Recalled 3B/LF-L Kyle Kubitza from Triple-A Salt Lake; placed 3B-R David Freese on the 15-day disabled list (fractured finger). [7/23]
Acquired 3B-L Conor Gillaspie from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations; designated LHP Adam Wilk for assignment; optioned RHP Nick Tropeano to Triple-A Salt Lake. [7/24]
For a team with the fourth-highest playoff odds in the American League, the Angels' lineup sure is underwhelming in a few spots, like third base and left field, the two positions affected here.
Mike Scioscia had been using platoons to fill each position during Freese's absence, resulting in a Kubitza–Taylor Featherston combo at the hot corner and a Matt Joyce–Dan Robertson pairing in left. Neither concoction had gotten the job done, prompting interim GM Bill Stoneman to try another solution. Hence Gillaspie, who hopes to return to form as a tolerable platoon option with solid bat-to-ball skills. Gillaspie isn't just around to play third base, though; he's around to give Scioscia another reason to try Kubitza in left field, where he'd recently played in the minors, thereby limiting Joyce's playing time (if not outright costing him a roster spot).
Of course for that plan to work—in this case meaning to represent an upgrade—both Gillaspie and Kubitza need to perform better than they have heretofore. Because that's no sure thing and because neither profiles as an everyday starter on a good team, Stoneman will likely spend the next few days shopping around for at least another corner outfielder. There's not a ton of depth on the farm for Stoneman to trade, however, so he might have to wait until August before he can make a move. –R.J. Anderson
Claimed UTL-S Tyler Kelly off waivers from the Cardinals; optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. [7/22]
This is Alex Anthopoulos' first waiver claim of the regular season, ending a nearly four-month stretch of inactivity. Anthopoulos' restraint is more impressive than it seems, given he hadn't abstained for more than three months since December 2013; the man loves freely available talent.
You might wonder how Kelly stirred Anthopoulos in a way dozens of others haven't. Beats us. While projection systems are impressed with his strong minor-league numbers (until this season), scouts think of him as more of a fringe or emergency option. His offensive value is tied to walks and singles, as he's bereft of power thanks to his small stature and short swing. He also doesn't run or throw well, limiting his impact in the field and on the basepaths. The best-case scenario sees Kelly become some team's 25th man; more likely is that he's waived again before the season ends, probably for Anthopoulos' next waiver claim. –R.J. Anderson
Purchased the contract of RHP Zachary Godley from Double-A Mobile; optioned RHP Matt Stites to Triple-A Reno; transferred UTL-R Phil Gosselin to to the 60-day disabled list (fractured thumb). [7/23]
Godley was acquired along with Jeferson Mejia in the deal that saw Miguel Montero head to the Cubs, and while he was justifiably considered the weaker prospect in the trade, he has a chance to stick on a big-league staff, as seen in his debut on Thursday.
A 10th round pick out of Tennessee two years ago, Godley doesn't have elite stuff, but he can miss bats in large part because nothing he throws is straight. He relies heavily on his cut fastball, a pitch that sits in the 89–91 range and bores in on the hands of lefties, and sinker, which has similar velocity but drops hard when he stays on top. He'll also show a "true" breaking ball at times, but he mostly works with those two offerings. This leads to some swing-and-miss and weak contact.
Expecting to see the results he posted against the Brewers on Thursday on a consistent basis is a fool's errand. There's enough here though to make him a potential fifth starter, though, and because of his arm strength he should be a competent multi-inning reliever if the Diamondbacks feel the arsenal isn't good enough to pitch every fifth day. – Christopher Crawford
Acquired RHPs John Gant and Rob Whalen from the Mets in exchange for 3B-R Juan Uribe and UTL-L Kelly Johnson. [7/24]
Gant is a lanky right-hander with a funky, stop-and-go delivery and fringy stuff. He finishes on a stiff front leg; his delivery puts a low ceiling on his command profile. His 88–92 mph fastball is a fringe-average offering with below-average movement and command. For secondaries, he throws an 80–81 changeup and a soft, loopy low-70s curve. Both pitches will play below average. He has also mixed in a shallow slider in the low 80s. Without a big fastball or a plus secondary, Gant projects for a limited big-league role. –Al Skorupa
A former 12th round pick, Whalen offers a sturdy build that suggests an innings-eating mid-rotation starter, but an arsenal that falls short of that. With a fastball sitting around 90–91 mph, he doesn't have enough to miss bats with that alone. It does have some arm-side run that generates groundballs when he keeps it low, but it has a tendency to flatten out when he doesn't get on top of it. Despite reports of an above-average curveball, his slider is actually the better of his two breaking balls. Thrown primarily around 83–84 mph, it flashes the ability to be an average pitch, with plus movement at times, but he's inconsistent with its command and velocity, often throwing through the break. The curveball itself sat in the mid-70s, but isn't a pitch he'll be working with for long, nor is his changeup, which lacked feel.
