Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Mike Trout’s Mickey Mantle comparisons continue to amaze

Back for another weekly trip around MLB. Come along: 
 
Arizona Diamondbacks
— The Diamondbacks are one of at least nine teams currently in for Manny Machado (Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reported seven that made offers, including the D-Backs) ...
— They are definitely interested but some close to D-Backs people suggest they might ultimately look more closely at pitching. They are said to be “evaluating,” their own situation, and much of it is dependent on whether key players A.J. Pollock, Steven Souza and to a lesser degree Jake Lamb get their timing back …
— One positive sign for the offense came in a 20-5 win over the Padres Saturday …
— Clay Buchholz is still two to three weeks away …
— A D-Backs scout was spotted recently at a game being pitched by Tigers star Michael Fulmer, as reported by Anthony French of the Detroit Free Press. No question pitching is a consideration, too.

 
Atlanta Braves
— The Braves were one of the teams listed to have made an offer for Machado (via The Baltimore Sun). But with Johan Camargo doing well at third, they are probably not the favorite. They could use some offense, however …
— Mike Moustakas is seen as a fit by some (but again, Camargo has been pretty solid) …
— The Braves’ real need, most say, is the bullpen …
— Ronald Acuña suffered a groin injury, his third body part to be hurt (back, knee) …
— Braves great John Smoltz called his Senior Open performance an “out of body experience.” After shooting 85 on Day One, he was down to 76 the next day. David Toms, former PGA winner, also won this event at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
 


Baltimore Orioles
— Zach Britton was throwing 96-98 mph in a recent save against the Yankees, with the sinker darting down so sharply it was giving the catcher fits. “He looked like Zach Britton,” said one scout in attendance. The Yankees, Astros, Cubs, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies and Dodgers (and probably many others) are expected to be interested in Britton …
— Brad Brach, also on the block, did not look great in the same game. The interest is there, however …
— They are receiving calls on talented reliever Mychal Givens, but since he isn’t a free agent, most figure they will hold onto him …
— Adam Jones, a great vet, should be able to help some contender. He’d fit the Indians. The belief is, he also wouldn’t mind going to the Cubs, who he’s been linked to (though it’s hard to see the need there) …
— Former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti hasn’t addressed the report he talked to Orioles higher-ups, and though one Orioles person called the report “overblown,” it’s clear there was some sort of discussion …
— The interest in Colletti would seem to suggest they don’t count experience against anyone. That could bring into play ex-Cubs GM Jim Hendry, ex-Orioles exec Wayne Krivsky, ex-Rockies GM (and current MLB Network analyst) Dan O’Dowd, and others, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN said in his in-depth story on the Orioles’ current front office situation. Brady Anderson, one of two players to have a 20-50 season and also a 50-20 season (20 homers, 50 steals and 50 homers, 20 steals; Barry Bonds is the other), will have a prominent role in whatever the set-up is, but he doesn’t appear to have designs on the GM job should there be a change. Dan Duquette has done a fine job overall, but he was hired by Peter Angelos, not the sons, who also had a big hand in what went on this winter. 
 
