The weekend preceding the All-Star Game festivities is always fun because the list of actual All-Stars expands by about ten players as injured players step down and would-be snubs finally get their call. Today, American League Sunday starters Bartolo Colon of the Athletics, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners, and Justin Verlander of the Tigers were declared inactive for the All-Star Game. Replacing them are Athletics reliever Grant Balfour, Royals reliever Greg Holland, and Orioles starter Chris Tillman.
On the National League side of things, Braves first baseman and NL Final Vote winner Freddie Freeman, Pirates starter Jeff Locke, and Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann were declared inactive. Their replacements include Braves catcher Brian McCann, Pirates reliever Mark Melancon, and Giants reliever Sergio Romo.
NL All-Stars Adam Wainwright and Travis Wood start against each other tonight, so both will need to be replaced by manager Bruce Bochy as well.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.