MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that the Nationals have acquired infielder Brandon Laird, brother of Braves catcher Gerald, from the Royals. It is not yet known what or who the Nationals sent to the Royals in return.
Laird, 26, was taken in the 27th round of the 2007 draft by the Yankees. In September 2012, the Astros acquired him off of waivers. Last November, Laird signed with the Royals as a free agent. He has a career .626 OPS in 138 plate appearances at the Major League level, splitting his time nearly equally between first and third base.
Laird isn’t anything special in the batting average or on-base departments, but he does have a bit of pop in his bat. In 2010 with the Yankees, he slugged 22 home runs with Double-A Trenton at the age of 22 and he has hit 16, 15, and 16 homers in the three seasons since at the Triple-A level.
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: