Another week has passed, and still very little to any significant hot stove action. While the first domino could fall at any moment, here are some minor moves to hold you over until then.
To kick things off, the Cleveland Indians announced the signings of three players. The trio will all receive invitations to spring training. Those three players are Leonel Campos, Jeff Beliveau and Drew Maggi.
The first is right-handed pitcher Leonel Campos. Campos, 30, spent the 2017 season as a taxi-squad member for the Toronto Blue Jays. He posted a very solid 2.63 ERA over 13.2 innings pitched, and while he struck out 9.9 per nine innings, he also walked 5.3 and allowed 1.3 home runs (again, per nine innings).
Joining Campos in the competition for a spot in the Indians’ bullpen will be fellow former Blue Jay, left-handed Pitcher Jeff Beliveau. Beliveau struggled mightily over 15.2 innings in Toronto posting a 7.47 ERA with a troubling 2.3 HR/9. Both pitchers should begin the season in Triple-A Columbus, and could potentially earn major league innings with success in the minor leagues.
Drew Maggi, 27, spent the 2017 season with the Dodgers’ organization in Triple-A Oklahoma City where he posted a solid, albeit unspectacular .271/.367/.392 line while seeing innings at second base, shortstop and third base. Interestingly enough, Maggi actually got a chance to pitch an inning of relief in 2017, and while he did hit a batter, he came out with a perfect ERA. Maggi represents infield depth in Triple-A, and could receive a call-up if the injury bug strikes.
The New York Mets brought in former Diamondbacks’ and Angels’ outfield prospect Zach Borenstein. Now 27, Borenstein provided very strong power for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 91 runs, en route to a very strong .279/.351/.573 line with an eye-popping .924 OPS. If Borenstein can replicate that success in 2018, he seems very likely to make his major league debut in a bench capacity for the Mets. He seems like a name to watch this spring.
The White Sox announced the signing of third baseman Patrick Leonard, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, to a minor league contract. Leonard will be invited to spring training, as well. Leonard brings with him an interesting skill set including very solid power and surprising speed, however his biggest problem throughout his minor league career has been striking out far too much. The rebuilding White Sox seem to be a good landing spot for Leonard, as he could very well receive a call-up with any success in Triple-A Charlotte. He’s a potential bench bat who has the ability to bring value with his mix of speed and power.
Leonard, however, wasn’t the only player inked by the White Sox, as right-handed pitcher Dustin Antolin was announced to have signed with the Sox yesterday. The 28-year-old swing man scuffled mightily in Triple-A Syracuse (Washington), posting a 6.30 ERA. Overall, he’s really more of a depth piece who could be called up if the White Sox begin to run out of arms.
Righty Scott McGough, 28, has reportedly agreed to a minor league deal to join the Colorado Rockies in 2018. McGough was very solid for the Norfolk Tides, the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, in 2017, posting a 2.75 ERA and converting 13 out of 17 saves. While he probably won’t be used in high-leverage situations, he could see some major league time if he continues to pitch well in the minors, however be warned, he will be entering the Pacific Coast League, where the sun never shines for pitchers. Nevertheless, he’s a a name to keep an eye on.
In other Rockies’ news, $500,000 in international bonus money was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles (surprise, surprise) in exchange for right-handed Pitcher Konner Wade. Wade, nearly 26, is a control artist swing man who has a career 4.05 ERA over 561.2 career innings pitcher. There isn’t much of a ceiling here, however, he will get a major league opportunity in the near future.
Rivera, 25, a ninth round selection by the Brewers in 2010, slashed a poor .227/.287/.325 in Triple-A Colorado Springs. Nevertheless, he is more known for his glove, which can play at second base, shortstop and third base. With the Marlins’ embarking on a rebuild, Rivera seems likely to see at least a cup of coffee in South Beach this coming season.
J.B. Shuck, now 30, spent the 2017 season in Triple-A Rochester, marking the first season in which he hasn’t seen a major league plate appearance since 2012. Shuck, never known as much of an offensive player, slashed just .259/.325/.368 last season. Miami seems as if it could be a very good landing spot, as trade rumors swirl around Marlins’ outfielders Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton.
The San Francisco Giants have agreed to terms with outfielder Luigi Rodriguez on a minor league deal. Rodriguez, 25, brings with him the ability to hit for a solid average, however doesn’t walk enough nor does he hit for enough power to make him a legitimate contender for a bench job out of camp. Rodriguez is more of a depth signing and expect him to be assigned to Double-A Richmond initially.
