Welcome back to the Daily Bernie! This has turned into one of the weirdest deadlines yet, as we’re only four days away and only a handful of significant deals have gone through. This weekend will certainly be wild, and I’ll be with you every step of the way! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!
- The A’s are still undecided on what course of action to take with some of their veterans, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com. While the A’s still sold their pending free agents last July despite a hot stretch similar to this current run, it could be an entirely different story in 2016. Lee reiterates that supposed staff ace Sonny Gray isn’t going anywhere, and with the club still hoping to extend outfielder Josh Reddick and teams waiting to see one more start out of lefty Rich Hill, there’s a very real chance that this could be a quiet deadline for Oakland. There’s been some interest in veterans like infielder Jed Lowrie and relievers John Axford and Marc Rzepczynski, so the club will likely make a couple of trades, but if Hill happens to suffer another setback in his return from a blister and the team doesn’t get a huge offer for Reddick, two of baseball’s top trade chips could be staying put.
- On Thursday night, the San Francisco Giants added a solid piece of infield depth, picking up shortstop Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for young lefty Adalberto Mejia. The move has been made official. Nunez, the Twins’ lone All-Star representative this year, has enjoyed a breakout season in 2016 at the age of 29. The right-handed hitter has hit an even .300 so far, with 12 home runs and 26 stolen bases. He is versatile, but isn’t great defensively at any position. He is at worst a solid bench bat, but one can’t reasonably expect him to fully maintain his breakout numbers. The Giants gave up quite a bit in Adalberto Mejia. While the southpaw was only ranked seventh by MLB.com in the Giant’s updated Top 30 list, many consider him to be one of the farm’s finest young arms. After dominating Double-A, the 23 year-old has held his own in Triple-A, and figures to be a big part of the Twins’ future.
- Jon Heyman of TodaysKnuckleball.com covered dozens of topics in his latest “Inside Baseball” column. Most notably, he discussed the New York Yankees’ curious interest in Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. New York traded one of the top closers in the game in Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs on Monday, so it is very interesting that the club could still look to buy, especially a top arm like Sale. Heyman also wrote that clubs are showing interest in current Athletics closer Ryan Madson, who has struggled as of late. For tons more, be sure to check out his article.
- Early Thursday morning it was reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks were close to moving reliever Daniel Hudson. While that deal didn’t quite come to fruition, Bob Nightengale of USA Today did note that the club is drawing “heavy interest” on the righty from three clubs. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish lists the Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, and Cleveland Indians as three potential suitors.
- Another player that seems likely to be dealt today is San Diego Padres starter Andrew Cashner. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on Thursday night that the Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins were the front-runners for the for the right-hander, and later that night Joe Frisario of MLB.com reported that the Marlins were pushing hard to finalize a deal. Keep an eye on the return for San Diego if the deal is finalized - the A’s can very reasonably expect much more in return for Hill than a team would give up for Cashner.
Bernie’s Daily Deal: Rich Hill to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Harold Ramirez and Mitch Keller
After enduring a rough stretch earlier in the year, the Pirates have roared back and are contenders yet again. Their rotation could use some help, as it has been battered by injuries and struggles, including lefty Jeff Locke’s 5.43 ERA. They have been connected to Hill, and although they have never been huge deadline buyers, the team may feel pressured to win sooner rather than later, before star outfielder Andrew McCutchen is gone.
Harold Ramirez is a 21 year-old right-handed outfielder. Already in Double-A, Ramirez has shown excellent contact ability throughout his minor league career thanks to a line drive swing and an all-fields approach. Defensively, his arm strength isn’t the best and could limit him to left field, but he is athletic and has plus speed. He has shown a bit of game power and definitely has plenty of raw power, but his swing is almost entirely his upper half. If a team could get him to better utilize his lower half and tap into that raw power more often, Ramirez could become a stud, but if not, he should still be an above average hitter.
Mitch Keller is a 20 year-old righty. The second round pick in the 2014 draft, Keller has been absolutely dominant in Single-A in 2016. Over 18 starts, he has posted a 2.86 ERA supported by rates of 9.22 K/9 and a minuscule 1.29 BB/9. His fastball sits in the low to mid nineties with some sink, and his curveball is an absolute hammer, while the changeup is still coming along. The biggest red flag with Keller is health - he missed most of 2015 with a forearm strain. He has plenty of upside, but some risk as well, and is still far from the majors.
An alternative to Keller would be lefty Steven Brault. The 24 year-old will be making just his second career Major League start against the Brewers tonight, and while his first wasn’t great, he has certainly been excellent in the minor leagues so far. In 2016, he has come out of nowhere to post a 2.15 ERA in Triple-A, striking out well over a batter per inning. His previously-great command has faltered a bit, but it remains to be seen whether this is an actual change or just a minor blip. He could step into the Athletics rotation immediately, and profiles as a back-end arm or potentially even better.
That’s all for today. Righty Kendall Graveman, who has been on fire as of late, will take the mound against Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland Indians at 4:10 PM. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!