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Inside Baseball MLB Notes | Is Ohtani world’s best player?

Jon Heyman



USA Today Sports

Inside Baseball from Jon Heyman brings you news, notes, rumors and more from all 30 MLB teams. For Jon’s needs and targets for MLB’s contending teams, click here.

And now, around the majors…

Arizona Diamondbacks

— They will need to look for a starting pitcher, rivals believe.

— The loss of A.J. Pollock for four-to-eight weeks is a major blow. Pollock is a terrific talent.

— For now, there’s no evidence of any ongoing talks with the D-backs and Pollock, who’s a free agent.

— Steven Souza is back, but he may be a bit excited (and he may need to calm down a bit). He nearly got into a fight with the Dodgers for rough slides not once but twice, and was ejected from another game (leaving Jarrod Dyson, the replacement, to make the last out).

— The D-backs had their first slump of the year, losing seven straight and eight of nine.

— They were praised early for some surprising home run totals. But one scout says he believes the defensively-strong Nick Ahmed is becoming “homer happy.” Launch angle is all the rage, and it’s resulting in more homers and fewer singles around the league. So he’s far from the only one looking for the long ball.

— Paul Goldschmidt isn’t doing his usual stuff yet.

— Jake Lamb began playing rehab games this week.

— Clay Buchholz may get a start soon for the D-backs, perhaps as early as this weekend (h/t Robert Murray).

Atlanta Braves

— Beyond their great play at the big-league level, there’s more great talent to come.

— The Braves are being speculated as a landing spot for the great infielders who will become free agents, especially Josh Donaldson (who was acquired by Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos in a trade for the Jays), but third base prospect Austin Riley recently had a three-homer, eight-RBI game.

— Several GMs were lamenting not making a strong play for Nick Markakis — the current NL hits leader — who was available in a trade this winter.

— Freddie Freeman looks unstoppable. He is one of the game’s most under-rated stars.

— Former Braves scouting director Johnny Almaraz deserves plaudits. He came up with both Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr.

— Despite having an excellent CF in Ender Inciarte, the Braves are one of the teams that looked at Lorenzo Cain before he went back to the Brewers this winter. Others: Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, Mariners.

— Christian Colon, who had the winning hit in the 2015 World Series, was released, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America.

Baltimore Orioles

— The Orioles could be trade central in July, with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton and Brad Brach all free agents to be.

— Britton has begin throwing bullpens, and looks like a prime trade candidate.

— Also free agents are GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter. The pair has outperformed the payroll and expectations most years, but their timing isn’t great and no one expects that both will return together in the same roles (it’s possible one or the other will, but not as a tandem).

— Dylan Bundy followed one of the worst starts by anyone in decades (four home runs before getting an out) by pitching a beautiful game.

— The Orioles were starting to show they aren’t the team they looked like the first six weeks. Though, it would appear to be too late — especially in that division.

— Showalter had reservations about Mychal Givens as a closer, but with Brad Brach’s stuff down a touch, Showalter called upon Givens, who recorded his first save.

— Manny Machado hit his 150th home run.

— Nice story from Dave Sheinin in the Washington Post about an Orioles legend and his interest in finding out if he is related to JFK. My only question would be: Why, if true, wouldn’t he be considered related to Teddy Kennedy, as well?

Boston Red Sox

— David Price was back and pitching well after missing a start due to what was termed “mild” carpal tunnel syndrome. Speculation centered on his play of a game called “Fortnite.” Which caused Chris Cotillo of SB Nation to note that if he was expected to miss 14 days, the Red Sox should have said a “fortnight.” But alas, he missed far fewer than that.

— Chris Sale’s 15-strikeout, no-walk performance stirred recollections of Red Sox greats. Pedro Martinez had four such games and Roger Clemens had 3*. (Clemens may have had help).

— Blake Swihart has asked to be traded through his agent.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs will take a look at acquiring superstar shortstop Manny Machado, sources say.

— Manager Joe Maddon continued to tinker with leadoff options, and there was speculation Kyle Schwarber could be tried there. But, due to that same experiment failing last year, at least one Cubs person was said to be dead-set against that idea. Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora and Ian Happ have done most of the leading off so far.

Ben Zobrist isn’t happy MLB outlawed his back cleats.

— There’s no timetable for Jason Heyward’s return. He suffered a concussion while leaping at the wall on a walk-off home run by ex-Cub Dexter Fowler. Heyward and Fowler basically switched places with the Cardinals and Cubs.

