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« on: May 06, 2019, 11:01:24 am »

Are the Reds seriously seeking a catching upgrade?"Let’s get one thing out of the way before we dig too much deeper here: the Mat Latos trade was nothing sort of a massive success for the Cincinnati Reds. Yonder Alonso wasn’t going to play ahead of Joey Votto Greg Holland Jersey , and hasn’t been worth Votto’s high socks since the deal. Similarly, Latos proved to be a clear upgrade over Edinson Volquez in the great rotations of 2012-2013, and even did so at a much cheaper salary. Brad Boxberger had a few great moments, but it’s hard to truly cry foul about losing a reliever who’s been worth a grand total of 1.8 bWAR in 7 years since the deal.The lone real qualm one could have with the deal was the decision to keep Devin Mesoraco over Yasmani Grandal at the time, though even Mesoraco’s case could be chalked up to freak injuries instead of mere underperformance. So, when you see a national writer like Jon Heyman continually refer to that 2011 swap as ‘ill-fated,’ know that’s frankly a big pile of bull honkey.It’s worth noting, though, that Heyman’s most recent ill-fated reference to that trade being ‘ill-fated’ came late last week in his Inside MLB Notes column at Fancred, one that included that the Reds have inquired about Grandal in free agency.In a vacuum, that’s a pretty harmless rumor. Grandal is the best free agent catcher on the market at the moment, and it’d be silly for any team not to check in with his camp to see what it is he’s looking for. Add-in that Grandal was drafted by the Reds under then-GM Walt Jocketty - who is still a part of the front office - and that he thrived under current Reds hitting coach Turner Ward when Ward was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it becomes a tad bit juicier.Of course, it’s not even the first catching rumor the Reds have surfaced in so far this winter, either, as they’ve also been continually linked with Miami Marlins All Star J.T. Realmuto, along with many other teams. And while you may well be able to chalk up the inquiry about Grandal as former acquaintances checking in on one another, the Realmuto news paired with the Grandal inquiry certainly makes it appear that the Reds might have interest in revamping their catching situation.Considering Tucker Barnhart was only signed to his four-year contract extension a little over one year ago - and has banked a Gold Glove since signing it - that’s a bit of an odd revelation, especially given how reasonable the dollar amount on Barnhart’s deal is. Obviously, that begs the chicken/egg question - are the Reds actively looking to upgrade from Barnhart, or are other teams so interested in acquiring Barnhart in a bigger deal that the Reds are trying to figure out what it would cost to replace him?The Cleveland Indians, for instance, have long been trying to trim payroll while maintaining a club capable of competing for another World Series appearance, and that has led to them letting Michael Brantley walk in free agency, shipping Yan Gomes to Washington, and doing everything they could to shed a few million bucks in their swap of Carlos Santana for Edwin Encarnacion. On top of that, they’re still consistently atop the rumor mill with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer on the block, a trade of each likely significantly reducing their 2019 payroll while bringing back big-league pieces. Kluber, in particular, has been of interest to the Reds for obvious reasons, and considering the Cleveland catching depth chart now consists of the incredibly lackluster Roberto Perez and Eric Haase in the wake of the Gomes deal - and that of Francisco Mejia to San Diego last trade deadline - perhaps Tucker is a prime piece Cleveland would desire as part of any Kluber package.To me, it seems the latter scenario is one that’s much more likely to be behind the Reds exploring the top end of the catching market. Though Barnhart’s pitch framing numbers have ranked among the worst in the game (Grandal’s have been the best, coincidentally) , he’s otherwise an incredible defender, his pitch blocking skills and ability to control the run game among the best around. He hits just enough to make for a pretty solid option back there, and at a total cost of just about $11.5 million total for the next three years (with an option for a fourth), he’s precisely the kind of bargain for every cost-conscious team out there. In other words, obviously most every team out there should have interest in him, and if he’s the kind of piece the Reds can use to land elite pitching - especially in a year where their payroll can absorb a high-priced catching replacement if needed - that’s an avenue they should realistically explore.Grandal would certainly be a pricey back-fill