Pirates release veteran right-hander Jose Contreras

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This could be the end of the road for Jose Contreras. The 41-year-old right-hander was released by the Pirates this afternoon in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for right-hander Charlie Morton, who is making his return from Tommy John surgery today against the Giants.

Contreras underwent Tommy John surgery last year and signed a minor league deal with the Pirates over the winter. After making seven appearances in the minors, he joined Pittsburgh’s bullpen in early May and allowed five runs on seven hits and six walks over five innings prior to landing on the disabled list with lower back inflammation three weeks later. Now the Pirates have decided to turn the page.

Signed out of Cuba by the Yankees in 2002, Contreras owns a 4.57 ERA over 175 starts and 124 relief appearances in the majors. He enjoyed the bulk of his success as a starting pitcher with the White Sox from 2004-2009, including 15 wins and a 3.61 ERA during when the team won the World Series in 2005. He made his lone All-Star appearance in 2006.

The Cubs send Kyle Schwarber to the minors

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Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.

Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.

Now this:

The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.

The A’s designate Stephen Vogt for assignment

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A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.

Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.