MLB Notebook: White Sox shopping Luis Robert Jr., Yankees’ Juan Soto undergoes MRI, and more

Photo credit:© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
1 month ago

Chicago White Sox shopping Luis Robert Jr.

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly made young outfielder Luis Robert Jr. available for trade. According to Jon Heyman, the White Sox are actively seeking package offers for Robert Jr., but he won’t be cheap.
Robert Jr. has not had the best start to his season, only playing 10 games after recently coming off a hip flexor injury. In his first game since April 5th, La Pantera hit a solo bomb to take the lead in the top of the seventh before the White Sox did that White Sox thing and let the Cubs score the winning run in the eighth. That’s been Robert Jr.’s last hit since his June 4th return.
Swinging a .200 batting average with three homers and five RBIs, Robert Jr. is far from his 38 home run, Silver Slugger, All-Star season in 2023. He also finished 12th in MVP voting last year, but while the White Sox are off to an entirely miserable start to the season, 33 games below .500, a run differential of -152, second-worst ERA in baseball at 5.04, and a league-worst 84 home runs allowed… the White Sox stink.
Already trading Dylan Cease and already in the middle of Garrett Crochet rumours, the Southsiders aren’t afraid to make a move with a big player right now. There are numerous teams interested in the slugging righty including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Robert Jr. has played all but one of his 10 games at centerfield and DH’d the other. The Los Angeles Dodgers have their DH spot shored up in the best hitter in baseball, but currently occupying the CF spot is hard-hitting right-handed rookie, Andy Pages. Pages jumped onto the scene for the Blue Crew hitting .300 in his first month in the majors in April with two long balls, eight RBIs and five doubles. The success of the 23-year-old Cuban led to the demotion of fellow young outfielder, James Outman. Pages has played 30 of his 48 games in center field and the other 18 in right field. The defensive game for the Dodgers from the CF position has not been the best, the Dodgers currently sit 29th in the MLB in defensive runs saved from center field, so Robert’s 98th percentile range from 2023 would be welcomed.
The Philadelphia Phillies have an obvious need in the outfield. The best offensive outfielder for Philly, Brandon Marsh, recently hit the IL this week with a hamstring issue and Nick Castellanos has had a down year to start the season with a .214 batting average, 28 RBIs, and a .630 OPS. Outside those two, it’s been a game of Guess Who as to who will play in the outfield, with former Blue Jay Whit Merrifield getting into 16 games in left, recently selected David Dahl, 23-year-old Johan Rojas, and up-and-down youngster Cristian Pache have all been platooned into the spots.
The Diamondbacks have been having a Corbin Carroll problem. Slumping a .201 average with two homers and 20 RBIs, the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year has not looked like himself in 2024. The D-Backs are only a 0.5 game back of an NL Wild Card spot and getting their outfield firing on all cylinders could give them the push they’re looking for. Now, Robert is not exactly swinging out of his mind, but getting a new look and a little protection in the batting order could help both Robert Jr. and Carroll.
One team to potentially watch for in the race for Robert Jr. is the Toronto Blue Jays. The biggest thing missing in the Blue Jays lineup is pop, and that’s exactly what Robert brings. 38 home runs last year, 90th+ percentile in xSLG, Barrel%, and Hard-Hit% this year, Robert would be exactly what the Blue Jays are looking for. Again, is he blowing the cover off the ball right now? No. But just like with the Arizona deal, adding to a lineup already laced with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, and fan favourite Davis Schneider, he would be a great fit. Plus, the Jays are in an interesting position. Not quite willing to commit to the rebuild and sell, but currently sitting last in the AL East and not in a position to buy, it seems like the Blue Jays are planning on doing a little bit of both. Luis Robert Jr. is under team control for three more seasons and barring a couple of extensions, building around Bo, Vlad, and La Pantera would be a great start to the core for the future of the Jays.
For now, it seems more like a matter of when, not if, for Robert and his future departure from the Southside, especially judging by his reaction to the White Sox franchise record 14th-consecutive loss. But where will he end up and could the package be less-than-desirable for the struggling White Sox and Robert Jr.?

