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MLB News Wire
  • MLB notebook: Ohtani cleared to resume throwing
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 19, 2018

    Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani underwent a six-week checkup on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Thursday and has been cleared to resume throwing, the team announced.

    • "Shohei Ohtani had his six week re-evaluation [Thursday] with Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute," the team said in a release. "His ligament continues to show improved healing. He has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression. We will update specifics regarding his progression and rehabilitation schedule at a more appropriate time."

      Ohtani, who pitches right-handed, went on the disabled list June 8 with a Grade 2 sprain of his right UCL. He returned to action on July 3, but only as a designated hitter. At the time of Ohtani's reactivation, general manager Billy Eppler said it would still be three weeks before Ohtani would be re-evaluated with regard to his ability to pitch.

      At the time, Eppler would not say whether or not Ohtani would pitch again this season, but he maintained the team's optimism that Tommy John surgery -- which would likely sideline Ohtani until 2020 -- would not be needed.

      --Closer Brad Hand was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Cleveland Indians.

      The Indians also acquired submarining right-hander Adam Cimber, who posted a 3.17 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings as a rookie. The Padres received Cleveland's top prospect, Francisco Mejia, in return.

      Hand, 28, posted a 3.05 ERA and 24 saves over 44 1/3 innings pitched in 41 appearances for the Padres this season. An All-Star in 2017, Hand registered a career-low 2.16 ERA last season while saving 21 games. He is under contract for the next two seasons for a total of $13.5 million and has a team option for 2021.

      --The Chicago Cubs placed closer Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list prior to their game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

      The right-hander is dealing with biceps inflammation in his throwing arm. Morrow, who turns 34 on July 26, has a career-best 22 saves in 35 appearances this season. He also has a stellar 1.47 ERA, which would be his best career mark in a single season.

      The Cubs have made a flurry of moves over the past few days by activating right-hander Anthony Bass off the disabled list, activating right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. from the paternity list, reinstating outfielder Albert Almora Jr. from the family emergency list and optioning infielder David Bote and left-hander Rob Zastryzny to Triple-A Iowa.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ohtani cleared to resume throwing following checkup
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 19, 2018

    Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani underwent a six-week checkup on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Thursday and has been cleared to resume throwing, the team announced.

    • "Shohei Ohtani had his six week re-evaluation [Thursday] with Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute," the team said in a release. "His ligament continues to show improved healing. He has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression. We will update specifics regarding his progression and rehabilitation schedule at a more appropriate time."

      Ohtani, who pitches right-handed, went on the disabled list June 8 with a Grade 2 sprain of his right UCL. He returned to action on July 3, but only as a designated hitter. At the time of Ohtani's reactivation, general manager Billy Eppler said it would still be three weeks before Ohtani would be re-evaluated with regard to his ability to pitch.

      At the time, Eppler would not say whether or not Ohtani would pitch again this season, but he maintained the team's optimism that Tommy John surgery -- which would likely sideline Ohtani until 2020 -- would not be needed.

      Eppler and manager Mike Scioscia have each said multiple times that the team is optimistic about Ohtani's chances of recovering without surgery, though an ESPN report in early June said Ohtani would "probably" need surgery.

      Ohtani had a platelet-rich plasma injection in October, before he signed with the Angels, to treat previous elbow pain, and then had stem-cell and PRP injections on June 7, the day before his original DL stint.

      Ohtani, 24, is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts as a pitcher this season and has struck out 61 batters in 49 1/3 innings. He also is batting .283 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 45 games.

      He has batted 6-for-24 (.250) with two doubles, a homer, three walks and 10 strikeouts since returning from the DL.

      The Angels enter the second half of the season 49-48, 14 games out of first in the AL West and nine games out of the final wild-card spot.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cubs place closer Morrow on DL
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 19, 2018

    The Chicago Cubs placed closer Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list prior to Thursday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

    • The right-hander is dealing with biceps inflammation in his throwing arm.

      Morrow, who turns 34 on July 26, has a career-best 22 saves in 35 appearances this season. He also has a stellar 1.47 ERA, which would be his best career mark in a single season.

      The Cubs have made a flurry of moves over the past few days by activating right-hander Anthony Bass off the disabled list, activating right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. from the paternity list, reinstating outfielder Albert Almora Jr. from the family emergency list and optioning infielder David Bote and left-hander Rob Zastryzny to Triple-A Iowa.

      Bass (illness) was activated Thursday in a corresponding move tied to Morrow's DL transaction.

      Bass had a 0.63 ERA in 14 relief appearances for the Cubs earlier this season, Edwards is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in 29 appearances while Zastryzny had a 4.76 ERA in six appearances.

      Almora ranks third in the National League with a .319 average, while Bote was batting .310 in 42 at-bats.

      --Field Level Media

  • Indians acquire Padres closer Hand
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 19, 2018

    Closer Brad Hand was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.

    • The Indians also acquired submarining right-hander Adam Cimber, who posted a 3.17 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings as a rookie. The Padres received Cleveland's top prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia, in return.

      Hand, 28, posted a 3.05 ERA and 24 saves over 44 1/3 innings pitched in 41 appearances for the Padres this season. An All-Star in 2017, Hand registered a career-low 2.16 ERA last season while saving 21 games.

      Hand is under contract for the next two seasons for a total of $13.5 million and has a team option for 2021.

      Mejia, rated as the top prospect in the Indians system by Baseball America and No. 15 overall on MLB.com's Top 100 list, was batting .279 with 22 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 45 RBI in 79 games for Triple-A Columbus this season. Mejia, a 22-year-old switch-hitter, has played games at catcher (41), third base (1), left field (23) and right field (7) in 2018.

      Cleveland's pitching staff has been one of the best in baseball anchored by right-hander Corey Kluber. The bullpen, which helped the team to the 2016 World Series, remains a strength with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen at the back end. Miller and Allen can both hit free agency after this season.

      Hand spent the first five seasons of his career with the Marlins before a trade to the Padres. He owns a career 3.84 ERA with 47 saves.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Dodgers acquire Machado from Orioles
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday in exchange for five prospects.

    • In the deal, the Orioles receive top outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz, as well as minor league right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop and infielders Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera.

      The agreement between the two sides, reported as essentially finalized Tuesday night, reportedly hit a snag Wednesday afternoon over the medicals of one of the Dodgers prospects involved. The player at question was not Diaz, the centerpiece of the deal, according to a report from Fancred.

      Machado, 26, is batting .315 with 24 homers, 65 RBIs and a .963 OPS in the final year of his contract before becoming a free agent. A four-time All-Star, he's projected to fetch a long-term deal approaching $300 million on the open market this winter.

      --A day after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suggested two-time MVP Mike Trout should be more active in marketing himself, the Los Angeles Angles issued a lengthy statement in support of their seven-time All-Star.