— According to our favorite stat guru, @Christopherkamka, the Cubs had a 5-0 stretch in which they scored 12 total runs followed by an 0-5 stretch in which they scored 14, followed by a 5-0 stretch in which they scored 50. Hard to do.

Chicago White Sox

— Jose Abreu is beloved by the White Sox, and it turns out, he loves them as well. Abreu, in the wake of beginning speculation about him as a trade possibility, told Scott Merkin of he wants to stay long-term.

— The other issue with trade Abreu is there just aren’t many teams clamoring for first basemen. Here last week we speculated the Rockies could make sense since Ian Desmond was off to a slow start, and Desmond could move to a corner OF spot, if they prefer, since the Rockies had early issues there, as well. (The Yankees could be another long-shot possibility depending on Greg Bird’s comeback.)

— The ChiSox continue not to look great from a fundamental standpoint, though the belief is that they will stay with Rick Renteria, at least for now. For the future, one name to keep an eye on could be Joe Girardi, the former Cubs catcher and Peoria. Ill. native. Girardi’s currently working as an analyst at MLB Network, and waiting for another managerial opportunity.

— At one point, the White Sox were 5-23 against teams that are not the Royals.

— Attendance is down 25 percent at Guaranteed Rate Field (though the weather has something to do with that). Expect bigger crowds if Michael Kopech comes up, and he is what he appears to be.

John Sickels of Baseball America took a look at rising OF prospect Micker Adolfo.

Cincinnati Reds

— Credit Joey Votto for apologizing to James Paxton and everyone in Canadian baseball for originally suggesting he didn’t much care about the significance of fellow Canadian Paxton’s no-hitter on Canadian soil. He didn’t have to do that.

Votto also took heat for saying how “disappointed” he was with the Reds start in that podcast with Tim Brown of Yahoo. We think Votto was well within his rights to express public disappointment.

— New manager Jim Riggleman has the Reds playing much better. Somehow, they won six straight. Riggleman surely understands that if he wins (at least by their standards) he could keep the job. But if not, they will find a replacement. Someone up high with the Reds appears to have had unrealistic expectations, which led to Bryan Price’s ouster. In any case, Riggleman’s Reds are doing much better.

— Reds legend Barry Larkin would be a candidate to replace Riggleman, as would ex-Red Sox manager John Farrell, who’s currently a Reds scout. Joe Girardi was quietly interviewed when Reds owner Bob Castellini decided to hire Dusty Baker. But sources suggest the Reds wont again pay like they did with Baker, who made about $3.5 million back then, so it’s hard to see Girardi, who made $4 million as Yankees manager, being a fit. Girardi did impress Reds people in his interview with them back then, however.

— One person familiar with the Reds organization says he thinks Reds higher-ups went “three-for-three” by tabbing Riggleman along with new coaches Danny Darwin and Pat Kelly.

— One person says Darwin might have unlocked something good in Luis Castillo, because he looks much better the past couple of starts.

— A rival scout observed that the team is running more, squeezing occasionally and generally “doing more things.” That scout predicts that, going forward, the Reds “are going to be pesky.”

— Riggleman also caught Mets manager Mickey Callaway in a lineup card gaffe.

— Scooter Gennett looks like one of the better pickups ever. They basically got him off the scrap heap, as the Brewers were ready to cut bait; it cost the Reds only the $20K waiver fee. Gennett looked like a trade candidate for this July, but from here he looks too valuable. Plus, Nick Senzel, who was switched to second base after the Reds gave Eugenio Suarez a $66 million, seven-year deal, is currently in the process of coming back from vertigo.

— Gennett said on MLB Network about his move to his hometown Reds (he’s from Lebanon, Ohio): “It’s been a dream come true, man.” 

— Billy Hamilton had the best ever time on a triple (10.83), beating Dee Gordon by .06 seconds, according to MLB Network.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians

 — The Indians’ pressing needs are the bullpen and the outfield. But could they shake things up and become a player for Manny Machado, or even Josh Donaldson (if he becomes available)?

— Even Andrew Miller didn’t look so great immediately off the DL, as he got roughed up in two of his first three games back. Being the sort he is, he skipped rehab games and rushed back seeing the need. The bread-and-butter slider was said to be off. One scout just said he looked “out of whack.”

— Mike Napoli had his ACL surgery and wasn’t giving up the idea of continuing his career. He is rehabbing in Columbus, site of their Triple-A team.