Whalen has had success with this arsenal to this point, but things are trending in the wrong direction. His strikeout rates have dropped at each level, while his walk rates have risen. Despite his size, he's likely destined for a middle-relief role. For that to work, he'll need to improve the consistency of his slider, but when he throws it well, it does have the ability to be an effective pitch against right-handed hitters. –Jeff Moore
Acquired RHP Kyle Barraclough from the Cardinals in exchange for RHP Steve Cishek. [7/24]
Barraclough has a sturdy frame and the looks of a power pitcher, and that's exactly what the Marlins are receiving. His fastball has routinely sat in the mid-90s this season, touching 97–98 mph frequently. Along with the heat, he brings an above-average, but inconsistent, slider that may allow Barraclough to become an intriguing bullpen arm. The issue is his lack of control, as Barraclough has struggled with limiting free passes. He's a lottery ticket. –Tucker Blair
Acquired 3B-R Juan Uribe and UTL-L Kelly Johnson from the Braves in exchange for RHPs John Gant and Rob Whalen; designated OF-R John Mayberry Jr. for assignment. [7/24]
The deadline isn't all about the headline-grabbing trades. Sometimes the most prudent moves are those that strengthen an area of weakness with a marginal upgrade. In that sense, you have to like what the Mets did on Friday. While neither Uribe nor Johnson is a difference-maker globally, both will cut into playing time otherwise reserved for marginal talents. Moves like these are a must for any team hoping to make the postseason, and the Mets have better positioned themselves to do so with this deal, even if it occurred later than the fan base desired.
Uribe joins his third team of the season, which says more about those teams than him: The Dodgers had better, younger options; the Braves wanted better, younger options. The Mets have been using Daniel Murphy and Eric Campbell at third base during David Wright's prolonged absence, meaning Uribe should be a perceptible upgrade in the field. He could be one at the plate, too, provided he continues to hit at a league-average rate. Besides Uribe's obvious on-field value, he's a good fit on the Mets' roster for other reasons that might get overlooked. Namely, Uribe provides the Mets with insurance in case Wright doesn't return soon (if at all) this season, and allows Murphy to return to the keystone, where he should bump Wilmer Flores to the bench, bettering the starting unit and the bench.
Johnson offers similar conditional value. His defensive flexibility—he's the only healthy Met besides Campbell to have played an infield and outfield position this season—is one thing, but he also gives Terry Collins a better pinch-hitting option than Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Darrell Ceciliani, and the other characters who have resulted in the sixth-worst pinch-hitting unit in the majors. Johnson has his flaws—he needs to be platooned and he's unlikely to sustain this offensive pace—but he's acceptable as a versatile, experienced bench player on a competitive team; that should be his role in New York.
Obviously Mets fans would prefer something bigger—a Troy Tulowitzki or Justin Upton trade—but this deal doesn't preclude those blockbusters. What it does do is inch the club closer to October by replacing black holes with depth. –R.J. Anderson
Acquired RHP Steve Cishek from the Marlins in exchange for RHP Kyle Barraclough; transferred RHP Matt Belisle to the 60-day disabled list (elbow inflammation). [7/24]
The deadline isn't upon us until John Mozeliak acquires a buy-low pitcher, be it a John Axford or a Justin Masterson. For his part, Cishek is a lot like Axford, and not just in the "fallen closer looks for redemption" sense. Although Cishek will not qualify for free agency until after the 2017 season, it's hard to imagine the Cardinals paying him an increase on his $6.7 million salary to serve as a bridge reliever. As a result, Cishek's stay in St. Louis could resemble Axford's: short and ending in a non-tender.
That's an acceptable outcome given the cost and provided Cishek can do what the Cardinals intend for him to do: buttress an overworked bullpen. With Belisle and Jordan Walden (who'll return in the next week or so) on the 60-day disabled list, the Cardinals have leaned heavily on Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness, who entered the weekend ranked first and second in the majors in appearances. (Randy Choate and Trevor Rosenthal also ranked in the top 20.) Is that asking too much from a reliever whose 4.50 ERA was the second-highest in the Marlins' bullpen? Recent indications say no.
Cishek opened the season as Miami's closer, which meant appearing four times during the team's first 15 games, a 43-appearance pace for someone who had finished with more than 65 in three consecutive years. He struggled with the sparse usage, blowing consecutive saves and losing his role in May, then headed to the minors to begin June. When he returned he talked about his mechanical changes—he'd inadvertently lowered his arm slot while trying to throw harder—and backed it up with improvement on the mound, striking out 11 batters and holding opponents to a .555 OPS in 12 innings.
In recent appearances Cishek has looked like he could help a contender, too. Unlike most sinker-slider side-armers who are limited to specialist roles, Cishek doesn't have platoon issues. He's able to manipulate his slider to the extent that he can steal strikes on the outside corner to lefties and bury it to put away righties. His velocity is down more than a mile on both his fastballs compared to this time last year, yet he still has enough command to keep the ball down in the zone (and away from the bleachers) most of the time, the exception being when he elevates his four-seamer against lefties in strikeout situations.
Cishek doesn't have traditional closer stuff—you're not going to see him hit 98 mph anytime soon—but he has enough that, when combined with his wits, guts, and deception, ought to allow him to serve as a setup man. If the Cardinals can keep Cishek mechanically sound, they should have another quality reliever to call upon in the coming months. –R.J. Anderson