      The statement called Trout an "exceptional ambassador for the game" and praised his character as a role model and charitable contributor off the field. "We applaud him for prioritizing personal values over commercial self-promotion," the Angels' statement concludes. "That is rare in today's society and stands out as much as his extraordinary talent."

      Manfred was asked at his annual All-Star break press conference on Tuesday about whether the league should work harder to market Trout, whose resume and on-field accomplishments far outpace his fame. "Player marketing requires one thing, for sure: the player," Manfred said.

      --Milwaukee Brewers general manager David Stearns and Major League Baseball issued statements regarding relief pitcher Josh Hader, who came under a firestorm of criticism after controversial years-old tweets surfaced during Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

      "We have been in contact with Josh and he is fully aware of the severity of the situation related to his social media comments, regardless of the timeline of his posts," Stearns' statement read. "His comments are inexcusable, and he is taking full responsibility for the consequences of his actions. In no way do these sentiments reflect the views of the Brewers organization or our community."

      MLB announced that Hader would be subject to sensitivity training. Hader apologized when speaking to reporters Tuesday night about the tweets, which included racist and anti-gay comments.

      --The Tampa Bay Rays placed catcher Wilson Ramos on the 10-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain that kept him out of Tuesday's All-Star Game.

      Ramos suffered the injury Saturday and was placed on the DL retroactive to Sunday. However, the Tampa Bay Times reports the injury will likely sideline Ramos through the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

      Ramos, who turns 31 next month, is hitting .297 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 78 games this season.

      --Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will return to Double-A New Hampshire on Thursday after rehab assignments with the team's Rookie League and high Class-A affiliates.

      Guerrero suffered a strained patellar tendon in his left knee in early June. He was hitting .407 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs at the time for New Hampshire.

      The 19-year-old third baseman is the son of Vladimir Guerrero, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this month.

      --New York Mets star Yoenis Cespedes played first base for the first time in his professional career during a rehab game with the team's Rookie League affiliate.

      Cespedes, who had only played in the outfield during his MLB career, went 1-for-4 with a three-run home run in playing all nine innings of the contest at first base for the GCL Mets. He could return to the Mets as soon as this weekend, though he's expected to come back as an outfielder.

      Cespedes, out since May 13 with a strained right hip flexor and a chronic heel injury, had been taking groundballs at first base while rehabbing in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The 32-year-old told the team he's willing to move to the position, assistant general manager John Ricco told the New York Post last week.

      -- The Chicago White Sox optioned outfielder Charlie Tilson to Class-AAA Charlotte. Tilson, 25, batted .264 (28-for-106) with 11 RBIs and seven runs scored in 41 games with the White Sox after being recalled from Charlotte on May 24.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mets' Cespedes plays 1B, homers in rehab game
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    New York Mets star Yoenis Cespedes played first base for the first time in his professional career during a rehab game with the team's Rookie League affiliate Wednesday.

    • Cespedes, typically an outfielder, went 1-for-4 with a three-run home run in playing all nine innings of the contest at first base for the GCL Mets.

      Cespedes, out since May 13 with a strained right hip flexor and a chronic heel injury, had been taking groundballs at first base while rehabbing in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

      Cespedes told the team he's willing to move to the position, assistant general manager John Ricco told the New York Post last week. The 32-year-old has played only in the outfield, primarily left field in recent seasons, during his MLB career.

      Cespedes has played just 37 games this season after appearing in only 81 last year because of hamstring injuries. He is making $29 million this season in the second year of a four-year, $110 million contract.

      Cespedes hit .255 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs this year before his latest injury. He had struck out in 50 of his first 137 at-bats.

      Cespedes could return to the Mets as soon as this weekend, and he will come back as an outfielder, manager Mickey Callaway previously told reporters. Cespedes is 2-for-8 in two rehab games thus far.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jays prospect Guerrero returning to Double-A after injury
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will return to Double-A New Hampshire on Thursday after rehab assignments with the team's Rookie League and high Class-A affiliates.

    • Guerrero suffered a strained patellar tendon in his left knee in early June. He was hitting .407 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs at the time for New Hampshire.

      Guerrero was 3-for-9 with two doubles for the Rookie League GCL Blue Jays and 2-for-4 with two RBIs for high Class-A Dunedin in a combined four rehab games.

      The 19-year-old third baseman is the son of Vladimir Guerrero, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame later this month.

      --Field Level Media

  • Orioles trade SS Machado to Dodgers
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday in exchange for five prospects.

    • In the deal, the Orioles receive top outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz, as well as minor league right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop and infielders Rylan Bannon and Breyvic Valera.

      The agreement between the two sides, reported as essentially finalized Tuesday night, reportedly hit a snag Wednesday afternoon over the medicals of one of the Dodgers prospects involved. The player at question was not Diaz, the centerpiece of the deal, according to a report from Fancred.

      Machado is expected to be introduced by the Dodgers on Friday ahead of their road game against the Milwaukee Brewers.

      Machado, 26, is batting .315 with 24 homers, 65 RBIs and a .963 OPS in the final year of his contract before becoming a free agent. A four-time All-Star, he's projected to fetch a long-term deal approaching $300 million on the open market this winter.

      "Obviously, it's a bittersweet day for our organization,'' Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said on a conference call Wednesday night. "We watched Manny grow up in our franchise the past eight years. We all know what an exceptional talent he is, from the great plays that he made to his elite hitting. He's always going to be a part of our important part of our club's history.''

      The Dodgers were aggressive in their pursuit of Machado with their own All-Star shortstop, Corey Seager, out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. They outbid the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians, among others, according to reports.

      The Dodgers (53-43) are a half-game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West. Los Angeles fell one win short of a World Series title last year, losing in Game 7 to the Houston Astros.

      "We're in first place by the slimmest of margins, and four teams are within a few games," Los Angeles general manager Farhan Zaidi said on Dodgers station AM 570. "We felt improving the team in this period was imperative and we think Manny Machado is the best target out there."

      The Dodgers also made a splash ahead of last year's trade deadline, acquiring right-hander Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers.

      Machado, who still played for the Orioles in the All-Star Game on Tuesday despite reports of him being sent to the Dodgers, expressed his appreciation toward the Baltimore organization during a midgame interview on the Fox broadcast.

      "It was a tremendous honor to wear this uniform. They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues," Machado said. "That's everyone's dream, they gave me that. They gave me the opportunity to play shortstop again. The organization has done everything [for me].

      "So if this is the last time [wearing an Orioles uniform] ... hopefully I did everything I could for the organization."

      Machado finishes his Orioles career with a .283 average, 162 home runs and 471 RBIs in seven seasons.

      "Manny Machado provided Orioles fans with many great memories over his eight years in Birdland," Duquette said in a statement immediately following the trade. "We will always appreciate his talent and wish him the best in the National League."

