Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Nats took eight calls on Harper, none got very far

Time for another trip around the majors. 

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs have the best overall bullpen ERA (3.06) and best since the deadline (1.10), and they have done a nice job adding different looks – Brad Ziegler, Jake Diekman and Matt Andriese – as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes
— Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic discovered one possible explanation why Archie Bradley isn’t as dominant this year as last. With manager Torey Lovullo saving him for the hearts or orders, Piecoro says Bradley has faced the highest aggregate OPS in terms of opposing hitters in the game
— Underrated David Peralta had four hits from the ninth inning on in a 3-2 extra-inning win over the Phillies. He was 10-for-16 to close out the series against the Phillies.
 
Atlanta Braves: The Braves wound up filling two holes with the acquisitions of veterans Adam Duvall and Kevin Gausman without giving up their very best prospects, so perhaps they deserved a higher standing in our winners and losers column from last week
— The player the Braves really wanted was Manny Machado. But their status as contender wasn’t as certain back when he was traded at the All-Sar break, so it’s understandable why they didn’t go all in …
— They checked in on J.T. Realmuto just before the deadline, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reported … They check in on just about everyone …
— They also talked to the Mets about Zack Wheeler, but there’s no belief anything was close …
— Hitters are batting .143 off Max Fried’s curve …
— The Joe Simpson apology tour continued. A week after the Braves broadcaster apologized for ripping the Dodgers for wearing casual clothes during batting practice (for instance Chase Utley’s t-shirt said K Cancer, a terrific thought), he was apologizing for implying Juan Soto isn’t really 19. Nats GM Mike Rizzo took offense, and Simpson once again was sorry.

 
Baltimore Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez, their No. 1 pick, is off to a big start, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes
— The Kevin Gausman deal is receiving some criticism. But beyond the four players and international money they received, it was a major cost saver considering they unloaded injured reliever Darren O’Day in the deal, and Gausman is arbitration eligible …
— The original goal was to do a deal like the A’s did for Sonny Gray. But while each pitcher had two extra years remaining, the reality is that Gray was thriving in Oakland when dealt while Gausman has been perpetually average …
— Gausman is a smart guy, and understands the perception that he is an underachiever. “I feel like, to be honest, in my time here I didn’t feel like I pitched to my abilities.” …
— They also stocked up on international money, running their total to $8.25 million. One of the biggest errors of the mistaken-ridden reign of Peter Angelos has been to ignore Latin America.


 
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox are understandably being lionized everywhere. The front-page Boston Globe headline read, “Picture Perfect.” …
— Dave Dombrowski made the best pickup of the winter, signing J.D. Martinez. And Nate Eovaldi might be the best-performing trade deadline pickup so far …
— Eduardo Rodriguez is progressing …
— Jason Varitek is enjoying his job as catching instructor writes Chad Jennings in The Athletic
— The Yankees are on pace for 101.79 wins and are nine games behind in the AL East.


 
 Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are thought to be interested in shoring up the bullpen, especially with Brandon Morrow out …
— The Cole Hamels trade was fantastic …
— The strike three call on Anthony Rizzo by Angel Hernandez was so far outside you wonder whether robo umpires might be closer than we assume.
 
Chicago White Sox: Eloy Jimenez is batting .376 at Triple-A, and while one Chisox exec was recently quoted saying he is “very close” to the big leagues, that term went undefined. Does it mean days, weeks, months … or maybe next year? Until further notice, there appears to be a likelihood he will be treated no differently than other big-time prospects were, meaning like Kris Bryant and Ronald Acuna Jr. In other words, he still may not appear in the majors until early next season …
— Matt Davidson is being discovered to be a pretty good pitcher. He has had three scoreless outings, and he whiffed no less than Giancarlo Stanton in his last performance …
— Adam Engel is an amazing athlete.


 
Cincinnati Reds: Word going around is that Reds owner Bob Castellini is a big fan of interim manager Jim Riggleman, which should give him a good chance to keep his job. The Reds haven’t said anything officially yet, but it also shouldn’t hurt that he has done a terrific job at the helm …
— The Reds are operating at a deficit in the outfield now, with the injury to Jesse Winker and trade of Adam Duvall …
— The Reds are hoping Hunter Greene’s UCL issue “isn’t a big deal.” They will try platelet-rich plasma (PRP) procedures in hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery. Of course, when such a phenom has anything going on, it will incite concern. He was one of the youngest players in his draft as a youthful high school senior, and while they are absolutely committed to Greene as a pitcher (he hit 103 mph in the Futures Game!), he was also a very good shortstop at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, should the need arise …
— Michael Lorenzen may be a better hitter than he is a pitcher. At the least, he surely is a weapon with the bat (three homers in 15 at-bats this year).
 