Boston Red Sox
— The Red Sox may have checked in on Machado, but until further notice, we’ll assume it’s just to keep tabs on what their main competitor, the Yankees are doing. They would seem to make little sense for Machado, beyond the fact they have no opening at shortstop – or presumably third base, either …
— The Red Sox were scouting Zach Britton and many other relievers. Joakim Soria would also fit. The sides never got close last year in talks for Brad Hand, so there might not be as much hope there …
— In terms of Britton, we mentioned the teams expected to have interest in the closer above. Beyond that, the most likely teams to consummate a deal for the Orioles closer right now are the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, and possibly the Indians, who showed interest last year at least ...
— Fernando Rodney could also work (h/t Jerry Crasnick, ESPN) …
— One issue for the Red Sox if they acquire anyone who’s high-priced: they are already into tax territory …
— Some people around the team are already talking about the possibility of using David Price in the bullpen again in the postseason. He was terrific there last year, and while he’s been OK as a starter this year, they must know they can’t start him against the Yankees, at least …
— The signing of Brandon Phillips would indicate, at the very least, some real concern for Dustin Pedroia and whether he can come back this year …
— There’s an outside chance they could trade for a second baseman, too, and Whit Merrifield would make sense since he doesn’t have a high salary yet and would fit with a team already over the luxury-tax threshold …
— Some believe they’d consider trading center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., though no one from the Red Sox has indicated as much …
— Andrew Benintendi needs one homer to become the third Red Sox player to go 15-15 (homers and steals) before the All-Star break. Mookie Betts and Yaz are the others …
— Chris Sale has made the last seven All-Star Games, the only pitcher with that distinction …
— The Red Sox look like they got a bargain on J.D. Martinez at $110- million for five years, but his three opt-outs may come in handy. The first one is after 2019 (and $50 million) … 
— Before the Red Sox made inarguably the greatest free agent signing in history (David Ortiz for $1.5 million), the interest was said to have been limited to then Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and then Expos GM Omar Minaya. Ultimately, Epstein listened to Ortiz’s friend, Pedro Martinez, and got his man.
 
Chicago Cubs
— With Yu Darvish’s status uncertain, a starter might be the most pressing need …
— They have looked into Northwestern (and Peru, Ill.) product J.A. Happ. But the question is: do they have enough to beat the Yankees and others to land him? …  
— Their bullpen has been very good, but they are looking at that, too. Britton could be a possibility …
— If the Mets go outside the organization to lead their front office (more on this to come), two possibilities might be GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod. If the Mets were to go for Hoyer, they’d surely need to give him a president’s title, which could be a complication from the Mets’ standpoint …
— Word is they inquired about Derek Dietrich with the Marlins …
— Albert Almora should be an All-Star …
— Oscar De La Cruz made it two more ACES clients to be nabbed for PEDs, joining Welington Castillo, who was caught earlier this year. A judge in Brooklyn court recently heard lawyers for ACES argue to dismiss the suit brought by former ACES employee Juan Carlos Nunez on the basis that Nunez isn’t very credible, as a felon. That’s a funny point since Nunez’s claim is that he committed those felonies at the direction of ACES proprietors Seth and Sam Levinson. The details in the suit are amazing.
 
Chicago White Sox
— Jose Abreu may have removed the chances for a trade by falling into a slump. We wrote here two weeks ago that the Rockies made sense …
— There’s a rumor the Astros have interest, but from here that seems curious, at best …
— Abreu did become the first Chisox player to be voted onto the All-Star team by fans since the Big Hurt in 1996 …
— Avisail Garcia got hot after his return, but he is back on the DL ...
— There has been some chatter that Yoan Moncada may need more seasoning in the minor leages, but he’s had enough big moments to convince them to keep him in the majors …
— Some complaints claim the White Sox rebuild isn’t going fast enough, but from here, it looks right on schedule.
 
Cincinnati Reds
— The Reds are fielding offers on Adam Duvall, a former All-Star who’s arbitration eligible next year …
— Speaking of All-Stars, the Reds have three on the infield: Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto …
— There are a number of teams interested in Raisel Iglesias, with some viewing him as a starter. However, rival teams have the impression the Reds would “have to have their socks blown off.” …
— Jim Riggleman continues to do a fantastic job, and should be rewarded with an extension, as we’ve mentioned …
— Their team looks so much better now than it did two months ago …
— The Reds did something they hadn’t done since 1919 when they were shut out through eight innings and down by four or more runs, and came back to win. When All-Star Trevor Bauer was removed after eight innings working on a three-hit shutout, the Reds came back against Indians closer Cody Allen …
— The Reds made a nice move to get James Marinan from the Dodgers in what was seen as a small trade for Dylan Floro and others. Marinan is a highly regarded former fourth-round draft choice …
— Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams says the payroll will rise next year. Good for them …
— Cincinnati's $66-million expenditure for Suarez looks like a very wise one, breaking a recent trend of some not-great long-term commitments to their players (i.e. Homer Bailey, Brandon Philips). 
 
