Pittsburgh made a pair of minor trades, acquiring right-hander Zach Stewart from the Red Sox for a player to be named later and getting right-hander Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson from the Royals for minor leaguer pitchers Luis Santos and Luis Rico.
Boston got Stewart from Chicago in the Kevin Youkilis trade, but designated him for assignment last week. He has a 6.82 ERA in 103 career innings, but Stewart has a decent track record in the minors and could emerge as a useful back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.
Mazzaro is a similar story in that the Royals got him from the A’s for David DeJesus and then designated him for assignment following a 6.72 ERA in 72 innings. He doesn’t have much upside, but gives the Pirates some more pitching depth.
As a 27-year-old first baseman Robinson was never going to get a chance in Kansas City behind Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer, but he’s consistently crushed minor-league pitching and offers 20-homer power with good strike zone control. Robinson hit .309 with a .396 on-base percentage and .493 slugging percentage in two seasons at Triple-A, so it’s nice to see the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder go somewhere he might actually get an opportunity.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: