Nine Innings: Yankees lead day of deals; Trout vs. Harper doesn't disappoint; Bartolo's back!
- A busy day in baseball also featured an injury to one of the best players on one of the best teams in the game, and yet another 10-game winning streak for the rolling Dodgers.
The calendar does not yet read July 31, but it certainly felt like trade deadline day. The Yankees and the Diamondbacks bolstered their postseason hopes in separate moves while the Tigers and the White Sox got plenty of young talent in return. Here are the nine items you need to know from a hectic Tuesday in baseball.
1. What you need to know
The Yankees worked out a trade with the White Sox to bring back former closer David Robertson, third baseman Todd Frazier and reliever Tommy Kahnle. Chicago acquired four players in the swap, headlined by New York’s 2016 first-round pick Blake Rutherford and veteran reliever Tyler Clippard. Left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin and 22-year-old outfielder Tito Polo were also sent to Chicago.
Robertson has been outstanding in the Sox' bullpen over the last six weeks. He’s yielded two runs over his last 13 innings and will join Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen. It appears likely for Robertson to slot into an eighth-inning role while Betances flip-flops wherever he’s needed. Kahnle is having a solid year (2.50 ERA and 0.972 WHIP) and more significantly remains under contract for three more seasons.
It’s unclear how playing time will shake out at third base, where Frazier joins primary starter Chase Headley. The 33-year-old Headley hasn’t come close to resembling the hitter who topped out at 31 home runs five years ago. His four home runs would indicate he’s been severely sapped of his power, although 20 doubles at this point in the season is nothing to hide. Frazier’s struggled to produce consistently, hitting less than .210 against righties and lefties, but his 16 home runs would tie him for second on New York behind Aaron Judge.
There’s a lot to sort out with this deal. The Yankees, who entered the night as the second AL Wild Card team, get a quick boost offensively and in the bullpen. The White Sox continue to polish one of the best farm systems in baseball. Both teams took a step in the directions they needed to.
2. Before all the raucous between the Yankees and White Sox, the Diamondbacks and Tigers grabbed headlines by completing a swap that sent power-hitting outfielder J.D. Martinez to Arizona in exchange for three prospects. Jon Tayler took a deep dive on the trade, so we’re not going to do that here.
If nothing else, this deal underscores two significant storylines: The Diamondbacks are going for it (Martinez is a rental acquisition) and the Tigers are willing to pawn off their better assets. It’s far from certain Justin Verlander will get moved, but reports surfaced that the Tigers are willing to compensate for part of the right-hander’s lofty contract. Martinez could just be the first of many exports out of Detroit as Tigers explore a roster remodel.
3. In the heat of the “face of baseball discussion,” two of the sport’s kingpins clashed in an interleague matchup Tuesday night. The Angels' Mike Trout and the Nationals' Bryce Harper did not disappoint.
Harper, the 2015 NL MVP and a candidate to win the award again this year, slashed a fastball over Trout’s head in centerfield and one-hopped it off the rocky waterfall far beyond the fence. Harper’s blast was his 24th of the season and sixth this month. Going into Tuesday’s game, he sat in the top five for NL batting average, RBIs, homers, runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and WAR.
Trout isn’t a contender for his third AL MVP at the moment because he missed 39 games with a thumb injury. But in a see-saw battle between superstars, the reigning AL MVP evened the ledger in his first at-bat the following inning. He crushed one just to the left of Harper’s home run, tying the game at one with his 17th home run this season and first since May 27. Washington went on to win 4-3.
Think it’s too much to ask these guys to guide their teams to the World Series one year?
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4. One of baseball’s brightest stars will sit out for the next two months. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa tore a ligament in his left thumb while taking a swing during Monday’s game. An MRI on Tuesday confirmed the damage that will require surgery to heal properly. Correa will likely be out until a week or two before the Astros’ postseason run begins, which is all but certain with a 16 1/2-game lead in the division and the AL’s best record.
It’s still a shame for Correa, who was in the midst of a career year. As of Tuesday he sported a .320/.400/.566 slash line with 20 home runs and 67 RBIs. Houston will see what it can get in the meantime from utility man Marwin Gonzalez. The 28-year-old has played six positions this season and has shown plenty of promise at the plate. Still, there’s no question how important Correa’s presence will be for the Astros come October.
5. Something historic is brewing on the National League side of Los Angeles. The Dodgers won again, riding seven shutout innings from Clayton Kershaw to edge the White Sox, 1-0. L.A. has now won a staggering 30 of its last 34 games.
In the last 14 starts by Kershaw and 11 starts by Alex Wood, the Dodgers are 25-0. That’s about all you need to know.
6. Following his release last month from the Braves, Bartolo Colon returned to the big leagues with the Twins to face one of his many former teams, the Yankees. The 44-year-old allowed four runs over four innings in the 6-4 loss to New York. That’s a slight improvement over his last four starts with Atlanta when he allowed 23 runs in 15 innings.
There’s no clear future for the righthander in the Twins’ rotation. His next scheduled start is scheduled come against the Dodgers, which sounds like a bad assignment for any pitcher at the moment.
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7. New Jersey governor Chris Christie caught a foul ball. Mets fans reacted accordingly, yet another lowlight for them in a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals.
8. Ichiro quietly enjoyed a milestone day, even though the Marlins lost to the Phillies, 5-2.
9. Travis Shaw sent a ball swimming in the Allegheny River during Milwaukee's 4-2 loss to the Pirates.