Minor Moves Roundup: November 30

On Monday, millions of Americans begrudgingly rolled out of bed to return to reality following the long Thanksgiving weekend. After missing two to three days in the office there was work that needed to be made up. Then those who lead the baseball operations’ departments in the major leagues were no different.  Yesterday was exceptionally active on the minor moves front as teams were able to tie up some loose ends on deals that they had likely began preparing for prior to the break.

Last Monday, November 20, saw tons of players removed from their respective teams’ roster and with the new collective bargaining agreement, the DFA period was reduced from ten days to seven, meaning that resolutions were due. While we had already seen Jaycob Brugman traded to the Orioles, going into yesterday, eight cases had remained unresolved going into yesterday.

Kicking things off with the guys who will be sticking around, Alberto Tirado and Mark Appel cleared waivers yesterday and will remain with the Philies’ organization. While neither announcement is terribly shocking, both pitchers are still intriguing prospects with exceptionally high upside, but a lot of work to do.

Appel, now 26, was acquired from the Astros in the Ken Giles‘ deal in November of 2015 as a high upside, change of scenery candidate. Unfortunately, the change didn’t bring much newfound success to Appel’s game, as he has struggled in nearly every facet of his game. After being added to the  40-man roster last November, he posted a 5.27 ERA over 82 innings pitched, as a starter. Personally, it would be smart to attempt to convert Appel to a reliever, based on his very solid fastball. Unfortunately, Appel has seen his star fade dramatically since being the first overall draft pick in 2013.

Tirado, 23 next month, was acquired from the Blue Jays alongside Jimmy Cordero back in July 2015 in exchange for Ben Revere. He brings with him a huge fastball, however has struggled mightily with control throughout his career, posting walk rates nearly as gaudy as his strikeout rate. There’s definitely some upside here, however the control issues seem likely to hold him back.

The Padres were successful in sending right-handed pitcher Kyle Lloyd through waivers. Lloyd, 27, was drafted in 2013, however struggled mightily last season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso posting a 5.01 ERA over 147.1 innings pitched. At the very least, Lloyd will continue to provide a valuable innings eater in the minor leagues, however he hasn’t done anything that suggests that he has much of a future in the major leagues.

Orlando Calixte, nearly 26, cleared waivers and has the ability to elect free agency as he was removed from the Royals’ 40-man roster in the past. Orlando Calixte brings with him defensive versatility and surprising power, however he has never been able to make enough contact to be considered a legitimate everyday player. It seems likely that he will be departing San Francisco.

Calixte, however, isn’t the only infielder departing San Francisco, as Micah Johnson was claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays. This marks Johnson’s fourth organization in under two months, as he had previously on from Atlanta to Cincinnati to San Francisco via the waiver claim. Johnson brings with him a solid glove that will play at second base as well as the outfield. Furthermore, Johnson has missed the past year due to injury, however, when healthy has swung the bat exceptionally well. As it stands right now, Johnson looks to have the inside track on a bench job.

Three National League Central teams made additions via the waiver wire yesterday, as the Reds claimed left-handed pitcher Kyle Crockett off of waivers from the Indians, the Brewers added right-handed pitcher Dylan Baker from the Indians and the Pirates acquired left-handed pitcher Sam Moll off of waivers from the Oakland A’s, however have since lost him to the Seattle Mariners.

Crockett was something of a waiver wire gem, as he was a victim of the Indians’ enviable pitching depth. Crockett, now 26 years old, was a staple in the Indians’ bullpen in 2014 and 2015, as he posted a 2.64 ERA. Despite his success, his opportunities have dwindled over the past two seasons due to the increasing amount of strong pitchers in the Indians’ system. Crockett will now go to an organization on the opposite end of the spectrum, as the Reds have a dire need for pitching depth.  Crockett, who will be out of options this season, seems to have a very strong chance to open the season in the Reds’ bullpen.

Baker is an interesting case. Now 25 years old, Baker has missed the majority of the past three seasons to injury. He returned for the end of the 2017 season and looked very good over a rather small 16.2 inning sample size, posting a 2.70 ERA with an encouraging 0.5 BB/9. While those are some encouraging signs, it is important to remember that he was pitching in Double-A Akron, where he was facing younger competition. I would imagine he begins the season in Triple-A Colorado Springs, and assuming he maintains that control, he could be up as the season goes on.

