While August typically results in a relative lull on the transaction front, there were a few notable minor moves made throughout the league over the past few days that could turn out paying dividends to contenders through the stretch run.
The Yankees acquired catcher Chris Rabago off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. The claim was presumably off of outright waivers, as opposed to trade waivers.
The 25-year old righty catcher was drafted by the Rockies in the 13th round of the 2014 amateur draft and has the ability to play shortstop in a pinch. He reached Double-A for the first time this season and has struggled to the tune of a .213/.292/.361 line with nine stolen bases and four home runs. Nevertheless, he’s coming off of a season in which he slashed .272/.350/.393 in High-A while logging 25 stolen bases. His profile reminds me of Tony Wolters and I can see him becoming a similar type of player (in reference to his 2016 and 2017 seasons, as opposed to his down 2018, in which he has gotten awfully unlucky with a .180 BABIP.). Rabago is also a great defensive catcher with a plus arm, as evidenced by his 34-percent caught stealing percentage. The Yanks proceeded to pass him through waivers and will be able to control him through 2021 on his rookie contract.
The Yankees also brought in perennial August acquisition Quintin Berry on a minor league deal. Year in and year out, Berry is either signed or traded for by a contender during August so that he can be used as a pinch runner through the stretch run. He’s now 33 years old, which means that he’s probably toward the end of the line as an exclusive speed bench guy, but he has been added by a contender in almost every season since 2013.
- 2013: Boston (World Series Champion)
- 2015: Chicago Cubs (NLCS)
- 2016: Toronto (Released during September)
- 2017: Milwaukee (Finished 2nd in NL Central)
Berry also appeared in the World Series with the Tigers in 2012, but he had been a member of the club for a few years. While he is typically picked up in August, he is mainly used in September, as opposed to the playoffs.
Sticking around in the American League East, the Orioles of old returned as they paid a hefty $750,000 in International Bonus Pool Space to the Phillies in exchange for rookie league first baseman Jack Zoellner. Zoellner was a day-two senior sign out of the University of New Mexico during 2017 and hasn’t yet made it out of the Gulf Coast League. Despite the fact that he will turn 24 in October, he has hit an underwhelming .240/.358/.401 with just seven home runs. He’s really a depth guy barring any outstanding turnaround. It’s a hefty sum to pay for a minor league depth piece, especially when the Orioles have been very public about their intention to pursue Victor Victor Mesa.
While we’re on the subject of the Orioles management, they have been tinkering with the mechanics of top prospect Yusniel Diaz‘s batting stance, which has not been paying any dividends. While this would typically be a non-news story, the Orioles unsuccessfully tried to do a similar thing on the pitching side with Jake Arrieta, Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and Zach Britton, none of whom worked out as they had hoped (although Britton found success in the bullpen). Maybe someday they will realize that they shouldn’t be fixing things that aren’t broken.
Finally, the Dodgers made a rather significant minor league signing, adding reliever Zach McAllister on a minor league deal. McAllister was released by Cleveland after struggling to a 4.97 ERA over 41.2 innings with a 4.50 FIP. He was then picked up by Detroit but struggled even more as his stay lasted 11 days and he pitched a total of 3.1 innings. While it remains to be seen whether McAllister can even begin to resurrect his stock prior to hitting free agency, the Dodgers are a good landing spot as they typically do a good job getting the best out of people. I’m interested to see exactly how they will handle him.