UPDATE: Branyan headed back to M's in confusing deal

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UPDATE, 12:03 PM:  Castrovince adds this morning that the Mariners will pick up the rest of Branyan’s nearly $1.2 million in remaining salary.  Yup, the deal just got even more perplexing.

12:18 AM:  Here’s an odd one.

According to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, the Mariners have reacquired first baseman Russell Branyan from the Indians for 23-year-old center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and 21-year-old shortstop Juan Diaz.

Carrera and Diaz are far from top prospects, but Branyan is 34 and clearly at the tail end of his career.  The Mariners had plenty of chances to re-sign him this offseason and never made it happen.  Now 14 games back in the American League West standings, are they really thinking that his bat is going to provide a serious boost?

Branyan was hitting a respectable .263/.328/.491 with 10 home runs for Cleveland, but there are too many holes in Seattle this season.  It just doesn’t make sense to deal young talent.

Known mostly for his speed, Carrera was hitting .268/.339/.318 with zero home runs and nine stolen bases in 64 games this season for Triple-A Tacoma.  Diaz was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven home runs and 41 RBI in 254 at-bats with Single-A High Desert.

The Indians are expected to recall Matt LaPorta from Triple-A Columbus, where he has been mashing to the tune of a 1.061 OPS since his June 7 demotion.  He will start for the rest of the season at first base.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.