Bad news for the Halos: catcher Chris Iannetta needs wrist surgery and will miss 6-8 weeks, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times reports.
Iannetta was injured while catching Jered Weaver in the no-hitter against the Twins on May 2 and didn’t start for three days afterwards. Since returning to the lineup, he’d gone 0-for-7 with a couple of walks, dropping his average from .220 to .197 and his OPS from .764 to .706.
The injury is really poorly timed for the Angels. Hank Conger, who would be the obvious choice to be called up to the majors and start in Iannetta’s place, is on the DL at Triple-A Salt Lake due to a sprained elbow. He was hitting .357/.390/.554 in 56 at-bats before getting hurt.
Until Conger is ready, the Angels will have to get by with Bobby Wilson and either Robinzon Diaz or John Hester behind the plate. Wilson has hit .222/.300/.222 in 27 at-bats as Iannetta’s backup this season. Diaz and Hester are minor league veterans without much in the way of offensive ability.
Meanwhile, Jeff Mathis, maybe the game’s worst hitter in his last couple of years as the Angels’ part-time catcher, has somehow managed to post a 1.050 OPS in his 20 at-bats with the Blue Jays thus far. Mike Scioscia is probably wishing he was still around right now.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.