— Danny Salazar could be lost for the year, but Trevor Bauer’s big step forward means they have a front four as good as just about anyone’s.

— Francisco Lindor shared Payer of the Week honors with a pitcher who threw a no-hitter, which isn’t easy to do. Lindor did this by posting a 2.052 OPS or the week. That isn’t easy to do either.

Colorado Rockies

— It’s curious why the Rockies didn’t show even a scintilla of interest in bringing back Mark Reynolds, who hit two home runs in his Nats debut. Several Rockies players were said to have been in favor of a Reynolds signing, and he was begging to return. The Rockies instead started the year with rookie Ryan McMahon on the roster, but even after he was sent down, there were chances to show interest in Reynolds, who had a May 12 opt-out (though he wound up being called up that day by the Nats).

— Some do believe McMahon should get a better chance, and the same goes for young outfielder David Dahl.

— In any case, they need more offense. This is certainly a different Rockies team indeed, one that isn’t playing all that well on the road, and whose issue is the offense.

Detroit Tigers

Auburn right-hander Casey Mize has “separated himself” as the expected No. 1 pick – held by the Tigers — in next month’s first-year player draft. And one scout takes it a step further: “If they don’t take (Mize), they should be fired.”

— The Tigers are probably shocking folks being only two games out of first. Some of that is the division. But credit goes to manager Ron Gardenhire and the kids; they are certainly hanging in there better than anyone figured they would.

— Matt Manning’s velo is coming back.

— Wrist surgery is an option for Jeimer Candelario, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit Free Press. Candelario has looked good both ways.

Beau Burrows is improving, writes Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.

— Longtime reliever James Russell was released by the Tigers, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reported.

Houston Astros

— Charlie Morton has been dominant. He looks like an interesting free agent case. Here was our look at the top free agents a few weeks ago.

— The Astros staff is so deadly one rival suggestion this nickname for their rotation: “Arm-ageddon.”

— Congrats to Justin Verlander on his 2,500th strikeout. His Hall of Fame case has been clear from almost the moment he got to Houston, and probably before that.

— One scout wondered aloud whether Derek Fisher is ready, suggesting breaking balls remain an issue.

— Speedy Jake Marisnick was sent down, as they hope he regains his batting form from a year ago.

Kansas City Royals

— Mike Moustakas looks like a great candidate for a trade and a better candidate for free agency the second time around after his monster start. Of course, Moustakas can’t get the qualifying offer again that hurt him so much last time around. But the main thing is that he’s responded to his disappointing free agency outcome by getting off a terrific start. He is also winning praise for having a terrific attitude.

— With Alex Colome struggling, and several teams needing a closer, the value of Kelvin Herrera as a trade candidate looks like it will be huge.

Los Angeles Angels

— Some believe Shohei Ohtani is the best player in the world, and a case certainly can be made for that. The two main candidates would be him and Mike Trout, which is pretty cool for the Angels.

— Logan Morrison actually came out and said Ohtani “probably” is best, and at the moment, it’s hard to argue too strongly that he isn’t.

— Ohtani, incidentally, was 7-for-7 with runners in scoring position and two outs, via Angels broadcaster Jose Mota.

— Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, providing a hat tip to a reader, noted that Ohtani has distinguished himself from the others by being the one ballplayer who spits his sunflower seats into a cup rather than onto the turf. (This anecdote wins big points from me, who recalls when my mother accompanied me to Belmont Park, where I misspent my youth, and when her horse lost, she deposited her losing $2 ticket into a track garbage can rather than toss it to the ground like the degenerates at the track, myself included).

— While their starting pitchers were doing OK, the strong belief is that the Angels will need to add a starter at the deadline.

— Andrelton Simmons is on a roll. His OPS+ is up a fifth straight year. This is another great time for shortstops.

— Garrett Richards bounced back from his horrible start against the Yankees and appears back on track … Richards’ spin rate was the best in the game.

— Matt Shoemaker (forearm) has been shut down indefinitely.

— Albert Pujols wasn’t slowing down at 3K. He was on a seven-game hitting streak.

— Justin Upton was on a homer tear. He tends to do that sort of thing.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers president Andrew Friedman expressed faith in manager Dave Roberts following a start no one could have figured they could possibly have.

— Matt Kemp has rekindled his past glory after losing 41 pounds and getting serious about turning his career around.

— The Dodgers are hitting new lows, by the week, it seems.