      Diaz, 21, hit .314 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 59 games with the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, Okla., this season. He impressed at Sunday's All-Star Futures Game, slugging two home runs.

      "We liked the depth of the Dodger package, we liked the quality of the players in the package, and we liked Yusniel Diaz, a player we feel is a gifted hitter,'' Duquette told reporters on the call. "We felt he was clearly the best player offered to us during this recent market. He was the key to the trade. But the other players in the trade are also very talented.''

      Kremer, 22, was 6-3 with a 3.03 ERA in 17 combined starts with high Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa. Pop, 21, was 1-2 with seven saves and a 1.04 ERA in 30 games with low Class-A Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga.

      Valera, 26, is the only player headed back to the Orioles in the trade with major league experience, having appeared in 20 games with the Dodgers this season. He hit .172 with four runs and four RBIs. Bannon, 22, hit .296 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs in 89 games with Rancho Cucamonga.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rays place All-Star catcher Ramos on DL
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    The Tampa Bay Rays placed catcher Wilson Ramos on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday with a left hamstring strain that kept him out of Tuesday's All-Star Game.

    • Ramos suffered the injury Saturday and was placed on the DL retroactive to Sunday. However, the Tampa Bay Times reports the injury will likely sideline Ramos through the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

      Ramos was injured while running to first trying to beat out an infield grounder in the sixth inning, after going 1-for-3 with a two-run double in the fourth.

      Ramos, who turns 31 next month, is hitting .297 with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs in 78 games this season, getting most of his at-bats in Tampa Bay's cleanup spot in the lineup.

      Originally groomed in the Minnesota Twins organization, the nine-year veteran has a .271 career batting average with 108 homers and 409 RBIs with the Twins (2010), Washington Nationals (2010-16) and Rays (2017-18).

      With Ramos sidelined, Jesus Sucre is the only active catcher on Rays' 40-man roster.

      Tampa Bay also reinstated left-hander Jose Alvarado from the family medical list and outrighted right-hander Ryan Weber to Triple-A Durham.

      --Field Level Media

  • Trout: 'Everything is cool' following Manfred comments
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    A day after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suggested two-time American League MVP Mike Trout should be more active in marketing himself, Trout issued a statement amid growing criticisms Manfred's comments incited.

    • "I have received lots of questions about Commissioner Manfred's recent statement," Trout said Wednesday night. "I am not a petty guy and would really encourage everyone to just move forward. Everything is cool between the Commissioner and myself. End of story. I am ready to just play some baseball!"

      Manfred was asked at his annual All-Star break press conference on Tuesday about whether the league should work harder to market Trout, whose resume and on-field accomplishments far outpace his fame.

      "Player marketing requires one thing, for sure: the player," Manfred said. "You cannot market a player passively. You can't market anything passively. You need people to engage with those to whom are trying to market in order to have effective marketing.

      "Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn't want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time. I think we could help him make his brand very big. But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort."

      Earlier Wednesday, the Los Angeles Angles issued a lengthy statement in support of their seven-time All-Star.

      "One of Mike's traits that people admire most is his humility," the Angels' statement reads, in part. "His brand is built upon generously spending his time engaging with fans, both at home and on the road, while remaining a remarkable baseball player and teammate.

      "In addition, Mike spends quality time as a husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. We applaud him for prioritizing personal values over commercial self-promotion. That is rare in today's society and stands out as much as his extraordinary talent."

      The statement also called Trout an "exceptional ambassador for the game" and praised his character as a role model and charitable contributor off the field.

      Trout spoke briefly about Manfred's comments after Tuesday night's All-Star Game, in which he went 1-for-2 with a walk and a solo homer.

      "I do as much as I can," Trout said. "But it's a long baseball season. I got to pick and choose when I want to do things and go from there."

      Trout, who will turn 27 in August, has repeatedly said he is more focused on winning with the Angels than on gaining celebrity. While he has a shoe deal with Nike and did a national ad campaign with Subway early in his career, he has generally sought to avoid the spotlight, including choosing not to participate in the Home Run Derby or the World Baseball Classic.

      He will make more than $34 million annually through 2020, when he will hit free agency.

      --Field Level Media

  • Manfred says MLB could expand to 32 teams
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball is considering expansion from 30 to 32 teams.

    • Manfred even named some prospective markets.

      "We have a real list of cities that I think are not only interested in having baseball, but are viable in terms of baseball - places like Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville in the United States, certainly Montreal, maybe Vancouver, in Canada," Manfred said, according to the Nashville Business Journal. "We think there's places in Mexico we could go over the long haul."

      A 32-team field would make for easier scheduling and allow MLB to realign to eight four-team divisions. It also would change the postseason configuration, he said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cardinals C Molina open to player-manager role
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Catcher Yadier Molina is willing to accept a greater role with the St. Louis Cardinals: player-manager.

    • Molina suggested he could take on the dual role in 2020, the final year of his existing contract with the Cardinals, who fired manager Mike Matheny over the weekend.

      "For any player, that would be a dream to be considered for such a role. It would be a dream," Molina told ESPN recently. "I'm not shutting the door to anything. I am very open. Of course, maybe I would like to spend some time with my family first. But if such an opportunity comes up, obviously I would accept it."

      Molina, 36, has spent his entire 15-year career with the Cardinals and is an eight-time Gold Glove winner and nine-time All-Star.

      Molina said he was sympathetic about Matheny being fired because, as a player, he was responsible for not winning enough. Matheny, a former catcher, and Molina are still in contact. But Molina said it will be up to him to be a stabilizing force in the clubhouse.

      "Of course a lot of the players in that clubhouse have respect for me and talk to me about everything," he said. "So with my experience, I certainly try to help them, to make things easier for everyone. My main role is to help the team. And I love that role. And I love that my teammates feel comfortable coming to me."

      The Chicago White Sox considered a similar role at the end of All-Star Paul Konerko's career, but Konerko chose to retire.

      Frank Robinson (Indians), Joe Torre (Mets), Don Kessinger (White Sox) and Pete Rose (Reds) are the most noteworthy player-managers in the modern era.

      The Cardinals had player-managers in 1955 (Harry Walker) and 1959 (Solly Hemus).

      --Field Level Media

  • Brewers' Hader apologizes for insensitive tweets
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader apologized when speaking to reporters Tuesday night when asked about racist and anti-gay comments that were surfaced from years ago on his Twitter account during the All-Star Game in Washington.

    • "I was young, immature and stupid," Hader, 24, said. "There's no excuse for what was said. I'm deeply sorry for what I've said and what's been going on. It doesn't reflect any of my beliefs going on now.

      "It was something that happened when I was 17 years old. As a child I was immature. Obviously I said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn't reflect who I am as a person today. That's just what it is."

      Hader added that he planned to apologize to his teammates for the comments.

