Hello, from Sarasota, where the Baltimore Orioles made a bit of news Wednesday but were hardly the newsiest.
On the agenda:
1. Trevor Bauer is headed to the bullpen
2. Roberto Osuna is the Jays’ closer
3. Jose Reyes‘ domestic abuse case to be dropped
4. Andrew Miller has a chip fracture
5. Hyun-Soo Kim headed to the minors…? Miguel Gonzalez released
Trevor Bauer is headed to the bullpen
I mean…what? Why? Not only was Bauer terrific in 20 spring innings – a 2.25 ERA, 19 strikeouts, four walks – but he has the highest upside of the candidates and doesn’t exactly profile as the type to benefit greatly from a move to the bullpen. Sure, he’s burned a few chances, and he can be used as a swingman and be kept ready for a starting gig later – and he was out of options – but I hate this move for the Tribe. Bauer was the 75th starter off boards and I was betting on that to be a value play, because I really didn’t expect this. Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin lock down jobs with the news, though neither is a remarkable fantasy add, and Bauer loses value in all leagues thin enough to preclude holding him on spec awaiting a role change. This sucks.
If you want to hold me accountable and make me offer another “last call” name I like late, give Shane Greene’s tires a kick. He looked terrific in 5.2 innings against the Orioles on Wednesday, striking out nine while getting plenty of movement and a healthy handful of bad swings. He’s at 23 strikeouts in 19.1 spring innings.
Roberto Osuna is the Jays’ closer
In less disappointing but nearly as surprising news, the Toronto Blue Jays will break camp with Roberto Osuna as their closer, not Drew Storen. Some (myself included) had figured Storen’s closing experience and a desire to keep Osuna in a higher-inning, higher-leverage workload (the Dellin Betances) in case they wanted to turn him back into a starter later would make Storen the choice, with Osuna splitting setup duties with Brett Cecil. But manager John Gibbons expressed a comfort with his 21-year-old, and that’s entirely justified (plus, Gibbons has shown flexibility and smart use of his high-end arms in the past). Osuna posted a 2.58 ERA with a 3.01 FIP as a rookie last season, striking out over a batter per-inning, converting 20 of his 23 save opportunities, and posting 28 shutdowns to 11 meltdowns. He’s a value if he keeps going off the board as the 27th closer, but that’s likely to change now that this news is official.
Jose Reyes‘ domestic abuse case to be dropped
Maui prosecutors moved to dismiss a domestic abuse charge against Jose Reyes on the grounds that his wife has been an uncooperative witness. Whether that will end Reyes’ suspension – a paid leave – while the legal process played out, is not immediately clear, as Major League Baseball can still hit Reyes with a suspension without a conviction if they deem fit (he’s still suspended while MLB completes their investigation). There’s too much to unpack here to go beyond just passing along the news. Reyes is the ninth shortstop off the board and ranks 15th by the Rotographs composite.
Andrew Miller has a chip fracture
New York Yankees closer Andrew Miller was hit with a liner Wednesday, and while initial tests were negative, a CT scan revealed a chip fracture in his right wrist. That’s his non-throwing arm but the recovery time averages about two months, with five weeks being on the lower end. With Aroldis Chapman suspended for 30 games, Dellin Betances becomes one of the top closing options in all of baseball for the first month of the season. What happens once Miller and Chapman return is unclear, as Betances is lethal in his current super-reliever role, but inertia is a powerful force – if Betances runs with the job, he could hang on to it. All three relievers are worth owning or holding on spec, because whoever closes, all three should have the ratios to help you.
Hyun-Soo Kim headed to the minors…? Miguel Gonzalez released
We covered off Hyun-Soo Kim failing to make the Orioles yesterday, but it’s still not official, as he has to accept an assignment to the minors. The first baseman-slash-outfielder never really got going in spring training, clearing the way for Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard and veteran platoon bat Nolan Reimold to make the team. Kim declined an interview request Wednesday and won’t play any more spring games until the situation is cleared up.
The O’s also made the curious call to release Miguel Gonzalez, which is curious not because Gonzalez is particularly good or anything (he was hardly inside the top-200 starters), but because the Orioles’ rotation now has two big question marks to start the season. It looks like they’ll only need a No. 5 starter once until Kevin Gausman is ready, but who fills the No. 4 spot (Mike Wright? Vance Worley? A piggy-back set up involving T.J. McFarland?) is a weird question to have to ask on March 31. Dylan Bundy would be the most intriguing name, but he’s been operating entirely like a reliever in spring, even telling Rotographs on Wednesday that he’s shelved his slider for the time being in order to focus on a three-pitch mix.
Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.