at catcher, to be sure. He’s average 22 dingers a year over the last four seasons, owns a career 115 OPS+, and has those previously mentioned pitch-framing numbers supporting his case. He has seemingly moved past the torn ACL and PED suspension from his earlier days - his 2018 OPS+ of 121 actually being a career best mark - and despite his struggles in the 2018 postseason he still stands to land a four-year contract that would likely be the priciest free agent deal in Reds history. It is worth noting that he’s spent a decent bit of time playing 1B in his career - 50 games in the big leagues - so he could, in theory, also help take a bit of playing time pressure off Joey Votto as Votto inches into his late 30’s, and do so with significantly better offensive production there than what the Reds could expect from Barnhart and Curt Casali.Given the acquisition of Tanner Roark and Friday’s blockbuster deal for Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, it’s clear the Reds have every intention of reshaping this roster to the best of their ability. Catcher doesn’t exactly jump off the page as an obvious need - Tucker Barnhart ranks 15th in total fWAR over the last two years among the 29 MLB catchers with at least 600 PA in that time - but there is still room for some improvement there, especially if there’s another team out there that truly covets Barnhart and his team-friendly contract. CHICAGO (AP) — Shortly after their playoff spot was assured, the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Albert Almora Jr.’s single with two outs in the 10th inning Wednesday night.The NL Central-leading Cubs clinched their fourth straight postseason appearance when Milwaukee beat St. Louis. The Brewers, who sealed a playoff slot with their win, are a half-game behind Chicago. One of them will win the NL Central, the other will play in the NL wild-card game.After Pittsburgh tied it in the ninth on a two-out, two-run double by Starling Marte, the Cubs bounced back to win. Ian Happ led off the 10th with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Terrance Gore. Mike Freeman’s sacrifice moved up Gore, and he took third on a groundout. Almora singled to left on an 0-2 pitch from Richard Rodriguez (4-3).Jason Heyward homered and drove in three runs for the Cubs. Javier Baez singled for his NL-leading 111th RBI as the Cubs won after blowing a five-run lead. Star third baseman Kris Bryant didn’t play because of a bruised left wrist. Jose Osuna and Corey Dickerson homered for Pittsburgh.Brandon Kintzler (3-3) got the only batter he faced in the top of the 10th to hit into a double play.BREWERS 2, CARDINALS 1ST. LOUIS (AP) — Milwaukee clinched its first playoff spot since 2011 by ensuring at least a spot in the NL wild-card game, helped when a rookie St. Louis pinch-runner fell on his way to the plate.Jhoulys Chacin pitched five shutout innings and Travis Shaw hit a pair of RBI singles to help the Brewers completed a three-game sweep.The Cardinals missed a big chance to tie it in the eighth inning. Matt Carpenter walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Adolis Garcia. Jose Martinez then hit a slow roller to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who threw wildly to first. Garcia was waved home but fell halfway to the plate, allowing second baseman Hernan Perez to easily throw him out to end the inning.Chacin (15-8), who had lost his last three decisions, gave up one run on just one hit over five innings. Xavier Cedeno, Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress combined for four shutout innings as the Brewers held the Cardinals to a season-low two hits. Jeffress earned his 13th save in 18 chances.Chasen Shreve (3-4) took the loss.ROCKIES 14, PHILLIES 0DENVER (AP) — Hard-throwing German Marquez started with eight straight strikeouts to match a modern-era big league record, and Colorado routed Philadelphia to take over the NL West lead.David Dahl homered for the third straight game , and the Rockies went deep four times in all as they extending their winning streak to six.Colorado moved a half-game ahead of Los Angeles for the division lead.Marquez (14-10) allowed three hits in seven innings and struck out 11 to set a Rockies record with 221 for the season, seven more than Ubaldo Jimenez’s total in 2010. By striking out his first eight batters, he tied a post-1900 mark set by Houston’s Jim Deshaies in 1986, and equaled by the New York Mets‘ Jacob deGrom in 2014. The overall record of nine was set by New York’s Mickey Welch in an NL game in 1884.Nick Pivetta (7-14) was the loser.DIAMONDBACKS 7, DODGERS 2PHOENIX (AP) — A.J. Pollock hit a three-run homer and Arizona dropped Los Angeles to second place in the NL West.The Dodgers‘ second loss in a row put them a half-game behind Colorado.Arizona chased Ross Stripling (8-6) with three runs in the second inning and Pollock hit his three-run homer in the fifth for a 6-2 lead.Zack Greinke (15-11) overcame a shaky start to allow two runs and strike out six in six innings. Socrates Brito hit his first big league homer in two years and David Peralta hit his 30th of the season in Arizona’s final home game.ATHLETICS 9, MARINERS 3SEATTLE (AP) — Matt Olson hit a grand slam that capped a six-run fifth inning, Khris Davis added his major league-leading 47th home run and Oakland closed in on the New York Yankees for home-field advantage in next week’s AL wild-card game.Oakland (96-63) improved to a big league-best 41-21 since the All-Star break and trails the Yankees (97-61) by 1½ games. New York holds the tiebreaker to host the Oct. 3 game; the wild-card winner advances to the Division Series against AL East champion Boston.With the score 3-all, Nick Martini hit an RBI single that chased Felix Hernandez (8-14), who made his first appearance since gaining American citizenship this week. Marcus Semien added a run-scoring single against Chasen Bradford before Olson’s drive to right-center.Ryan Buchter (6-0) pitched a hitless inning in relief of Edwin Jackson, who gave up three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings.RAYS 8, YANKEES 7ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka gave up four runs and six hits over four-plus innings in his final start before the playoffs in New York’s loss to Tampa Bay.New York started play with a 2 1/2-game lead over Oakland to host the AL wild-card game and has the tiebreaker. The Athletics played at Seattle later Wednesday night. Yankees manager Aaron Boone hasn’t decided if Tanaka, JA Happ or Luis Severino will start against Oakland.A four-run, ninth-inning rally by the Yankees came up just short against Sergio Romo, who got the final four outs for his 24th save.Tanaka (12-6) was coming off a four-inning start last Thursday in which he allowed five runs and eight hits as the Yankees lost 11-6 to Boston.Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was hit by Tanaka’s pitch in the first and left two innings later with what X-rays determined was a hairline fracture of the right foot.Reliever Yonny Chirinos (5-5) went four scoreless innings.Neil Walker hit a three-run homer for New York.RED SOX 19, ORIOLES 3, 1ST GAMEORIOLES 10, RED SOX 3, 2ND GAMEBOSTON (AP) — Boston’s Chris Sale struck out eight over 4 2/3 innings in his final tuneup for an expected start in the AL Division Series opener before Baltimore salvaged a split of the day-night doubleheader.In the opener, Boston handed the Orioles a franchise-record 112th loss. A major league-best 107-52, Boston opens the Division Series at home Oct. 5 against the New York Yankees or Oakland.Sale left after giving up Adam Jones‘ go-ahead, RBI double that made it 3-2 in the fifth. He threw 92 pitches, allowing three runs and four hits.Trey Mancini had a tiebreaking two-run single off Matt Barnes (6-4) in a three-run seventh and drove in three runs. Tanner Scott (3-2) worked 2 2/3 innings of one-run relief, and Paul Fry pitched three hitless innings for his second save.In the opener, J.D. Martinez had three of Boston’s season-high 22 hits, including a three-run homer that brought his major league-leading RBIs total to 127. The Orioles (46-112) broke the franchise loss mark set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns went 43-111.David Price (16-7) settled down after an early stumble in his final tuneup before the playoffs. He allowed three runs — all in the second inning — six hits and three walks, striking out six before leaving with a 10-3 lead after five. Price is expected to start Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees or Oakland.Rafael Devers had four hits and six RBIs, including two homers, and Mookie Betts had two hits to raise his major league-best batting average to .346. Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart also homered for Boston.Renato Nunez and Trey Mancini homered for Baltimore. Ryan Meisinger (2-1) was the loser.NATIONALS 9, MARLINS 3, 7 INNINGSWASHINGTON (AP) — Bryce Harper was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the rain-shortened game that many expect was his last at Nationals Park as a Washington player.Harper can become a free agent at season’s end. The storm arrived as Harper stood in the on-deck circle while the last out of the seventh was recorded.Nationals rookie Victor Robles had a career-high four hits, including a three-run homer and a two-run double, and also stole a base. Brian Anderson homered for the Marlins.Wander Suero (4-1) got the win with an inning of scoreless relief. Wei-Yin Chen (6-12) was the loser.ANGELS 3 Tyler Anderson Jersey , RANGERS 2ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning, sending