Serious about winning it all this season, the Indians acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees on Sunday for four players.
To land Miller, 31, one of baseball’s best setup men, Cleveland sent four minor leaguers, including highly touted outfielder Clint Frazier, to New York. The Indians have been lacking a quality lefty in the seventh and eighth innings, and Miller fills that void.
Cleveland had been interested in Miller for weeks, but the club was reluctant to part with any of its top prospects, especially Frazier, a 21-year-old who can hit with power and was recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus.
But with the Indians holding a 4 1/2-game lead in the A.L. Central over Detroit on Sunday, Indians owner Paul Dolan and president Chris Antonetti felt the time was right to go all in and see if they can win their first World Series since 1948.
“He’s the perfect guy to have and we got him,” Indians closer Cody Allen said before the club’s series finale with Oakland. “It breathes a lot of life into this clubhouse. We’re in first place with the guys we have, but to get a game-changer like Miller, that lets us know everybody in the front office wants to win as badly as we do right now. We’re not thinking about two years from now, we’re thinking about winning in 2016.”
Miller’s name had swirled in trade rumors for weeks. He was not shocked by the deal but admitted it won’t be easy leaving the Yankees.
“I loved my time here. I enjoyed playing in New York. I liked living in New York,” he said before the Yankees game Sunday in Tampa. “I like the guys here. I’m going to miss that. It’s a time I’m going to look back at fondly. For me now, it’s a chance to go to a team that’s in the thick of it and has big plans for this year. So, you have to look at the positives and helping those guys reach their goals.”
Indians manager Terry Francona applauded the team’s bold move in getting Miller.
“We’re getting one of the very elite relievers in all of baseball,” he said. “Chris and the guys just went and got the very best guy there was. If you don’t think other teams wanted him, you’re crazy. They didn’t go halfway. They went and got the best there is. There’s no better message.”
New York’s decision to move Miller comes after the team traded closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs.
Possessing a nearly unhittable slider, Miller is 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA. He is signed through the 2018 season at $9 million per year. He’s averaging an astounding 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings and has allowed runs in just eight of 44 appearances.
Miller owns a career ERA of 2.72 with Detroit, Florida, Boston, Baltimore and New York. Francona is expected to use him in the eighth inning along with right-hander Bryan Shaw as the bridge to Allen.
Brewers catcher Lucroy blocks trade to Indians
For the second straight season, the Brewers hit a snag while trying to trade one of their key players before the deadline.
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has blocked his proposed trade to Cleveland after the teams had reached a preliminary agreement on a deal sending the two-time All-Star to the Indians. Lucroy said he wasn’t going to go into the details behind his decision.
“When you are dealing with life-changing, life-altering decisions like this, there are a lot of factors that come into play, mostly family,” he said before the Brewers’ 4-2 win over the Pirates. “The other half of that is your future in this league and your career. There are a lot of different things to take in. Whenever those things don’t line up, decisions have to be made that might be tough, but that’s the way it has to be.”
Last year, Milwaukee had a deal fall through with the Mets that would have sent Carlos Gomez to New York. Gomez was traded to Houston instead.
Milwaukee general manager David Stearns said the Brewers would move on after Lucroy refused to waive the no-trade provision in his contract. Stearns said there was no chance of re-working the deal with Cleveland.
“We know this is part of the process,” Stearns said. “It is why we engage with multiple teams throughout the entirety of the negotiation. Jonathan elected to invoke the no-trade clause. We were aware that was a possibility.”
Cleveland has been looking for a catcher since Yan Gomes separated his shoulder.
The 30-year-old Lucroy is batting .300 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs. He has a $4 million salary this year as part of a contract that includes a $5.25 million team option for 2017.
Lucroy said simply that there were “circumstances that came up” that caused him to block the deal.
“I’m not going to comment on any specifics, nothing like that, as much as I’d like to,” he said. “I’m respecting their process and what the Brewers are trying to do in terms of the trade. If that’s going to happen or not, I don’t know. As of right now, I’m still a Brewer and I’m going to be until somebody tells me different.”
Lucroy appeared as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning. He received a standing ovation from the Miller Park crowd, then flied out to right field in what could be his final appearance for the Brewers.
The deadline for trades without waivers is Monday.
“I still expect the next 36 hours to be interesting and eventful,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “Luc has been here for six years, so having him here is business as usual.”
Duke traded by White Sox to Cardinals for minor league OF
Zach Duke has bounced around during a 12-year major league career, and the Cardinals became his seventh team. Even so, being traded at midseason is a new experience.
“I’ll check that off the list of career achievements,” said Duke, 33. “There are not many more. I’ve been released and designated for assignment and traded in the offseason. Now I add this one. About the only thing I have left after this will be retirement.”
St. Louis added depth to the back half of its bullpen by acquiring the veteran left-hander from the White Sox. The Cardinals gave up minor league outfielder Charlie Tilson.
Duke went 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA for the White Sox this year and leads the American League with 53 appearances.
“The one area we needed to address was the bullpen,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “We were fortunate to get somebody of the caliber of Zach Duke. He will fit in ideally.”
Duke embraced the move to St. Louis.
“It’s a great situation for me and my family,” he said. “It’s about the closest team to our home base in Nashville, and a great organization. The Cardinals are top-notch all the way, so it should be a good thing.”
Duke is in the second year of a $15 million, three-year contract, which made him more appealing, Mozeliak said.
“I was not looking for a rental,” Mozeliak said.
Since 2014, Duke has appeared in 198 games, which ranks fourth in the majors. He made 169 career starts, all from 2005 to 2013.
