The Mets have signed right-hander A.J. Griffin on a minor league deal with a major league camp invite.
Griffin, a one-time 14-game winner for the A’s before ligament and shoulder injuries derailed his career, has spent the past two seasons in Texas, where he has compiled a 5.41 ERA and a record of 13-10 in 41 games. An extreme fly ball pitcher, Griffin has been at or near the top of the home run and hit rate charts over the course of his career, which is never where you want to be.
Not that the Mets need him to be an ace. Indeed, Griffin will most likely serve as organizational depth and injury insurance, so look for him to begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas if he accepts a minor league assignment after camp. Which, given how hitter-friendly Las Vegas is and given how homer prone Griffin is, should be pretty dang special, but I suppose it beats digging ditches.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.