The Chicago Cubs announced that they have signed the intriguing soon to be 29 year old left-handed pitcher Dario Alvarez to a major league contract, thus placing him on the 40-man roster immediately. Alvarez has been exceptionally volatile over the past two seasons, looking amazing at times and awful others. Alvarez spent the 2017 season in the Rangers’ organization, where he spent 16.1 innings with the big league club. Despite a very strong 2.76 ERA and a nice 9.4 K/9, he also walked a baffling 7.7 per nine innings while posted a 4.63 FIP. Alvarez, however, has shown that he has the potential to be a legitimate late inning relief option over the past few years and will be an exciting name to watch through camp.

Sam Moll, 26, seemed like a Ray Searage special as he is a ground ball pitcher who has a rather high floor of a taxi-squad LOOGY, however has the stuff that could make him a mainstay middle reliever or maybe even a high leverage guy.  Since Monday, he has gone from the Oakland A’s to the Pirates to the Seattle Mariners, where he seems likely to serve as a taxi-squad reliever out of the gate.

Catcher Juan Centeno finds himself changing cities, as he was brought in by Rangers on a waiver claim from Houston. Centeno will be out of options in 2018, and looks like the favorite to begin the season as the Rangers’ back-up catcher at this juncture. While he only hit .231/.286/.346 over 57 plate appearances in the majors, he slashed a much more serviceable .311/.353/.383 over 257 plate appearances. Centeno, however, will not leave empty handed, however, has he heads to Arlington with a shiny new World Series ring.

It was also announced that the Rangers have signed Anthony Gose to a minor league contract for the 2018 season. The Tigers tried to convert Gose to a power left-handed reliever, however he struggled mightily giving up nine runs in 10.2 innings. It is unclear how the Rangers intend to use the former top prospect.

Remaining in the American League West, the Angels signed outfielder Jared Hoying, catcher Curt Casali and infielder Colin Walsh to minor league deals and all will be invited to major league spring training.

Casali, 29,  spent the past three seasons in Tampa, after coming over via trade from Detroit. Casali spent the majority of the 2017 season in Triple-A Durham, where he posted a .263/.351/.347 line over 343 plate appearances. While he received a cup of coffee in 2017, Casali saw a considerable about of time in the major leagues from 2014 through 2016, where he posted a combined .195/.280/.378 line with 18 home runs over 453 plate appearances. Casali will compete for the Angels’ backup catcher job with Juan Graterol and Carlos Perez, however seems to be at a disadvantage as he is not on the 40-man roster.

Hoying, 28, has spent his entire career in the Texas Rangers’ organization with whom he saw major league time over the past two seasons posting a combined .220/.262/.288 line over 216 plate appearances. While unimpressive, Hoying has exhibited an exceptionally intriguing combination of power and speed, reaching double figures in both stolen bases and home runs every season in the minors since 2014. I won’t expect Hoying to be on the opening day roster, however I like him as a possible injury replacement as the season presses on.

Walsh, 28, spent the 2017 season split between the Astros’ and Diamondbacks’ systems where he posted a combined .256/.413/.445 with 12 home runs and 94 walks compared to 101 strikeouts over 448 plate appearances. Billy Eppler has stated that Walsh will be in the mix for the second base job this spring, however personally, I think his motive for making that comment was to try to gain leverage in trade talks for other second basemen. Walsh has decent power, and elite plate discipline as well as some defensive versatility, which could make him a bench option down the line, however, I don’t think he will ever be make enough contact that the major league level seeing as how he has only hit for a .265 batting average in the Pacific Coast League.

The Baltimore Orioles announced a litany of signings including the previously reported signing of left-handed pitcher Ryan O’Rourke and the re-signing of infielder Luis Sardinas.  The report went on to announce that the Orioles will also be bringing back infielder Ruben Tejada, while adding right-handed pitcher Jhan Marinez and southpaws Joely Rodriguez and Josh Edgin. All of these guys will receive minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.

Tejada, still just 28, saw 141 plate appearances last season with the Orioles in which he posted a .230/.293/.283 batting line. He will, once again, serve as infield depth for the Orioles and seems likely to earn a call-up when injury inevitably strikes.

