Fantasy players on Thursday were hoping Kansas City is home to a Franch revolution in 2020.
Talented outfielder Franchy Cordero, long buried in the Padres' outfield logjam, was dealt to the Royals late Thursday in exchange for left-handed reliever Tim Hill. Pitcher Ronald Bolanos also went to the Royals in the deal.
The move is a good one for the outfielder, who was on the outside looking in on a spot in the Friars' outfield with a week left before the season is set to begin. In fact, MLB.com's A.J. Cassavell recently opined that the emergence of young outfielder Edward Olivares might have put Cordero on the bubble to even make the team's 30-man roster.
He never really gained traction as a member of the Padres despite having the tools to be a star. That's partly the fault of the organization -- he was never given much run in San Diego, appearing in just 79 games over the course of three seasons -- and partly his own fault; in those 79 games, he hit just .240/.306/.431.
In Kansas City, the 25-year-old should receive a longer look, for better or worse. The club has good options in the corners -- Whit Merrifield, Alex Gordon and Hunter Dozier are all guaranteed starters and can all play a corner outfield spot -- and unproven guys like Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling were likely competing for the center field job prior to Thursday. With Cordero in the fold, though, it seems as though he's the frontrunner to start in center on Opening Day.
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"With the pending free agents we have for the future ... we’re very encouraged with (Seuly) Matias and Khalil Lee and (Kyle) Isbel," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said late Thursday. "But to add a guy like Cordero for our future, it made a lot sense."
Cordero isn't the only outfielder to benefit from the trade, though. Trent Grisham was likely set to handle the lion's share of at-bats in center for the Padres even before Thursday's deal, but with Cordero out of the picture -- a few months after the team traded another center fielder, Manuel Margot, to the Rays -- the job seems to be Grisham's and Grisham's alone. Josh Naylor's path to at-bats as the team's DH also opens up with Cordero gone.
Grisham is a worthwhile player to remember late in drafts this weekend, but Cordero and Naylor are just guys to keep tabs on at this point.
DeGrom: 'Plan' To Be Mets' Opening Day Starter
Jacob deGrom has a plan.
Whether it lines up with the Mets' plans remains to be seen.
DeGrom, nursing a back injury that forced him to exit an intrasquad start Tuesday, told reporters on Thursday that he intends to be on the mound for Opening Day a week later.
“The plan is to be able to pitch Opening Day,” deGrom said Thursday.
Mets manager Luis Rojas was noncommittal, though, saying his ace was "day-to-day" for the time being.
“I heard he’s a very hopeful of [doing] that,” Rojas said of deGrom. “Right now his status is day-to-day. Obviously, we got some good news: the MRI came back clean. He’s getting treatment. We’ll see how it goes today and how he feels tomorrow ... we have to get through this couple of days ... and see how things respond from that.”
DeGrom underwent an MRI on his back on Wednesday and the test showed nothing concerning, per reports. The right-hander received treatment on his back on Thursday and was able to play catch afterwards.
The next step will be to see whether he's able to complete a bullpen session today, Friday. That would put him in line to start an exhibition matchup with the Yankees on Sunday, putting him in line for the Mets' Opening Day tilt against the Braves on Friday.
The injury and uncertainty couldn't come at a worse time for fantasy drafters, who likely had the back-to-back NL Cy Young winner as the top or second-ranked pitcher on their board before the ailment. With a 60-game sprint on the horizon, any missed time by deGrom could be hugely impactful.
If there's a ray of hope it's that the 32-year-old has never missed time due to a back injury, and everything about the issue to this point has sounded precautionary in nature. Keep refreshing the Rotoworld Player News page over the next few days, but deGrom shouldn't be dropped too far down draft boards at the moment.
Helsley Taking Shape As Cards' Closer?
Will the last reliever to exit the Cardinals' bullpen please turn off the lights?
Another possible closer candidate was seemingly removed from the conversation Thursday when Cards manager Mike Shildt confirmed Carlos Martinez would start Friday's intrasquad game. Shildt told reporters Martinez has "earned every opportunity" to be in the starting rotation this year.