the Los Angeles Angels to a three-game sweep.Ohtani had an early RBI single before he connected off Texas reliever Chris Martin (1-5), his former teammate in Japan with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The two-way rookie went the opposite way for his 22nd homer of the season, bouncing it off the top of the left-field wall.Ohtani has driven in runs in three consecutive games and has 59 RBIs in his rookie season.Taylor Ward also homered for the Angels. Adrian Beltre and Jurickson Profar homered for the Rangers, who have lost four of five and eight of 10.Andrew Heaney struck out 10 and yielded two runs over seven innings in a strong finish to the Angels left-hander’s first full season back from Tommy John surgery.Jose Alvarez (6-4) pitched a perfect eighth and Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his second save.BLUE JAYS 3, ASTROS 1TORONTO (AP) — Toronto gave outgoing manager John Gibbons a winning home sendoff against celebrating Houston.Before the game, Toronto general manager Ross Atkins announced that Gibbons will not return next season. After getting the final out, closer Ken Giles gave the ball to Gibbons and the crowd rose for a standing ovation.The World Series champion Astros clinched the AL West title when Oakland lost in extra innings at Seattle well past midnight Tuesday. Several of the Astros partied at a hotel meeting room, but they held a more traditional clubhouse celebration despite the loss. Houston will open the best-of-five Division Series matchup against Cleveland at home on Oct. 5.Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer and rookie Reese McGuire added a solo shot for Toronto. Grichuk connected off right-hander Chris Devenski in the first, his career-best 25th home run. McGuire led off the fifth with a blast to right, the first of his big league career.Joe Biagini (4-7) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Giles, the seventh Toronto pitcher, needed just five pitches to wrap it up in the ninth, earning his 25th save in 25 opportunities. Devenski (2-3) allowed two runs and one hit in two innings.METS 3, BRAVES 0NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom was dominant in what likely was his final pitch for the NL Cy Young Award, throwing eight stellar innings for New York and leaving with a major league-best 1.70 ERA.DeGrom (10-9) made his final regular-season start, striking out 10 and allowing just two singles against NL East champion Atlanta. He retired the final 20 hitters after allowing a single to Johan Camargo. DeGrom gave up no more than three runs in his last 29 starts to extend his own single-season record. The All-Star ace also matched the overall mark set by Jake Arrieta in 2015-16.Seth Lugo threw a scoreless ninth for his third save.Luke Jackson (1-2) was the loser. Atlanta had won six straight.INDIANS 10, WHITE SOX 2CHICAGO (AP) — Shane Bieber remained perfect on the road with six scoreless innings, Francisco Lindor led off the game with a home run and Cleveland beat up Chicago.Bieber (11-5) improved to 7-0 on the road, setting a single-season record with most road wins without a loss by a Cleveland pitcher. The 23-year-old rookie has yet to lose a road game in 11 career starts.Edwin Encarnacion was 3 for 4 with a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the AL Central champs.Kevan Smith broke up the shutout with an RBI single with one out in the ninth off reliever Oliver Perez. Adam Engel also added an RBI single off Adam Cimber.Jace Fry (2-3) was the loser.ROYALS 6, REDS 1CINCINNATI (AP) — Rookie Heath Fillmyer struck out a career-high nine, Adalberto Mondesi tripled, stole two bases and scored twice, and Kansas City beat Cincinnati to wrap up its road schedule.Whit Merrifield, who went into the game tied for the American League lead in hits and leading in stolen bases, extended his season-high hitting streak to 16 games with a third-inning single. He also stole two bases. Alex Gordon tacked on a solo home run.The only run Fillmyer allowed was Jose Peraza’s 14th homer in the first inning. Fillmyer (4-2) allowed four hits and two walks while tying his career high with 7 1/3 innings. Fillmyer also had his first major league hit and RBI with a sixth-inning double. Cody Reed (1-3) was the loser.TWINS 11, TIGERS 4MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Johnny Field homered twice, Jorge Polanco hit a bases-loaded triple and Minnesota beat Detroit.Tyler Austin also homered and Willians Astudillo had three hits for the Twins. Christin Stewart tripled and drove in two runs for the Tigers.Tyler Duffey (2-2) earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief. Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (9-13) gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings.