The Blue Jays and right-hander Marco Estrada are closing in on a contract extension, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old Estrada is slated to hit free agency at season’s end but looks poised to forgo that opportunity in order to return to the Jays.

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The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that they’ve activated right-hander Adam Wainwright from the disabled list. The longtime St. Louis ace has been out since Aug. 17 due to an impingement in his right elbow. Wainwright is reportedly ticketed for a bullpen role upon his return from the disabled list, as the Cards will roll with Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and young starters Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty as their starting five through season’s end. The 36-year-old Wainwright has struggled for a consecutive season, following up last year’s 4.62 ERA with a 5.12 mark in just 121 1/3 innings. He’s signed through next season and will earn $19.5MM next year.

A bit more on the Cards…

  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a lengthy look at the Cardinals’ use of cut fastballs over the past several years, dating back to Chris Carpenter’s emergence with an explosive cutter that transformed him into one of baseball’s best pitchers. Goold speaks with Wainwright, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, manager Mike Matheny and others about the organization’s use of the cutter. Notably, Weaver tells Goold that he’s begun to experiment with the pitch and ultimately believes that a cutter will be an important part of his arsenal, but he’s not yet fully comfortable with the pitch. It’s an interesting look not only at the Cardinals’ usage of the pitch but also at the more general strengths and weaknesses of the pitch as well as its its usage rate throughout the years.
  • MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tackles several Cardinals-related topics in her latest Inbox column, beginning with the omission of Triple-A slugger Patrick Wisdom from the team’s group of September call-ups. The 52nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, Wisdom showed significant power in Triple-A this year, hitting .243/.310/.507 with 31 homers and 25 doubles in 506 plate appearances. As Langosch points out, Wisdom will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason if the Cardinals don’t add him to the 40-man roster, thus making him available to 29 other clubs. The Cardinals haven’t had a significant need at the infield corners this year, however, limiting chances for Wisdom to get a look in the Majors. The Cardinals could, however, still include Wisdom among their final wave of September promotions now that the minor league season has come to a close.

[Related: St. Louis Cardinals depth chart and payroll outlook]

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Mariners right-hander David Phelps recently underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter links). That procedure will come with a recovery time of six to eight weeks, per Divish, but he’s expected to be ready to go for Spring Training in 2018.

Unfortunately for the Mariners, there’s far more troublesome news surrounding the health of right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Evaluations on Iwakuma’s right shoulder have revealed some form of structural damage (more Twitter links from Divish), though the extent of the injury remains unclear at this time, as Iwakuma declined to specify the precise nature of his ailment. Iwakuma hopes to continue playing, but the 36-year-old will first need to ascertain the best course of treatment for his yet-unspecified injury.

Phelps, 31 next month, was acquired from the Mariners earlier this summer in exchange for a package of four prospects headlined with outfielder Brayan Hernandez. The former Yankees swingman broke out with the Marlins in a high-leverage, late-inning role in 2016 and carried that success over into his brief tenure in the Seattle bullpen this year. Phelps worked to a 3.12 ERA with 11 strikeouts against four unintentional walks through 8 2/3 innings in the Mariners’ pen before ultimately being shut down for the year. He’s arbitration-eligible this winter, so he should be a key piece for the 2018 Mariners.

Iwakuma’s future, obviously, is far murkier. The Mariners hold a $10MM club option over former All-Star, though with structural damage in his right shoulder it seems all but certain that Iwakuma will instead be bought out for $1MM. Iwakuma has spent his entire Major League career in a Mariners uniform and returned to the team as a free agent following the 2015 season. While his first year back with the club resulted in 199 innings of solid 4.12 ERA ball, he’s been limited to just 31 innings in 2017 and hasn’t pitched since May 3.

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Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com analyzes the Orioles’ use of their minor-league system in recent years. The club has increasingly drawn upon players right out of Double-A Bowie, notes Kubatko, and it seems that’s somewhat by design. Skipper Buck Showalter says that top affiliates are increasingly utilized “almost like major-league taxi squads,” not as steps on the ladder to the majors. While every player’s situation must be handled on its own merits, says Showalter, the club is obviously generally comfortable with moving talented players right past the Triple-A level.

Here’s more on the O’s and their division…

  • The Orioles, like other teams, have plenty of players on hand. But the club doesn’t seem to have much inclination to back off of righty Dylan Bundy, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Though he has had significant past health problems and is already 60 innings past his prior career-high from a year ago, Showalter says the key hurler is feeling good and throwing well. Though Bundy’s last two starts have ended poorly and the O’s are all but buried in the postseason race, the skipper says it’s “not at that point yet” where Bundy needs to be shut down for the rest of the year.
  • There’ll be plenty of roster needs for the Blue Jays to address this offseason. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes, the bullpen will be no exception, though manager John Gibbons says he feels good about the unit as a whole with the season winding down. That includes some optionable arms, as Nicholson-Smith explains in ticking through the hurlers on hand. Among them is Dominic Leone, who spent fewer than 20 days in the minors this year (despite being optioned on four separate occasions) and therefore will come with another option season for the 2018 season.
  • The Red Sox don’t have many important players slated to hit free agency next year, but veterans Eduardo Nunez and Mitch Moreland are among those on the cusp of the open market. Both say they’d like to return to Boston, however. For Nunez, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes, settling in with the Sox has been easy. It’s not clear, though, whether there’ll be enough playing time to warrant pursuit of a player who’ll be in some demand. Chris Mason of CNHI Sports Boston writes about Moreland’s case. The first bagger says he has “loved it” with the Red Sox, though he’s focused on the season at the moment. Unsurprisingly, the sides haven’t discussed a new contract.
  • While bullpens have long plagued teams constructed by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, it seems he has built a compelling unit this year with the Red Sox, as Evan Drellich of CSNNE.com writes. While everything hasn’t worked out as hoped, at least not initially, the Sox have kept moving forward and have now compiled a strong group as the club nears an AL East crown.
  • One possible piece of the Red Sox relief core, long-time starter David Price, figures to be one of the most closely watched players of the postseason. As Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes, while there have been some issues during Price’s tenure, he still has the support of the clubhouse. The veteran hurler could play a fascinating role in Boston’s hopeful march through the postseason.

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MLBTR Live Chat

Posted: September 19, 2017 in Uncategorized
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Click here to join Tuesday’s chat with MLBTR’s Steve Adams.

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MLBTR Live Chat

Posted: September 19, 2017 in Uncategorized
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Click here to join Tuesday’s chat with MLBTR’s Steve Adams.

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MLBTR Live Chat

Posted: September 19, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Click here to join Tuesday’s chat with MLBTR’s Steve Adams.

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