The Atlanta Braves got one of their best hitters back on Tuesday. Instead of playing his normal position however, Freddie Freeman made his first career start at third base.
Freeman, 27, was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. The slugging first baseman has been out since May due to a broken wrist. Freeman was hit by a pitch during the Braves game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 17. He was diagnosed with a fractured left wrist, and was expected to miss at least eight weeks.
Fortunately, Freeman was able to recover quicker than expected. Because it appeared as though he was going to be sidelined for a minimum of eight weeks, the Braves decided to acquire another first baseman. On May 20, they traded minor league infielder Juan Yepez to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman Matt Adams and cash considerations. At the time of the deal, the left-handed hitting Adams was hitting .292 with one home run and seven RBIs on the season.
Adams was able to have immediate success with the Braves. He more than adequately filled the hole left by Freeman’s absence. In 40 games for the Braves, he is batting .290 with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs. Adams hit .314 in the month of June.
When it came time for Freeman to begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett, he offered to play third base instead of first base. The reasoning behind this offer was that Adams was playing so well, and it would benefit the Braves to keep him in the lineup. On Saturday night, Freeman started at third base as the Gwinnett Braves visited the Charlotte Knights. He fielded his new position relatively well. The Braves saw enough to be convinced that Freeman could play third base at the major league level.
When the Braves took the field against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, Freeman was at third base. He did not make any errors in the game, and went 1-for-4 at the plate. The Braves lost the game 16-4.
Before his injury, Freeman was having a great season. In 135 at-bats, he was hitting .341 with 14 home runs and 25 RBIs. This is why it was such a relief for the Braves when he said that he would voluntarily move to third base. This way, the team can now have both Freeman and Adams in the lineup.
The Braves are 40-42 this season. They have already exceeded expectations this year. Now that they have two left-handed hitting power threats in Freeman and Adams, their offense has the potential to be great.
New York Yankees Closing In On Deal For A’s Sonny Gray
The long courtship between the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics regarding A’s pitcher Sonny Gray may finally be coming to some sort of conclusion.
While other teams such as the Atlanta Braves have jumped into the mix to acquire the front-line starter, it appears that the Yankees offer the A’s the best trade return.
According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Braves can offer great pitching prospects to Oakland but the Yankees are more equipped to match the A’s positional needs such as centerfield.
Heyman also noted that the Milwaukee Brewers could jump back in the mix and that Gray “has no qualms about going to yanks (or anywhere else). but brewers would be special.”
Heyman added that the Chicago Cubs are another team interested in Gray but Oaklan’s asking price is considered “too steep” for their liking.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that an “involved person says Yankees have ‘pieces to make it work’.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that “Yankees and Athletics are ‘close enough to get over the hump’ today on a Gray deal, says source. Still gonna take some compromise.”
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti says that Oakland has come off it’s demands for a “Frazier/Torress package” and has asked for “Florial/Mateo package + more” stating “Yankees will not make that deal either.”
Gray, 27, is 6-5 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this season.
It looks like this deal will come down to the wire.
Yankees And Athletics Reportedly Talking Trade
The New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics have had recent trade discussions, according to a report from Jon Morosi of MLB.com.
Oakland is a likely mass-seller approaching the trade deadline and the Yankees have been tied to both right-hander Sonny Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso.
On Monday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that a top-level Athletics scout recently watched the Yankees’ Class A Charleston affiliate which is a strong indication that the two teams are negotiating of at least preparing to negotiate a deal.
With the loss of Michael Pineda and the struggles of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankee starting rotation is in desperate need of a front-line starter.
Gray ,who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, is an appealing option likely to be in high demand. The 27-year old is 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA this season.
ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, and Yankees as teams interested in Gray.
The Yankees have a dire need a first base after the season-ending injury to Greg Bird, the Chris Carter “dud” and the overall lack of production from the first base position which posted a. .671 OPS this season ranking second worst in the the league entering Monday.
The Yanks have had 8 different players play the position this season.
The A’s Alonso, 30, is having a career year in Oakland posting a .924 OPS and smacking 21 home runs
The Yankees will be pressed to make a deal as their struggles leading up to the All-Star break have trickled over to July. New York has continued their sub .500 play and they’re run scoring has essentially flatlined in recent weeks.
Retirement Might Be Unavoidable For Ryan Howard Now
Slugging first baseman Ryan Howard has had a long and successful MLB career. Unfortunately, it does not look like he will get the opportunity to continue to play at the professional level.
Howard, 37, was released from his minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves on Monday. He had been playing for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett. If Howard had performed well in Triple-A, there was a chance that the Braves would have promoted him to be their backup first baseman. However, he struggled mightily in Triple-A. In 38 at-bats for the Gwinnett Braves, Howard batted just .184 with one home run and five RBIs. He also had 11 strikeouts.
This was not what the Braves envisioned when they signed Howard to a minor league contract back in April. The plan was to have him be the backup to Freddie Freeman. Considering that Freeman is one of the best hitters in baseball for his position, Howard was never going to get a lot of playing time with the Braves. He was fine with this though. All he wanted to do was keep his MLB career alive. After having his contract terminated, this does not seem like it will possible anymore.
It appears as though the end is near for Howard. The chances of another team signing him are very slim. At 37 years of age, he just is not the same power threat that he once was. In his heyday, Howard was one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. Prior to signing with the Braves, he had spent his entire professional career with the Philadelphia Phillies. During his time in Philadelphia, Howard was a three-time All-Star. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2005, a season in which he hit .288 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs. The following season, he had the best year of his career. Howard belted 58 home runs and drove in 149 runs while batting .313 in 2006. This monster season earned him the 2006 National League MVP Award.
Although Howard’s power numbers have declined over the last few years, he still hit over 20 home runs each of the past three seasons. However, this was not enough to warrant a team having legitimate interest in him as an everyday player in 2017. His contract with the Phillies expired at the end of the 2016 season, and they decided not to re-sign him.
Now that the Braves decided to let Howard go, he may have no choice but to retire. This is obviously not the way that he wanted it to end, but there really is not anything he can do about it. Howard had a good MLB career and was one of the best power hitters of the past decade. Phillies fans will definitely miss him, but those who root for the other teams in the NL East certainly will not. We will see if Howard decides to officially retire sometime within the next few weeks.
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