UPDATE: Our own Craig Calcaterra reports that Grilli is re-signing with the Pirates, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.
Jason Grilli’s breakout season as a setup man in Pittsburgh made him a very popular free agent target and agent Gary Sheffield (yes, that Gary Sheffield) has said the right-hander is close to signing.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com he’s narrowed the choices down to the Pirates, Cubs, and Blue Jays, with a two-year deal expected wherever Grilli winds up.
Grilli was a marginal big leaguer for a decade or so, but in two years with the Pirates he threw 91 innings with a 2.76 ERA and 127 strikeouts. That works out to 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings, which was the fifth-highest strikeout rate in baseball during that time behind only Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and David Robertson.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.
Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.
Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.
It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.