Josh Edgin, 31, saw 37 innings of work with the New York Mets in 2017 where he posted a rather strong 3.65 ERA.  Unfortunately, however, it looks as though Edgin benefited from good luck as his FIP was a much less inspiring 4.62.  Furthermore, Edgin’s velocity has steadily fallen over the past few seasons and he saw his strikeout rate fell considerably in 2017, likely as a result of the former statistic. He will compete with Ryan O’Rourke, Donnie Hart and Rich Bleier for a role in the O’s bullpen.

Joely Rodriguez, 26, looked exceptionally promising in 2016 with the Phillies, as he posted a 2.79 ERA over 12.1 innings pitched in the majors, with equally supportive peripherals. Furthermore, he posted a 2.35 ERA over 76.2 innings pitched in Lehigh. 2017, however, was a completely different story, as he saw his ERA skyrocket to 6.33 in both Philadelphia and Triple-A Round Rock (the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate). Nevertheless, he is an intriguing gamble for a team looking for pitching depth.

Jhan Marinez, 29, has looked very solid for multiple different MLB organizations over the past two seasons, as he posted a cumulative 3.70 ERA in 2017 between three organizations and an even more promising 3.18 ERA between two organizations in 2016.  Marinez is a noted groundball pitcher with an intriguing fastball that averages around 95, and while he has struggled a bit with control in the past, it is not a serious issue.  I would expect Marinez to see significant major league action in 2018.

The Orioles also brought in right-handed pitchers Jeff Ferrell and Ralston Cash, catchers Armando Araiza and Yojhon Quevedo and infielders Angelo Mora, Garabez Rosa and Erick Salcedo on minor league deals, however at this time, none of these guys have been invited to spring training.

Salcedo, Araiza and Rosa are simply re-signing with the Orioles after becoming minor league free agents. The switch-hitting Erick Salcedo seems likely to head back down to Double-A Bowie where he will continue to provide organizational infield depth.

Araiza, 25, spent the 2017 season split between the Orioles and Braves organizations spending the majority of his time at Class-A Advanced Frederick. He seems as if he could start the season off in Double-A Bowie, however he looks like a depth guy for now.

Rosa could potentially begin the season in Triple-A Norfolk thanks to an impressive display of power in 2017, when he hit 14 home runs for Double-A Bowie. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t expect to see him in Baltimore unless the Orioles are faced with an unbelievable amount of injuries.

The soon to be 25 year old Angelo Mora has spent his career in the Phillies organization, reaching Triple-A for the first time in 2017. He has a decent hit tool, as a switch hitter, and has a decent glove, however his lack of plate discipline limits his ceiling to a utility infielder. Mora seems likely to be back and forth between Norfolk and Bowie throughout the season, however, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see him make his major league debut in 2018.

Quevedo, 24, has spent his entire career in the Seattle Mariners organization where he has only reached as high as Class-A Clinton. In 2017, he posted a rather solid .273 batting average, however that also came with a .300 on base percentage and a .391 slugging percentage. he looks to be strictly depth.

Jeff Ferrell, 27, has pitched 20.2 innings pitched with the Detroit Tigers spread between 2015 and 2017 posting a 6.53 ERA. He spent the majority of the 2017 season in Triple-A Toledo where he posted a much more serviceable 2.28 ERA over 55.1 innings. While Ferrell seems unlikely to be on the Orioles’ opening day roster, it would not surprise me to see him get a cup of coffee at some point.

Ralston Cash, 26, is a former Dodgers’ prospect who spent most of last season at Double-A Tulsa (Los Angeles) where he posted a 5.28 ERA, with his peripherals suggesting that he fell victim to bad luck with a 3.02 FIP, a .392 BABIP and a very solid 12.39 K/9 (paired with an unspectacular, however serviceable 3.45 BB/9). I would expect Cash to begin the 2018 season at Double-A Bowie, and with success, could see a September call-up.

The Los Angeles Dodgers brought in Pat Venditte on a minor league deal. Venditte, 32, spent the 2017 season with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Phillies Triple-A affiliate where he posted a 3.36 ERA over 69.2 innings. The ambidextrous enigma will be in spring training with the Dodgers, however it is doubtful that he begins the season in Los Angeles.

