The non-waiver trade deadline was a week ago, but that didn't stop teams from making moves Friday.
Two trades, involving some notable names and sizable contracts, were consummated Friday, with the Red Sox dealing Mike Napoli to the Rangers and the Braves sending Chris Johnson to the Indians for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. The Red Sox will receive a player to be named or cash for Napoli.
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Bourn, Swisher Dealt For Johnson
The most interesting deal is the one without many implications for 2015. The Braves took a chance that Bourn or Swisher, or both, will return to a former productivity. Bourn is in the third year of a four-year deal he signed with the Indians in 2013, and he's owed $14 million next year. He's struggled to replicate the success he enjoyed in Atlanta the year before signing the deal, though, managing just 2.1 WAR total over the past 2 1/2 seasons, per Fangraphs.
In exchange for the potentially still-useful Bourn, the Braves also took on Swisher, who has played just 30 games this year while recovering from left knee surgery. Swisher is due $15 million next season with a $14 million vesting option for 2017.
“We got back a guy that we really love here: Michael Bourn,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I think we add a great personality in the clubhouse in Swisher. I talked to him this afternoon; he was excited to get going. He’s a guy that could help us fill the void along with (Joey) Terdoslavich at first base with (Freddie) Freeman being out for a couple of weeks."
The Braves just signed Johnson to a three-year extension in May 2014, but he's struggled to a .235/.272/.320 line this year after contending for a batting title in 2013. Johnson is due $7.5 million next year, $9 million in 2017 with a $1 million buyout of his $10 million club option in 2018.
"As we tried to look forward at the best way to shape our team, we felt this move allows us to do that," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "It gives us some roster flexibility. It gives us an opportunity to play some young players here in the second half and learn more about ourselves and, as importantly, it gives us a little more clarity heading into the offseason as we look to build a championship team moving forward. And we feel this move helps us along that path."
Rangers Add Napoli For Stretch Run
The Rangers made a low-risk move in acquiring Napoli for a reunion tour.
The first baseman has struggled for much of the year, but he had some of his best years as a member of the Rangers and was acquired for, likely, a minimal cost. Napoli joins Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland as first basemen on the Rangers, and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Napoli will be utilized in a part-time role, mainly against lefties, going forward.
"Napoli is a guy who has always hit left-handers," Daniels said. "He has been very productive against them this season. That's something we have struggled with. He is a guy who we know will fit our culture with his makeup. There will be a minimum transition period. He gives us presence and power against left-handers. It made sense for us."
Napoli has hit just .207 with a .693 OPS on the year, but he's performed better since the All-Star break. The 33-year-old is batting .267/.362/.533 in 18 games since the break. The Rangers hope he can continue that strong hitting in his old digs.
Wright To Begin Rehab Soon
The Mets are playing good baseball, and they're set to get one of their stars back -- finally.
David Wright, who hasn't played since April 14 as he deals with spinal stenosis issues, is on track to begin a rehab assignment on Monday with an eye on returning in a few weeks. Wright took batting practice on Tuesday, the first of five consecutive days he planned to do intensive baseball activities.
Wright said he hopes to be a regular upon his return.
"My goal is to try to come back and be an everyday player," Wright said. "My goal is not to come back and play every other day. With that being said, would it be smart probably to [rest] every now and then? I mean, yeah, I think it is. My body might tell me that I need [to rest] a little more often than now. But I'm looking forward to coming back and being an everyday player."
A strong return by Wright would deepen a lineup that has taken legitimate steps forward in recent weeks. The trades for Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, along with the promotion of top prospect Michael Conforto and the imminent return of Michael Cuddyer, have bolstered a once-punchless lineup. With Wright back, players like Uribe and Johnson can be deployed as pinch-hitters and part-time players.
Of course, it's still unclear what Wright will provide upon his return. Injuries led to a down 2014 season in which he batted just .269/.324/.374 with eight homers. But if he can bounce back, the 32-year-old could help lead the Mets to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
National League Quick Hits: Mike Leake, after making just one start with the Giants, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a left hamstring strain. The move was retroactive to August 3, meaning Leake will be eligible to return -- and likely will return -- on August 18 ... Miguel Montero, out nearly a month with a sprained left thumb, was activated from the disabled list on Friday. The catcher didn't play Friday with Jon Lester on the mound, but he'll get plenty of reps with David Ross and Kyle Schwarber in the mix as well down the stretch ... Chase Utley (ankle) was also activated from the disabled list Friday. The 36-year-old, who had been out since late June, led off and started at second base in his first game back ... Steven Matz (lat) will resume throwing off a mound next week. The Mets will surely want to be careful with their young lefty, so it's still uncertain how much longer he might be out ... Carlos Gonzalez continued his return to prominence, blasting a grand slam that proved to be the difference in a win over the Nationals. The homer was the 23rd of the season for CarGo ... Denard Span (back) was unable to take live batting practice Friday due to soreness. It may be nothing, but a possible rehab assignment could be delayed a day or two as a result ... Hector Olivera is still nursing a hamstring injury with Triple-A Gwinnett, but the 30-year-old is expected to be in the majors in 10-14 days, per the Braves. Olivera will be the team's starting third baseman upon his arrival and should be owned in all formats in anticipation of that day.
American League Quick Hits: Adam Eaton left Friday's game with a potentially serious shoulder injury, but the team announced he jammed the shoulder and is day to day. An MRI and X-ray were negative, and he should be back in the lineup at some point this weekend ... Mookie Betts, free of concussion symptoms, could be activated from the 7-day disabled list as early as Tuesday. The outfielder went through a pregame workout Friday and will do so again Saturday before embarking on a brief rehab assignment ... Sonny Gray went the distance against the Astros, allowing one run on five hits in the complete-game victory ... Brian McCann (knee) returned to the Yankees lineup Friday after sitting out the prior two games. McCann went hitless in four at-bats in his return to the lineup ... the Orioles gave up on Travis Snider on Friday, designating the outfielder for assignment. Snider batted .237/.318/.341 in 69 games.