The Nationals decided to neither buy nor sell ahead of the July 31 trade deadline — the only move they made was sending setup man Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs for a low-level prospect. But after losing six of their last eight games and nine of their last 13, the Washington front office launched into action via the August waiver trade market on Tuesday afternoon.
Veteran second baseman Daniel Murphy was dealt to the Cubs for minor league infielder Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named later, and left-handed-hitting first baseman Matt Adams was shipped to the Cardinals in exchange for cash considerations. Bryce Harper was also claimed off revocable trade waivers — reportedly by the Dodgers — but the Nats opted to hang on to the 25-year-old impending free agent, presumably to better their chances of re-signing him this offseason.
Murphy should get something close to regular starts at second base in Chicago, with Addison Russell’s playing time likely taking a hit. Russell has batted just .259/.326/.359 with five home runs and 37 RBI in 112 games this season and he was held out of the Cubs’ starting lineup on Tuesday night against the Tigers due to soreness in his right shoulder and a lingering left middle finger injury. Javier Baez figures to play more shortstop moving forward.
If you were still waiting for Russell to pop this year in fantasy, this trade is a good reason to finally cut bait. Murphy should get a slight boost with the move to a better team and a more hitter-friendly ballpark. The 33-year-old is a .413 lifetime hitter at Wrigley Field and he famously brutalized the Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series while he was still a member of the Mets.
Murphy is playing out the final year of a three-year, $37.5 million deal. He’ll be a free agent this winter.
As for Adams, he’ll work as a bench bat and in a part-time platoon at first base in St. Louis, where he spent the first five-plus years of his major league career. There’s probably not going to be a ton of fantasy value in that role given that Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez are also locked into regular playing time at first, but it’s a savvy real-life addition for the streaking Cardinals given the heavy right-handedness of their roster. Adams has posted an .882 OPS with 17 home runs and 42 RBI in 238 plate appearances against right-handed pitching this season.
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Kopech Debut Cut Short
It literally rained on the Michael Kopech parade Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The 22-year-old top pitching prospect struck out four batters over two scoreless innings in his major league debut against the Twins before the skies opened up on the South Side of Chicago. Kopech did not return to the mound after what amounted to a 52-minute rain delay, with reliever Luis Avilan instead taking over for the White Sox in the top of the third inning.
Kopech impressed in the abbreviated outing, showing an elite combination of velocity and spin rate. He allowed the first two batters he faced to reach on singles, but Kopech rallied to erase those threats and then struck out the side in the top of the second. His four-seam fastball hit 98.3 mph in the second inning and averaged 2,629 rotations per minute (rpm) in the first inning, per David Adler of MLB.com’s Statcast division. To put that into context, Justin Verlander, the highest-spin starter in the majors this season, is averaging 2,613 rpm on his four-seamer. The kid is going to get a whole lot of whiffs.
Kopech struggled at times this year at Triple-A Charlotte, which is partly why it took until late August for the White Sox to finally give him a shot, but he registered a 1.84 ERA and 59/4 K/BB ratio over his final 44 innings (seven starts) in the International League to prove his readiness.
His second major league start will come Sunday on the road against the Tigers, who currently rank 28th in the majors in runs scored and 27th in team OPS. Giddy up.
Darvish Done For The Season
Shortly after announcing the acquisition of Daniel Murphy, Cubs president Theo Epstein revealed to the media that starting pitcher Yu Darvish will be shut down for the remainder of the 2018 season after an MRI revealed a stress reaction in the tip of his right elbow and a strain in his right triceps muscle.
Darvish was sent for the magnetic resonance imaging scan after leaving a rehab start Sunday at Low-A South Bend following just one inning of work due to renewed discomfort in his upper right arm. He’s been on the shelf since late May and will finish the first year of his six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs having pitched just 40 innings to the tune of a pedestrian 4.95 ERA.
Darvish is 32 years old and still owed more than $101 million, but he doesn’t have any ligament damage in his elbow and the expectation is that he will be 100 percent for the start of spring training next February. This contract isn’t quite an albatross yet. And as it stands, the Cubs are headed toward their third straight National League Central division title. The situation could certainly be worse.
National League Quick Hits: Cardinals transferred outfielder Dexter Fowler (foot) from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list … Buster Posey is eventually expected to undergo season-ending hip surgery to repair repair his labrum and clean out bone spurs … Joey Votto (leg) is hoping to be activated from the disabled list when first eligible on Sunday … Kevin Gausman tossed eight shutout innings Tuesday in the Braves’ victory over the Pirates … A.J. Minter (back) hopes to be available out of the Braves’ bullpen on Wednesday … Kris Bryant (shoulder) took live on-field batting practice on Tuesday … Starlin Castro has cleared revocable trade waivers and is eligible to be dealt to any team … Dansby Swanson swatted a pair of two-run home runs Tuesday in Pittsburgh … Kelvin Herrera (shoulder) struck out one in a scoreless inning in his return from the disabled list Tuesday versus the Phillies … Starling Marte remained out of the Pirates’ starting lineup on Tuesday against the Braves … Jeff McNeil finished 4-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored against the Giants on Tuesday … Ross Stripling (back) is aiming to return to the Dodgers this weekend … Joakim Soria (quad) threw a successful round of batting practice on Tuesday at Miller Park … Jose Urena dropped the appeal of his six-game suspension and began serving it on Tuesday … Scooter Gennett ripped a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning against his former team Tuesday in the Reds’ win over the Brewers … Kirby Yates struck out a pair of batters in a perfect ninth inning to pick up his fifth save of the year Tuesday in the Padres’ win over the Rockies … David Peralta went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBI in the Diamondbacks’ walk-off win over the Angels on Tuesday … Scott Schebler (shoulder) is expected to be activated off the disabled list on Thursday … Kurt Suzuki will undergo a CT scan on his left elbow Wednesday morning … Jonathan Schoop hit a pinch-hit home run for his first longball as a Brewer in Tuesday’s loss to the Reds … Julio Urias (shoulder) allowed one run over 2 1/3 innings Tuesday in a rehab appearance with High-A Rancho Cucamonga … Eric Lauer (forearm) will continue his minor league rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A El Paso … Josh Fields (shoulder) worked a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance Tuesday night at Triple-A Oklahoma City … Mike Montgomery (shoulder) played long toss from a distance of 90 feet on Tuesday … Nationals placed starter Tommy Milone on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder soreness … Dodgers placed reliever J.T. Chargois on the 10-day disabled list with a neck injury … Pirates sent right-hander Casey Sadler outright to Triple-A Indianapolis.
American League Quick Hits: Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday that Roberto Osuna will see the majority of the save chances moving forward … Jose Abreu underwent surgery Tuesday on his lower abdomen (or groin area) and is not expected to resume baseball activities for two weeks … Aroldis Chapman’s left knee flared up on him again Tuesday and he will likely undergo an MRI … Yankees placed shortstop Didi Gregorius on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to August 20, with a left heel contusion … Khris Davis went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI in the Athletics’ blowout win over the Rangers on Tuesday … Angels placed outfielder Justin Upton on the 10-day disabled list with a left index finger laceration … Edwin Encarnacion (hand) is on track to come off the disabled list Thursday … George Springer (quad) remained out of the Astros’ starting lineup on Tuesday … Blake Snell fanned 11 while allowing only one run over six innings in Tuesday’s victory over the Royals … Gary Sanchez (groin) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday in the Gulf Coast League … Nelson Cruz was held out of the Mariners’ starting lineup on Tuesday due to back spasms … CC Sabathia (knee) will return to the Yankees’ starting rotation Friday in Baltimore … James Paxton (forearm) is aiming to throw a bullpen session on Thursday … Tommy Pham suffered a dislocated right ring finger on a dive back into the first base bag on Tuesday … Michael Fulmer (oblique) could return to the Tigers’ rotation Friday against the White Sox … Mark Trumbo is considering surgery on his troublesome right knee … Kendrys Morales went 3-for-4 and homered for the third straight game Tuesday versus the Orioles … Yankees pitching prospect Justus Sheffield has been shifted to the bullpen at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to prepare him for a September callup … Mike Leake was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Astros due to illness … A bone scan on Brandon Drury’s fractured left hand showed good healing … Aaron Sanchez (finger) could return to the Blue Jays’ starting rotation on Saturday against the Phillies … Ervin Santana will undergo an MRI on his troublesome right middle finger on Wednesday … Royals manager Ned Yost said Danny Duffy (shoulder) will “probably” turn to the rotation Thursday against the Rays … Leury Garcia has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 left hamstring strain and is expected to miss 3-6 weeks … Clint Frazier (concussion) has ramped up baseball activities … Jorge Bonifacio was scratched from the Royals’ lineup Tuesday due to a stiff back … Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday that Lonnie Chisenhall (calf) is “not as close as we had hoped” … JaCoby Jones (hamstring) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week … Juan Nicasio is considering surgery on his ailing right knee … Nick Goody is scheduled to see Dr. Keith Meister after experiencing another flareup in his right elbow … Artie Lewicki is still experiencing pain in his right elbow and will visit a specialist in New York … Zach McAllister has elected to become a free agent.