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NL Central Transaction Sunday Night: 9/20

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

BREWERS

9/14/20: Optioned RHP J.P. Feyereisen to the ATS. Activated RHP Ray Black from the 45-day IL. Claimed OF Billy McKinney on outright assignment waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays and optioned him to the ATS. To make room for both Black and McKinney on the 40-man roster, designated RHP Trey Supak and IF Ronny Rodriguez for assignment. Added RHP Justin Topa as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game. 40-man roster still full. CPP still at 59.

Black has been on the injured list all season with a rotator cuff strain. He has always been a strikeout machine and missed a lot of bats, but had serious injury issues and control problems in the minor leagues. Black gave up 4 homers and 8 walks in 14 IP with the Brewers last year, but the club wants to add him to their list of hard-throwing bullpen members. Feyereisen is a rookie who gave up 3 homers and 5 walks in 8.1 IP.

Supak was on the active roster for 1 day, but didn’t get to pitch before he was optioned, and thus did not make his major league debut. He has been a starter through his minor league career, but the club figured that as someone who would be on the 40-man roster on his final option next season without having made it to the majors yet, it was unlikely he was going to crack the roster. Rodriguez was signed as undrafted free agent way back in October of 2010 by the Indians as an 18-year old. After 7 years in that organization, he signed a minor league deal with the Tigers and made his major league debut on May 31st, 2018. He only spent 19 days on option from that point forward in 2018, and thus did not burn an option year that season. The Brewers claimed Rodriguez on waivers this past December and optioned him back before the transaction freeze. Rodriguez had 500 career MLB plate appearances and a career slash line of .221/.254/.396, although he did have 14 homers last season. He has experience at all of the infield positions, but he’s 28 years old, has a career .303 OBP in the minor leagues, and strikes out a lot compared to the power he offers and without the corresponding patience. The Brewers figure they are covered in the middle infield with all of their other options.

McKinney was a 1st round draft choice by the Athletics way back in 2013. In July of 2014, he was traded with Addison Russell to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal. Near the trade deadline in 2016, he was part of another trade, this time part of a package sent to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees added him to the 40-man roster after the 2017 season, and he was called up the 2nd day of the season when Aaron Hicks got hurt. The next day, however, McKinney went on the disabled list with a sprained shoulder. The Yankees traded him at the deadline with Brandon Drury to the Blue Jays for J.A. Happ. He got called back up for the last month-and-a-half of 2018. He’s been up and down ever since. The Blue Jays designated him for assignment on September 11th of this year. Over 3 seasons, he has started 96 games in the corner outfield with 1 game at first base. In 411 career plate appearances, his career slash line is .231/.291/.437. His first cup of coffee in 2018 went okay, but his overall line is drug down by his poor performance in extended action last year. As a player known for his hit tool when he was drafted, the power hasn’t come around, and he’s really limited to left field defensively. He will also be out of options next season, as he’s already burned his final one this season. Perhaps the Brewers think of the lefty-swinging McKinney as insurance in case someone gets hurt or want to give him a try instead of Ben Gamel, but this is a surprising waiver claim.

9/16/20: Placed RHP Josh Lindblom on the bereavement/family medical emergency list. Recalled RHP Justin Topa from the ATS. Added LHP Eric Lauer as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game. Outrighted RHP Trey Supak and IF Ronny Rodriguez to the AAA San Antonio reserve list.

It has not been disclosed exactly what led to Lindblom’s placement on the bereavement list, but if he is gone for only the minimum time, he could make his next start on regular rest. He has to remain on the list for 3 days, but may not stay on it for more than 7 days. In the mean time, the club will go with an extra reliever, which they could use after playing 2 doubleheaders in the last 3 days. The Brewers have an off day tomorrow, their final one the rest of the year. Since the transaction page said that Supak and Rodriguez have been outrighted to AAA San Antonio instead of the ATS, I interpreted that to mean that they are both officially off of the Club Player Pool.

9/18/20: Phillies sent RHP Juan Geraldo, RHP Israel Puello and RHP Brandon Ramey as the players to be named later in the 8/31 David Phelps trade. Released RHP Jake Faria from his minor league deal. CPP at 58.

