94WIP Radio’s Howard Eskin isn’t necessarily a baseball guy, but he is a big player in the Philadelphia sports radio scene, and he’s reporting tonight that the Phillies and Blue Jays are involved in “serious talks” about a deal involving Jose Bautista and Domonic Brown.
It’d be a swap of 2013 All-Stars, one seven years older than the other. Bautista, the AL leader in homers in both 2010 and 2011, hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 452 at-bats last season before a hip injury ended his season in August. It’s the second straight year he’s suffered a season-ending injury; he hurt his wrist in 2012 and required surgery.
Brown, 26, busted out with a big first half before fading last season, ending the year at .272/.324/.494 with 27 homers in 496 at-bats. He’s a poor defensive outfielder, but still a major asset at his price tag. He won’t be arbitration eligible until after next season or a free agent until after 2017.
Bautista is due $14 million each of the next two years, with a $14 million club option for 2016. He’s a great value at that price, but if the Jays did trade him for Brown, they’d free up money to chase a top free agent starter or catcher.
The Blue Jays could also ask for first baseman-outfielder Darin Ruf along with Brown. Ruf wouldn’t have much to do in Philly with Bautista and Marlon Byrd playing the outfield corners and Ryan Howard back at first, but the Jays could use him as a first baseman against lefties and as insurance if Melky Cabrera struggles.
Still, all of this seems highly unlikely to come together. This rumor might have been illegitimate from the get go, and even if there is some truth to it, that doesn’t mean something has to get done.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.