Trading season is officially upon us, as Keith Law of ESPN.com reports that the Cubs have traded right-hander Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-hander Pedro Strop, right-hander Jake Arrieta, and about $400,000 in international signing bonus slot amount.
It’s tough to have a good feel for how valuable the international bonus money tranfer is because there’s no real history of it to analyze, but for a rebuilding team like the Cubs anything that allows them to bring in more young talent certainly makes sense.
Feldman pitched well for Chicago, starting 15 games with a 3.46 ERA, and Baltimore was clearly in the market for veteran rotation help. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs signed Feldman to a one-year, $7 million deal as a free agent back in November, so they turned a modest short-term investment into what they hope will be some long-term value.
Arrieta was once a top prospect, but he’s been terrible in various big-league stints with a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings and is now 27 years old. Any notion of him developing into a top-of-the-rotation arm is probably long gone, but he may still be a useful starter or an interesting bullpen project. Strop figures to step into the Cubs’ bullpen in a middle relief role, where he’ll probably continue to struggle with control while flashing occasionally dominant raw stuff.
It’s an interesting trade, as the Cubs signed Feldman on the cheap and then flipped him for a former top prospect and a hard-throwing reliever, plus the ability to spend more on international prospects. Meanwhile, for the Orioles they obviously gave up on Arrieta ever living up to his potential and Strop was pretty expendable in the grand scheme of things, so they added a decent starter in Feldman for the second half without having to dip into their farm system.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.