Another big shakeup in Cleveland’s infield, as the Indians have demoted starting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to Triple-A on the heels of doing the same with starting shortstop Jose Ramirez.
Chisenhall had a big first half last season, hitting .332 with a .915 OPS in 79 games to make a lot of people think the former top prospect was finally living up to his potential at age 25. But then he fell apart in the second half, hitting .218, and Chisenhall was even worse to begin this season with a .207 batting average and .585 OPS in 52 games.
Chisenhall is still young enough to get on track with the Indians, but he’s now a career .253 hitter with a .708 OPS in 397 games as a big leaguer and his inability to control the strike zone stands out as holding him back.
Mike Aviles is expected to serve as the Indians’ primary shortstop, leaving call-ups Zach Walters and Giovanny Urshela to split time at third base. And stud prospect Francisco Lindor will continue biding his time playing shortstop at Triple-A.
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.