The Detroit Tigers made another rather shrewd acquisition locking down right-handed pitcher Mark Montgomery. Although he has yet to reach the majors and is 27 years old, Montgomery has only had one season in his career (since 2011) in which he posted an ERA above three, posting a 3.38 ERA in 2014. Detroit is the ideal landing spot for Montgomery, as they are beginning in a potentially long rebuild and can afford to give Montgomery the shot.
There is really nothing about Montgomery not to like. Over 66.2 innings pitched with the Memphis Redbirds, of the Pacific Coast League, he posted a very strong 2.43 ERA with a 73/15 K/BB ratio and a sparkling .193 batting average against. He could earn a spot right out of camp and could be used in high-leverage situations by the end of the season. Based on his age, he doesn’t seem like he can fit as a long-term piece for the Tigers’ future, however with enough success, Montgomery could become a very important trade chip.
Catcher Chace Numata has agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees that includes an invitation to spring training. Numata is a glove-first catcher who reached Double-A Reading with the Phillies’ organization. He will give the Yankees an extra glove for the exceptionally large group of promising young pitchers to throw to in March.
The Padres made their first big league signing of the offseason, bringing in right-handed Pitcher Colten Brewer on a one-year deal. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, 27-year-old Kyle Lloyd was designated for assignment.
Brewer spent 2017 with the New York Yankees and rose from High-A Tampa to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a combined 2.82 ERA over 60.2 innings pitched. Furthermore, his peripherals were also solid including a 10.2 K/9 and a 2.4 BB/9. Brewer seems likely to make his big league debut while functioning as a taxi-squad reliever for the Padres in 2018.
Lloyd, 27, made his major league debut last season starting one game for the Padres, giving up four runs in as many innings. Unfortunately for Lloyd, his numbers between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso weren’t much better as he scuffled to a 5.01 ERA over 147.1 innings pitched. While his peripherals suggest that he was the victim to some bad luck, the anticipation still is that the right-hander clears waivers. In such a circumstance, the Padres would retain control over Lloyd through the 2019 season as he was drafted in 2013.
Also hitting the waiver wire on Wednesday was catcher Juan Centeno. Centeno, 28, spent 2017 with the world champion Astros and was included on the ALDS, ALCS and World Series rosters. Over 57 regular season plate appearances, Centeno slashed .231/.286/.346, however provided most of his value with the glove. The Astros have expressed a desire to retain Centeno, however faced a bit of a roster crunch as he will be out of minor league options in 2018. If he clears waivers, Centeno will have the option to elect free agency.
In what could be one of the most underrated signings of the entire offseason, the Boston Red Sox agreed to sign infielder Esteban Quiroz to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. I did a profile on Quiroz back in August, in which I cited his strong plate discipline and surprising power, seeing as how he is generously listed at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds.
Quiroz will have the opportunity to compete for an opportunity to fill in for injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the first few months of the 2018 season. Still relatively young, at 26 years old, Quiroz seems like an underrated breakout candidate for 2018, as he is coming off of a .293/.428/.488 season in which he hit 11 home runs, went 8-for-10 in stolen base attempts and walked 64 times compared to just 42 strikeouts over 358 plate appearances in Yucatan (Mexico).
Infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez, 29, was surprisingly released less than a year after signing a minor league deal with a $200,000 signing bonus with the Dodgers. Fernandez slashed .306/.367/.496 with 16 home runs over 93 games, most of which were played in Double-A Tulsa. He missed the second half of the season due to injury and it has been speculated that he was cut loose because he didn’t fit into the future plans of the Dodgers and they didn’t want to use a minor league roster spot on him.
Assuming he’s healthy, Fernandez shouldn’t be on the market for very long. The Reds, Red Sox, Angels, Mets and maybe the Pirates can be seen as logical fits. Miami could be an option as well, if they wind up having more success in selling players off than expected this offseason.
Finally, here is a list of players in DFA limbo and of course, foreign league rumblings:
On Outright Waivers (48 hour resolution time)
- Catcher Juan Centeno (Houston)
Designated for Assignment Wednesday (Resolution by Wednesday, November 29th)
- Right-handed pitcher Kyle Lloyd (San Diego)
Designated for Assignment on Monday (Resolution by Monday, November 27th)
- Right-handed Pitcher Mark Appel (Philadelphia)
- Right-handed Pitcher Alberto Tirado (Philadelphia)
- Left-handed Pitcher Sam Moll (Oakland)
- Utility player Orlando Calixte (San Francisco)
- Utility player Micah Johnson (San Francisco)
- Right-handed Pitcher Dylan Baker (Cleveland)
- Left-handed Pitcher Kyle Crockett (Cleveland)
Foreign League Signings
- The Nexen Heroes have re-signed outfielder Michael Choice to a one-year contract worth $600,000 and right-handed pitcher Jeff Brigham to a one year contract worth $650,000