Jon Heyman shares his news and notes from around Major League Baseball:
Cole Hamels has decided to take his time with his comeback plans and try next spring rather than rush things. He called off a comeback a year ago when he experienced a setback after signing with the Dodgers. Hamels, 38, has thrown just 3 ¹/₃ innings since 2019 but is a career 163-game winner.
No surprise here, the Phillies will seek bullpen help, as they try to solve a bugaboo issue (4.34 pen ERA, 24th in MLB). Jeurys Familia is typical. Pretty consistent for nearly a decade, he went to Philly and is “totally unpitchable,” a scout said. At least Dave Dombrowski resisted earlier suggestions to acquire his former closer (in Boston) Craig Kimbrel, who’s struggling with the Dodgers.
Teams have begun to inquire on A’s starter Frankie Montas but he should bring a haul. Talented catcher Sean Murphy has an outside chance to go, as do center fielder Ramon Laureano, utilityman Chad Pinder, shortstop Elvis Andrus and veteran hitter Jed Lowrie. Paul Blackburn (2.97 ERA) is having a great year but has three more years of control, so he’ll likely stay.
In addition to top starters Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, the Reds have a new trade chip: infielder Brandon Drury, the former journeyman having an All-Star type year.
Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz (named for Paul O’Neill) is said by scouts to have the best tool set this side of Shohei Ohtani. “Crazy tools,” one rival GM called them. The arm, speed and power all are elite, and even at 6-foot-7 he has the hands to play shortstop, they say. His throw to first was clocked at 96.7 mph, the high for an infielder this year, topping Bobby Witt Jr.’s 94.4 (Witt’s dad was a very good MLB pitcher).