Cleveland Indians
— Their ongoing interest in Manny Machado suggests a willingness to decrease the playing time of longtime star Jason Kipnis. To accommodate Machado, they’d play him at third and move All-Star Jose Ramirez to second. That would make three All-Star infielders – same as the cross-state rival Reds. Machado would have no choice but to play third, but many of the other interested teams are likely to be able to play Machado at his preferred shortstop …
— Andrew Miller is expected back after the All-Star Game …
— Every pitcher who’s allowed 20-plus homers has thrown about 100 innings, except Josh Tomlin, who’s allowed 21 in 49 innings (via Zack Meisel, The Athletic) … In very early scuttlebutt, GM Mike Chernoff’s name has been connected to the potential Mets GM opening. Chernoff is from New Jersey.
 

Detroit Tigers
— The Tigers are thought to be willing to listen on top starter Michael Fulmer. “They are enteraining offers,” one rival said. But other GMs continue to say they believe the price for Michael Fulmer will be “astronomical,” limiting the chances he will be dealt. We wrote that two weeks ago …
— Injuries to Shane Greene and Leonys Martin may further inhibit Tigers action at the trade deadline. Both would seem to have value if healthy …
— And there's good news on Greene: He's expected to be activated from the 10-day DL on Friday before the team's series with Houston opens ...
— Nick Castellanos should have been Detroit's All-Star representative.

Houston Astros
— The Astros are believed to be interested in Zach Britton once again. They had a deal at the deadline last year for Britton (for Colin Moran and a Double-A OF) but the Orioles canceled the deal, either due to physicals or cold feet. Houston is said to like Britton very much …
— Someone linked them to Jose Abreu. But Yuli Gurriel finished second to Abreu in AL All-Star voting at 1B, and Evan Gattis has been on fire. As one Astros person put it, “I don’t really understand the Abreu talk.” Neither do we …
— The Astros have not only an excellent team but a fertile farm system, and they have two of the very best prospects in the game in first baseman Yordan Alvarez and pitcher Forrest Whitley …
— One scout says of Alvarez: “He looks like a young Willie McCovey.” …
— Teams always ask about Whitley, who has been held off-limits …
— Another top prospect, outfielder Kyle Tucker was just called up, and while he is well-regarded, one scout suspects the Astros would be willing to part with Tucker, and may even be showcasing him to be part of a potential trade (though realistically, they don’t need much) …
— Gerrit Cole set the Astros record for strikeouts at the break with 168, topping Mike Scott (via Julia Morales).

 
Kansas City Royals
— The Phillies are seen as a possible landing spot for Mike Moustakas – though their top target is obviously Manny Machado
— The Brewers and Phillies also have been connected to second baseman Whit Merrifield. The Red Sox also have been mentioned …
— Either Moustakas or Merrifield should have made the All-Star team as the Royals’ rep rather than Salvador Perez. A combination of the rules, and players’ voting, is the culprit …
— There have been reports the Yankees could go for Moustakas, but sources suggest that while the Yankees like Moustakas, they do not currently see that as a fit. The Yankees have rookie Miguel Andujar thriving at third and Greg Bird is healthy at first. Something was read into Moustakas taking grounders at first, but perhaps another team may be considering him for that position …
— The Royals signed Kaito Yuki, a Japanese star who was headed to his senior year of high school. He signed for “fifth-round money,” which would be $300,000-$400,000.
 
Los Angeles Angels
— The Angels are seen as a potential seller now. Which would be a disappointment considering the excitement over what seemed to be an excellent winter …
— They do have extra incentive to try to keep playing to win, as they need to impress Mike Trout to enhance their chances to extend him. (Ex-Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was just extended by the rival Mariners, who lead the Angels, but the best move he ever made was locking up Trout for six years.) …
— Trout’s .570 slugging percentage is exactly the same as Mickey Mantle’s at this stage. The similarities are eerie. Mantle walked a bit more (though Trout is catching up this year), but the biggest difference is Mantle went out a bit more …
— Trout became the second player to reach the All-Star break with 25 home runs, 75 RBI and 10 steals. (Jeff Bagwell was the first) …
— Trout has already been intentionally walked 16 times …
— Hard to believe stat: The longest Trout has gone without reaching base in his career: two games …  
— Since 2016, the Angels have used 26 starting pitchers. The only surprise is that it’s only tied for most with the Mariners and Twins …
— Shohei Ohtani seems to have been bitten by the Angels’ bad luck. A couple days after coming back from the DL he fouled a ball off his knee …
— Andrelton Simmons should be an All-Star. In fact he has the highest lifetime WAR of any current player never to have made an All-Star team (via MLB Network) now that Nick Markakis and Shin-Soo Choo made this year’s game.


