October 31 - The Cleveland Indians yesterday declined their 2019 option on outfielder Brandon Guyer, electing to instead pay the Herndon High School graduate a $250,000 buyout. After a five-day waiting period, he will become an unrestricted free agent and eligible to sign with any club.
Guyer, 32, has battled injuries over the past two seasons while on two-year, $5 million deal he signed after helping Cleveland reach the World Series in 2016. His contract included a $3 million club option with language including the buyout should the Indians decide not to retain him in 2019.
Acquired at the 2016 trade deadline, Guyer hit .333 in 81 at-bats to help Cleveland to the American League Central championship that year, then hit .333 in 18 postseason at-bats as the Indians pushed the Chicago Cubs to seven games in the World Series. His eighth-inning RBI double helped the Indians rally to tie Game 7 before the Cubs won the clincher in extra innings.
Guyer hit .220 in 359 at-bats over the past two seasons.
In other news related to local big leaguers, the future of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Justin Bour (Westfield) is one of the decisions facing the team’s front office entering the offseason. Bour is expected to receive a raise through arbitration to around $5 million in 2019, a high price tag for a player listed as third on the depth chart at first base. The Phillies have him under control through 2020.
New York Mets reliever Bobby Wahl (West Springfield), who ended the season on the 60-day disabled list due to a hamstring injury, is on the club’s 40-man roster and is expected to battle for a spot on the Mets’ opening day roster during spring training.
Jarrett Parker (Colonial Forge), who missed the 2018 season, has been rehabbing his shoulder at the San Francisco Giants’ spring training facility in Arizona and could sign a minor league deal with the Giants or another club. Parker has been attempting to return to 100 percent since breaking his clavicle when he slammed into the outfield wall at AT&T Park in San Francisco robbing Colorado’s D.J. LeMahieu of an extra-base hit on April 15, 2017. He had began that season as the Giants’ opening day starter in left field.
Brandon Snyder (Westfield) elected minor league free agency after spending the majority of the season at Triple-A Durham. He made a two-game appearance with the Tampa Bay Rays in April, the fifth Major League team he has suited up for.
Other area players who will enter spring training with hopes of earning a spot on their big league club include right-hander Taylor Clarke (Broad Run) with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ryan McBroom (Courtland) with the New York Yankees and lefty Jake Kalish, a New Jersey native who pitched at George Mason University, with the Kansas City Royals. All three spent the majority of the 2018 season at Triple-A.
Another local who could make a push during spring training is pitcher J.B. Bukauskas (Stone Bridge), who came on strong late this summer after an injury slowed the start of his second professional season. The No. 15 overall selection by Houston in 2017, Bukauskas has impressed during the Arizona Fall League.
Royals Prospect Khalil Lee Named to AFL’s Fall Stars Game; Bukauskas Impresses with 98 MPH Fastball
Despite an inconsistent Arizona Fall League campaign with the Surprise Saguaros, Kansas City Royals farmhand Khalil Lee has been named to Saturday’s West roster in the league’s annual Fall Stars Game. The game, held in Surprise, AZ, will feature many of baseball’s top prospects and will air on the MLB Network at 8 p.m.
The Flint Hill graduate entered the day hitting .196 with a .260 on-base percentage in 46 at-bats with the Surprise Saguaros. The left-handed swinging outfielder is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Royals’ system by MLBPipeline.com. Lee was featured by MLB.com prior to the AFL season beginning in a story here.
J.B. Bukauskas (Stone Bridge), meanwhile, was impressive in his first two outings in the Arizona Fall League prior to surrendering four runs on seven hits over 4.1 innings in his most-recent start.
In his first two appearances with the Scottsdale Scorpions, he struck out nine to two walks and allowed just one unearned run in 7.1 innings. Bukauskas was featured in a story on MLB.com after striking out four and scattering two hits over four scoreless innings in an 8-0 win against the Peoria Javelinas on Oct. 18. He worked consistently from 94-96 MPH and reached 98 MPH with his fastball, flashing his slider that has him considered as one of baseball’s top pitching prospects while working in a handful of changeups and cutters.
"I think the slider was probably my best pitch today," Bukauskas told MLB.com. "The slider is kind of my go-to. I think it has been for a while. If I have a good feel for it on the day, I'm going to lean pretty heavily on it."
The area’s third player participating in the AFL, Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand Andre Scrubb (C.D. Hylton), has compiled a 3.38 ERA in 5.1 innings over his five relief outings with the Glendale Desert Dogs.
As Pirates Shift Single-A Affiliate to Greensboro, Skipper Toregas Awaits 2019 Coaching Assignment
As the Pittsburgh Pirates move its Single-A affiliate from Charleston, W.V. to Greensboro, N.C. for the 2019 season, it is unclear whether manager Wyatt Toregas will skipper the club for a third season in 2019 or be assigned another position within the club’s minor league staff.
Toregas, an all-state catcher at South Lakes and later an All-Big East selection at Virginia Tech before appearing in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates, managed the rookie-level West Virginia Black Bears in 2016. He skippered the West Virginia Power the past two seasons. Both the Power and the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Pirates’ new affiliate, play in the South Atlantic League.
Toregas, 35, is currently listed on the Grasshoppers’ website as their manager. The minor league staffs for Major League clubs are generally announced in November or December.
Sponsor: The magazine’s Pro Notebook is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. For more information on the Blue Crabs, visit their website at www.somdbluecrabs.com.
Photo of Brandon Guyer courtesy of Major League Baseball