Are you itching for some MLB news (and even some rumors!)? Because we have a lot for you …
- Starting with the rumors (rumors?! whaaaaa? But it’s September!). Well this isn’t so much of a “right now” rumor, as it is a recent-past (and possibly soon-to-be) rumor. According to Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), the Milwaukee Brewers nearly sent Ryan Braun to the Dodgers at the recent (August 31st) waiver trade deadline for a package headlined by Yasiel Puig, before the two sides ran out of time. In fact, the deal didn’t end there. In addition to Puig, the Brewers were also expected to acquire Brandon McCarthy (and his salary) and two more prospects in exchange for Braun (and his salary). The two sides were apparently working right up until the midnight deadline, but ultimately (and simply) ran out of time as the deadline came and went. Braun, 32, has posted the highest wRC+ (136) of his career since 2012 this season, but also has four years and $76 million remaining on his deal.
- The Brewers have also fielded interest (on Braun) from the Giants and Braves, so GM David Stearns will probably reset and reconsider some offers over the winter – Bob Nightengale seems to think Braun to the Dodgers is all but a done deal. Right now, Braun has no-trade rights to all but six teams (Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks and Marlins), but he’ll get his full no-trade rights (via 10-5 rights) this Spring. A deal this winter then, might be the last time one is easy to pull off (won’t require Braun’s approval). The non-deal of Braun to the Giants and/or Dodgers this deadline, however, could have already had a positive impact on the Cubs, should they meet either team in the postseason. Plenty of stuff to watch here.
- In case you were unaware, Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom hasn’t pitched since September 1 – when he experienced some discomfort in his right forearm. Similarly, Mets pitcher Steven Matz has been sidelined since August 14 with a left shoulder impingement. Both pitchers are nearing returns, however, and the Mets may go about it in an unorthodox way. According to Anthony DiComo (MLB.com), the Mets are considering a piggyback start on Sunday against the Twins, wherein both starters would make their returns. The impetus behind the decision is a combination of the fact that neither pitcher is ready for a full game AND the Mets desire to deny Rafael Montero any more starts down the stretch. The Mets are currently 9.0 games out of first place, but are currently holding one of the two Wild Card slots by a 0.5 game.
- That multiple teams tried hard for lefty White Sox starter Chris Sale at the 2016 Trade Deadline is no secret to anyone. The Sox ultimately decided to hold onto their ace, but will they continue to do so this offseason? For his part, Sale has come out saying that he’d prefer to stay in Chicago (well, actually, he said he wears “this uniform with a lot of pride” which I thought was a funny choice of words), but the Sox may not be able to resist the right offer much longer. Bruce Levine suggests that the Red Sox, Rangers, and Dodgers may come calling once again this winter, and that each has the ammunition to pull off a deal. In a market vacant of many high quality free agent starters, it will take a buttload (the clinical term) to pry Sale away from the Sox.
- I love me some Ken Rosenthal and I love his most recent piece, even more: Athletes like Adam Jones deserve to be heard with open ears. I won’t spoil any of Rosenthal’s article, because he did a very nice job of conveying his point, but I can give you the gist. You don’t have to agree with everything that every athlete says, and there doesn’t even have to be a definitive “I’m right and you’re wrong” end to every story, but you should be willing to hear people out and do so with an open mind. I really don’t want to get into much more of this, because these types of conversations are difficult to have in this format, but if you can’t even be open to hearing people out you don’t agree with (no matter the issue or side), you’ve already lost.
- The Pirates are not having a very happy season, are they? After quickly falling out of contention in the NL Central and later falling out of contention for either NL Wild Card, the Pirates have received even more bad news: Gerrit Cole’s season is over. After being sidelined for a couple weeks with some discomfort in his elbow, the Pirates have decided to shut down Cole for the remainder of the season with right elbow inflammation. “I’m disappointed. There’s just not enough time to recover,” Cole said. “I’m disappointed I’m not out there to help the team. That’s the one thing I’ve been fighting for all season, to try to be able to contribute to our ultimate goal. It’s unfortunate we ran out of time.” Given where they are in the standings (3 games below .500, 21.5 games out of first), it’s a perfectly reasonable move, but certainly feels like a kick in the butt while they’re down. There’s always next year. Believe me.
- The Minnesota Twins front office search continues, but there’s been a notable (and finally non-Cub) related update: Kansas City Royals assistant J.J. Picollo has officially interviewed for the position. While there’ve been rumors of his involvement (as well as a number of Cubs), this is the first publicly confirmed interview that has occurred. It’s not inconceivable, then, that Jason McLeod could be next up (and relatively soon!). Picollo, like McLeod, is very well-thought of around the league and was close to a couple of similar jobs in the past, writes Mike Berardino of TwinCities.com, so he’ll be a formidable candidate. Read more about Picollo and his interview here.
- Remember our old friend Clayton Richard? Well, he’s with the San Diego Padres right now, and you might be surprised to learn how well he’s doing … as a starter. In six starts with the Padres (dating back to August 14), Richard has collected a 1.51 ERA through 35.2 IP. Of course, his 3.81 FIP and 3.66 xFIP are a bit higher, but even those numbers are pretty solid. More impressive (or lucky), Richard has accomplished this despite a 17.9% strikeout rate, an 8.6% walk rate, and a .283 batting average against. I’m guessing the 92.1% strand rate may have something to do with it, and I doubt that’ll last very long. But hey, go get em, Clay.
- As you well know, long-time (and legendary) Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully is retiring at the end of the season (in case you missed it, watch David Ross/Joe Maddon and David Ortiz visit Scully in the booth to pay their respects). What you may not have known, however, is that October 2 (Dodgers v. Giants) will be his final game no matter what. In other words, Scully will not broadcast any playoff games, should the Dodgers find themselves in the postseason. It’s something of a bummer, of course, but Scully gives two entirely reasonable and solid reasons. First, if he’s doing playoff games, there’s no definitive end date. And second, October 2 (1936) was a special baseball date to him and he would love to end his career on that exact day. How can you argue with either of those?
- As you watch Kris Bryant hit homer after homer, you may have accidentally realized a much bigger trend: MLB is on pace to near (and/or break) the single season home run record in 2016. Yup. 2016’s sluggers are essentially a shoe-in to crack the top five, but they have a real chance of hitting the most homers ever (5,592 set in 2000). Read more about it here.
- They might laugh at him, but I’d like to see Elvis Andrus’ teammates catch a pop fly while falling down over the pitching mound.
- Wow! Even in a losing season, the Chicago White Sox have broken the World Record for most attendance at a Sporting Event … for dogs. Oh, White Sox, don’t ever change.