 
Los Angeles Dodgers
— The Orioles seek shortstop Gavin Lux and right handed pitcher Dustin May for Machado, the Dodgers’ top target …
— The Dodgers showed interest in Zach Britton last year, and there’s no reason to think they won’t again …
— Dave Roberts says he has great admiration for Erik Goeddel and his work ethic. Goeddel doesn’t need to work since his father is a science magnate, but he has forged himself into a nice bullpen piece …
— Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman’s specialty is finding bullpen pieces at a price …
— Eight Dodgers are in double digits in home runs …
— Ross Stripling has been a very pleasant surprise and is now a welcome and deserving All-Star …
— Roberts deserves credit for getting the Dodgers into a first place tie after a simply dreadful start …
— Yasiel Puig will be out awhile (oblique) …
— Clayton Keshaw’s career WHIP is down to exactly 1.000 (via Eric Stephen).
 
Miami Marlins
— A few teams – including the Cubs and Brewers – have called about Derek Dietrich …
— The conversations about J.T. Realmuto have been “short” ones …
— They seem very reluctant to deal Drew Steckenrider or Kyle Barraclough …
— Brad Ziegler has drawn a bit of interest …  
— Managing partner Derek Jeter visited the organization's Class-A team at Greensboro, which just happened to be the city where a young Jeter – fresh out of the draft – made 62 errors. It also happened to be “turn back the clock” night ….
— Wei-Yin Chen recorded a hit against Max Scherzer. Chen is now 4-for-77 …
— New draftee Tristan Pompey, brother of Dalton of the Blue Jays, has impressed in the early going …
— Chad Wallach, son of bench coach Tim Wallach, the longtime major-league star, was called up when J.T. Realmuto went on paternity leave.
 
Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are in on Manny Machado. They make some sense, as the team with the best record in the NL and no clear-curt starter at shortstop …
— But one rival exec says, “They don’t need Machado, they need a starting pitcher.” …
— In any case, the idea they’d give up all three of Corbin Burnes, Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia to rent Machado, as was suggested somewhere, is not correct …
— Burnes’ name has indeed come up in talks, but they may be more from the Orioles’ side, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote
— They have a plethora of outfield prospects, including Broxton, Brett Phillips and Corey Ray, and the Orioles can use outfielders (not to mention infielders and pitchers) …
— If Sonny Gray really is available, it is worth noting the Brewers were runners-up for Gray a year ago. And also that their pitching coach Derek Johnson was Gray’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Whether those odds decrease or increase after his solid outing in Camden Yards Wednesday night is another matter …
— They checked in on Derek Dietrich …
— The Brewers have a deep cache of prospects, but the top one is the No. 9 overall pick in last year’s draft, 2B Keston Hiura out of Cal-Irvine …
— Brett Phillips, who is caught in a numbers game in Milwaukee, looks like a trade candidate …
— GM David Stearns’ name has been connected to the Mets’ potential opening. Good chance Brewers owner Mark Attanasio doesn’t let him leave, however. Stearns is a New Yorker and grew up a Mets fan …
— The Brewers are often linked to Chris Archer , possibly due to the closeness of the two owners, Attanasio and Tampa Bay’s Stuart Sternberg.
 