      "He was young. We all say some crazy stuff when we're young," said Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain. "So, we'll move on from this. He said it, it's over, it's done with, and we're gonna focus on playing baseball."

      Hader appeared in Tuesday's game, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits while recording just one out. Members of his family in attendance reportedly removed or hid jerseys bearing his name in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention from others, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

      Hader, who has a 1.50 ERA and has struck out 89 batters in 48 innings with the Brewers this season, told reporters he would accept any consequences that may come as a result of the tweets.

      --Field Level Media

  • Take 5: MLB All-Star Game takeaways
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Looking for a one-game example of modern baseball in a nutshell? Look no further than Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game in Washington D.C.

    • The American League defeated the National League 8-6 in 10 innings in a contest that featured a record 10 home runs between both sides, accounting for all but one run of the game. Twenty-five batters struck out, nine walked and only one of the 20 hits came with a runner in scoring position.

      The Midsummer Classic, the importance of which has been criticized for years, even when it mattered toward home-field advantage in the World Series, served as a microcosm for the "three true outcomes" mentality surrounding the sport: home runs, walks and strikeouts. The fielders are so little involved, they might as well join the Fox broadcasters in the booth instead of doing on-field interviews.

      Such is the state of baseball these days, and it's become a hot-button issue for the sport as interest seemingly wanes. The last thing the MLB All-Star Game needs to be is more like its NFL, NBA and NHL counterparts, but Tuesday's game certainly looks as if it fit that mold more than past iterations have.

      Here are four other takeaways from the evening:

      4. Speaking of home runs, it's a shame the Yankees' Aaron Judge didn't attempt to defend his crown at Monday's Home Run Derby. The 6-foot-7 outfielder crushed a fastball from Nationals ace Max Scherzer to left field for the game's opening salvo in the second inning. While the show Bryce Harper put on in front of the hometown fans at Monday's event was something special, it's hard not to discount it when the field didn't include the likes of Judge, Giancarlo Stanton or another larger-than-life slugger to create an extra sense of competition. Here's hoping Judge comes around on the Derby sometime down the line.

      3. Another player to homer in the game, the Angels' Mike Trout, furthered his dominance in the showcase. Trout is now 7-for-15 with two homers and four RBIs in his six All-Star contests, including two MVP wins. The more examples we get as to what Trout can do under the spotlight of a nationally televised stage, the more painful it becomes that the Angels can't get him to the postseason. Trout has played in the playoffs just once, in 2014, and that lasted all of three straight losses. Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that Trout needs to play a role in improving his marketability -- the Angels could certainly stand to do their part as well by giving the 26-year-old more opportunities in October.

      2. How weird was it to see Manny Machado playing for the AL in an Orioles uniform when everyone knows he's expected to be traded to the NL's Los Angeles Dodgers? Machado snapped a selfie with Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp during the game, a moment the two might soon be able to look back on as teammates, potentially as soon as Wednesday. It's a tough watch for Orioles fans to see their franchise star's last game in their uniform potentially come in an exhibition, but at least he had kind words for the organization during a midgame TV interview. "It was a tremendous honor to wear this uniform," Machado said.

      1. NL teams have to be elated that the All-Star Game doesn't matter anymore. The AL won the event for the sixth consecutive year and 18th time in the last 22 seasons (one tie). Though it might not matter anyway -- the Cubs and Brewers lead the NL with 55 wins, a total five AL teams have reached to this point.

      --Kyle Brasseur, Field Level Media

  • Nats' Strasburg to come off DL, start Friday
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will be activated from the disabled list to start the team's second-half opener Friday against the Atlanta Braves, manager Dave Martinez told reporters Tuesday.

    • Strasburg has pitched since June 8 because of right shoulder inflammation. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) is also a possibility to return from the DL on Friday.

      The moves would be a big boost for the Nationals, who ended the first half at 48-48, 5 1/2 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East.

      "It starts Friday," Martinez said. "Friday, we're going to come out and start playing like our hair's on fire. Let's really make a run at this thing."

      Strasburg, who also turns 30 on Friday, was 6-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 starts before hitting the DL. He's made two rehab starts for Triple-A Potomac, allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits and striking out 12 in nine innings.

      Zimmerman has been out since May 9 as the result of his injury. The 33-year-old, who enjoyed a resurgent 36-homer campaign last season, is hitting .217 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 33 games this year.

      Zimmerman has three hits, including a home run, in five at-bats between rehab games with Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.

      While Zimmerman has been sidelined, Matt Adams has emerged for the Nationals at first base. The 29-year-old is hitting .288 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Manfred: Can't market Trout without his help
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    He may be the best player in his sport, but when it comes to popularity, Mike Trout is nowhere near the likes of LeBron James, Tom Brady or Cristiano Ronaldo.

    • But while Major League Baseball's failure to market the Los Angeles Angels star is commonly attributed as a major reason for that popularity gap, commissioner Rob Manfred is pointing the finger in another direction.

      Back at Trout.

      Speaking at his annual All-Star Game news conference in Washington on Tuesday, hours before the game was scheduled to begin, Manfred agreed that the league should promote Trout more. But it isn't that simple, he contends.

      "Player marketing requires one thing, for sure: the player," Manfred said. "You cannot market a player passively. You can't market anything passively. You need people to engage with those to whom are trying to market in order to have effective marketing."

      "Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn't want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time," Manfred added. "I think we could help him make his brand very big.

      "But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort."

      Trout has long contended he is far more concerned with playing baseball and trying to help the Angels win the World Series than he is with marketing himself or growing his celebrity. He does not take part in the Home Run Derby. He does not take part in the World Baseball Classic.

      "I'd rather just have that night with my family, spend time with them," Trout said of the Home Run Derby last week, according to The Orange County Register. "I just want to relax and enjoy the day. Just watch it ... I just never had any interest in doing it."

      Trout has not completely avoided the commercial spotlight. Earlier in his career he was involved in a national ad campaign with Subway. He also has a big shoe deal with Nike.

      "I try to do as much as I can, but keep it to a point where I can still play baseball," Trout told USA Today on Monday when asked about endorsements and promotion off the field. "Obviously you want to get out there, but you've got to pick and choose, for sure."

      Trout, who will turn 27 in August, is doing just fine financially. He is scheduled to make just north of $34 million per season through 2020, then hit free agency before he is 30.

      He has made the All-Star Game in every one of his full seasons, has won two American League MVPs and All-Star Game MVP awards, and is on track to post the highest single-season wins above replacement (WAR) in MLB history this season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Orioles SS Machado headed to Dodgers
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    Manny Machado will be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package of prospects barring a last-minute snag in negotiations, USA Today Sports reported on Tuesday, hours before the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington, D.C.

    • According to the report, the Baltimore Orioles intend to complete the trade on Wednesday, sending the 26-year-old Machado to the reigning National League champions for a package of prospects unless the Milwaukee Brewers or Philadelphia Phillies emerge with a better offer.