— They’ve gotten less than expected from their six biggest stars. Some due to injury, other to performance (though some might suggest it’s regression to the norm). Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been his best and now he’s on the DL, Kenley Jansen hasn’t been overpowering, Chris Taylor isn’t matching what he did last year, Cody Bellinger isn’t matching it either, Corey Seager is out for the year and Justin Turner just got back.

— Some might suggest it’s just in time (sorry for that pun). Others might suggest it maybe to late.

— Kershaw (forearm) has begun tossing the ball but they haven’t said when he will be on a mound again yet.

— The Dodgers lost series to the Marlins and Reds, the only two teams with worse records than them in the NL, observed Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. They are 1-8 against those two teams and are currently on a 100-loss pace — the Padres have even passed them in the standings.

— The call-up of ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte was a nice curiosity. “He’s two pitchers in one,” observed Dave Roberts, who could use extra pitchers.

— Bellinger bunted into an out on 3-and-0. He is an exceptional talent with a bat, arm and speed perhaps only surpassed by Shohei Ohtani, but in this case he shows his youth. Asked about that bunt, manager Dave Roberts suggested asking Cody.

— The personable Roberts actually has been quite quotable during their rough start. Said he: “We’re playing against the Cincinnati Reds. And we’ve got to find a way to win a game.”

— Causing Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times to note: “Desperate times indeed.”

— Turner (and Logan Forsythe) returned Tuesday.

— Walker Buehler has an “electric arm.” But one scout says he still sees him as “a thrower, not a pitcher,” and actually believes he needs more seasoning.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins

— Brad Ziegler saved his 100th game, doing it at age 38, the same as Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm (Ziegler was actually a few months older).

— Ziegler noted that he noticed teammate Martin Prado pouring pine tar on him in the celebration, then noted that Prado was closing in on 100 home runs. Seems like Prado made a strategic error.

— The Marlins continue to play a spunky brand of baseball, outperforming expectations under Don Mattingly.

Milwaukee Brewers

— Jeremy Jeffress’s development of a split-finger changeup has turned him into a great set-up man, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Jeffress’s new contract was one of the most controversial in baseball (the union hated it), but agent Josh Kusnick wanted to make sure Jeffress was comfortable (it’s in Milwaukee, where he’s been most comfortable).

— Freddy Peralta’s 13 whiffs in his debut was huge for the Brewers, who look like they will need a starter. Peralta was the first pitcher to whiff double-digits in his debut since Matt Harvey whiffed 11 in 2012.

— Ninety of his 98 pitches were fastballs, noted Mike Petriello of

— Chase Anderson is on the DL and Wade Miley had to go back on the DL after one inning. Brewers starters are actually doing OK, but there’s a clear shortage (at least from here).

— Kyle Lohse, who is recalled for pitching successfully after signing late with the Brewers one spring (and winning two arbitration cases), appears to be retiring. Lohse announced his intention at an Omaha Storm Chasers game, noted Rustin Dodd of The Athletic.

Minnesota Twins

Brian Dozier is a rare huge power source as a second baseman, and should do well as a free agent.

— Ervin Santana is said to be “progressing.” However, the finger injury has proved to be much more debilitating than first believed. It’s not because Santana isn’t tough, either, as he’s one of those pitchers who’s pitched through a UCL issue for years.

— Wander Javier, one of several top shortstop prospects, is out for the year.

— Meanwhile, Royce Lewis, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, is off to a huge start.

— Could the Twins seek catching help after losing Jason Castro for the year? They haven’t been getting much production at that position.

— Nice story here from Mike Berardino about Twins reliever Addison Reed reuniting with Angels longtime clubhouse guy Brian “Bubba” Harkins. Reed is one of hundreds who have worked as a batboy in Harkins’ few decades in that job, but as far as Harkins knows, the only one to play professionally, much less make it to the majors. Side note: Harkins is a terrific guy I know from covering the Angels in the late ‘80s.

Lance Lynn is understandably jaded about free agency, writes Benjamin Hochman. 

New York Mets

— Some Mets people believe that Matt Harvey still has it in him, and that he’ll be better away from New York – and away from social media, the media, Page Six, supermodels and clubs. That’s the opinion here, as well, as we wrote last week.

— Meanwhile, Devin Mesoraco reached base five times in his first home game as a Met, and has been a nice upgrade in Kevin Plawecki’s absence.