Minnesota Twins
— The Twins, realistic if nothing else, are coming to grips with their need to be a seller …
— Minnesota's two most valuable pieces may be Eduardo Escobar and Zach Duke. Escobar would be somewhat painful, as he is a clubhouse leader …
— They’ve gotten a few calls on Brian Dozier (the Dodgers, mentioned Jeff Passan of Yahoo). But most interested teams – Milwaukee would make sense for him or Escobar – probably want to wait to see what happens with Manny Machado first ...
— The Twins' real issue seems to be the lack of progress from talented kids Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, among others …
— Sano was sent to Class-A Fort Myers to get his stroke back, and also to get in shape. The facilities are better there. The weight has been an issue (he tipped the scales at 288 one spring even though he was listed at 250). He is said to have lost some weight, and the next step would be Triple-A …
— Jake Odorizzi was excited to start his first game at Miller Park. As he reminded me, he was originally picked No. 31 overall by the Brewers before he was shipped to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke trade (and shipped again to Tampa Bay in the James Shields-Wade Davis-Wil Myers trade). 
 
New York Mets
— The general consensus is that while the Mets are listening on star starters Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, they aren’t at all likely to trade either one. There’s no sense they’d be anxious to trade Steven Matz, either. However, Zack Wheeler, who’s said to be drawing interest, could go …
— The Mets are willing to listen on anyone. There’d be a high price tag on Michal Conforto, and one rival says the Mets would be surprised if they didn’t get offered a haul for Conforto …
— Asdrubal Cabrera is one Mets position player having a terrific year, but so far the offers are mild, even for him. The Brewers are a team that would make sense. So would the Dodgers …
— The Mets have received some interest in Jose Bautista, who has been superb for them …
— It was good to see hitting coach Pat Roessler explain BABIP to Todd Frazier, who has a bad one since 2016. Which means he is very unlucky (and maybe the odds say he will get luckier) …  
— Commissioner Rob Manfred showed a compassionate side when he conditionally lifted the lifetime ban for Jenrry Mejia after meeting with Mejia. If ever there was a time to do it, this was it since Mejia missed two years after being suspended for a third time, which carries the lifetime ban. With Mejia back in the game, those remaining out for life are Pete Rose and former Braves GM John Coppolella …
— The Mets promoted Drew Gagnon (pronounced like Gone-Yo, though nothing should be read into Yoenis Cespedes being gone) …
— There is said to be progress toward a return date for Cespedes. Same goes for Syndergaard …
— However, Jay Bruce suffered a setback …
— Walk-off Wilmer Flores has four walk-off homers since 2015, tied for the most in baseball (with Manny Machado). 
 
New York Yankees
— The Yankees are among surprise teams in on Zach Britton, as Fancred first reported
— The Yankees have also talked to the Padres about Brad Hand, as they seek a left hander …
— There isn’t real concern about Aroldis Chapman; it’s more about getting another left hander …
— There have been reports of interest in Mike Moustakas. But while Yankees people like Moustakas, and in fact talked to him this winter, with Miguel Andujar thriving and Greg Bird healthy, he isn’t really a fit at the moment …
— Some believe the Yankees will consider trading Sonny Gray a year after acquiring him. He has struggled this year, and especially so at Yankee Stadium. Some believe it’s either the stadium, or the city, that doesn’t agree with him, and that he’d do much better elsewhere … The Yankees continue to like J.A. Happ, even after pounding him in Toronto Saturday. The Yankees believe the price is too high on Happ so far. Cole Hamels is on their list, but lower. That may be because Yankees people believe Hamels might have trouble pitching in Yankee Stadium, a home run haven …
— Bryce Harper is working out at first base due to the obvious fact that the Nats have four starting outfielders, not to set up a date with the Yankees. But it doesn’t hurt, of course. And word is, if he can’t work it out with the Nats, he wouldn’t mind the Yankees. Not a shock there …
— Aaron Boone is right: Brandon Drury is too good to be in the minors (he could be a trade candidate). With Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes the Yankees have spare infielders that could draw interest.
 