Yankees’ slugger Juan Soto undergoes MRI after early exit on Thursday

Juan Soto will miss the Yankees series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday after undergoing an MRI on his left forearm. Soto left Thursday’s getaway game against the Twins during a fifth-inning rain delay. The injury is one Soto has been playing through for upwards of two weeks and while he says the arm does not hurt when swinging a bat or throwing the ball, Yankees training staff decided against Soto re-warming up after the rain delay and reaggravating the injury.
Soto underwent an MRI on Friday revealing inflammation to the forearm, but nothing to be worried about… yet. Soto will be visiting a radiologist to confirm the MRI’s findings.
Soto has been one of the best players in baseball this year, really taking advantage of his new setting in the Bronx. In 64 games this year, he had an AL-best .318 average, league-leading .424 OBP, and second-best 1.027 OPS behind only teammate Aaron Judge, not to mention his 17 longballs, 53 RBIs, and 11 doubles.
Luckily for the Yankees, they have depth in the outfield, with Judge, Verdugo, and Grisham, the Bronx Bombers will be fine, for now. But, the Yankees have some pretty promising names who are still in the system and are raking right now for New York.
One of them is Jason Dominguez, who has played 62 games this season in the minor leagues during his rehab assignments, slapping four home runs and 10 RBIs with a .339 batting average. Dominguez got into eight games in 2023 before hitting the IL after requiring Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm. Dominguez was lifted from his most recent appearance in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the eighth inning after going 3-for-4 with a double; However, the Yankees assured the removal was part of his recovery program and not Soto-related.
For now, Soto will remain out until he gets the results from the radiologist, but initial concern around the injury has been washed away… for now.

Tucupita Marcano banned for life amid gambling investigation

San Diego Padre and former Pittsburgh Pirate, Tucupita Marcano has been banned for life from the MLB after being caught gambling on baseball games in 2023. Marcano became the first player since Pete Rose in 1989 to be banned from betting on MLB games.
However, it isn’t just Marcano who has been punished in this debacle; Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Saalfrank, Padres Triple-A affiliate El Paso Chihuahuas pitcher Jay Groome, and Phillies Double-A affiliate Reading Fightin Phils shortstop José Rodríguez have all been suspended for a year. This group of players only received a year-long ban, because the bets they placed were not on the teams they played for, which is not the case for Marcano.
The investigation initiated by the MLB found Marcano bet on 25 Pirates games last season. While Marcano was injured and did not play in those games, Marcano still broke the sports betting cardinal sin. Marcano made 387 bets and lost over $150,000 over 10 months, from October 2022 to July 2023.
This is now the third instance of gambling within baseball this season. Infamously, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara recently pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud in order to pay for his gambling debts and has recently been seen working for a food delivery company like DoorDash or UberEats around Los Angeles. Then, former teammate of Ohtani, David Fletcher became the subject of a sports gambling investigation after it was found he used the same bookie as Mizuhara to bet on sports that apparently aren’t baseball. Fletcher has yet to face any discipline for this incident and is now pitching for the Braves Double-A affiliate, Mississippi Braves.
As mean as this may sound, Marcano may be lucky he was a career .217 average hitter and was far from a Pete Rose type. Many people will likely forget Marcano until they hear his name and go “Oh yeah, that guy!” But will always be known as the guy banned from Major League Baseball for betting on his own team.

Quick Notes:

  • Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy to undergo Tommy John surgery. Two more Astros pitchers are out for the year as Javier and Urquidy require season-ending Tommy John surgery on their throwing arms. The two pitchers join Luis Garcia, who also underwent TJ, and Lance McCullers, recovering from arm surgery from last year, on the IL, as well.
  • White Sox lose franchise record 14th consecutive game. With their 14-2 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday, the White Sox set a franchise record in consecutive losses with 14, a record not previously touched in a hundred years. Chicago is now 11 losses away from the league record, 26, held by the 1889 Louisville Colonels.

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