The Oakland Athletics just announced that they have traded infielder Mark Ellis to the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Bruce Billings and a player to be named later (the latter of whom seems to get traded A LOT!).
Ellis has been a fixture at second base for the A’s since 2002, but he has fallen off a cliff this year. Following his hamstring injury earlier this month he lost his job to Jemile Weeks, making him expendable. Ellis has played some first base since being activated from the DL, but will likely be used primarily at second base for the Rockies, who have had a heck of a time trying to find any kind of consistent production at the keystone.
Billings has pitched only one game in the majors. He’s 6-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 29 relief appearances at Colorado Springs this year. He strikes out batters at a pretty decent clip, but walks his share too. A pretty common story for a minor league reliever.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.