Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders is headed back to the disabled list. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Saunders has been diagnosed with an oblique injury, which he suffered on a check-swing in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins. Saunders was previously on the disabled list between June 11-27 due to inflammation of the A/C joint in his right shoulder.
Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that it’s a Grade 2 oblique strain. According to manager Lloyd McClendon, “it’s going to be a while” before Saunders can get back on the field. Saunders had been performing well for the Mariners prior to his bout with the injury bug. In 219 plate appearances, he slashed .276/.327/.434 with six home runs and 28 RBI.
In a related move, the Mariners have called up Justin Smoak from Triple-A Tacoma. Smoak went on the disabled list on June 10 with a strained left quad and was optioned to Tacoma on July 4 after having rehabbed for two weeks there. In 19 games at Triple-A, Smoak hit three home runs with an .824 OPS in 74 plate appearances.
Smoak struggled at the big league level, slashing .208/.282/.361 with seven home runs and 28 RBI over 241 plate appearances.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.