We tend to praise those veterans who take youngsters under their wings. Especially when that youngster is gunning for the veteran’s own job.
Padres catcher Nick Hundley isn’t going that route, though. Maybe he would have under different circumstances. Say if the youngster replacing him wasn’t a big, ol’ cheater.
Asked Wednesday about the Padres’ catcher situation when Yasmani Grandal returns from his 50-game steroids suspension, Hundley told the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee:
“You want to talk about a guy who is unproven and had a good couple months on steroids, go ahead. I’ve got a job to do.”
Hundley has good reason to be frustrated. He was coming off a terrific .288/.347/.477 season in 2011 when the Padres picked up Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick, from the Reds in the Mat Latos deal that winter. Hundley went on to struggle mightily last year and lost his job to Grandal, only to see Grandal get the offseason steroid suspension. Grandal’s name subsequently was found in the Biogenesis documents.
If not for the suspension, the Padres would have tried to trade Hundley last winter, though it may have been tough considering his substantial contract and hideous .157/.219/.245 line in 204 at-bats last season. As is, he’s been the Padres’ regular catcher this year and hit a rock-solid .270/.302/.450 in 100 at-bats. Still just 29, he doesn’t deserved to be shoved back into a backup role, especially in favor of a cheater. That said, the Padres aren’t going anywhere this year and they still need to figure out whether Grandal is the real deal or not. It figures to lead to an awkward situation when Grandal comes back later this month.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.