— The trade of Harvey for Mesoraco may be seen as a flyer, but it is a worthwhile one for both teams. While Mesoraco was off to a nice start however, the jury’s still out on how he’ll handle the Mets’ vaunted rotation.

— GM Sandy Alderson also is said to still have faith in the unproven Kevin Plawecki. Before Kevin Long left for the Nats, the Mets thought Long had “unlocked” something in Plawecki. So he will be given a chance before the Mets really dive into the catching market.

— While J.T. Realmuto is the optimal catching target, and Wilson Ramos and Jonathan Lucroy are other logical targets, one Mets person pointed out that maybe the best way to go is to get a left-handed-hitting catcher since both Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud (and Mesoraco for that matter) are right-handed.

— The Mets say they only removed Jacob deGrom after one inning (and 45 pitches) as a precaution. But if they really wanted to be cautious, perhaps he should have stayed out longer after hyperextending his elbow while batting.

— Yoenis Cespedes, despite myriad injuries, was the only Met play every game. The team sees him as invaluable but finally put him on the DL with a hip flexor, but there’s hope he’ll be ready to play May 24 when he’s eligible to come off (it was backdated until May 14).

— “I’m Keith Hernandez,” is atop the Amazon best-seller list for sports biographies, Keith noted.

Is Hernandez the most interesting man in baseball, wonders James Wagner of the New York Times.

The New York Times checked in with ballyhooed minor league Tim Tebow recently.

— Congrats to new fathers David Wright and Jay Bruce.

— It’s “almost as if Jose Reyes is begging to be DFA’ed,” writes Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. While Reyes lost his biggest backer (Terry Collins), he is thought to have fans in Jeff Wilpon and (to a somewhat lesser degree) Alderson.

— Mickey Callaway was taking heat for his lineup card snafu. But the reality is that almost all the rookie managers who were neophytes have had their moments, and that sort of mistake happens almost once a year.

New York Yankees

There was a good story on Aroldis Chapman on Bleacher Report by Danny Knobler.

— Proof that the Yankees are stacked: Brandon Drury was sent to the minors.

— Sonny Gray’s two straight very good starts were interrupted by an off one vs. his old team, the A’s. Afterward, folks wondered about his need for personal catcher Austin Romine. He’s done so well with Romine, from here it seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

— Neil Walker survived a rough start, and has contributed big hits lately.

— Didi Gregorius went into an 0-for-29 slump, though fortunately the Yankees weren’t slowing down.

— They had won seven straight series.

— The Yankees lineup could get much better once Greg Bird returns, assuming he can stay healthy. “He’s their best hitter,” one scout proclaims in a surprising statement.

— Justus Sheffield left a recent start with shoulder stiffness.

— Since 2018, Giancarlo Stanton has hit 12 balls of 117 mph or harder, and Aaron Judge seven. The rest of MLB has 10, according to Katie Sharp.

The Yankees are sending condolence flowers and cards to folks who have suffered losses, and David Waldstein writes why in a nice story in the New York Times.

Oakland A’s

— The A’s made an offer to Khris Davis in an effort to avoid arbitration next year, his last before he becomes a free agent, but Davis declined it. Davis beat the A’s in arbitration a year ago, and it’s always best to try to avoid arbitration if possible. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chroncle has reported that Davis wants to stay in Oakland long-term.

— Jed Lowrie is an excellent trade candidate should the A’s decide to go that route. He’s batted in just about every spot in lineup, but it would surprise some (all?) to note that the most common spot for him to bat is third in the order (followed by second).

Dustin Fowler is up, inspiring Slusser to write that the A’s may turn on a running game. They have been known for eschewing a running game and relying on homers.

Philadelphia Phillies

— This rumor could be going around because Gabe Kapler is unpopular among scouts around the game, but word is that bench coach Rob Thomson has gained influence after a few early mistakes by Kapler. Thomson is well-respected around the league and has long experience as Joe Girardi’s right-hand man with the Yankees, and he should be a managing candidate somewhere, but in this day and age where more famous guys with bigger playing pedigrees seem to be favored, he has yet to have that opportunity. Anyway, one rival scout said he heard this: “Thomson literally has taken over game decisions. He just tells Kapler what to do and he does it – like a puppet.” (FWIW, we think that has to be an exaggeration, at the very least.)

— Odubel Herrera was right, of course, that he should have started Opening Day. And now he is proving it. Credit to him for playing like this rather than sulking. He reached base in 42 straight games; as Brian Kenny points out, that’s halfway to the all-time record held by Ted Williams of 84. (He’s into reaching base rather than hitting.).

