Yoenis Cespedes could rejoin the Athletics next week

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Yoenis Cespedes wasn’t ready to return from the disabled list when he was first eligible on Tuesday, but he could rejoin the Athletics’ lineup next week.

According to Jane Lee of MLB.com, Cespedes took 28 swings in the batting cage today without pain and is scheduled to take full batting practice tomorrow. He hopes to return as soon as Monday against the Twins, but Athletics manager Bob Melvin mentioned that he’ll likely require a minor league assignment. If that’s the case, it’s more realistic that we’ll see him at some point next weekend against the Royals.

Cespedes has been sidelined since May 6 due to a muscle strain in his left hand. We learned earlier this week that he plans to change the way he grips the bat in order to avoid aggravating the injury.

Cespedes, who signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the A’s in February, is hitting .245/.319/.434 with five homers, 21 RBI, four stolen bases and .753 OPS over his first 119 plate appearances in the big leagues. While the Cuban outfielder is still a pretty raw talent, he should provide quite a boost to an Oakland offense which enters play tonight ranked 28th in the majors in runs scored, 29th in OPS and dead-last in slugging percentage.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.