Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Diamondbacks face tough test to stay in NL West race

Taking our weekly trip around the majors … 

 
Arizona Diamondbacks:
— The NL West has the best race. But for the Diamondbacks to stay in it, they will have to play well over the next three weeks, when they play no losing teams. Their schedule reads: Braves, Rockies, Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Dodgers …
— Offense has been the issue of late, as Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com recently pointed out
— Yoan Lopez’s ascension to the majors is obvious vindication for former D-Backs execs Dave Stewart and DeJon Watson, who were behind the oft-criticized move. Incidentally, Stewart’s wife Lonnie now reps Lopez.
 
Atlanta Braves:
— Kevin Gausman has showed major improvement since coming to the Braves. Perhaps from reuniting with Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti …
— Arodys Vizcaino is on rehab now, not a moment too soon …
— The Braves made a lot of nice pickups. But their bullpen remains a question.


Baltimore Orioles:
— Ned Colletti did have an interview with an Angelos brother, but it isn’t known if he’s a serious candidate for the GM job, or even if the interview was for the GM job. Dan Duquette is seen as having a chance to stay following a very effective summer sale in which the team saved about $60 million and gathered 15 players, but that’s not a certainty, either …
— Jonathan Villar’s star is on the rise following his trade to the Orioles. He has six homers and nine steals since coming to Baltimore, so he’s outplayed Jonathan Schoop in that time …
— They did well to get the five prospects, including top OF prospect Yusnial Diaz, they got from the Dodgers …
— Gavin Lux, an infielder from Wisconsin, was their top target all along. But they are happy with Diaz …
— Dylan Bundy has allowed a lot of home runs …
— Chris Davis looks like his old self, and at least he’s pushed his average close to .180.
 
Boston Red Sox:
— They have been the best team. But they need Chris Sale in the playoffs. “If he can’t go, they’d be in trouble,” one rival said …
— They have a chance to break the franchise record of 105 wins. To which Alex Cora said, “It doesn’t mean anything to me. If it happens it happens.” The message is: the World Series is what counts …
— Everyone is hitting better this year — could it be J.D. Martinez’s influence? …
— Perhaps no one is more improved than Xander Bogaerts. Ian Browne of MLB.com tweeted that Bogaerts is especially good with the bases loaded (8-for-12 with 27 RBI) …
— The catching spot could be an issue, as Nick Cafardo wrote
— The Red Sox will obviously exercise Sale’s $15-million option …
— Rick Porcello became the fifth AL pitcher to gather a hit in three separate games, joining Bud Norris, Zach Britton (when he was a starter), Andy Sonnanstine and Eric Milton (via Andrew Simon, MLB.com).


 
Chicago Cubs:
— Is this Joe Maddon's best season? He weighs in (story by Jon Greenberg of The Athletic)...
— Time is running out to get closer Brandon Morrow (arm) back this year, Maddon admitted. As Maddon put it, there's "barely," enough time, at least to hope — but their wishes may not come true ...
— Daniel Murphy returns to Washington this week, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes ...
— Murphy is really under appreciated in some ways. His .330 average since the start of 2016 is second in baseball to Jose Altuve ...
— The way the Cubs go, maybe Jaime Garcia can get it together after leaving the Jays. He didn't work out there ...

Chicago White Sox:
— Eloy Jimenez will not be called up this year, GM Rick Hahn confirmed. This revelation jibes with our story last week where Jimenez’s agents (including main agent Nelson Montes De Oca) questioned the process whereby the top prospects are held back due to service time considerations. The White Sox haven’t admitted that’s the reason (and they did call up top pitching prospect Michael Kopech, to their credit), but this does seem to be the norm around baseball these days. Fans of teams don’t mind – and often applaud – calls to delay, as they keep potentially top players around an extra year (and a year where the team is more likely to contend, in many cases). No one can prove this is the White Sox’s motivation, and barring any proof of “bad faith,” they can do it. However, it says here that in a general sense this isn’t a proper reason to delay promotion …
— The Chisox are 26-21 over the last 47 …
— Matt Davidson joined Babe Ruth as players who hit 20 home runs pitched in at least three games in a year (Ruth dud it in 1919, yes, 99 years ago), as Christopher Kamka reported …
— Norm Cohen offered a good comparison for Daniel Palka: Ron Kittle.