Also heading from the Phillies organization to the Dodgers is right-handed pitcher Jesen Therrien.  Therrien made his major league debut in 2017 after posting a 1.41 ERA in 57.1 innings between Double and Triple-A. Unfortunately, he saw a drop in his velocity following his major league call-up, which has since been attributed to an injury in his UCL.  He has signed a two year minor league contract due to the fact that he will miss the 2018 season due to the Tommy John surgery.

The Dodgers signed outfielder Travis Taijeron, formerly from the Mets’ organization. Taijeron, 28, had a nice season in Triple-A Las Vegas posting a .272/.383/.525 line with 25 home runs over 533 plate appearances. After being called up, he struggled to a .173/.271/.269 line over 59 plate appearances. He seems like a depth signing for the Dodgers.

The Padres signed a pair of right-handed pitchers in Mike Mariot and Jonathan Aro to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.

Aro, 27, posted a 3.16 ERA over 42.2 innings pitched in the Seattle Mariners’ organization for Triple-A Tacoma after returning from a suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Nevertheless, Aro’s success upon his return, as well as his landing spot both point to the strong possibility that he is given an opportunity in the major leagues in 2018.

Mariot, 29, has spent the past two seasons in the Phillies organization after they claimed him off of waivers from the Kansas City Royals following the 2015 season. Mariot spent the 2017 season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley where he posted a rather pedestrian 4.42 ERA over 57 innings pitched. While Mariot has solid control, he just gets hit very hard. While San Diego is a very solid landing spot, I don’t believe we will see much of him in 2018.

The Cleveland Indians announced three signings on Thursday including right-handed pitchers Neil Ramirez and Evan Marshall as well as outfielder Brandon Barnes on minor league contracts with invitations to major league spring training.

Barnes, 31, who has seen major league at bats with the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies, spent the 2017 season with the Marlins’ organization in Triple-A New Orleans where he posted a .276/.331/.420 batting line with 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases over 451 plate appearances.  Barnes will compete with Abraham Almonte, Tyler Naquin, Greg Allen, Gio Urshela and Rob Refsnyder for the final bench job, however seems very likely to begin the 2018 season in Columbus.

Ramirez, 29, looked like he was going to become one of the best relievers of the generation after posting a 1.44 ERA over 43.2 innings with the Cubs, however has seen his star fade significantly since then. Over the past two seasons, Ramirez has seen time with the Cubs, Brewers, Giants, Twins and Mets posting a combined 6.67 ERA over 55.1 innings pitched.  Over that stretch, he has posted unsightly 6.3 BB/9 and 2.3 HR/9 marks. He enters a less than ideal situation as the Indians have arguably the most pitching depth in the league. I don’t think he sees significant time in the major leagues.

Marshall, 27, had a rough 2017 spending most of the season between Triple-A Tacoma, and Double-A Arkansas, while spending a considerable amount of time on the disabled list. All told, Marshall posted a 4.33 ERA throughout 54 minor league innings with a 9.39 ERA over 7.2 major league innings.  He seems unlikely to play a major role for the Indians this coming season.

The Cincinnati Reds have announced that they have signed left-handed pitcher Victor Payano and outfielder Michael Reed to minor league contracts.

Payano spent the 2017 season between the Marlins’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates posting a combined 3.44 ERA over 65.1 innings pitched, as both a starter and reliever. Payano, still just 25, is a tall and lanky lefty with a very big fastball, but definite control issues. I believe a full-time move to relief would be beneficial to Payano at this juncture. He has a very high ceiling as a high leverage left-handed reliever, however there is some work to be done.

Reed, 25, spent the 2017 season in the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate posting a weak .208/.346/.351 line over 205 plate appearances. Reed had seen limited major league time in 2015 and 2016 hitting just .214/267/.250 over 30 plate appearances. He seems doubtful to play a major impact for the Reds’ in 2018.

While the Marlins may be losing Payano, it was announced today that Drew Rucinski has been signed to a minor league depth for the 2018 season. Rucinski spent the 2017 season with the Twins’ organization. Although he saw a cup of coffee with the major league club, he spent the majority of the season in Triple-A Rochester posting a solid 2.57 ERA over 63 innings with an impressive 1.8 BB/9 next to an 8.1 K/9. Miami represents a good landing spot for the nearly 29 year old, as they will need innings eaten throughout what could be a lengthy rebuild.