I talked about this deal and the players involved here. The published reports about the players involved turned out to be correct. I’m not sure why the Brewers bothered to release Jake Faria at this stage of the season. The club got him at the trade deadline last season from the Rays for Jesus Aguilar, and in 9 games for the Brewers, he gave up 18 hits in 8.2 IP, with 3 homers, 5 walks and 8 strikeouts. He was out of options after last season, so the Brewers outrighted him to AAA San Antonio before spring training 1.0 this year. He has been on the Club Player Pool this whole year. The Alternate Training Sites around MLB are going to be closing soon, they don’t need CPP space, and it couldn’t have been long before his deal was over anyway, so I don’t understand the point of the release.

9/20/20: Placed OF Ben Gamel on the 10-day IL, retroactive to September 19th (strained left quad). Activated RHP Josh Lindblom from the bereavement/family medical emergency list.

Lindblom is starting today’s game, so he didn’t miss a start. Gamel started 31 games in the outfield for the Brewers this season, providing some key depth after Lorenzo Cain opted out and Braun was on the shelf. The injury had apparently been bothering him for a couple of weeks, and he just couldn’t continue. Gamel will now be out for the season, with Tyrone Taylor and Jace Peterson helping out in the outfield the rest of the year. His slash line of .237/.315/.404 was about 10 percent below average, and the club has an option on the arbitration-eligible Gamel for $2.55 million for next season. The Brewers now have 15 pitchers for the home stretch.

CUBS

9/19/20: Placed RHP Rowan Wick on the 10-day IL, retroactive to September 17th (left oblique strain). Activated LHP Andrew Chafin from the 10-day IL.

Wick’s injury is serious, and might knock him out of action for the season, including the playoffs, and that’s a big blow for the Cubs. His side flared up in his outing on September 16th. He’s been a major piece for the Cubs in the back end of the bullpen this year. He’s had only 6 walks to 20 strikeouts in 17.1 IP. I talked about the Chafin acquisition from the Diamondbacks here. He’s been on the injured list the entire time with a finger sprain, and the Cubs hope he can reverse some of his bad BABIP luck and provide help in the late innings.

9/20/20: Optioned LHP Josh Osich to the ATS. Recalled 1B/DH Jose Martinez from the ATS.

This move is a little puzzling. I thought Osich might have been optioned on September 22nd, because someone had to go down to make room for Adbert Alzolay to come up that day and make a start. It wouldn’t burn an option, and Osich has one left. Perhaps the club decided that they wanted to give Jose Martinez another try this season, but this move puts the club at only 13 pitchers, and the Cubs don’t have any more days off. Osich hasn’t pitched great in his 4 games with the Cubs, but he hasn’t walked anyone and he has been let down a bit by his defense.

PIRATES

9/14/20: Placed RHP Kyle Crick on the 10-day IL (lat strain). Activated RHP Mitch Keller from the 10-day IL. Added RHP Cody Ponce as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game.

Crick re-aggravated the last muscle that led to his earlier IL stint. Keller returns from the injured list to start one of the games of the doubleheader, his first start since August 1st. It’s unclear how the Pirates will round out their rotation the rest of the year.

9/15/20: Optioned OF Jason Martin to the ATS. Recalled RHP Blade Cederlind from the ATS.

This move gives the Pirates 16 pitchers and only a 3-man bench. Cederlind, the hard-throwing rookie, spent a long time getting in game shape after contracting the COVID-19 virus in summer camp.

9/17/20: Placed OF Cole Tucker on the 7-day IL (concussion). Recalled UT Jose Osuna from the ATS.

After the game last night, Tucker slipped in the tunnel below Cincinnati’s ballpark, his spikes gave way, and he hit his head. He’ll be gone for at least the full 7 days, maybe longer. Tucker was playing most of the center field. Now the Pirates will likely put Adam Frazier in left, slide Bryan Reynolds from left field to center field and play Kevin Newman at 2nd base with Erik Gonzalez at short. JT Riddle could end up seeing some time in center as well.

9/18/20: Added OF Jason Martin as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game.

9/20/20: Placed IF Kevin Newman on the 10-day IL (left knee nerve contusion). Recalled OF Jason Martin from the ATS.

