UPDATE: Well, now it makes more sense. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman was told by an NL source that before the Yankees turned down the deal, Phillips asked to the Reds re-open his contract and give him more money as an incentive to agree to a trade.
Phillips has a limited no-trade clause which allows him to block trades to 10 teams, so apparently the Yankees are one of them.
10:34 p.m. ET: Here’s an interesting one. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Yankees have turned down a trade that would have sent outfielder Brett Gardner to the Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips.
It sounds like a pretty good match on paper, as the Yankees have a surplus of outfielders and Phillips would help fill the void at second base now that Robinson Cano has agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners. Meanwhile, Gardner would give the Reds a quality option to take over the leadoff spot (and potentially center field) with Shin-Soo Choo expected to sign elsewhere. However, the Yankees passed on the opportunity.
It’s worth wondering whether Phillips’ contract had something to do with the Yankees passing here, as he’s owed $50 million over the next four seasons and is already 32 years old. There isn’t much out there among free agent second basemen beyond Omar Infante, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them revisit the possibility later on.
Phillips amassed 18 homers and a career-high 103 RBI this past season, but he posted a mediocre .703 OPS in the process. Gardner, a popular trade target at this year’s Winter Meetings, batted .273/.344/.416 with eight homers and 24 stolen bases over 145 games this past season. He can become a free agent next winter.
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.