That a good pitcher might get a chance to start instead of relieve isn't bad news, for the Cardinals or for fantasy players. Still, it's the latest name to be crossed off an ever-shrinking list of guys who might pitch out of the Cards' bullpen to start the 2020 season. John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery in early June. Alex Reyes is still not in camp with the club for an unspecified reason. Jordan Hicks, rehabbing his own Tommy John surgery, recently decided to opt out of pitching in 2020. Giovanny Gallegos is still away from the team.
All of which leaves Ryan Helsley as the best -- and possibly last? -- man standing with the season just a week away. Earlier this month, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak singled out Helsley as a potential closer candidate when asked about the state of saves for the team. It's easy to see why.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old averaged 98 mph on his fastball in 2019, with a slider and curveball that had positive pitch values by Fangraphs' Pitch Info metric. That arsenal helped him post a 2.95 ERA in 36 2/3 innings with the big club last year despite a disappointing 20.9% K%. Helsley had more success as a strikeout pitcher in the minors and should find more punchouts in the majors this season, whatever his role.
There are other internal candidates -- Andrew Miller, of course, isn't far removed from being an elite-level reliever, and Junior Fernandez, John Gant and Daniel Ponce de Leon are all highly talented -- but the job appears to be Helsley's for the taking in the near term. If you're throwing a late-round dart at the Cards' bullpen, his name seems to be the one at which to aim.
American League Quick Hits: Rays placed OF Austin Meadows on the 10-day injured list. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says that Meadows has tested positive for COVID-19, which explains why he's been away from camp for the last week and a half. It's unclear whether he has been displaying symptoms. Obviously, it's difficult to project when the young outfielder might be able to return, making it especially difficult to try to value him for weekend drafts ... White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Thursday that he will need 2-3 days to assess when Yoan Moncada will be ready. Moncada reported to camp Thursday after being absent due to what he revealed was a positive COVID-19 test. He took grounders his first day in camp and looked a little rusty, per Renteria. Moncada will do work to assess his lateral explosiveness and to see if he develops soreness during his workouts. Worth noting is that Renteria said they have a contingency plan in place on the "off chance" Moncada isn't ready for Opening Day, which would seem to suggest the manager thinks his third baseman will be ready ... Shohei Ohtani is expected to pitch on Sundays this season. Ohtani will be starting on extra rest again and pitching just once per week, so the Angels will just have Sunday be "Ohtani Day." He will also serve as a designated hitter, of course, but not the day before or day after he starts on the mound ... Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in an interview on MLB Network Radio on Thursday that Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-19) should be back "fairly soon." Rodriguez was officially placed on the injured list this week, but Roenicke said of the left-hander that "his tests have gone well and he’s been throwing.” The southpaw had been in line to serve as the team's Opening Day starter, but he is likely to miss at least one turn in the rotation ... Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday that he would be a "little surprised" if Masahiro Tanaka (concussion) is ready for his first turn through the rotation. Tanaka will still have to be monitored for concussion symptoms after he was hit in the head by a line drive earlier this month. The team is encouraged, though, by how Tanaka's 30-pitch bullpen session went Thursday, and he shouldn't be too far off from being game-ready ... Mariners OF prospect Julio Rodriguez suffered a hairline fracture in his left wrist. Rodriguez suffered the injury while diving for a ball in the outfield on Wednesday. He's scheduled to undergo more testing soon. The 19-year-old is one of the most talented outfield prospects in baseball, and hand an outside chance of playing for Seattle before the end of the 2020 season. That opportunity seems unlikely now ... Angels manager Joe Maddon said Thursday that Julio Teheran (COVID-19) is "trending in the right direction." Maddon didn't have an updated date on when Teheran could arrive at camp, but it sounds like it should be any day now. Either way, the right-hander almost surely isn't going to be ready to take his first turn in the Angels' rotation ... Travis Shaw might not be ready to play the field at the beginning of the season due to a groin injury. It sounds like a minor ailment that wouldn't keep him from being available to serve as a designated hitter. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said that if Shaw isn't ready to play third base, he would put Joe Panik there rather than move Vladimir Guerrero Jr. back across the diamond ... Derek Hill is day-to-day with a bruised left kneecap. Hill banged up the knee on a diving catch a few days ago and was pulled from Thursday's intrasquad game when he was seen favoring the knee while legging out a triple. He's expected to be fine ... Rays purchased the contract of LHP Aaron Loup. Loup dealt with elbow issues last season but has pitched well for the Rays in spring training and summer camp. He'll be used as a lefty specialist.
National League Quick Hits: Anthony Rizzo participated in a simulated BP session on Thursday. Rizzo didn't swing the bat, but he see 17 pitches and did some light running. The first baseman has been dealing with inflammation in the left side of his back and will have to be treated daily going forward. It's up in the air whether or not the first baseman will be ready to go for the start of the season, but this could be considered a (slight) positive step forward ... Juan Soto (COVID-19) has reported to Nationals' camp. Soto had been away from the team's summer camp after interacting with a teammate who tested positive for COVID-19. He participated in the Nationals' intrasquad game Thursday and took an at-bat in each inning as a way to help make up for lost time. As long as he's feeling okay, Soto should be ready to go for Opening Day ... Howie Kendrick (undisclosed) has reported to the Nationals' summer camp. The Nats never officially revealed the reason for Kendrick's absence. The 37-year-old served as a designated hitter during the team's intrasquad game Thursday and he should be able to get enough at-bats in to prepare for Opening Day ... Braves manager Brian Snitker said Thursday that he has not yet ruled out Freddie Freeman (COVID-19) being ready for Opening Day. However, the skipper notes that, with the team's opener just over a week away, a decision on Freeman will need to be made within the next couple days. It still seems likely that Freeman will need to miss at least a few games, but he is reportedly feeling much better ... Kyle Hendricks will be the Opening Day starter for the Cubs. Hendricks will be on the bump for Opening Day against the Brewers next Friday, and Yu Darvish will get the ball in the second game. Hendricks, 30, is coming off a 2019 campaign that saw him post a 3.46 ERA and 150/32 K/BB ratio over 177 innings and an even 30 starts. While not an elite fantasy starter because he doesn't miss bats at that level, he should be a solid option again in 2020 ... Brewers general manager David Stearns said Thursday of Keston Hiura's arm soreness that "we don't see this as something that's potentially lingering." Hiura was scratched from the Brewers' intrasquad lineup Wednesday and is expected to need a couple more days of rest. However, it doesn't appear this will be a long-term concern ... Braves manager Brian Snitker conceded Thursday that Cole Hamels (triceps) is unlikely to be available at the start of the season. Hamels remains shut down due to left triceps tendinitis, which first flared up last weekend. It's obviously still up in the air as to how much time the veteran southpaw might miss, but he will surely need an injured list stint ... Evan Longoria is dealing with a "moderate" oblique strain, per Giants manager Gabe Kapler. Longoria has been held out of the Giants' last two intrasquad games. Kapler initially referred to the strain as mild but then corrected himself upon consultation with the team's medical staff. Obviously, with Opening Day just over a week away, a stint on the disabled list seems likely. With Brandon Belt (heel) also banged up, Pablo Sandoval could be busy in the early going ... Marlins placed OF Lewis Brinson on the 10-day injured list. Brinson was one of two Miami outfielders placed on the 10-day injured list late on Wednesday, as the Marlins also placed outfield Matt Joyce on the 10-day IL. No reason was given for either player. A former top prospect, Brinson has mostly struggled in his time in the majors, but he is expected to battle for the starting job -- with Joyce -- in right field to open the delayed season ... Billy Hamilton (undisclosed) has been cleared to return to the Giants' summer camp. Hamilton has been away due to what manager Gabe Kapler has referred to only as medical purposes. Kapler also added that it would not be realistic to think Hamilton could get ready in time for Opening Day. He'll be in the mix for starts in center field when he's ready ... Jose Quintana (thumb) played catch from 60 feet away on Thursday. Quintana had stitches removed from his left thumb on Wednesday. The left-hander reportedly felt well after throwing, but he will continue on a rehab pace and will go from there. It seems very likely Quintana is going to open the 2020 season on the injured list.