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NL Central Transaction Monday: 8/24

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

BREWERS

8/17/20: Added C Payton Henry to the CPP and assigned him to the ATS. CPP at 57.

8/19/20: Added LHP Aaron Ashby to the CPP and assigned him to the ATS. CPP at 58.

Payton was the club’s 6th round draft choice in 2016. The Brewers already have four 40-man roster catchers. Their ATS has two of those four, plus two additional catchers. Although the Operations Manual does not directly state that a club may not trade a player unless that player is on the club’s CPP, the Manual is apparently being interpreted that way. Payton might be trade bait. Ashby, on the other hand, was the club’s 4th round choice in struck out 135 to 60 walks across two minor league levels last year as a starter, and the club might just be trying to get him some work.

8/20: Placed RHP Corey Knebel on the 10-day IL (left hamstring strain). Recalled IF Mark Mathias from the ATS.

It did not seem to be like the Brewers to have the maximum amount of pitching, so I was surprised to see them go down to 14 pitchers with this move. Eric Lauer was not available because had not spent at least 10 days on option, but J.P. Feyereisen, Trey Supak and Bobby Wahl all were. Instead, the club brought Math Mathias back, and is insistent on trying to make the natural second baseman an outfielder.

8/22/20: Designated UT Brock Holt for assignment. Purchased the contract of UT Jace Peterson from the ATS. 40-man still full, CPP at 57.

The Brewers essentially swapped one utility guy for another. Holt got 36 PA with the club and slashed .100/.222/.100 while getting 7 starts at 3B, 1 in LF, and last night in RF. They tried Holt for a while as a long side of a platoon at third base with Jedd Gyorko while Eric Sogard was platooning at short with Orlando Arcia. But as Arcia continued to hit and the club tried to find some playing time for Luis Urias, Holt was played less.

Peterson was taken as a supplemental pick after the 1st round by the Padres in the 2011 draft, compensation for that club’s losing Kevin Correia to free agency. Drafted as a shortstop, he was rushed to the majors in 2014 after only 18 games in AA, and played 3B and 2B that year. The Padres flipped him to the Braves after the 2014 season in the Justin Upton deal. After his minor league options were exhausted, the Braves non-tendered Peterson after the 2017 season. He’s bounced to the Yankees and Orioles since, signing minor league deals and being outrighted multiple times before joining the Brewers on a minor league deal.

The 30-year old left-handed hitting Peterson has played every position on the diamond in the majors except catcher and center field, but has never been able to hit at all. His best season offensively was with the Braves in 2016 when he slashed .254/.350/.366 which gave him a 93 DRC+ and 1 WARP. I’m unclear how the Braves plan to use him.

8/23/20: Optioned LHP Angel Perdomo to the ATS. Recalled RHP J.P. Feyereisen from the ATS.

Perdomo has allowed 7 runs and 6 unintentional walks in just 2.2 IP over 3 appearances. Feyereisen got the call over Bobby Wahl, Eric Lauer and Trey Supak, the latter of whom has not appeared for the club yet. Feyereisen only made 1 apperance when he was up the first time, striking out 1 and allowing 1 HR over 4 batters faced.

CUBS

8/17/20: Added RHP Tyson Miller as the 29th man for the doubleheader with the Cardinals and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game.

8/18/20: Placed OF Steven Souza, Jr. on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 17th (right hamstring strain). Purchased the contract of IF Hernan Perez from the ATS. To make room on the 40-man roster, transferred LHP Brad Wieck from the 10-day IL to the 45-day IL. 40-man roster still full. CPP at 57.

8/19/20: Added RHP Adbert Alzolay as the 29th man for the doubleheader with the Cardinals and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game.

8/20/20: Announced that RHP Jharel Cotton has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to the ATS. CPP at 58.

Miller and Alzolay were brought up to pitch the 2nd games of both doubleheaders. Wieck is not necessarily out for the season. He was originally placed on the 10-day IL with a hamstring injury on the 3rd day of the Cubs’ season on July 26th, so he will be eligible to be reinstated from the 45-day IL on September 9th.

As far as the addition of Perez to replace Souza on the active roster, the Cubs had nothing available on the 40-man roster. Their choices at the ATS were either Perez, Ryan LaMarre and Ian Miller. Perez had the advantage of the most experience in the major leagues and the most positional flexibility of the lot. Although he posted double digit home run seasons twice, he never did hit enough in the majors to hold down a regular job. Perez is 29 years old, bats right-handed and has enough major league service that he can refuse a minor league assignment.

8/22/20: Placed 3B Kris Bryant on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 19th (left ring finger sprain). Active roster at 27.

Bryant injured his finger when he was playing left field in a game against the Indians and made a sliding catch. He also has a left wrist injury stemming from the same play. He has only played in 4 out of the Cubs’ 9 games since that date and none of the last 4 games. Although Bryant hasn’t played since August 17th, the club could only backdate the IL stay by 3 days. Because the club didn’t make the decision to put him on the IL in time to get someone from their Alternate Training Site in South Bend, the club had to play a man short tonight against the White Sox. A roster move is expected tomorrow afternoon.

The Cubs have the same position player problem that they had when Souza went down. And that is that Daniel Descalso is on the 45-day IL and they have no position players they can use from their Alternate Training Site on the 40-man roster. They are already carrying 3 catchers, so there would be no point in recalling Miguel Amaya. They wouldn’t recall him anyway because he hasn’t played beyond the Class A-Advanced level. Infielder Zack Short is the only other 40-man roster position player and the club never did name him to the Club Player Pool. So the club is either looking at adding another bullpen arm to give them a 15th pitcher or adding someone like OF Ian Miller, who has all of his options remaining and could be sent down quickly.