Aaron Nola is worthy of the All-Star team. Bob Brookover of the Philly Inquirer writes about the star.

— Jake Arrieta supported closer Hector Neris after Neris blew a lead of his. Now that’s a great teammate. We are under no obligation to offer the same support. The Phillies might need a closer, as was mentioned in this space last week. Kelvin Herrera might be the top trade candidate among closers.

— It’s way early, but Arrieta’s own bet on himself looked very good so far. The man is a competitor.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates

— The Pirates are getting big-time production out of their outfield, as they continue to confound the experts.

— There are people in MLB secretly rooting for the Pirates, since the union cited them as one of four teams that broke rules by not spending their revenue sharing monies. Things are tense between the union and the league headquarters at the moment – the result of how teams behaved this winter, when more than a few sat out the bidding for free agents.

St. Louis Cardinals

— Bud Norris is a surprise closer for the second straight year. The role seems to suit him.

— Greg Holland’s slow start isn’t a surprise to one scout. “So many moving parts … he needs spring training,” the scout said.

— The plate appearance by Adam Duvall against new Cardinal Miles Mikolas drew notice for its improbable outcome. Duvall, who rarely walks, drew a walk from Mikolas, who almost never walks anyone. Generally, Mikolas has been fantastic.

— Tommy Pham bet on himself by turning down the team’s two-year offer. It looks like that will pay off for him.

San Diego Padres

— Once Wil Myers returns, the Padres would seem to have an outfield logjam. Which could set themselves up for a trade or two.

— Tyson Ross continues to look good in his comeback. He looks like a potential trade candidate.

— Very nice ceremony for the 1998 NL champion team, with tributes to the late Tony Gwynn and Kevin Towers.

— The Padres DFA’ed Chase Headley, who was the price they had to pay for getting Bryan Mitchell. Looks like a steep price at this point.

— Mackenzie Gore (blisters) is back on the mound. Scouts say he is a future ace.

The Padres are heavily scouting Mexico, as Dennis Lin of The Athletic writes.

— As commissioner Rob Manfred alluded to, Mexico could be a target for spot for expansion. Even behind the scenes that kind of talk is heard a lot.

— Jered Weaver received a compliment. He is said to have been a very rare very veteran pitcher who took the news that he was being cut well. His response? “You’re right. I’ve got nothing left.”

San Francisco Giants

— Madison Bumgarner is reported to look terrific on rehab, via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic.

— Johnny Cueto, however, was switched to the 60-day DL.

— Hunter Pence is picking up where he left off last year, which isn’t a good thing. He remains on the DL, but the bigger issue is the .172/.197/.190 slash line.

— The Giants struck out 69 times over a five-game stretch.

— Enough with the all the MadBum trade speculation. As Mark DeRosa said on MLB Central on MLB Network, the Giants are in it to win it.     

Seattle Mariners

— The loss of Robinson Cano to a suspension is a major blow, of course.

— The Mariners are preparing to move Dee Gordon back to second base, which wouldn’t make him unhappy. Gordon did his best at CF (and he was OK, though the metrics are below average) but he’s a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman who loved the position. He’s saying he’s happy to do whatever he can for the team, but the belief is that he’s probably thrilled. Word is, Gordon could be back at second by the weekend.

— The Mariners will have $11.7 million more to spend (Cano’s lost salary), and GM Jerry Dipoto will undoubtedly think of ways to spend the money. They could use help in the rotation. The offense was among the best in the game, but the loss of Cano obviously diminishes it.

— The Mariners were applauded here for “going for it” the past few years while having that great veteran nucleus (Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, etc.) but they’ve taken a few chances by trading young pitchers to fill holes. The deal to trade Freddy Peralta (13 strikeouts in his Brewers debut) for Adam Lind looks regrettable at the moment. Also traded were Luiz Gohara for Shae Simmons and others (to the Braves) and Enyel de los Santos for Joaquin Benoit (to the Padres); Gohara is considered a top prospect and de los Santos is doing well at Triple-A for the Phillies, who got him in a trade for Freddy Galvis.

James Paxton’s no-hitter stirred Canadian pride, Tyler Kepner writes.

Tampa Bay Rays

Evan Longoria wondered in an interview with Marc Topkin whether Rays baseball was viable in Tampa Bay. Folks around the league believe Rays owner Stuart Sternberg would buy the Mets if he could (they aren’t for sale) but aren’t sure about their endgame here. It’s hard to imagine the great selloff aids their chances to win a new stadium in Tampa, and some believe Sternberg would consider a move to Montreal or New York if he’s allowed by MLB (a big if). Folks around the team have noted for years that while he’s at Rays games in New York, he isn’t often in Tampa, which is another reason he’s had trouble getting a stadium built there.

— Brendan McKay, who was drafted as a two-way player out of Louisville, dominated as a pitcher at Class-A, earning his promotion to Double-A. Many saw him as a hitter (though some did see him as a pitcher), but his hitting stats were only OK (.254/.484/.333) (yes, he walks a lot).

— Anthony Banda, who came for Steve Souza, is up now, he is well regarded.

— Chaz Roe is the great nephew of Bill Mazeroski, via Rich Dubroff, longtime Orioles writer.

Texas Rangers

— Cole Hamels is throwing the best of the prime trade candidates among the starters, and he might be the best of the group. One thing regarding Hamels though: Since his salary is rather high ($24 million, though Philly is paying some of it), the teams over the threshold (Boston, Washington) and/or close (San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs) may be less likely landing spots.

— Adrian Beltre’s injury is seen as pretty “severe,” so he could miss a few weeks. As he’s gotten older, he’s maintained his performance, but he’s lost a fair amount of time to injuries.

— Nomar Mazara is starting to show his potential. He had seven homers in a nine-game span.

— Brandon Mann, 33, was finally called up to the big leagues. “It means everything.”

Toronto Blue Jays

Josh Donaldson could be a major wild card on the trade block this summer.

James Paxton’s no-hitter stirred Canadian pride, Tyler Kepner writes. Paxton was said to have been happy to do it on Canadian soil, and also to do it against the Jays, who declined to meet his $1.4 million request as a late-first-round draftee, causing him to go back to the University of Kentucky for his senior season.

— The Royals had shown some interest in Kendrys Morales awhile back, but he’s struggling so badly now that a trade is out of the question (the Royals also likely aren’t looking to buy).

— Curtis Granderson was a nice buy for $5 million.

— Kevin Pillar should be a Gold Glove candidate yet again (he has yet to win).

— The Jays did well with their smaller signings, as Tyler Clippard is having one of his better seasons.

— Marcus Stroman is on the DL as a precaution, though he clearly wasn’t himself in the early going. If the Jays’ rotation was even average, they might be threatening the Yankees and Red Sox.

— The Blue Jays lost their first 12 games in Flushing, Queens before beating the Mets Wednesday.

Washington Nationals

— While the Nats talked about a deal for Jake Arrieta similar to the one he ultimately signed with the Phillies, sources agree with Scott Boras’ contention last week that no official offer was made. Word from sources is that while GM Mike Rizzo was enthusiastic about a possible Arrieta signing, the team’s owner, Ted Lerner, and/or the ownership board ultimately decided against adding a pitcher at $25 million a year. The Nats are one of two teams over the luxury-tax threshold, though they are only a couple million dollars over as things stand now. An Arrieta signing would have put them $26 million over, which is Red Sox territory. Of course, it would have given them one heckuva playoff rotation.

— Max Scherzer looked like the East Coast/NL version of Shohei Ohtani. In addition to his pitching exploits (he is the NL Cy Young favorite; it’d be his third straight award), he was 7-for-24 at bat.

— Scherzer is one of the great free agent signings ever.

— The Nationals finally admitted Ryan Zimmerman wasn’t himself, putting him on the DL with a leg injury.

— Mark Reynolds looked like a great pickup with a two-homer Nets debut.

— Daniel Murphy is making progress. He is now running fine; pivoting and turning are the remaining issues.

— Adam Eaton had ankle surgery, and his frustrations continue since he came to the Nats in that big deal.

Sean Doolittle has simply been fantastic, so fantastic that Mike Petriello wonders whether he’s the best reliever in baseball.

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

scores by the Score


  1. Phillyfanatic

    May 19, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Odubel Herrera is into getting on base and not hitting? He’s leading the National League in hitting at nearly .360. And the Phils don’t need a closer. Have you seen Seranthony Dominguez? That’s Sir Anthony to you!

  2. B-rent

    May 20, 2018 at 6:28 am

    Terrible story on Joey Votto…he deserves zero credit for apologizing

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