Activated RHP Matt Albers from the 15-day disabled list (broken finger); designated 3B-L Conor Gillaspie for assignment. [7/19]
Gillaspie celebrated his 28th birthday on the 18th, then received the pink slip on the 19th. Some present. When Gillaspie was at his most useful, he served as a cheap, no-frills platoon option at the hot corner. This season he'd expanded his zone more often and made contact less often, a bad combination for a player whose best (and often only) offensive skill was putting the bat on the ball. Unless some team decides it could use a so-so left-handed bat off the bench, expect Gillaspie to head to the minors.
Recalled RHP Vincent Velasquez from Double-A Corpus Christi; designated LHP Joe Thatcher for assignment. [7/21]
Part of the veteran reliever horde that signed with the Astros during the winter, Thatcher appeared in 36 games and tossed 19 innings before getting the boot over a rough July. How rough? He appeared in seven games and recorded more baserunners than outs five times. Yikes. The most interesting aspect of Thatcher's season is the seeming trade-off he made between throwing strikes and missing bats. Last season 70 percent of his pitches went for strikes and 18 percent of swings got whiffs; this season he was at 61 percent and 24 percent, which explains why his strikeout and walk rates increased. Perhaps some team takes a chance on Thatcher's funky, junk-balling ways with an eye on finding the happy medium; otherwise, he'll head to the minors or free agency. [Insert your joke here about how he's a future Brave.]
Activated RHP Kris Medlen from the 60-day disabled list (Tommy John surgery); optioned RHP Yohan Pino to Triple-A Omaha. [7/20]
Recalled RHP Yordano Ventura from Triple-A Omaha; placed LHP Jason Vargas on the 15-day disabled list (torn UCL). [7/22]
Ventura catches a break for (arguably) the first time since signing a five-year, $23 million extension in April. Although he was optioned to the minors on Tuesday to make room for Vargas, he returns a day later because Vargas injured his elbow in the second inning of his start. The Royals almost certainly would've preferred Ventura going to the minors and working on his command, secondary offerings, and composure away from the spotlight, but the best-laid plans go awry and they'll need him to get straightened out in a hurry if the Royals are to stay ahead in the AL Central.
Speaking of little pitchers, on Monday Medlen took a big-league mound for the first time since undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, throwing three innings in relief. When Medlen is right he's a thinking man's pitcher: athletic with a deep arsenal and good feel for throwing strikes and changing speeds. The Royals used Medlen as a starter during his rehab stint, but the plan appears to have him pitching out of the bullpen. If Kansas City's rotation suffers another loss, be it through injury or demotion, then Medlen could be in line for a look-see.
Purchased the contract of RHP Rafael Soriano from Triple-A Iowa; designated RHP Edwin Jackson for assignment. [7/20]
Remember Soriano signing with the Cubs back in June? They sure did, promoting him to the majors after seven productive appearances in the minors. In Soriano's first big-league cameo of the season, he showed a low-90s fastball and a taste for his slider, albeit not for efficiency. The Cubs haven't made it clear how they're going to use Soriano yet beyond some vague references to later in the game, but he seems down for whatever at this point in his career and could serve as a setup man.
Jackson departs three and a half seasons into his four-year contract worth $52 million. He was used exclusively in the bullpen for the first time in his big-league career, but the results weren't too impressive—a 3.19 ERA and 1.92 strikeout-to-walk rate—and the Cubs didn't trust him to pitch in important situations. (The last time he recorded a leverage index better than 1.0 during a nine-inning game came back in early May.) The Cubs were bound to run out of spots at some point, and while everyone praises Jackson as a human being, that's unfortunately not enough to keep him on a contending team's roster. Not yet 32, here's hoping Jackson can restart his career elsewhere. [Insert your joke here about how he's a future Brave.]
Activated OF-L Carl Crawford from the 60-day disabled list (oblique); optioned RHP Brandon Beachy to Triple-A Oklahoma; designated RHP Preston Guilmet for assignment. [7/21]
To put Beachy's performance through two starts into perspective, consider that his zone percentage is about even with Francisco Liriano, while his contact rate is right there with Mark Buehrle, a pairing that isn't going to breed good results, even in small samples. Beachy needs two more innings to tack a $250,000 buyout onto his 2016 club option. Though Andrew Friedman is known for roster manipulation and saving money, it would be a surprise if Beachy's standing with the Dodgers is affected either way by what amounts to chump change.
Guilmet came to and went from the Dodgers' 40-man roster without making an appearance for the big-league team. He hasn't proved his riseball and cutter can succeed against big-league hitters, but his minor-league dominance and rosy projections could entice another saber-orientated team into submitting a waiver claim. [Insert your joke here about how he's a future Brave.]
Activated RHP Tim Hudson from the 15-day disabled list (shoulder strain); designated RHP Jean Machi for assignment. [7/20]
What an odd arc for Machi. He didn't receive a big-league look until he was 30, then spent the next two seasons performing to the tune of a 138 ERA+ and 3.4 strikeout-to-walk rate before collapsing in 2015. So far this season he's thrown fewer strikes with pitches that weren't as lively, missed fewer bats, and generated fewer groundballs. Because Machi is cheap and has been productive in the recent past, don't be surprised if some team claims him off waivers with an eye on using him in middle relief. [Insert your joke here about how he's a future Brave.]
Purchased the contract of RHP Abel De Lo Santos from Double-A Harrisburg; optioned RHP Blake Treinen to Triple-A Syracuse; transferred OF-R Jayson Werth to the 60-day disabled list (fractured wrist). [7/20]
Acquired in the Ross Detwiler trade, the reedy De Los Santos possess a lively arm that produces a mid-90s fastball and quality curve. His delivery is high in effort, with his head and body jerking toward the first-base side, yet he throws more strikes than you'd expect. Depending on how De Los Santos' command progresses, he could eventually take high-leverage reps. If nothing else, he'll entertain thanks to a last name that's a little too long to fit straight across his uniform's back.