side of the plate.
Rogers began this season with the Rockies, but posted a brutal 8.06 ERA over his first 23 appearances before being traded to the Indians in June. The 27-year-old was quietly very effective with his new club, compiling a 3.06 ERA and 54/12 K/BB ratio over 53 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander has experience as a starter, but it looks like he has found his niche out of the bullpen.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP