MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FOURTH OF JULY NEWS AND NOTES

Max Muncy’s home run ratio is up there with some of the greats of Major League Baseball after his latest display for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers continue to rake. And rake. And rake. On Tuesday night, Los Angeles slugged six home runs — including two by second baseman Max Muncy — during an 8-3 win over the Pirates in front of 48,819 at Dodger Stadium.

Cut 4

It’s that time again — the United States is another year older (242!) and we all celebrate another Fourth of July. That, of course, means baseball is ready to celebrate the red, white and blue with everything from special themed jerseys and caps tofireworks displays. By Cut 4

The D-backs may be homing in on Manny Machado. According to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, trade conversations about Machado between Arizona and Baltimore have been “consistent,” and the Braves have shown interest but are more focused on controllable relievers. The D-backs and Indians might be the most motivated suitors in Machado talks, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal notes. By Deesha Thosar

Though there’s still four weeks until the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline, trade talks surrounding Manny Machado have “accelerated” in recent days, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). The Orioles, according to Rosenthal, would prefer to move Machado “sooner rather than later,” as they can extract more in a trade if the acquiring team controls Machado for three months as opposed to two months.

To this point in the summer, the teams most connected to Machado have been the Dodgers, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Indians. The Brewers and Cubs have been more loosely tied to Machado on the rumor mill, though Rosenthal reports that while Milwaukee is doing its due diligence, the team is unlikely to meet Baltimore’s asking price.

That, it seems, could be true of the Phillies as well. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reportsthat the Phillies should be considered “longshots” in the Machado trade sweepstakes. Zolecki writes that while the Phillies “love” Machado and plan to make a serious run at him in the offseason, the team doesn’t feel itself to be one piece away from a World Series. That, of course, makes it considerably more difficult to meet what is likely a rather lofty asking price from the O’s.

Rosenthal suggests that the D-backs and Indians could be the “most motivated” teams in the Machado market, and Zolecki, too, specifically lists the D-backs as a club likelier to acquire Machado than the Phillies.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, meanwhile, tweets that the Dodgers continue to “aggressively” pursue Machado, adding that the Orioles have been scouting L.A.’s system heavily and are particularly interested in Class-A Advanced right-hander Dustin May. There’d obviously be more at play than a mere one-for-one swap, but May, a third-round pick in 2016, is generally considered to be among the Dodgers’ more promising young arms. He’s off to a strong start in 2018 as well, having pitched to a 3.18 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 54.1 percent ground-ball rate through 65 innings (12 starts).

Of course, there could still be other organizations involved in discussions. Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets that eight teams have had at least some engagement with the O’s regarding Machado within the past ten days. That would suggest that there are at least a few mystery teams hanging around the periphery of talks. By Steve Adams

As we enter July, the pivot month for Major League Baseball, the month in which everyone decides once and for all whether they are buyers or sellers, we could see some of the biggest names in the sport changing teams. Manny MachadoCole HamelsMike MoustakasAdrian BeltreJosh Donaldson and maybe even Jacob deGrom — it could be spectacular.

But then again: This is an annual rite. Looking back throughout history, we’re always quivering with anticipation this time of year. Some non-waiver Trade Deadlines have been snoozers; some have turned out to be more electric than any of us could have imagined. By Will Leitch

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Chris Young is the latest Halos player to turn up with an injury issue. Mike Scioscia told reporters including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Young, 34, has struggled out of the gates, posting a .168/.252/.363 batting line in 128 plate appearances.

The Angels activated two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani from the 10-day disabled list Tuesday and used him as the designated hitter in their game against the Mariners. Ohtani and his injured right elbow are only cleared to hit for now, but Los Angeles said he will be re-evaluated as a pitcher in three weeks.

Ohtani received stem cell therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection to help heal the Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament suffered more than three weeks ago. Ohtani was cleared for a hitting program Friday and took part in two simulated games against minor league pitchers over the weekend.

“We’re going to see how many looks we can give him as a (designated hitter) and hopefully he’ll give us a lift there,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

The outlook is a bit concerning for Texas Rangers righty Tony Barnette. He’ll be looked over today but is already believed to be dealing with a potentially worrisome shoulder strain, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Seattle Mariners prospect Sam Carlson is going to be out for quite some time after undergoing Tommy John surgery, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. GM Jerry Dipoto explains that the organization made every effort to keep the 2017 second-rounder off of the surgeon’s table. Ultimately, though, there was no alternative to a full replacement of his ulnar collateral ligament. As Dipoto notes, the youngster will still only be twenty years of age when he’s nearing a return, though it’s certainly possible he won’t see competitive action until the 2020 campaign.

While the Mariners’ new commitment to Wade LeBlanc will surely have some impact on the team’s near-future rotation planning, Dipoto also says the just-announced extension won’t constrict the organization at the deadline, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. Though Dipoto says he’s rather bullish on LeBlanc’s ability to remain a quality rotation piece, he also says that the club will still consider additions to bolster its starting staff. At the same time, he didn’t sound like he feels compelled to add an arm. “I think if there is an opportunity for us to expand or augment our pitching group, wherever that is, then we’re going to be attentive to that,” says Dipoto. “If there is the ability to go out and find a guy who we feel like either takes some of the inning stress off our starters in the second half or can give us that late punch at the back end of our bullpen, then we’ll go that route. And if that opportunity doesn’t present itself, we probably won’t chase it.”

Philadelphia Phillies GM Matt Klentak discussed his approach to the coming trade deadline with reporters including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. He emphasized a need “to understand how we got here and why we got here, and it’s because of our young players developing not only in the minor leagues, but at the major league level.” At the same time, he said he’ll be looking to “upgrade the team in the short term or long term via trade.” The Phils’ baseball ops point man indicated that he will indeed be willing to pursue pure rental options, though the organization will also need to “make sure that whatever trades we’re contemplating are appropriately balancing now with the future.”

It’s still unknown just how aggressive the Phillies will be in their first season of contention under the current front office regime. The club is one of the most interesting buy-side organizations to watch. Jon Heyman of Fancred dangles one intriguing possibility, tweeting that he’s “hearing some chatter” regarding the possible pursuit of Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. That said, Heyman also notes that he’s “unsure how serious the chatter is.” The long-time Philadelphia hurler is a clear trade candidate, though his big remaining guarantee, 2019 option, and 20-team no-trade protection figure to complicate things from the Rangers’ perspective. And it’s fair to wonder if the Phillies would set their sights on a more significant addition if they try to add to their rotation. By Jeff Todd

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *