Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates are “likely” to non-tender or trade second baseman Neil Walker this offseason. Walker will be entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $8 million in 2015.
Walker has played in 138 games but has been bothered by lower back issues. He has a .270/.332/.426 triple-slash line which, when adjusted for league and park factors, is a step down from his output the previous three seasons. In 558 plate appearances entering Sunday’s action, Walker has hit 14 home runs, driven in 62 runs, and scored 65 runs.
The Pirates will have a healthy Jung-Ho Kang next season as well as the versatile Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison. From the team’s perspective, it wouldn’t behoove them to spend $8 million on a 30-year-old player at a position at which they do not lack depth.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington is already bracing for blowback from the fans when the club does part ways with Walker. Via Biertempfel:
“I anticipate it will be incredibly negative because he is a hometown guy and because he’s a good player,” Huntington said. “I’ll be accused of being tone deaf. But we’re not going to shy away from controversial decisions that we believe are the right ones for the organization. … That’s the nature of the beast in this industry. It’s a bit more challenging when you lose that type of player who has hometown ties.”
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka suffered a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring when running the bases on Friday against the Mets, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports. The Yankees are hoping he only needs to miss one start. He was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday in Toronto against the Blue Jays, but Ivan Nova will start in his place.
Tanaka took two at-bats during Friday’s start, reaching base on a fielder’s choice after a sacrifice bunt attempt in the second inning and weakly grounding out in the fifth. It’s likely that the injury occurred on the bunt play.
Tanaka, in 23 starts this season, has a 3.38 ERA with a league-leading 0.99 WHIP and a 136/26 K/BB ratio across 149 innings.
Royals DH Kendrys Morales hit three home runs, tripled, and walked in five plate appearances in Sunday’s 10-3 win against the Tigers. He set a team record with 15 total bases. George Brett held the previous Royals record of 14 total bases, achieved during a 16-inning game in 1979.
Morales homered in the third, fourth and eighth innings, becoming the first Kansas City player to go deep three times in a game since Danny Tartabull against Oakland on July 6, 1991.
Morales also walked and scored in the first inning, then hit a triple in the sixth and scored. He’s the sixth player this season to score five runs in a game, joining Yoenis Cespedes, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Travis Shaw, Brett Gardner, and Josh Donaldson. He’s the first Royal to score five runs in a game since Angel Berroa and Joe Randa (six runs) in September 2004.
Morales became the second player with 15 total bases in a game this season. Cespedes accomplished the feat on August 21 versus the Rockies.
Update (6:20 PM EDT): MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart confirms Rosenthal’s report. The Brewers are expected to make the announcement on Monday.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Brewers are expected to name David Stearns as their new general manager. Neither the Astros — Stearns’ current team — nor the Brewers have confirmed yet, Rosenthal notes.
Stearns, a 2007 graduate of Harvard University, is currently serving as the assistant to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. Stearns, 30, served as the director of baseball operations for the Indians in 2011-12 and has previously worked in the baseball operations departments of the Mets and Pirates.
Doug Melvin stepped down as the Brewers’ GM in August.