As we approach the end of May, there is plenty of news from around the Major Leagues. Here’s a roundup of the biggest newsmakers in Major League Baseball:
Stars Finding Their Way To The Injured List
With the season roughly a third of the way through, there have been some notable injuries of late for teams hoping to contend for postseason positions. Here is a rundown of a few over the last week:
Charlie Blackmon: The Colorado Rockies’ All-Star outfielder will be on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Blackmon has been dealing with a right calf problem, and after he missed the entire weekend, the Rockies decided to utilize the injured list. In 200 at-bats this season, Blackmon is hitting .300/.356/.565 with 10 home runs, 31 runs batted in, and 35 runs scored. In his absence, the Rockies recalled outfielder Yonthan Daza from their Triple-A affiliate.
Houston Astros: It may be premature to start incorporating the “Houston, we have a problem” quotes, but the Astros have certainly been decimated with injuries as of late. Jose Altuve has been on the injured list as a result of a strained hamstring; however, it appears that his return is close as he played Sunday in a minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A where he went 1 for 5.
For George Springer, though, after returning from an ailing back, he came up limp trying to run down a ball and is out for the foreseeable future as a result. Additionally, Aldemys Diaz has been placed on the injured list with a hamstring issue as he tried to move awkwardly to avoid a tag at home plate the other night. With Altuve already out and Diaz injured, the Astros have been left a little thin on the infield.
Chris Paddack: The San Diego phenom was scratched from his start on Sunday with a stiff neck. The rookie has been absolutely dominant this year, pitching to a 4-2 record with a 1.93 ERA and 0.76 WHIP while striking out 56 versus 11 walks in 51.1 innings pitched. The scratch was strictly precautionary as he isn’t in danger right now of missing his start, but the Padres probably aren’t too upset given they are evaluating how to limit his innings moving forward anyway.
Kris Bryant: The Chicago Cubs are still monitoring Bryant after he collided with outfielder Jason Heyward on Sunday going for a ball in the outfield. Bryant was cleared to travel with the Cubs to Houston; however, he was not in the lineup Monday and is still being evaluated to determine whether a stint on the injured list would be the best option. For what it is worth, Jason Heyward was not in the lineup Monday, either, but that is likely just to give him an extra day of rest as he did not take the brunt of the impact like Bryant.
Pedroia’s Future In Doubt
It appears that the career of one of the Boston Red Sox’s recent greats may be coming to a close. After a couple of years of trying and failing to get his left knee in playing shape, Dustin Pedroia is taking some time away from his rehab to determine if it is time to hang up his cleats or not. A Red Sox player his entire career, Pedroia has only played in nine games over the last two seasons. In fact, his last full season was 2016, when he hit .318/.376/.449 with 15 home runs, 74 runs batted in, 36 doubles and 105 runs scored. If he is done, it has been one remarkable career for the diminutive second baseman.
Cleveland Releases Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez is looking for a new home. The Cleveland Indians decided to release the former All-Star outfielder after he got off to a struggling start this year. They finally decided to pull the trigger on the move to open up a spot for catcher Eric Haase, as they needed to open up a spot to replace Roberto Perez, who was put on the concussion list. This season, Gonzalez was hitting .210/.282/.276 with two home runs, seven runs batted in and 13 runs scored in 105 at-bats.
Prior to this season, Gonzalez spent his entire career with Colorado; however, injuries have always been a problem as he has only played in over 145 games twice since he broke into the league in 2008. His best season was in 2015 when he hit .271/.325/.540 with 40 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 87 runs scored. As recently as last year, he hit .276/.329/.467 with 16 home runs, 64 runs batted in and 71 runs scored, so it is conceivable that someone could still take a flyer on him.
Keuchel and Kimbrel Watch
Two of the best pitchers from last offseason’s free agent crop are still free agents. Expect that to change soon, though. With the draft rapidly approaching, the two free agents will be able to shed the weight of the draft compensation to their signings, likely enticing more teams to be willing to negotiate. If a team were to sign one of them today, they would have to forfeit a draft pick, but that goes away as soon as the draft starts.
Some have already linked both Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees to Keuchel, and there are a number of teams that could use Kimbrel in the back of their bullpen (the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves come to mind). Reports indicate that several scouts have been in attendance of simulated games that Keuchel has pitched, so it doesn’t seem like the wait for them to sign will take long. Still, it will be interesting to see how long it takes them to get to game-ready shape and to see how the long layoff will affect them when they do return.
Possible Trade Candidates
With the summer months quickly approaching, we have started to get an idea of contenders and pretenders in Major League Baseball. After the draft (and the likely signings of Keuchel and Kimbrel), focus will start to shift to the trade deadline. With a handful of teams likely to be out of contention, there is already some belief that these four players could become available:
Madison Bumgarner: The ace of the San Francisco Giants, Bumgarner has pitched respectably this season. In 11 starts, he is 3-4 with a 4.10 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while having struck out 70 and walked 13 in 68 innings. He is no longer the dominant top of the rotation starter that he once was, but he can still be serviceable on a good team. One thing to note is that Bumgarner hasn’t thrown more than 21 starts in a season since 2016, a year he went 15-9. Still, a contending team could do a lot worse in the playoffs than trotting Bumgarner out as your number two or three.
Anthony Rendon: The All-Star third baseman is likely to be the crown jewel of the trade deadline. If the Nationals don’t get it turned around, he will likely be as good as gone (don’t expect the Nationals to make the same mistake they did last year with Harper). This season, Rendon is hitting .329/.423/.678 with 10 home runs, 31 runs batted in and 39 runs scored in 143 at-bats. A free agent to be this offseason, Rendon could help out a lot of clubs, and his return could help the Nationals to retool.
Max Scherzer: A less certain trade candidate on the Nationals is Max Scherzer. After a dominant season last year that saw him go 18-7, this year has been a little more frustrating. Scherzer is 2-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while striking out 96 versus 16 walks in 71.1 innings.
Signed through 2021, Scherzer wouldn’t be just a rental. That is all the more reason that it might be unlikely he is traded. If the Nationals’ front office thinks it can contend sooner than later, they may want to keep him. Even if they are willing to listen, the asking price might be too high for the comfort of contending teams.
Marcus Stroman: Another likely pitching trade candidate is the Toronto Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman. The right-handed pitcher currently is 3-6 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.33 WHIP while striking out 57 in 69 innings pitched. He has not blossomed into the dominant pitcher many expected from just a couple years ago, but he would still help a lot of contending teams.