Oakland Athletics
— The A’s should not be a seller, as they have outplayed almost everyone over the last month and appear to be the best hope to catch the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot. They should in fact be a buyer. They have the lowest payroll in baseball, and they have played their way into an opportunity …
— While they are six games behind Seattle for the second Wild Card spot, Oakland has 10 games remaining with the Mariners, the one team ahead of them (not counting the Yankees, who have the first Wild Card spot) …
— The A's are back talking extension with slugger Khris Davis, via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Davis named his price, but the sides are still talking …
— The A’s also are considering one for Jed Lowrie, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and MLB Network reported.
 
Philadelphia Phillies
— Manny Machado, beloved by Phillies people, remains their top target
— But in recent days they seem to be getting a bit discouraged about their chances. So they will consider other infielders, especially ones who hit …
— Mike Moustakas would seem to be a fit. As would Adrian Beltre, though the likelihood is that Beltre remains in Texas since he wants to re-sign there, has a full no-trade clause and makes $18 million …
— If the Phillies did land Beltre, he would add to the clubhouse leadership, as winter pickups Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana did ...
— They could consider other infielders, including shortstops …
— If the D-Backs were to get Machado, Nick Ahmed might make sense for Philadelphia …
— Meantime, teams are showing interest in third baseman Maikel Franco, who hasn’t reached his potential yet …
— Some believe they’d be willing to deal rookie shortstop J.P. Crawford, who has a keen batting eye but other questions. One scout wondered, “I’m not sure he’s going to hit enough.” …
— Cole Hamels would absolutely love to rejoin the Phillies, people close to him say. We reported on Twitter that there was some “chatter” about this possibility.

 
Pittsburgh Pirates
— “Optimism has turned to realism,” writes Rob Biertempfel in The Athletic
— The Pirates allowed 17 runs twice in four games …
— The Pirates and Phillies played the longest nine-inning game in N.L. history, which clocked in at 4:30. That sounds like an average Red Sox-Yankees game …
— Felipe Vazquez is a new name on the All-Star team (get it?)
 
St. Louis Cardinals
— Dexter Fowler’s battle with Cardinals management came to light when President John Mozeliak suggested Fowler wasn’t giving full effort. Mozeliak backtracked, suggesting he was really talking about the whole team, but it’s pretty clear there’s a disconnect. Fowler strongly disagreed, and publicly, then hesitated when asked whether he enjoyed being a Cardinal. Mark Saxon of The Athletic reported there’s an issue with manager Mike Matheny. Fowler has three years to go on his $82.5 million, five-year deal …
— One of the reasons they liked Fowler in the first place was the belief his easygoing manner would bring extra fun to a businesslike clubhouse. So far it’s not more fun …
— The Cardinals are still experiencing issues with defense and base running, which isn’t The Cardinals Way.

 
San Diego Padres
— While Brad Hand’s name is out there, one rival says that to trade him "they’d absolutely have to kill it." If they were to get a deal like the Yankees got for Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller, that rival thought they’d do it. Otherwise, no. Hand is under contract through 2020, and as one rival put it, "They expect to compete next year and the year after." …
— Another rival put it this way, "Hand is going nowhere." …
— Freddy Galvis has been brilliant defensively, and they remain interested in another Philly infielder: Maikel Franco.
 
San Francisco Giants
— The Giants saved $2.2 million this year (and another $3 million next year) with their deal to send Austin Jackson and reliever Cory Gearrin to the Rangers. The $2.2 million is big as the Giants were butting up against the $197-million luxury tax threshold …
— Derek Rodriguez continues to thrive …
— Buster Posey not participating in the All-Star Game due to a hip issue may explain his somewhat down year …
— Mark Melancon provided hope with a recent outing.
 
Seattle Mariners
— The Mariners remain in strong position to break their streak of postseason-less baseball, which is the longest in MLB. So it’s no surprise GM Jerry Dipoto received a multi-year extension (of unannounced length). The trade with the D-Backs for Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura (who played one game in Anaheim for Dipoto before he traded him for Zack Greinke), has proven masterful. Both have starred and are worthy of All-Star consideration …
— That would seem to bode well for manager Scott Servais, Dipoto’s friend and the team’s manager. Though Servais doesn’t seem to be very popular in the clubhouse, he certainly has had success …
— The Mariners are still connected to Toronto starter J.A. Happ …
— Edwin Diaz is having a remarkable year, and is already getting close to a record, writes Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report …
— Mike Marjama, 29, retired and will take a job related to his past battle with an eating disorder. Good luck to him …
— Jean Segura on not making the All-Star team, before he was voted in by the fans Thursday night. "I mean, it’s ridiculous." We agree.
 


