Marco Estrada has served up an MLB-high 23 homers in 14 starts for the Brewers this season, putting him on pace to break the all-time record of 50 homers allowed by Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven.
And yet manager Ron Roenicke gave him a vote of confidence yesterday, telling Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he hasn’t talked to general manager Doug Melvin about replacing Estrada in the rotation despite the presence of top prospect Jimmy Nelson at Triple-A.
Nelson has been dominant in the minors, posting a 1.51 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 78 innings, but Roenicke noted that Estrada’s next turn in the rotation comes up at Coors Field against the Rockies and that’s not necessarily a good spot to insert a young pitcher just promoted from Triple-A.
Still, between Estrada’s long-ball struggles and Nelson’s mid-90s-throwing upside the first-place Brewers appear very close to making a rotation switch.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.