8/23/20: Purchased the contract of OF Ian Miller from the ATS. Active roster at 28. To make room on the 40-man roster, transferred RHP James Norwood from the 15-day IL to the 45-day IL. 40-man roster still full. Signed 1B/3B Patrick Wisdom to a minor league deal, added him to the CPP and assigned him to the ATS. CPP still at 58.

The Cubs indeed went ahead with Miller. The 28-year old lefty swinger was originally a 14th round draft choice by the Mariners in 2013. On August 10th, 2019, in his 7th season with the organization, the Mariners traded him to the Twins for cash considerations. Miller was a September callup last season, getting only 17 PA and 1 start at each of the outfield positions. The Twins outrighted him after the offseason, and he was declared an automatic Rule 55 minor league free agent. He then signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in teh offseason, and was a candidate for the final job on the opening day 30-man roster.

Known for his speed and defense, the issue with Miller was that when he got to full season ball, he didn’t really hit at all until his third spin with AA Arkansas in 2017, and by that time, he was old for the level. He didn’t have an above-average offensive line in AAA in either spin there either, although he did hit 11 HR last year with the juiced ball. His previous high was 4. Miller has all 3 minor league options remaining, so this is probably a short stay with the club.

Although it is unknown if Norwood is expected to return from his shoulder injury, but he is not officially out for the season. He is eligible to be activated from the IL on September 11th. Wisdom was a Cardinal farmhand for 8 years that finally made his major league debut in 2018 after a bunch of injuries. He has since bounced to the Rangers and Mariners organizations and was released by the latter club on August 14th. His constant issue in the minor leagues was strikeouts, and he’s struck out in 39.5% of his 86 MLB plate appearances so far the past 2 seasons. He has yet to appear in the majors this season, although he did hit 31 homers in AAA for 2 years in a row. He likely projects as emergency depth.

PIRATES

8/17/20: Recalled RHP Tyler Bashlor from the ATS. Active roster at 28.

The Pirates had optioned Cody Ponce to the ATS while the Pirates’ series with the Reds was postponed. Ponce had allowed 2 HR in only 3.1 IP, so the club figured they would give Bashlor a spin. This move restores the active roster to 28. Bashlor was acquired in a trade for cash with the Mets on August 2nd, and the Pirates had sent him to the ATS to get ready. His FIP in 24 games with the Mets last season was 7.26, largely because of his 16.5% walk rate. He had yet to appear in a game this season at the time of his recall.

8/18/20: Placed RHP Yacksel Rios on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 15th (right shoulder inflammation). Recalled RHP Nick Mears from the ATS.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a pitching staff racked by injuries this bad.

8/23/20: Optioned RHP Nick Mears to the ATS. Recalled RHP Nick Tropeano from the ATS.

Before today, Mears had the second most walks in the bullpen with 7 walks over 18 batters faced in 3 games and 3.1 IP. He also threw 32 pitches in last night’s game. The club could use a fresh arm and some more innings out of the pen, especially since closer Keone Kela is currently day-to-day with right forearm tightness. Tropeano is a former starter that has had major home run issues.

REDS

8/17/20: Announced that IF Christian Colon has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to the ATS. CPP at 59.

8/19/20: Placed CF Nick Senzel on the COVID-19 Related IL. Activated 2B Mike Moustakas from the 10-day IL. Added IF Robel Garcia as the 29th man for the doubleheader against the Royals, and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game. 40-man roster at 39, CPP at 58.

As the Reds were celebrating their victory over the Pirates last August 14th, Senzel was escorted out of the victory line by the 3rd base coach, looked visibly upset and slammed his glove on the dugout. We were told that Senzel had a “personal issue” on which there would be more information soon. When it was soon announced that the Reds had a player test positive for the virus and their next 2 games with the Pirates postponed, many people deduced that Senzel was the one who tested positive. This all but confirms it. In Senzel’s absence, the Reds have mostly moved Shogo Akiyama from CF to LF and have put Jesse Winker in LF.

8/22/20: Optioned Josh VanMeter to the ATS. Purchased the contract of OF Mark Payton from the ATS. 40-man roster full.

For someone who hasn’t been able to hit this year, VanMeter has played a lot. While Mike Moustakas was on the injured list, he was the long side of a platoon at 2B, and with Winker playing LF after Senzel’s IL placement, VanMeter has actually been put in the DH spot against right-handed pitching. But after a while, David Bell had enough. In 34 PA, VanMeter was slashing .059/.158/.176 with 1 double, 1 home, run, 3 walks and 16 strikeouts.

Although at 28 years old, Payton is not the typical prospect, he has had an interesting year. He went from being a major league phase Rule 5 draft pick by the Reds from the Oakland Athletics organization, to being returned to that organization, to being traded back to the Reds for a player to be named later, to now on the active roster. Payton spent 5 seasons in the New York Yankees organization before being taken by the A’s in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2018. He’s shown a good batting eye the last couple of the years. He busted out for 30 home runs for AAA Las Vegas last year, but some are skeptical since Las Vegas is the most hitter friendly environment perhaps in the entire minor leagues. Payton has no Rule 5 restrictions anymore, so the Reds can option him as much as they like. It is interesting that the Reds chose Payton over recalling Aristides Aquino. Perhaps they wanted yet another left-handed option off the bench. It looks like David Bell plans to use him a little in left field at least against right-handed pitching.