Cleveland Indians: Josh Donaldson could be a possible fit for the Indians. They could move MVP candidate Jose Ramirez to second base, and Jason Kipnis into the outfield mix …
— Trevor Bauer is a Cy Young candidate. No surprise that he leads the AL with 2,494 pitches and 108.4 pitches per start (via MLB Network) since he is a bulldog and the Indians bullpen has been undependable.

 
Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story is developing into a star …
— Nolan Arenado is an MVP candidate, though his stark splits might hurt him …
— Kyle Freeland should have been an All-Star, as he keeps showing.
 
Detroit Tigers: Francisco Liriano, Jordan Zimmerman and Jose Iglesias all cleared waivers, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press
— Third baseman Jeimer Candelario is emerging as a bona fide player.
 
Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez is coming on now, showing why he’s made the All-Star team six straight years …
— Brad Keller was a great Rule 5 pickup from Arizona …
— Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel would appear to have no chance to be traded based on how their seasons have gone.


 
Houston Astros: Lance McCullers’ aliment has alternately been called an elbow or a forearm. Fortunately, the Astros are perhaps best equipped to deal with injuries to key pitchers …
— The Astros are also dealing with injuries to star position players lately, with George Springer and Jose Altuve also sidelined …
— Top prospect Yordan Alvarez inspires the biggest disparity of opinion, from future superstar (“the next McCovey,” one scout said) to a man without a position …
— Katie Strang offered a fair take on Roberto Osuna and the issue of domestic violence in baseball in The Athletic
— One could argue the Astros have made maybe more good calls than anyone in recent years. But decisions like the trade for Osuna are what happens when the human element is removed from the equation entirely.
 
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout had a cortisone shot to speed up recovery from a wrist injury. The hope is Trout will return Friday …
— Happy birthday to Trout, a No. 27 who turned 27 on Tuesday
— The Angels are 58-58 this year, but given that they have been decimated by starting pitching injuries, that isn't that bad ...
— In the best news of all, Shohei Ohtani is expected to throw on the side Saturday.


 
Los Angeles Dodgers: Poor Corey Seager. Out for the year after Tommy John surgery, it was recently discovered he also needs arthroscopic hip surgery due to a play that occurred a couple days before his UCL tear …
— Manager Dave Roberts to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times on why Hyun-Jin Ryu did a rehab start at Reno rather than Corpus Christi: “I think there’s casinos in Reno … You’ve got to know your players.” …
— The Dodgers have been trying for years to get Brian Dozier. Due to the trade, the chance for a qualifying offer was removed from Dozier’s equation. (The guess here is the Twins wouldn’t have given him one, anyway.) …
— To this point Manny Machado has not been as good in L.A. as he was in Baltimore.
 
Miami Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen has some amazing home-road splits: a 1 ERA at home, 10 on the road …
— Struggling Kyle Barraclough lost his closing job. They are using a committee, but Drew Steckenrider would seem to be the most logical replacement candidate …
— The Nats weren’t the only ones to show late interest in J.T. Realmuto.
 
Milwaukee Brewers: While they were called “small winners” at the deadline here, it is curious that the Brewers needed a starting pitcher, a shortstop, a second baseman and a catcher, and their three trades brought only one of those things (a very good second baseman, Jonathan Schoop, who may have to play shortstop). In the other two trades, they repeated strengths by acquiring a third baseman and a reliever (Mike Moustakas and Joakim Soria). Of course, they obviously liked those trades better, and they did make the team better — resulting in their “small winners” status …
— They picked up talented, underachieving Jordan Lyles off waivers from the Padres, giving them another possible rotation option. But that is a flyer considering the up-and-down nature of his career.
 
Minnesota Twins: The Twins did a nice job gathering prospects, which is what they needed to do, at the break …
— One under the radar pickup was Luis Rijo, who had 32 strikeouts and three walks when acquired …
— Joe Mauer and Logan Morrison cleared waivers, according to a report from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Hard to see the Twins trading a legend like Mauer, and it would seem Morrison isn’t having a strong enough year to draw interest …
— The Twins have interest in bringing back closer Fernando Rodney, LaVelle Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Rodney has a $4.25-million cub option, so barring something unforeseen, he can probably expect that to be picked up …
— The major-league team has been a disappointment, but as Dan Hayes in The Athletic pointed out, they have had a terrific year in the minors, with former No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis, plus outfielders Alex Kiriloff and Brent Rooker and pitcher Brusdar Graterol all starring …
— Oliver Drake set an MLB record when the Twins became the fifth team for him to pitch for this year. “My wife definitely would appreciate being a little more settled,” Drake told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com.