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Cincinnati Reds:

— The Reds do plan to conduct a managerial search, it seems — but that doesn’t mean Jim Riggleman, who’s done a very good job and is said to be liked by owner Bob Castellini, has no chance. In fact, he’s thought to have a very good chance. The team made a quick turnaround under Riggleman, but injuries have hurt lately (Jesse Winker, Alex Bandino, Scott Schebler and top prospect Nick Senzel). “He should be the guy,” one rival said. But they apparently feel they owe it to themselves to at least look …

— Joe Girardi interviewed with the Reds in 2007, after he was fired by the Marlins following his Manager of the Year award-winning season, but Castellini liked Dusty Baker’s experience and loved Baker. Girardi was said to have done quite well in that interview, however. While he isn’t currently working as a manager (he’s an analyst on MLB Network), even if offered he might not take the first job and could be out of their price range (he made $4 million with the Yankees at the end of his deal) …

— In the winter the Reds hope to add pitching and perhaps an outfielder or two (to go with Jesse Winker, who was off to a big start before being lost for the year with shoulder surgery) …

— The reason they traded Adam Duvall is they didn’t see him as a difference maker long-term; it’s possible they weren’t sure they wanted to go to arbitration with him, either …

— Judging by the interest in adding one “or two” prospects, Billy Hamilton could be a candidate to be non-tendered …

— There’s a belief they will try to re-sign Matt Harvey (though the decision not to trade him also gives them more time to evaluate him). Of course, with him being a free agent and a belief he doesn’t mind bigger cities, there obviously is no guarantee he’d return …

— People familiar with the situation said that while Castellini ultimately preferred Harvey to stay rather than be traded to the division rival Brewers, some Reds people saw the offer from Milwaukee as underwhelming: “Triple-A non-prospects,” was the way it was said …

— Joey Votto spotted a fan with a “Votto for President” t-shirt, and decided to give that fan a good deal. He traded an autographed Votto jersey for the T-shirt. The reality is, Votto is Canadian and therefore doesn’t qualify to be president, at least not in Cincinnati …

— Why hasn’t the Homer Bailey deal ever been nominated for “worst contract” ever? After this year Bailey, who is 1-13, is owed $28 million through 2019 – that’s a $23-million salary for next year plus a $5-million option for 2020 (we’ll assume they aren’t exercising the $25-million option, or that’d make it $48 million).


Cleveland Indians:
— Jason Kipnis will be in the outfield mix presuming Josh Donaldson is ready to play at some point …
— Corey Kluber was the first to 18 wins …
— Triston McKenzie was the pitcher the Tribe would not part with for Bryce Harper …
— The Indians will obviously pick up Carlos Carrasco’s $9-million option.



Colorado Rockies:
— Trevor Story’s fantastic feats have gone almost unnoticed— but not that 505-foot home run Wednesday night at Coors Field, the longest of the Statcast era. Story should also be mentioned as an MVP candidate, though he’s been largely disregarded to this point ...
— The Rockies, also quietly, have taken over the lead in the best race, the NL West....
— Adam Ottavino told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he’d like to remain with the Rockies, but there have been no talks to this point. The free agent to be is well-positioned this winter …
— Kyle Freeland’s wonderful year is being overlooked. He is running fourth in a Cy Young race that’s seen as a three-man race …
— Story became the fourth hitter to blast two homers in a game against Madison Bumgarner, joining Kike Hernandez (I was there for that one), Justin Turner and Aaron Hill …
— Shoulder surgery has ended Mike Dunn’s difficult season …
— The Rockies will obviously decline Gerardo Parra’s $12.5-million option.