Newman was injured when Genesis Cabrera of the Cardinals hit on the knee with a 97 mph fastball last night. He’s done for the year. Adam Frazier will most likely stop playing left field now and go back to his 2nd base spot.

REDS

9/14/20: Activated CF Nick Senzel from the COVID-19 Related IL and added him as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader. To make room on the 40-man roster, transferred RHP Tyler Thornburg from the 10-day IL to the 45-day IL. Optioned OF Aristides Aquino to the ATS after the 2nd game of the doubleheader. 40-man roster still full. CPP still at 58.

Senzel looks to get back into action center field after unfortunately coming down with the COVID virus. The club will ease him back in, playing Goodwin in center on occasion. Aquino is the odd man out for now in the outfield, with the club looking at Akiyama, Senzel, Goodwin and Castellanos out there with Winker a possibility if he doesn’t DH.

9/15/20: Placed 3B Eugenio Suarez on the paternity leave list. Placed RHP Jose De Leon on the 10-day IL (right groin strain). Recalled OF Aristides Aquino from the ATS. Purchased the contract of RHP R.J. Alaniz from the ATS. To make room for Alaniz on the 40-man roster, designated OF Nick Williams for assignment. 40-man roster still full. CPP at 57.

Alaniz has been around organized baseball a long time, having signed with the Astros as an undrafted free agent in August of 2009 out of high school after attending a tryout camp. After 7 years in that organization, and 2 drug suspensions, he signed with the Tigers organization for 2016. After 2 seasons, he signed with the Rays for 2018, then the Mariners signed him to a major league contract for the 2019 season. Although starting the season on option in AAA, he was recalled to the big club on April 12th, 2019. After pitching 4 games for the Mariners where he got absolutely tattooed (4 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 3 HR, 3 BB), he was optioned back to the minors and designated for assignment. The Reds claimed him on waivers last May 31st, and recalled him on August 17th, where he made 8 appearances over the rest of the year, with middling to poor peripherals. He’s had good numbers in recent seasons in the minor leagues, but just could never stick in the majors. The Reds outrighted him off of the 40-man roster last December, but are pressing him into service again, as they are running out of arms. He’s 29 years old now and still has 2 minor league options left. At one time, he was said to have had one of the best curveballs in the Astros’ minor league system.

Aquino is now back, and Suarez will likely only miss two games, because the Reds have the day off on September 17th. In the meantime, Mike Moustakas will slide over to 3rd base and Freddy Galvis will play 2nd. The club probably figured Williams was the one to trim off of the 40-man roster to make room for Alaniz because he will be out of options next season and they look covered in the outfield with the guys they have on the active roster right now, in addition to Mark Payton.

9/16/20: Traded International Slot Bonus Pool Money to the Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Justin Miller, and added him to the CPP. Added OF Austin Hendrick to the CPP and assigned him to the ATS. CPP at 59.

Kendrick was the club’s 1st round draft choice this past June. He’s just assigned to the ATS to get some work in. Unless I’m misunderstanding the timing, Miller won’t be eligible for the postseason, unless the Reds announced today that this transaction took place yesterday. I don’t know how much ISBP pool money the Reds gave up, but you wonder why now if he couldn’t possibly help the club in the postseason. Maybe they see him as someone who could help to get the club to the postseason if an emergency should arise. The 33-year old Miller was drafted back in 2008 in the 16th round by the Rangers, and has MLB experience with the Tigers, Rockies and most recently the Nationals. He pitched 17 games with that club last season before being outrighted off of the 40-man roster on August 1st, most likely to do his recurring issues with home runs. He could only find a minor league deal with the Blue Jays this season, and was unable to crack the 40-man.

9/18/20: Optioned RHP R.J. Alaniz to the ATS. Activated 3B Eugenio Suarez from the paternity leave list. Outrighted OF Nick Williams to the ATS. CPP at a full 60.

Instead of sending Aquino back down, the club optioned Alaniz to make room for Suarez before he could even make an appearance. If he stays on the 40-man for next year, he’ll still have 2 options remaining, because this won’t burn one of them. This move leaves the Reds with only 13 pitchers.