 
New York Mets: Newsday became the latest outlet to report the Mets intend to bring back Mickey Callaway as manager. I’ve heard that’s their intent, too — but in that case, that’s only their intent until it isn’t. They once said Bobby Valentine was coming back for another year only to change their minds a few weeks later…
— Among other concerns is the Mets defense. One rival calls them “the worst defense I’ve seen in 30 years.” That may be a bit of an exaggeration …
— Amed Rosario has been discussed as a center field candidate, Kevin Kernan wrote in the New York Post. That makes little sense from here …
— Some actually believe he should be in the minors getting more seasoning. That makes more sense. Jose Reyes wants to come back next year. Of course, he probably shouldn’t have come back this year. The former batting champ is hitting .186 …
— Wilmer Flores had a three-hit game on his 27th birthday. He also debuted on his birthday (Aug. 6) five years earlier …
— The Mets tried hard to trade Devin Mesoraco, but the market was and is still very limited …
— Meantime, the asking price on Jose Bautista sounded higher than you’d think ...
— Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that the Mets may want to bring back Bautista – though Bautista soon went into an 0-for-23 slump (with strikeouts) …
— The Brewers and Braves seemed to show the most interest in Zack Wheeler. But there was no real evidence either team came especially close. No chance Wheeler can pass through waivers. The Mets are not that unhappy to have all four of their top starters back next year, anyway …
— Jacob deGrom has one of the best ERAs (1.99) in day games all time, via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Others high on the list include Bill James (different Bill James) and Babe Ruth at No. 7 …
— Legendary Met Ed Kranepool made up with the Mets after a disagreement with ownership, as Wally Matthews writes in the New York Times.


New York Yankees: The Yankees were a big winner in our winners/losers column. They probably deserved it, but there’s one thing they could have done better: they never got the righty bat they hoped for. With Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez out, that weakness has become apparent …
— The trade of Brandon Drury in the J.A. Happ deal was logical. But it was nice that the Jays later sold them Gio Urshela, who’s also a righty-hitting third baseman, to give them back some dept lost (though he’s not as good as Drury) …
— Some Yankees personnel remain concerned about the defense of Gary Sanchez. You wonder if they could include Sanchez in a package for J.T. Realmuto …
— Miguel Andujar has been a bit concerning defensively. But his offense remains terrific, and he should be considered the third baseman of the future …
— GM Brian Cashman acquired two Northwestern products when he added Happ and George Kontos, as fellow Northwestern alum Willie Weinbaum pointed out to me. But in case Cashman has a sudden affinity for Northwestern, don’t forget he let go of Joe Girardi after last season …
— Brian Kenny of MLB Network makes a great case for Thurman Munson being in the Hall of Fame. The case is based on peak WAR, winning, the postseason and throwing out runners. He convinced me! …
— Get well soon, Jacoby Ellsbury.
 
Oakland Athletics: The pickup of Mike Fiers was a very good one. He has a 1.9 ERA in the last month …
— The A’s did a lot with a little, also adding Shawn Kelley and before that Jeurys Familia, for the bullpen …
— Pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo is “fantastic,” says a scout. He came with Blake Treinin in the trade of All-Stars with Washington (the Nats got Sean Doolittle in the deal) …
— Bob Melvin has one year left on his deal, so he would be a lame duck next year under his current contract. And he may be Manager of the Year (Alex Cora would seem to be the main competitor, but Melvin may be the favorite). The A's should try to extend him, if they aren't already …
Terrific story by Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report on A’s star 3B Matt Chapman.

 
Philadelphia Phillies: They never got a shortstop. But they love the offense of Asdrubal Cabrera, and understandably so …
— Scott Kingery is still going to be a star, it says here. But I might take back my questioning of his decision to sign a $25-million contract this spring. He has a -1.2 WAR this year, but he has been necessary, as the one they needed to play shortstop a good chunk of the year …
— Phillies starters continue to thrive, as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes
— Phillies scouts warned against signing Tommy Hunter. Someone should have listened. The Phillies have done a lot of great things, but his $18-million deal is quite the overpay …
— Danny Espinosa has been released by some of the better organizations in baseball this year, with the Phillies joining the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Yankees.
 
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jameson Taillon threw an inspiring complete game win at Coors Field, a year after his battle with cancer. Taillon was matched in that game with Chad Bettis, another who battled cancer …
— Pirates GM Neal Huntington has loved Chris Archer forever, so it should have come as no surprise the Pirates acquired him …
— It is surprising the Pirates were major sellers last winter, and have now become big buyers even though they are only on the fringe of the race. They are a hard team to predict …
— The pickup of Adeiny Hechavarria gives them infield insurance, but it’s a bit curious since he isn’t under contract beyond this year …
— Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic made a good point about how the Pirates recent aggressiveness may be affected by the fans’ dissatisfaction with ownership, leading to a 40 percent decline in attendance in only a few years.