      During the All-Star Game broadcast Tuesday night, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted a separate report also saying Machado would be dealt to the Dodgers "with more certainty."

      Rosenthal interviewed Machado in the AL dugout during the FOX broadcast in the sixth inning; the Orioles shortstop did not admit to knowing for certain if a trade was complete. But he did answer regarding his appreciation toward the Orioles franchise.

      "It was a tremendous honor to wear this uniform. They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues," Machado told Rosenthal. "That's everyone's dream, they gave me that. They gave me the opportunity to play shortstop again. The organization has done everything [for me].

      "So if this is the last time [wearing an Orioles uniform] ... hopefully I did everything I could for the organization."

      Two hours before the All-Star Game, Machado said in the American League locker room, "I haven't heard anything. I'm just worried about the game today. I'm just worried about the game. There will be a time and place for everything. I'm just going to worry about [the All-Star Game].

      "I'm just not even trying to worry about it. If it happens, it happens. There will be a time and place where I'll be here again and answering questions. I'm just trying to worry about today, not trying to worry about anything else."

      Yusniel Diaz, the Dodgers' top prospect coming off of a two-homer performance in the Futures Game, is expected to be part of the deal with the Orioles.

      Entering the All-Star break, Machado is batting .315 with 24 homers, 65 RBIs and a .963 OPS.

      Several outlets reported Tuesday morning that the Dodgers and Phillies were the frontrunners for the All-Star shortstop, who is in the final year of his contract with Baltimore and projected to fetch a long-term deal approaching $300 million as a free agent this winter.

      Baltimore is scheduled to return to the field Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays without Machado in what likely triggers a pronounced rebuilding effort. Outfielder Adam Jones and closer Zach Britton are reportedly on the block, and other players are also likely to be made available by the Orioles.

      The Dodgers have been aggressive in their pursuit of Machado with their own All-Star shortstop, Corey Seager, out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

      Machado has been dealing with constant trade rumors since the start of spring training. The New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians all were bidding for his services, according to reports.

      Machado said Monday at All-Star Game media day that the uncertainty of where he'd play his next game was becoming frustrating.

      "It's the worst," Machado said. "You just don't know what's going to happen. ... Just get it over with already.

      "To go out there and not know where you're going to be tomorrow, it's kind of tough. A lot of packing, a lot of cars shipped. I've got a lot of clothes in my locker and in my room. I'd like to stay at home. I'd like to be with the organization that I've been with, not learning new faces, not learning new names. I'm not good with names."

      --Field Level Media

  • Verlander: MLB should get rid of DH altogether
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    Spending his entire MLB career in the American League, Justin Verlander has only picked up a bat in interleague games and the World Series.

    • On Monday, his pitching side took over.

      Speaking in Washington in advance of Tuesday's All-Star Game, Verlander said that he thinks the league should eliminate the designated hitter altogether.

      "I would take the DH out, even though I know the National League is talking about implementing the designated hitter," Verlander said, per USA Today. "For my pitching purposes, it's fun to face guys like me who can't hit. But I do think, for instance when we were in the World Series, the Houston Astros are playing the Dodgers, when we are at Dodger Stadium, we were a little behind. We were not used to hitting, bunting and things like that."

      Verlander made his major league debut with Detroit in 2005 and remained there until his trade to Houston last Aug. 31. He's a seven-time All-Star and the 2011 winner of both the AL Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards.

      At the plate, however, he is a career .111 batter (five singles in 45 at-bats). He has one RBI in his career. He had three at-bats against the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, striking out each time.

      "When you're playing a championship, that determines the best team in the world, it should be an even playing field. It's the only sport like that with different sets of rules in different leagues," Verlander said.

      He then addressed the NL's potential plan to adopt the DH, and his comments are likely to raise some eyebrows in Houston.

      "I like the game with no DH, personally. But who knows, one day I might be in the National League, so maybe they can keep it out of that league for a while."

      Verlander can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Hometown favorite Harper rallies to win HR Derby
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    Hometown favorite Bryce Harper of Washington rallied from a slow start in the final round and edged Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs 19-18 to win the Home Run Derby on Monday night at Nationals Park.

    • Harper is the third player to win the Home Run Derby at his home park, joining Todd Frazier in Cincinnati (2015) and Ryne Sandberg at Wrigley Field in Chicago (1990).

      Harper finished second in the 2013 Derby, but things went better this time.

      Schwarber went first and banged 18 homers. Harper had just nine with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in his four-minute time frame, but then crushed homers on nine straight swings.

      He had earned 30 seconds of extra time to hit and homered on the second pitch from his father, Ron, to win it. Harper said he knew when calling timeout with 1:20 left that things needed to change.

      "I [knew] I better figure it out or I'm going to lose," Harper told ESPN."To be able to do that with [my father] is a dream come true."

      The semifinals began with a battle between Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins of the Philadelphia Phillies. Hoskins opened by blasting 20 homers, the highest number that had been hit to that point.

      Schwarber started slowly but picked up steam late during his four-minute run and outlasted Hoskins, 21-20, with the deciding homer coming as time ran out.

      "It was a ton of fun," Schwarber told ESPN.

      The other semifinal saw Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers go against Harper. Muncy hit 12 homers, and Harper started slowly before going on a tear and scoring a 13-12 victory -- getting the go-ahead homer with 1:11 still left on the clock.

      Hoskins, the No. 8 seed, pulled the biggest upset of the first round when he knocked off top-seeded Jesus Aguilar from the Milwaukee Brewers, 17-12, in the first matchup.

      Next, Schwarber edged the Houston Astros' Alex Bregman, 16-15. Muncy followed with another victory by one, 17-16, over Javier Baez of the Cubs.

      Harper took on Freddie Freeman from the Atlanta Braves and hit several long shots en route to a 13-12 victory.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Scherzer, Sale announced as All-Star starters
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    For the second year in a row, Chris Sale of Boston and Max Scherzer of Washington will be the starting pitchers in the All-Star Game, the highlight of Monday's announcement of the starting lineups.

    • American League manager AJ Hinch of the Houston Astros selected Sale to start Tuesday's game. This will be the third consecutive start for left-hander, who joins Lefty Gomez (American League, 1933-35) and Robin Roberts (National League, 1953-55) as the only pitchers to start three All-Star games in a row.

      Scherzer, 33, will start for the National League squad, managed by the Dodgers' Dave Roberts, in his home park. The Nationals' right-hander is 12-5 in 20 starts on the year. His 182 strikeouts and 134 2/3 innings lead the NL.

      He becomes the 12th pitcher to start an All-Star Game on his home field and the first since former New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey started at Citi Field in 2013.

      --The agent for New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom said the team should think about trading its ace if it doesn't want to lock him up with a long-term contract.

