Not gonna say there is nothing happening on the hot stove again today, but this is literally the most substantial news I’ve seen: Matt Joyce has signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians.
Which, why not? He stands a slim chance of making most contenders’ rosters, but the Indians’ outfield situation is sufficiently slim to where he might make it happen if everything breaks just right.
Joyce had a bad 2018, hitting just .208/.322/.353 in 207 at-bats for the A’s, but he was more than decent the previous two seasons, posting an .866 OPS in 2016 for Pittsburgh and an .808 OPS in Oakland in 2017. He’s a platoon guy with some pop, and if he looks rejuvenated enough this spring he may constitute an improvement over the corner guys the Tribe is currently featuring on their depth chart: Tyler Naquin and some combination of Jake Bauers and Jordan Luplow.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.