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MLB News and Notes: April 16, 2019

Francisco Lindor Nearing Return

Cleveland could be set to get a huge boost to their lineup sooner than later. Francisco Lindor is set to begin a rehab assignment with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. Lindor has been out all season dealing with both a calf strain and a high left ankle sprain. Last season, Lindor hit .277/.352/.519 with a .871 OPS. He had 38 home runs, 92 runs batted in, and 129 runs scored. He also had 25 stolen bases on the season while playing a remarkable shortstop. While the Indians sit at 8-7 at the time of this writing, 2ndplace in the AL Central, their success has been based on their pitching staff as opposed to their offense. With fellow All-Star Jose Ramirez getting off to a slow start, the Indians could use a spark, and that very well may come as Lindor works his way back from injury. Speaking of the Indians, they also make the headlines for…

Indians Select Contract Of Carlos Gonzalez

The Cleveland Indians have called up Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who had signed a minor league deal with the team, will now be guaranteed $2 million for being on the big league roster and has the opportunity to earn another $1 million in incentives. With the state of Cleveland’s outfield aside from Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin in doubt, it was an easy decision for the Tribe to pull up Gonzalez. Last season, with the Colorado Rockies, Gonzalez hit .276/.329/.467 in 463 at-bats. He also added 16 home runs, 4 triples, 32 doubles, 64 runs batted in and 71 runs scored. Like many free agents this offseason, though, finding work was troublesome and he ultimately had to settle for a minor league deal. If he can stay healthy, he could be a nice addition for the Cleveland Indians in a somewhat weak AL Central division.

Indians Designate Brad Miller For Assignment

While Carlos Gonzalez is enjoying his promotion, another Cleveland Indian, Brad Miller, is left disappointed as he was designated for assignment by the club. Filling his spot is Justin Kipnis, who is returning from injury. In 36 at-bats, Miller is hitting .250/.325/.417 with 1 home run, 4 runs batted in, 4 runs scored and a stolen base. Given how well he filled in for the Tribe, it would not be surprising to see another team scoop him up.

Steal Of A Deal For Braves With Albies

The Atlanta Braves made headlines last week as they signed young phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. to a seemingly team-friendly deal; however, if that one was deemed team-friendly, then this one is just an outright steal. The Braves announced they signed second baseman Ozzie Albies to a $35 million contract that will keep him in Atlanta from 2019-2025. It also comes with two team options that would push the contract to a 9-year, $45 million contract. Four of those nine years Albies would have been a free agent. Granted, Albies is far from a proven veteran, but at the tail end of the deal, when he will only be making $7 million per year (even in the options), that is hard to say no to if you are a Braves’ fan.

Last year, at 21 years old, Albies hit .261/.3305/.452 with 24 home runs, 40 doubles, 5 triples, 72 runs batted in and 105 runs scored. Throw on top of that 14 stolen bases, and it was a really nice season for the youngster. In 61 at-bats to start this season, he is hitting .328/.397/.459 with one home run, 3 doubles, a triple, 2 runs batted in, 9 runs scored and 3 stolen bases. Between Albies and Acuna Jr, the Braves have a really nice core they are building around that should keep them competitive for years to come.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Sent To Minors

While players like Acuna Jr. and Albies are thriving, another youngster is heading to the minors for a “mental break.” It was announced by the Blue Jays that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was being sent to Triple-A Buffalo. Infielder Eric Sogard is set to take his place. The Cuban import and younger brother of the Astros’ Yuli Gurriel hit .281/.309/.446 last year with 11 home runs, 35 runs batted in, and 30 runs scored. This season, though, he is hitting just .175/.250/.275 with no home runs in 40 at-bats. Given that the Blue Jays aren’t exactly expected to be competitive, they can surely be patient with their 25-year-old, hoping that he can regain his form and come back up to the big leagues sooner than later.

A Couple Of Late Inning Relievers Hit The IL

A couple of late-inning relievers on contending teams in the NL East have found their way to the injured list recently. First, David Robertson of the Philadelphia Phillies is heading on the shelf with soreness in his right elbow. Righty Drew Anderson was recalled to take his spot. Robertson signed a two-year, $23 million contract this offseason to be a late-inning reliever for the Phillies. By the end of the offseason, he was an afterthought in an offseason that saw the likes of Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto (among others) join the team. It hasn’t been the best start of the year for Robertson, who is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA, 2.10 WHIP and has 6 strikeouts in 6.2 innings pitched. Still, he is hoping that his arm issues turn out to be only minor and that he can return to help the big club.

Another late inning reliever hitting the shelf is the Braves’ Arodys Vizcaino. Finding the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, Vizcaino is dealing with shoulder issues for the second year in a row. As part of a co-closer role, this now opens the door for A.J. Minter to see the bulk of the time at the end of games. To date, Vizcaino is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and has 6 strikeouts in 4 innings. For a Braves team fighting in a deep NL East, they will hope to get Vizcaino back in the bullpen soon.

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