 
Detroit Tigers:
— The Tigers might consider trying to extend Nick Castellanos, who can really hit and is proving serviceable in right field …
— Victor Martinez will retire. According to Baseball Reference, the most similar batters through age 38 are Chase Utley, Ken Caminiti and Vinny Castilla …
— JaCoby Jones is second in runs in MLB in saved with 22 (h/t Chris McCosky, Detroit News) …
— Dawel Lugo is making the J.D. Martinez trade look much better than most folks figured …
— Mikie Mahtook has six homers in 16 games (McCosky), so he’s doing much better since his call up …
— Jeimer Candelario is improving at third base …
— Matt Manning is showing some positive signs, and so is Beau Burrows …
— Christin Stewart had a big year in the minors. Big power …
— Doug Mientkiewicz has the Mud Hens in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
 
Houston Astros:
— If anything deserves an oral history it’s the Justin Verlander trade, and Mark Feinsand — with the help of Alyson Footer and Jason Beck, also of MLB.com — does it justice
— Tony Kemp wrote down advice to himself that included these words: “Don’t go back to the minors,” as Jake Kaplan of The Athletic wrote
— Alex Bregman has 46 doubles, not too far off Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s club record of 56, set in 1999 …
— Tyler White seems to be back on track.
 
Kansas City Royals:
— The Royals plan to offer manager Ned Yost a one-year extension, and they obviously hope he takes it. Yost suggested earlier this year he wanted to keep going, but of course, it’s been a long year (with another rebuilding year or two to go), so there will be a discussion and no guarantee he accepts …
— Royals assistant GM Scott Sharp, whose name has been connected to the Mets GM job, is well respected. But it would be a surprise not to focus on someone with a longer resume …
— Hunter Dozier was perceived as a reach when he was tabbed as a first rounder but he is proving to be a worthy pick, and more …
— Ryan O’Hearn, the new 1B, has nine home runs in 85 at-bats …
— The Royals got some terrific performances in the minors. Former first rounder Nick Pratto looks like a future star. And M.J. Melendez, a lefty hitting catcher out of Miami, another high school player taken with their pick after Pratto in the 2017 draft, has 19 home runs as a teenager at Class-A …
— Daniel Lynch, the 34th pick in this year’s draft, is performing so well some suggest he could have been picked at the top of the draft. Lynch, a lefty pitcher out of the University of Virginia, signed for a below-slot $1.7 million.


 
Los Angeles Angels:
— The Angels have seemed committed to protecting Shohei Ohtani’s health, and it’s hard to second guess them without having the same consultations with doctors. It’s unfortunate Ohtani will need Tommy John surgery now, in any case …
— Remarkable that Ohtani, after receiving his UCL diagnosis, went 4-for-4 with two more home runs. It’s his incredible talent feats that have led me to conclude he’s the AL Rookie if the Year, as written in this space last week ...
— The Angels have had more bad results than anyone in keeping pitchers healthy, and while it’s very likely just bad luck, the health has been so bad they may want to evaluate things …
— Matt Shoemaker showed his toughness again, making it back after five months away, and throwing five scoreless innings …
— Albert Pujols has $87 million to go. Ouch …
— The Angels need to do everything they can to sign Mike Trout long-term. He is not only the best player in the game but a credit to the game ...
— Of course, Trout would have to want to do the extension, and it’s entirely possible all the playoff-less years are wearing on him. (He’s been too polite to say, but there are signs this could be the case.)
 
Los Angeles Dodgers
— The Dodgers, Adrian Beltre’s original team, showed interest in him during trading season. Interesting that he preferred to stay in Texas as he lives in the L.A. area (it hasn’t been said that he officially declined a trade, but his reticence to leave Texas seems to have been a major factor) …
— Max Muncy continues to hit homers at an impressive rate …
— Kenley Jansen was advised by doctors to skip the trip to Colorado due to his irregular heartbeat …
— Ross Stripling (back) hopes to be back by the weekend, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times …
— The NL West features the most interesting race. No one should consider anyone but the Dodgers — who have won the division four years running — as the favorite, however.