      Brodie van Wagenen told The Athletic in a statement that deGrom wants to discuss "a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come" but added that "if the Mets don't share [the] same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now."

      DeGrom, 30, can become a free agent after the 2020 season. He leads all pitchers with a 1.68 ERA but has only a 5-4 record with 149 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings as the Mets offense has struggled mightily to score runs for him in his 19 starts.

      --The Toronto Blue Jays could be without center fielder Kevin Pillar for 4 to 6 weeks because of a right clavicle injury.

      Details emerged about the severity of Pillar's injury one day after he was placed on the 10-day disabled list. He hurt himself while making a diving catch Saturday. The injury, reportedly a sternoclavicular joint sprain, could be a major emergency if the clavicle is dislocated backward. Pillar's clavicle reportedly moved forward.

      The 29-year-old Pillar, known for his highlight plays in the outfield, is batting .247 with 37 RBIs and 42 runs scored in 93 games.

      --The Seattle Mariners optioned right-hander Matt Festa to Double-A Arkansas.

      Festa, 25, pitched 2/3 scoreless innings in his big league debut Saturday against the Colorado Rockies. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was selected by the Mariners in the seventh round in 2016. According to MLB.com's Greg Johns, the team sent him down so he can continue pitching during the All-Star break.

      Seattle will make a corresponding roster move before Friday's game against the Chicago White Sox.

      --The Texas Rangers made four roster moves on the first day of the All-Star break.

      The team announced that veteran outfielder Austin Jackson cleared waivers and had become a free agent. The 31-year-old Jackson hit .242 with no home runs and 13 RBIs in 59 games with the San Francisco Giants this season, but he was dealt to Texas on July 8 and did not appear in a game with the club.

      The Rangers also reinstated catcher Carlos Perez from the 10-day disabled list and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock. Left-hander Left-handed pitcher Joe Palumbo was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to High-A Down East. Another southpaw, Yohander Mendez, was promoted from Down East to Double-A Frisco.

      --Field Level Media

  • Agent says Mets should extend deGrom's contract or consider trading him
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    The agent for New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom said the team should think about trading its ace if it doesn't want to lock him up with a long-term contract.

    • Brodie van Wagenen told The Athletic in a statement that deGrom wants to discuss "a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come."

      But, van Wagenen added in the statement, published Monday: "If the Mets don't share [the] same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now. The inertia of [the] current situation could complicate Jacob's relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision."

      The agent discussed the comments later on Monday with the New York Post. He sought to clarify his statement later, telling the post it was "not a demand for a trade."

      "It is simply expressing Jacob's interest to stay with the club long term, and if he is not part of the future, he understands that the club is better positioned to trade him," Van Wagenen told the Post.

      DeGrom, 30, can become a free agent after the 2020 season. He is earning $7.4 million this season, which is a contract that would make him an attractive acquisition for many postseason contenders. He is under arbitration control the next two seasons.

      He leads all pitchers with a 1.68 ERA but has only a 5-4 record with 149 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings pitched as the Mets offense has struggled mightily to score runs for him in his 19 starts.

      He was selected to his second All-Star team this season.

      "I would love to play here for my whole career," deGrom said to reporters in Washington on Monday while at the All-Star Game, according to MLB.com. "I think it's just kind of deciding what we see as the future. It's something that's in the Mets' control, and kind of out of mine."

      --Field Level Media

  • Sale, Scherzer rematch highlights All-Star Game starting lineups
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    For the second year in a row, Chris Sale of Boston and Max Scherzer of Washington will be the starting pitchers in the All-Star Game, the highlight of Monday's announcement of the starting lineups.

    • American League manager AJ Hinch of the Houston Astros selected Sale to start Tuesday's game. This will be the third consecutive start for left-hander, who joins Lefty Gomez (American League, 1933-35) and Robin Roberts (National League, 1953-55) as the only pitchers to start three All-Star games in a row.

      Sale is 10-4 on the season with a 2.23 ERA. The 29-year-old has started 20 games and struck out a league-high 188 batters in 129 innings.

      "Obviously, I appreciate it. It's a big honor," Sale told the media of earning another start. "I know this hasn't happened very often in a long time. I appreciate it. I'm going to try and have some fun with it. That's why we're all here, too. Grip and rip, and try to get a win."

      Scherzer, 33, will start for the National League squad, managed by the Dodgers' Dave Roberts, in his home ballpark. The Nationals' right-hander is 12-5 in 20 starts on the year. His 182 strikeouts and 134 2/3 innings lead the NL.

      He becomes the 12th pitcher to start an All-Star Game on his home field. The last one time that occurred was 2013, when former New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey started the game at Citi Field.

      Scherzer's first pitch will be thrown to another Red Sox player, leadoff hitter Mookie Betts. A leading contender for AL MVP this season, Betts will be followed by the reigning AL MVP, Houston's Jose Altuve, and then the two other leading contenders for the award this year, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Boston teammate J.D. Martinez.

      Sale will face Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez to lead off the NL first, followed by Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt, and Atlanta first baseman and NL MVP front-runner Freddie Freeman.

      Goldschmidt also plays first base but will be the designated hitter Tuesday. Outfielder Bryce Harper of the host Nationals will bat sixth.

      Hinch and Roberts also announced a pair of New York pitchers will come in after the starters: the Yankees' Luis Severino and the Mets' Jacob deGrom.

      Here are the full lineups:

      American League

      1. Mookie Betts, RF, Boston

      2. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston

      3. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles

      4. J.D. Martinez, DH, Boston

      5. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland

      6. Aaron Judge, LF, New York

      7. Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore

      8. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago

      9. Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City

      National League

      1. Javier Baez, 2B, Chicago

      2. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado

      3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH, Arizona

      4. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta

      5. Matt Kemp, LF, Los Angeles

      6. Bryce Harper, CF, Washington

      7. Nick Markakis, RF, Atlanta

      8. Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco

      9. Willson Contreras, C, Chicago

      Game time is at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. Coverage begins on FOX at 7:30 p.m.

      --Field Level Media

  • Blue Jays could be without Pillar for 4-6 weeks
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    The Toronto Blue Jays placed Kevin Pillar on the 10-day disabled list with a right clavicle injury on Sunday, but could be without the center fielder for 4 to 6 weeks.

    • Pillar was injured when he made a diving catch and doubled up Tzu-Wei Lin at second to end the third inning of a 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. Pillar was diagnosed with a right sternoclavicular joint injury.

      According to Blue Jays play-by-play announcer Mike Wilner, the injury was worse than initially suspected.

      "#Bluejays trainer Nikki Huffman tells us that Pillar's Injury was an emergency situation. The collarbone popped out, though didn't dislocate, just pushed the ligaments out. Had the collarbone pushed in instead of out, it could have been life-threatening, requiring surgery," Wilner said via Twitter.