The Minnesota Twins announced that they will bring in catchers Willians Astudillo and Bobby Wilson as well as outfielder Ryan LaMarre on minor league contracts.

LaMarre, now 29, was once a rather solid prospect for the Reds, however over 40 major league plate appearances, he has only been able to muster two hits. LaMarre brings with him average to above average speed, however below average power and a below average hit tool. I see him as an emergency call-up candidate, however don’t believe he will play a major role for the Twins’ in 2018.

Bobby Wilson, 34, spent the 2017 season with the Oklahoma City Dodgers posting a .243/.318/.428 line with 11 home runs. The Twins are Wilson’s sixth major league organization as he has spent time with the Dodgers, Angels, Rays,  Rangers, Tigers and Diamondbacks over the course of his career. He seems like a depth signing who will give the Twins; pitchers an extra glove to throw to.

Willians Astudillo, 26, is a pure hitter. Over the course of his minor league career, he has slashed an impressive .311/.350/.401 line over eight seasons. 2017, however was on another level as he posted a .342/.370/.558 line over 128 plate appearances for the Diamondback’s Triple-A affiliate in Reno. While he won’t be able to carry that level of production to the majors with him, I would love to see him get an opportunity. Unfortunately, the Twins are rather deep in catching depth, which means that it would take a few injuries for Astudillo to get an opportunity. He’s noticeable, though, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

The Oakland Athletics announced a trio of minor league signings bringing in outfielders Anthony Garcia and Nick Martini as well as left-handed pitcher Jarrett Martin. All three will be in spring training with the big league club.

Martin, 27, split the 2017 season between the Giants’ Double-A affiliate in Richmond and the Atlantic League team, the York Revolution. While he posted solid numbers in terms of ERA and strikeout rate for both teams, he struggled mightily with his control. He seems like he will provide the A’s with some depth between Double and Triple-A, if he tweaks his control, there is a ceiling here.

Both Martini, 27, and Garcia, nearly 26, are coming out of the Cardinals’ system. Martini was a seventh round selection back in 2011 and spent the 2017 season between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis posting a solid .294/.382/.423 batting line. His glove isn’t very good and he doesn’t really bring any tools that stand out, other than his plate discipline. I would say that he looks like a potential emergency call-up.

Garcia was once among the Cardinals top prospects, however stalled out upon reaching Class A Advanced in 2013. 2017, however, saw a major turnaround as he slashed .282/.359/.466 with 16 home runs and nine stolen bases over 115 games. Garcia can play center, but spends most of his time in the corners. He could be an interesting name to watch in camp, and throughout the season. There is a very real possibility that he spends some time with the A’s in 2018.

Perhaps the most notable minor move, however saw the Seattle Mariners bring back long-time starter and fan favorite Hisashi Iwakuma on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.  Iwakuma, who turns 37 shortly after opening day, is coming off of a shoulder surgery and is looking to show that he still has something left in the tank after posting a serviceable 4.35 ERA over six starts, however walking 12 compared to 16 strikeouts.  At this juncture, his biggest competition will be Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzalez, both of whom are out of options. I would expect Iwakuma begins the season in Tacoma, and will have his contract selected within a month.

Also joining the Mariners on a minor league contract is infielder Yhonathan Mendoza.  Mendoza spent most of the season with the Indians Class A Advanced affiliate in Lynchburg posting a .307/.382/.370 line with 30 walks compared to just 31 strikeouts. Mendoa seems like he is at least a year away from the major leagues, and will probably begin the season in Double-A Arkansas. I would not be surprised to see him emerge as a solid utility option somewhere down the line.

Finally, as always, here are your international signings:

  • The SK Wyverns have signed right-handed pitcher Angel Sanchez, formerly of the Pirates, to a one year deal worth $1,100,000
  • The Nexen Heroes have brought back first baseman Byung Ho-Park on a one year deal worth $1,400,000
  • Ah-seop Son has signed a four year deal worth $9,000,000 with the Lotte Giants
  • The Samsung Lions have signed right-handed pitcher Tim Adleman, formerly of the Reds, to a one year deal worth $1,050,000
  • The Chunichi Dragons have signed outfielder Steven Moya to a one year contract


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