 
Miami Marlins:
— Signing star catcher J.T. Realmuto long-term is going to be a long shot, folks believe. With that in mind, a trade remains most likely, as he has only two years to go before free agency so the timing doesn’t really work. A few weeks ago, we suggested four possible landing spots
— The Marlins continue to play with heart. That is a tribute to Don Mattingly. No real indication he’s in any sort of trouble, which is why he was low on last week’s list
— Braves people understandably weren’t happy with Jose Urena for his ridiculous beaning of star rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. But for a moment, anyway, they have to be happy with Urena’s performance in shutting down the Phillies, 3-1 …
— Sandy Alcantara, a top Marlins prospect, “made a statement” in shutting down the Phillies Wednesday according to Craig Minerva of Fox (though a cynic might say that a lot of folks are doing that lately) ...
— Peter O’Brien, who some see as a huge power prospect who never got a real chance, is up with the Marlins. He is a former Yankees farmhand, so he had an in here …
— The Marlins signed a few bad deals. But they should feel fortunate they never came to an agreement with Adeiny Hechavarria because that deal would have been over market.


 
Milwaukee Brewers
— Gio Gonzalez seemed thrilled to go to the Brewers, where he has an opportunity to pitch in the playoffs and to jump start things in advance of his free agency. He had a terrific run in Washington but he might have been worn down by a lack of support this year. How little support was? Well, he was the only pitcher less supported than Jacob deGrom …
— Curtis Granderson also was thrilled to go to the Brewers. He is perennially in the playoffs with a legit contender, and he has another chance to win this year. He also happens to be a mentor of Brewers OF prospect Corey Ray, who’s also from Chicago …
— The Brewers called upon Zach Davies, and he responded with a huge win over the Cubs. They had delayed promoting him due to spin rate and the like. Agent Scott Boras said they should have been considering that he was a 17-game winner last year, not the aforementioned spin rate …
— Christian Yelich keeps coming up with the big hits — and the big plays. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate …
— Lorenzo Cain has been a worthwhile addition, too. But despite the highest WAR among position players in the game, it says here that Yelich is among several who are better candidates …
— Cole Hamels suggested the Cubs-Brewers rivalry isn’t that great, saying, “I don’t think that’s much of a rivalry when there are more Cubs fans in Milwaukee.” Brewers fans responded by hanging a big “L” after the Brewers won the next game, 11-1.

 
Minnesota Twins:
— LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote that he’s long assumed Joe Mauer would return for another year but that several new factors make that more of a question. Those are 1) Concussion, 2) Roster upheaval, 3) “Falvine” (Derek Falvey and Thad Levine) has been unpredictable …
— Some wonder how long Paul Molitor will want to manage, though presumably he’d want to do the next two years since he signed a three-year contract last winter …
— The Twins obviously will decline Ervin Santana’s $14-million option. MLBtraderumors.com has a list of all the players with options.


RELATED: Mets vascillating on old school v. new school GM | Mets expected to go outside for next GM


