You may recall that, earlier this season, much was made of the Rays’ decision to begin some games with a reliever — not a starter — on the mound. Back in May, when we wrote about it, Sergio Romo started two of three games against the Orioles and Ryne Stanek started the other.
Though the strategy hasn’t gained widespread acceptance yet, the Rays have had a bit of success with it, entering Wednesday’s action with a 57-56 record. They’re 9.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, but it’s a gap that can feasibly be made up.
The Twins have noticed and are experimenting with the “opener” strategy at Double-A and Triple-A, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. Manager Paul Molitor said, “This thing has a chance to pick up legs across the game. You can’t argue with Tampa’s success. That’s for sure.” Molitor also said he has talked with the Twins’ front office about using the “opener” strategy in the big leagues this year. He said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if we did it.” In response to a question from a reader, Bollinger suggested the Twins could try the strategy with Trevor May in September.
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.