While the Cardinals are in the mix for an N.L. wild-card berth, the White Sox became sellers at the trade deadline after dropping below .500 in the A.L. Central. Manager Robin Ventura acknowledged the deal sends a signal to the clubhouse.
“Any time you get around the trade deadline and something like this happens, it affects guys differently,” Ventura said. “They’re professional, they’ll go out there and continue to play, but it’s definitely a tough day.”
Duke will join the Cardinals for the start of their next series Tuesday in Cincinnati. He adds depth to a bullpen undermined by the struggles of Trevor Rosenthal, who lost his job as closer and went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday because of inflammation in his right shoulder.
The 23-year-old Tilson was the Cardinals’ second-round pick in 2011 and is batting .282 this season for Triple-A Memphis. He has a .293 career minor league average in 471 games.
“Sometimes you have to make decisions with a steep cost,” Mozeliak said. “Charlie Tilson was someone we were very high on and thought he had some upside, but at some point you have to give up something to get something, and ultimately we feel like we have helped our big league club.”
Clippard rejoins Yankees in deal with Diamondbacks
The Yankees have reacquired Tyler Clippard, obtaining the reliever from the Diamondbacks for Vicente Campos in a swap of right-handed pitchers.
The 31-year-old Clippard was 2-3 with one save and a 4.30 ERA in 40 relief appearances with the Diamondbacks, who signed him to a $12.25 million, two-year contract in February. New York hopes he fills a void created by the trades of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.
Clippard was drafted by the Yankees in 2003, made six starts as a rookie in 2007 and then was traded to Washington. He was an All-Star in 2011 and 2014 and is the only big league pitcher to appear in 69 games or more in each of the past six seasons.
He is making $4.1 million this year and is due $4.15 million next season in salary.
Campos was acquired in the 2012 trade that brought right-hander Michael Pineda to the Yankees. The 24-year-old Campos is 9-3 with a 3.20 ERA this year in 20 combined starts for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera exits game with knee injury
Even when something good happens for the Mets lately, someone gets hurt.
Steady shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera injured his left knee in the first inning and exited a 6-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Cabrera was hurt while scoring from first base on Neil Walker’s two-out triple. As he looked back to find the ball, Cabrera stumbled immediately after rounding third and hobbled all the way home. After crossing the plate, he was helped to the dugout by teammates.
A few innings later, the Mets announced that Cabrera had a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, the same injury that sidelined him for a little more than two weeks during spring training.
“We didn’t have to carry him off the field in spring training. So I’m really concerned about it,” manager Terry Collins said. “He was in a lot of pain – a lot more than I’ve ever seen him.”
Cabrera is expected to see a doctor Monday.
Fortunately for Cabrera and the Mets, there was no play at the plate after Walker’s drive caromed off the base of the outfield fence and far from right fielder Carlos Gonzalez. Cabrera, however, hunched over near the on-deck circle and needed assistance to get off the field.
He was helped by teammates and coaches to the bench and down the runway toward the clubhouse. Wilmer Flores moved from third base to shortstop to replace Cabrera, and Kelly Johnson entered at third.
The 30-year-old Cabrera is batting .255 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs in his first season with New York.
Cardinals’ Diaz sidelined after being hit on hand by pitch
All-Star shortstop Aledmys Diaz left the Cardinals’ game at Miami after being hit on the right hand by a pitch in the first inning, and he will undergo further examination by a specialist Monday.
Following the Cardinals’ 5-4 loss, Diaz said the swelling had already started to subside.
“The moment I got hit I got scared – I didn’t know what it was going to be,” Diaz said. “Thank God it’s nothing too serious.”
When the pitch hit Diaz he took his base, but he was replaced after the inning, with Greg Garcia moving from second base to short.
Diaz was hit by Andrew Cashner, making his first start since being acquired by Miami in a seven-player trade.
“It was his throwing hand,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “That is never positive, especially for a shortstop.”
Diaz is batting .312 with 14 home runs. He became the regular shortstop filling in for an injured Jhonny Peralta, who has since moved to third base.
Peralta is now recovering from a thumb injury. He began a rehab assignment Sunday at Class A Palm Beach and moved from third base to shortstop in the minor league game after Diaz was hurt.
Peralta could be available to fill in at short when the Cardinals begin a series Tuesday in Cincinnati.
“We know he’s a very good shortstop,” Matheny said. “We’ll get him playing over there. It’s the position he knows best.”
Royals place Davis on disabled list with flexor strain
The Royals have placed right-handed closer Wade Davis on the 15-day disabled list with a flexor strain and recalled left-hander Matt Strahm from Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Davis had an MRI in Kansas City after being sent home from the Royals’ weekend series at Texas.
Manager Ned Yost said it’s the same injury that sent Davis to the disabled list in early July.
Davis has converted 21 of 23 save opportunities in 35 appearances this season with a 1.60 ERA. In his most recent outing Wednesday, Davis allowed three walks for the first time as a reliever.
“Hopefully, he’ll be back around the end of the 15 days,” Yost said.
Strahm, 24, was moved to the bullpen recently after making 18 starts. Splitting last season between Class A Wilmington and Class A Lexington, Strahm had a 2.59 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 94 innings.
On Thursday, Kansas City placed right-handed reliever Luke Hochevar on the disabled list with symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome.
Gurriel has work visa, now playing in minors for Astros
Cuban infielder Yuliesky Gurriel has received his work visa and is playing in the minors in Houston’s system.
Gurriel made his debut for the Gulf Coast League Astros on Saturday, going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Earlier in July, Houston signed Gurriel to a $47.5 million, five-year contract. He was one of the most sought international free agents since defecting from Cuba in February.
Gurriel is primarily a third baseman but also has played second base and shortstop. He was a designated hitter Saturday.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.