New York Mets:
— More and more, it seems like ex-GM Omar Minaya will have a major say in who gets the GM job. They have told some folks that, coming off Sandy Anderson, they want to swing more toward scouting in the analytics-scouting continuum after the analytics-heavy Sandy Alderson’s tenure, though it remains uncertain how far they will swing …
— It's no surprise that with Minaya playing a big role the name of Mark Shapiro (one of his best friends in the game) should come up as a potential candidate. But there are a few issues with this possibility, which was written about by Joel Sherman of the New York Post and has been heard by me, as well. 1) While there have been whispers of tension between Shapiro and someone in Jays ownership, possibly over finances or other matters, and it's possible of course Shapiro would prefer New York to Toronto, it's unlikely the Mets would match Shapiro's current title and make him a team president, and even more unlikely that the Mets seek to match Shapiro's "near $4-million" pay, 2) Shapiro has two years to go on his four-year deal, and there's no guarantee the Jays would let him leave (though they might considering all the recent criticism), and 3) While the Mets haven't settled on where on the previously mentioned scouting-analytics continuum they want to be with this crucial hire, as one person close to the situation pointed out, it's unlikely they hire someone as committed or possibly even conversant in the analytics side after an era in which Mets ownership feels it went too far toward analytics with Sandy Alderson in charge (though Alderson made the call to step down due to health considerations, and he got them to the 2015 World Series, ownership wasn't happy with the way things were trending lately) ...
— Jacob deGrom should lead Cy Young voting, though Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer are very close. deGrom set a record with 25 straight starts allowing three runs or fewer …
— Not only is deGrom having an all-time great season but now he is helping Noah Syndergaard. deGrom suggested he throw two bullpen sessions between starts, a la John Smoltz, and Syndegaard responded with his best start of the season …
— Jose Reyes opened up to Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, admitting, “This has been my worst season ever.” A thank-you to ownership for keeping him around would have been nice touch, too. (Hopefully, he sent a card) …
— Michael Conforto had only a .366 slugging percentage in the first half but .481 in the second. We’ll assume he wasn’t 100 percent while recovering from shoulder surgery in the first half …
— The Mets broke their 12-game losing streak against the Dodgers. The previous win came in David Wright’s last game, May 27, 2016 …
— Wright is still hoping for a comeback, and remains the most polite man in the room. He said he’d take a few grounders if there was time …
— SNY announcer Keith Hernandez said he’s willing to work with Jay Bruce at first base. The position has been an issue for the Mets while many other NL teams have excellent first baseman (i.e. Anthony Rizzo, Eric Hosmer, Cody Bellinger, Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Belt) …
— Brandon Nimmo continues to be a breath of fresh air …
— Amed Rosario is like a different player lately. That’s a good thing …
— Peter Alonso hit a walk-off grand slam to end the Triple-A Las Vegas season, and his own.


New York Yankees:
— Aaron Judge said he felt good after hitting off a tee and projected that he’s only a week or two away, which is huge. They have really missed him, though Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar hit enough to keep the Yankees afloat …
— Adeiny Hechavarria was acquired as shortstop insurance, and even he’s joined the Yankee homer brigade …
— It’s reasonable to question whether Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez should be the battery in the Wild Card game. Marc Craig of The Athletic was among those to wonder aloud about this. With the Severino-Sanchez combo, the Yankees had two wild pitches and two passed balls in the first inning alone in their 8-2 defeat to the A’s Wednesday. For his part (and this isn’t Sanchez’s doing) Severino’s ERA has risen from 1.98 on July 1 to 3.52. The choice here would be J.A. Happ, who shut down the same A’s team — their likely opponent — this week ...
— The Yankees reached out to see if they could interview Bob Melvin for their open managing job last winter, but the A’s said no. Aaron Boone is doing a very nice job (though Melvin deserves Manager of the Year).
 


Oakland Athletics:
— Matt Chapman, who deserves some MVP top-10 consideration, leads MLB with 27 defensive runs saved. JaCoby Jones is second with 22, Harrison Bader third with 21 …
— Stephen Piscotty remains hot. He is one of the best stories of the year. Cheers to him …
— Lou Trivino is struggling for the first time this year …
— Jed Lowrie is a free agent, and off his career year, even at 33, he should get plenty of interest. Brian Kenny did a segment on Lowrie vs. Josh Donaldson as free agents on MLB Now. He sided with Donaldson. I’d say Lowrie will do better now, at least in total dollars.