      Pillar, known for his highlight plays in the outfield, is batting .247 with 37 RBIs and 42 runs in 93 games.

      The Blue Jays also placed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on the seven-day concussion list.

      Gurriel was hit in the back of the head by Red Sox starer Eduardo Rodriguez while diving into first base in the sixth inning of the same game. Rodriguez left the game with a sprained right ankle, but Gurriel stayed in after being checked by trainers.

      Wilner reports that the team said Gurriel didn't begin presenting symptoms of a concussion until after the game ended.

      Gurriel, a rookie, is batting .270 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 31 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Take 5: Major trades to make before July 31
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 16, 2018

    All eyes are on Manny Machado as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nears for Major League Baseball, but he isn't the only big name that could be on the move.

    • With disparity perhaps never higher across the league, it's clear which teams are in the hunt for the postseason and which find themselves ready to sell.

      So who else might be dealt -- and where to? Here a five potential deals that could make sense for each of the parties involved.

      5. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire 2B Brian Dozier from Minnesota Twins for SS/2B Gavin Lux.

      The Dodgers were said to have big interest in Dozier after his 42-homer 2016 season, though the Twins' asking price appeared to be too high. That shouldn't be the case anymore, as Dozier has come back to earth offensively, hitting .230 with 16 home runs this season. There's a clear need for the Dodgers to add a rental option in the middle infield with star shortstop Corey Seager (Tommy John surgery) out for the year, and the Twins can stand to part with Dozier, who said in March he intends to become a free agent when his contract expires this fall. Lux, the Dodgers' 2016 first-round pick, is having a strong year at high Class-A, though he isn't considered one of their top 10 prospects.

      4. Houston Astros acquire RHP Raisel Iglesias from Cincinnati Reds for LHP Cionel Perez, RHP Jorge Alcala and RHP Corbin Martin.

      The Astros showed when they swung a deal to acquire Ken Giles in 2015 that they weren't afraid to gut the farm for a reliever. Now, the underachieving Giles is in Triple-A following a demotion last week, and Houston is in desperate need of an established closer. Iglesias, 28, hasn't been doing the job for long, but he possesses the high-powered arsenal for the role and is a bargain at $5 million owed in base salary each of the next two seasons. Breakout lefty Perez could headline a package for the Astros, who have considerable pitching depth to deal from for the arm-needy Reds.

      3. New York Yankees acquire 1B/3B Mike Moustakas from Kansas City Royals for RHP Jonathan Loaisiga and RHP Juan Then.

      The Yankees are said to be among teams interested in Moustakas at first base, where he would be an extreme upgrade over what New York has going on at the position right now. The 29-year-old has played four games at first this season, including two this month, as the Royals market him to potential suitors. Moustakas' 19 homers from the left side of the plate would look good in the lineup between righty sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and he comes with a much lower price tag than Machado, whom the Baltimore Orioles likely don't want to trade in the division. Loaisiga gives the Royals a major-league-ready arm to slot into the rotation while Then, 18, would be more of a future asset.

      2. Boston Red Sox acquire LHP J.A. Happ and RHP Seunghwan Oh from Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Travis Lakins, RHP Kutter Crawford and 2B/OF Kervin Suarez.

      The Red Sox have needs in the rotation and bullpen, but this is the type of deal fans should expect from them. Several big trades in recent years have gutted Boston's farm system, and the team's payroll can't get much higher than the current figure that's already leading the majors. Happ and Oh (vesting option) can both potentially leave after this season, giving the Red Sox the temporary upgrades they need while costing a few lower-tier prospects at most. Happ slots into the rotation, while Oh gives the Red Sox a setup option with closer experience if Craig Kimbrel needs a rest day. And both are American League East tested, which is important come the playoff stretch.

      1. Philadelphia Phillies acquire SS/3B Manny Machado and LHP Zach Britton from Baltimore Orioles for 3B Maikel Franco, RHP Adonis Medina, RHP Franklyn Kilome and SS Arquimedes Gamboa.

      This is the move the Phillies need to make if they are serious about contending this season and beyond. Philadelphia perhaps has more money to spend this offseason than any other club, making it likely the Phillies view Machado, who they are said to aggressively be pursuing, as more than a rental player. Britton is also believed to be on their radar, as the team has lacked an established closer most the season yet is still 53-42 and atop the National League East. The price would be high -- Medina and Kilome are among the club's top arms while the 20-year-old Gamboa is on the rise and Franco is a former top prospect -- but the Phillies can hold on to top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez while getting the chance to convince Machado the City of Brotherly Love should be his home for the next 10-plus seasons.

      --Kyle Brasseur, Field Level Media

  • MLB roundup: Dozier delivers walk-off slam to top Rays
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, July 15, 2018

    Brian Dozier hit a walk-off grand slam with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a wild 11-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon at Target Field in Minneapolis.

    • It was the 16th homer of the season and fourth career grand slam for Dozier who drove a 1-1 changeup from Matt Andriese into the left field stands to give the Twins their ninth victory in 11 games. Dozier finished with two hits, five RBIs and two runs scored.

      Eddie Rosario had three hits, two RBIs and scored twice, Robbie Grossman had two hits and Jorge Polanco also scored two runs for Minnesota, which bounced back from a 19-6 thrashing by the Rays on Saturday afternoon.

      Jake Cave opened the 10th inning with a leadoff double off Andriese (2-4), the ninth pitcher used by the Rays. After Mitch Garver sacrificed Cave to third, Joe Mauer and Rosario were both intentionally walked setting the stage for Dozier's heroics.

      Pirates 7, Brewers 6 (10 innings)

      Josh Bell hit a walk-off two-run double in the 10th inning as Pittsburgh won its sixth straight game, 7-6 over visiting Milwaukee, to sweep a five-game series.

      Facing Brewers reliever Dan Jennings (3-3), Bell drove the ball to the wall in center as rain began to pour, bringing home Gregory Polanco and Colin Moran, who had each singled.

      The Brewers, who have lost six in a row and eight of 10, had taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the 10th against Tanner Anderson (1-0) on an RBI single by Brett Phillips, who hit a tiebreaking three-run triple in the eighth inning.

      Cardinals 6, Reds 4

      Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler homered, and Tommy Pham had two hits and two RBIs as St. Louis beat visiting Cincinnati in interim manager Mike Shildt's debut.

      Right-hander John Gant (3-3) pitched four innings of hitless relief as the Cardinals broke a three-game losing streak in their first game under Shildt, who was promoted from bench coach when Mike Matheny was fired after 6 1/2 seasons following Saturday's loss to the Reds. Shildt joined the major league staff in 2016 after winning three minor league titles in eight seasons in the Cardinals' minor league system.

      Yadier Molina also had an RBI single for the Cardinals (48-46), who had lost six straight home games and were in danger of falling to .500 for the first time since April 13, when they were 7-7.

      Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2

      Xander Bogaerts provided an encore to Saturday's walk-off grand slam with a solo home run and two RBIs to help Boston beat visiting Toronto in the finale of a four-game series.

      Bogaerts' 10th-inning slam gave the Red Sox a 6-2 win Saturday and secured at least a series split. Boston won Thursday's opener 6-4, but lost to Toronto 13-7 Friday to snap its major league-best 10-game win streak.

      Brock Holt drove in two runs and Jackie Bradley Jr. added an RBI for the Red Sox, who enter the All-Star break with an MLB-best 68-30 record. Boston won 12 of its last 13 and 19 of 23 games before the break. The Red Sox lead the AL East by 4 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

      Rockies 4, Mariners 3

      Trevor Story led off the bottom of the ninth with a game-winning homer, lifting surging Colorado over visiting Seattle.

      Story capped a rainy afternoon when he drove a 2-2 cutter from Nick Vincent (3-2) 434 feet into the right-center field seats, touching off the celebratory fireworks. It was the 20th homer of the season for the All-Star shortstop and his first career game-ending homer.

      Story's homer helped the Rockies head into the break with a flourish, lifting Colorado to its 10th win in 12 games and 13th win in 16 games. The Mariners lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

      Indians 5, Yankees 2

      Michael Brantley led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a tiebreaking home run as Cleveland beat visiting New York.

      Brantley helped the Indians get a split of the four-game series with his 12th homer of the season. He gave Cleveland its first lead of the game by lifting a 94.5 mph fastball from Chad Green (5-2) high enough to clear the right-center field fence. The ball traveled an estimated 387 feet and Brantley needed every inch as right fielder Giancarlo Stanton scaled the fence in an ill-fated attempt to make the catch.

      Masahiro Tanaka gave up two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings in his second start since returning from two strained hamstrings.

      Cubs 7, Padres 4

      The Cubs jumped to a 5-0 lead after two innings and Jon Lester picked up his 12th win of the season as Chicago completed a three-game sweep of San Diego.

      Lester (12-2) allowed three runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. With the win, the Cubs head into the All-Star break with a 2 ½-game lead in the National League Central.

      All five of the Cubs' runs in the first two innings were scored against Padres rookie left-hander Eric Lauer, who fell to 5-6. He allowed five runs on five hits and one walk and departed after the second.

      Athletics 6, Giants 2

      Visiting Oakland strung together four consecutive singles in a four-run fourth inning to hand San Francisco its first home series loss since April in the battle of interleague rivals.

      Sean Manaea (9-6) outdueled Andrew Suarez (3-6) in a matchup of left-handers, helping the A's complete a 4-3, 6-2 weekend sweep after the Giants had prevailed 7-1 Friday night in the series opener. Piscotty had two hits, scored twice and drove in two runs for the A's.

      The Giants had won (10) or tied (two) their last 12 home series dating back to April 11 against Arizona. The teams will meet in a three-game rematch immediately following the All-Star break in Oakland.

      Tigers 6, Astros 3

      John Hicks slugged a two-run homer to ignite a surprising power surge and Detroit averted a series sweep with a win at Houston.

      Hicks' 400-foot blast off Astros right-hander Justin Verlander (9-5) keyed a three-run second inning and set the tone for Detroit, which ended a seven-game losing skid. The Tigers slugged four home runs, all against Verlander, after entering the game last in the majors in dingers with 76.

      Facing his former team for the first time since a waiver deadline trade shipped him to Houston last August, Verlander became just the fifth pitcher in history to allow at least four home runs in a start where he posted 12-plus strikeouts. He allowed a season-high six runs (five earned) on six hits without walking a batter.

      Dodgers 5, Angels 3

      Kiké Hernandez's seventh-inning home run snapped a 3-3 tie and helped lead the hosts over the Angels at Dodger Stadium.

      Andrew Toles' two-out RBI single in the eighth inning provided an insurance run, helping the Dodgers take two of three in the series and win their fourth of five games heading into the All-Star break.

      Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw gave up a three-run home run to Jefry Marte, but otherwise held the Angels scoreless in 6 2/3 innings. Kenta Maeda (7-5) relieved Kershaw in the seventh and got the final out of the inning, a brief appearance but enough to earn the victory. Kenley Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 27th save.

      Braves 5, Diamondbacks 1

      Right-hander Julio Teheran took a shutout into the seventh inning as Atlanta salvaged one win in its three-game home series against Arizona.

      Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman each hit RBI doubles to a four-run third inning against Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-4), giving Teheran and three relievers all the offensive support they would need.

      Teheran (7-6), who had won just twice in nine starts after opening the season 4-1, limited the Diamondbacks to four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.

      Nationals 6, Mets 1

      Daniel Murphy continued to haunt his former team when he laced a two-run pinch-hit single to spark a five-run seventh inning that lifted Washington to a win at New York.

      The Nationals opened and closed the four-game series with wins to reach the All-Star Break at .500. The Mets have lost 34 of their last 48 during their worst first half of a full season since 1993, when they were 27-60 at the All-Star break.

      The teams traded run-scoring fielder's choice groundouts in the second inning before matching zeroes until the Nationals unloaded against three Mets relievers in the seventh.

      Marlins 10, Phillies 5

      Brian Anderson hit a three-run homer as part of an eight-run fifth inning, and last-place Miami defeated visiting Philadelphia.

      Anderson went 3-for-5 and has 109 hits, the most by a major league rookie before the All-Star break since two players did it in 2003.

      In their last game before the All-Star break, the Marlins completed a week in which they took two out of three games from a pair of first-place teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and then the Phillies. Marlins reliever Elieser Hernandez (2-5) earned the win, pitching one scoreless inning.

      Orioles 6, Rangers 5

      Adam Jones lined a three-run double as part of a five-run third inning as Baltimore scored a come-from-behind victory over visiting Texas.

      The Orioles used a bullpen format, after likely starting pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis became ill in recent days. So, manager Buck Showalter began with Miguel Castro, who struggled right from the start. He walked the first three batters and Ronald Guzman hit a grand slam over the wall in right for a quick 4-0 lead.

      But the Orioles battled back, getting a solo homer from Manny Machado in the bottom of the first and doubles from Caleb Joseph and Jones in the third to take a 5-4 lead. Zach Britton came on and closed the game in the ninth for his fourth save.

      White Sox 10, Royals 1

      Lucas Giolito pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings as Chicago walloped visiting Kansas City, which lost for the 13th time in 15 games.

      Daniel Palka and Yoan Moncada each had three hits and a home run for the White Sox, who took two of three games in the weekend series.

      Giolito (6-8), a right-hander, allowed two hits, walked three and struck out six as he improved to 3-0 in his career against the Royals. It was his first scoreless start of the season and his best at home, as he entered the game at 2-4 with an 8.65 ERA at Guaranteed Rate Field.

      --Field Level Media