 
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals loved Josh Donaldson this winter, so if they hang in the race, they could be a team to go for him
— The pickup of Tyson Ross for nothing was a nice surprise …
— Marcell Ozuna’s diminished numbers may be related to his shoulder issue, which is apparent when he throws. His hard-hit rate isn’t far off from last year, so perhaps luck has something to do with it as well.
 
San Diego Padres: It had to be disappointing to get nothing for Tyson Ross …
— Kirby Yates also was not traded, and it’s hard to see him clearing waivers …
— GM A.J. Preller’s extension is believed to be for as many as four years …
— Jacob Nix is being called up, as A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com reported. Nix has had an interesting journey to the bigs, starting with his agreed-upon $1.5-mllion deal with the Padres (about $1.1 million over slot) canceled when the Astros lost that extra money after failing to sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Nix later settled with the Astros.
 
San Francisco Giants: The Giants could still become a seller depending on how the next few weeks go …
— Dereck Rodriguez – son of Pudge – has been a revelation …
— The Giants have more young players doing well than anyone would expect, as Hank Schulman recently pointed out on MLB Network …
— Ray Black has retired 30 straight. They’re getting some dominating performances out of the bullpen.

 
Seattle Mariners: Robinson Cano is likely to play mostly first base when he returns, as the Mariners have Dee Gordon for second and Kyle Seager at third. He has been working out at all three spots. This could be the first case of a player who lost his position due to a PED ban …
— It’s uncertain why the Mariners didn’t put in a claim on Mike Fiers since it was public knowledge the competing A’s were interested. At the time the waivers expired, the A’s were slightly ahead, which would seem to have given Seattle a chance to block. Of course, maybe they didn’t want to be stuck with Fiers …
— Felix Hernandez could be a candidate to be pulled from the rotation after his ERA rose to 5.73.
 
Tampa Bay Rays: The injury to Tommy Pham doesn’t diminish what a great trade that was …
— Their deadline work overall was excellent …
— Tyler Glasnow dominated his second time out …
— Matt Duffy is quietly having a very nice year …
— To conclude, Ryne Stanek has proved to be the best at openers.
 
Texas Rangers: Rougned Odor seems to have it back together, and that’s big …
— Jurickson Profar, once ranked as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball before injuries derailed his career, is threatening to fulfill his potential. Manager Jeff Banister recently said Profar could be a starting third baseman …
— Congrats to Bartolo Colon, who got win No. 246 on his sixth try, becoming the winningest pitcher from Latin American. His 246 victories topped Dennis Martinez, who has 245. The two best pitchers from Latin American remain Pedro Martinez followed by Juan Marichal.
 
Toronto Blue Jays: John Gibbons’ tenure could be up with the Jays, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic pointed out in a recent column about potential managerial changes. That would be too bad, as Gibbons is one of the great characters in the game …
— If Gibbons is replaced, it will be interesting to see if they turn to Eric Wedge, who’s often been linked to Jays president Mark Shapiro …
— Poor Brandon Drury. He suffered a broken hand after earlier having headaches while a Yankee …
— Regardless, the Jays did a nice job at the deadline.


 
Washington Nationals: The word is that about eight teams called the Nats about Harper after it was leaked that Washington would listen to proposals. But there didn’t appear to be any serious consideration to a Harper trade on the part of the Nats …
— The Nats did shake up their bullpen (more on this to come), and they're 5-3 since the deadline. Whether that is because of those trades or in spite of them remains to be seen ...
— Greg Holland is said to have drawn interest from five teams before he decided to sign with the Nats, who had shown interest in the past …
— Braves announcers, who are really on a roll lately, talked openly without evidence about their belief that Juan Soto may not be 19 years old. It seemed to be an attempt to suggest that no one could be younger and better than Ronald Acuña Jr. GM Mike Rizzo had something to say about that, to David O’Brien of The Athletic
— Max Scherzer is 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position and two out …
— Scherzer is hitting .306, and could become the second pitcher to win the Cy Young while topping .300. Bob Gibson, who hit .303 in 1970, is the only one to do so, Jayson Stark of The Athletic pointed out …
— Without a clear-cut position player in the MVP voting, Scherzer is a candidate, and some are starting to make his case …
— Jayson Werth called every team but one this winter while looking for a job he told Howard Eskin on Philly radio. The Mets were that one team. “I wouldn’t play for them.”

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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