 
Philadelphia Phillies:
— Joe Jordan will be out as Phillies scouting director, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic. It may be of his own choice, as one person who knows him characterized the change to us as a “resignation,” saying Jordan “lost his voice in the room.” That’s an interesting development seeing how Jordan was the one who picked Manny Machado third overall for the Orioles at a time the folks in charge in Philly were in that same Orioles front office — and Machado is believed to be the Phillies’ top winter target. In the story by Gelb, philosophical differences were cited, as well as “uneven development” by recent high draftees, namely J.P. Crawford, Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley and Cornelis Randolph, which is a nice and fair way to put it, especially since there’s still time. To be even fairer, Aaron Nola makes up for a lot of calls that seem questionable at the moment. Jordan was hired by the previous regime of Ruben Amaro Jr. but it’s surprising that the new regime would excuse someone they knew from Baltimore, and the very person who chose Jake Arrieta as well as Machado for those Orioles. Machado, of course, like most free agents is expected to prioritize the deal and locale (we wrote here he’d like to be a Yankee, if possible), not front office personnel …
— The Phillies acquired four hitters in trading season — Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour and Jose Bautista — yet offense remains an issue …
— Jimmy Rollins inspired Cesar Hernandez with a pep talk, writes Scott Lauber of the Philly Inquirer
— Congrats to Ryan Howard on his retirement. One of my most famous tweets came when I congratulated the Phillies for signing Howard to an extension, at $125 million for five years. It went something like this: “Good job by the Phillies for signing Ryan Howard to the $125-million, five-year extension.” Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And if he hadn’t ruptured his Achilles on the last play of 2011 it might have looked a little bit better. A little, anyway.
 
Pittsburgh Pirates:
— Josh Harrison’ $10-million option is unlikely to be exercised by the team. So he’d get his wish to seek a more consistent contender in free agency …
— Trevor Williams keeps throwing good games …
— Ke’Bryan Hayes is going to be a star …
— Here are all the Roberto Clemente nominees, as seen on Twitter at @MLB_PR.

 
St. Louis Cardinals:
— Yairo Munoz, who came in the trade for Stephen Piscotty, is showing he can play the outfield or the infield …
— Bud Norris has started to struggle, and new manager Mike Shildt seemed noncommittal about whether he’d get the next closing opportunity …
— Everything was going perfectly but the bullpen is an issue now …
— The rookie starters have been fantastic. Jack Flaherty “looks like a future star,” according to a rival. He should be mentioned as a Rookie of the Year candidate (though Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr. probably rightfully lead) …
— Austin Gomber was the only pitcher to win five games in August. He’s 15-0 lifetime in August in his pro career, counting 10-0 in the minors …
— Harrison Bader is in the top three with 21 defensive runs saved despite starting the season in the minors.
 
San Diego Padres:
— They are a pain to contenders thanks to all their talented prospects …
— Franmil Reyes has impressive power …
— Top catcher prospect Francisco Mejia is coming up for the Padres. A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com writes about the team’s plans for Mejia
— Joey Lucchesi has made a case for next year’s rotation …
— Wil Myers’ was caught on a video of a Fortnite competition complaining about manager Andy Green’s drills, and he had to apologize. There has been some muttering on the part of some young players, but mostly it’s not on tape.
 


San Francisco Giants:
— Top prospect Chris Shaw made his first career home run a memorable one: 468 feet at Coors Field …
— Some Giants people weren’t sold on a sale with only a few days to go before the waiver trade deadline, but ultimately reason won out: they weren’t going to win this year. Good thing, as the Andrew McCutchen trade was a very good one …
— The Giants obviously will exercise Madison Bumgarner’s $12-million option …
Hank Schulman nominated Dereck Rodriguez, son of Pudge, as the Giants’ player of the year.
 
Seattle Mariners:
— Dee Gordon politely requested reporters clearing the clubhouse the other day, and what followed, according to reporters who heard a clubhouse commotion, was yelling and tussling. Stories suggested the skirmish that was discovered was over a dispute between shortstop Jean Segura and second baseman Gordon over a Gordon misplay in a win over the Orioles. Here’s the account by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times …
— Manager Scott Servais was quoted saying, “Sometimes it brings teams together.” That perhaps could be filed under the heading: wishful thinking …
— The Mariners, barring a big finish, now appear headed to their 17th straight playoff-less season …
— The Mariners, despite their winning record, have a negative-49 plus-minus …  
— Are Mariners fans believers? They had their smallest crowd in years Tuesday night: 11,265 …
— Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says that night, considering they also lost to “a team on pace for 114 losses” (the Orioles), may have been the low point, ranking with the Robinson Cano ban.



Tampa Bay Rays:
— Joey Wendle has quietly worked his way into the Rookie of the Year picture. And it isn’t his fault that it’s quiet — by happenstance of being in Tampa Bay, there isn’t as much publicity for him as there is for Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres in New York, and of course Shohei Ohtani, who is an international sensation …
— The Rays continue to amaze, as their people predicted …
— Some are saying Rays shortstop prospect Wander Franco, hitting .351, is baseball’s best prospect, ahead of even Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. Franco is 17 and hitting .351 in the minors …
— Kevin Cash is doing a terrific job (though it’s hard to see him topping Oakland’s Bob Melvin or Boston’s Alex Cora in manager of the Year voting, he could be third.)


Texas Rangers:
— Adrian Beltre’s call to stay in Texas is being seen by some as a tell that he may want to come back and play one more year with the Rangers rather than retire. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first reported L.A. was a serious suitor. “We had a discussion and that’s why I’m here,” Beltre told Rangers writers. His performance certainly would warrant a return, if he desires. Beltre previously told us he would survey his family, and in the early polling, his son (himself a baseball-playing prodigy) wanted him to play, and others wanted him to come home …
— Elvis Andrus is seen as unlikely to opt out of the contract that has $60-milion and four years to go, but Andrus has another opt out following 2019 in what was quite a contract …
— Matt Moore’s $10-million option obviously will be declined. The Rangers already have said they will decline Martin Perez’s $7.5-million option …
— They are also likely to decline Doug Fister’s $4.5-million option. That’s the guess here, anyway.
 


Toronto Blue Jays:
— The plan appears to be call up top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. early next year, perhaps around May 1. He’s obviously ready as a hitter, but they’ll still say they believe there are defensive questions. Beyond that, there’s benefit to delaying the promotion …
— A couple teams checked in on Justin Smoak and the relievers …
— Despite a home run streak that lasted seven games, there was no interest in Kendrys Morales. The same for Marco Estrada, despite his history of pitching well in big games. One rival explained that a velocity drop hurt him (even from his usual low velo) …
— Marcus Stroman’s blister continues to affect him, as manager John Gibbons admitted, and the season’s been wasted. He continues to be respected as a pitcher with moxie, however, as some rival teams inquired about him even during this lost year …
— The Jays have a fantastic prospect list, well beyond Guerrero, a certain star. Bo Bichette had 35 steals in addition to his great hitting exploits …
— Jake Petricka is impressing folks with his big arm: 98 mph and “with sink” says one scout …
— They are very high on their No. 1 draft choice, Jordan Groshans, a shortstop.
 

Washington Nationals:
— While this is stamped a disappointing season for the Nats, their plus-70 run differential affirms the idea it wasn’t an untalented team …
— S.L. Price wrote in Sports Illustrated about the Nats’ hugely disappointing season (they were the pick here to go to the World Series) under the headline: “How did One of Baseball’s Best Teams Fall So Far?” …
— Bryce Harper has battled illness lately, but he’s made a nice comeback after a slow start (at least in terms of batting average) …
— Victor Robles is coming up …
— Seth Romero, the former No. 1 pick sent home from spring for a series of late dates and a disregard for curfew, had Tommy John surgery, Todd Dybas of TheSportsCapitol.com reported
— Matt Wieters isn’t the hitter he was, but the staff seemed to do better with him …
— As terrible as Greg Holland was in St Louis, that’s how good he has looked in Washington ...
— Nats GM Mike Rizzo suggested to Nats reporters that manager Davey Martinez is expected to be brought back for 2019. Of course, the reason he couldn’t just guarantee it is these managerial calls aren’t always in his hands.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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