Tampa Bay Rays
— Some evaluators are hoping the Rays, who will generally listen to most things, would consider trading emerging star Blake Snell. But then they seem to realize that they are surely dreaming …
— By the way, how does Snell, the A.L. ERA leader (2.09) not make the All-Star team? Something wrong with the system if that’s the case. …
— The Rays' new ballpark looks terrific, albeit a bit on the small side. Hope it gets built. If not, MLB might have to consider a move. "This can’t go on forever," one MLB person said.
 
Texas Rangers
— The key to the deal with the Giants is right hander Jason Bahr. In effect, the Rangers paid $5.2 million for Bahr, which may not be a bad buy …
— The expectation is they will trade the also-acquired Austin Jackson. They have told him they really don’t foresee much playing time for him if he stays ...
— Shin-Soo Choo has hit in 48 games in a row, a team record.
 
Toronto Blue Jays
— Jays exec Ben Cherington has been mentioned as a potential candidate for Mets GM. He and his wife (and two children) live in Connecticut …
— Griffin Conine, son of Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine, is off to a hot start in the minors. The Jays lead the league in sons of major league stars, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Kacy Clemens and Dwight Smith Jr. 

 

Washington Nationals
— Ryan Zimmerman appears ready to start a rehab assignment soon for his calf and oblique injuries. And according to an N.L. executive, there was a calf injury in spring, and also a recurrence recently (though, the Nats continue to call it only an oblique). While it was written that the Nats weren’t using Zimmerman in games this spring as a grand experiment to preserve older veterans, and at the least the Nats never corrected the record, the reality is that Zimmerman missed almost all spring training with a calf injury. He got at-bats on the back field in simulated games, but in those at-bats, he just got at-bats and didn’t run to first base, or certainly run the bases. It’s a little unusual this went undetected as some other teams began to wonder whether the Nats’ grand experiment – which wasn’t really an experiment at all – might be worth trying for their own players.
— Once the season started, Zimmerman was ready to play, but soon went down with an oblique injury. He’s been out two months, but it hasn’t all been the oblique injury. It turns out that when he tried to ramp things up at one point, the calf acted up again – yes, the calf injury no one seemed to know about …
— Sources: The Nationals also declined to part with Víctor Robles for Gerrit Cole …
— When they fell below .500, Max Scherzer took the necessary step to call a players meeting to try to straighten things out …
— The Nats also invited the just-retired Jayson Werth, famous as a feisty leader, to speak to the troops. Nice idea. Here was our scoop on Werth’s retirement
— Can’t disagree with this column in the New York Daily News more, which sought to rip Bryce Harper for not being a team leader since Scherzer is the one that called the meeting. Harper is only 25. Not many team leaders at 25. It’s true not many pitchers are team leaders, but there's nothing wrong with Scherzer being one …
— The idea that Harper is just working out at first base to impress the Yankees and make more money as a free agent is silly, too. The Nats have four players worthy of starting in the outfield (Harper, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and Michael Taylor). So it’s good for Washington he’s willing to play first …
— The chances (and, frankly, need) to sign Bryce Harper have probably diminished in D.C. with the emergence of Juan Soto. The Nats broke out with some big games shortly after the meeting, highlighted by an 8-RBI performance  from Trea Turner, and two games later a 10-RBI game for Mark Reynolds …
— Daniel Murphy still looks hobbled, according to scouts. “He’s at 75 to 80 percent,” one scout guesstimated …
— Hard to believe no one wanted Mark Reynolds this winter. He has done a lot of damage for the Nats already …
— As we’ve said here many times before, the Nats would like to add another starting pitcher. 

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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