Here is a look at some of the minor moves that have gone down around the league over the past week.
The Oakland A’s bolstered their rotation depth by bringing Edwin Jackson back on a minor league contract. The 35-year-old righty has seen major league time with a litany of major league organizations including the Rays, Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Braves, Cardinals, Padres, Orioles, Marlins, Tigers as well as a previous stint with Oakland en route to a cumulative 4.60 ERA over 1892.1 career innings pitched. 2017 was a very solid year for the veteran righty, as he pitched 92 innings (17 starts) of 3.33 ERA ball. While the peripheral statistics, including a 4.65 FIP and a .240 BABIP suggest that there will be some level of regression, his average fastball velocity (94.1) was actually higher in 2018 than it had been since 2015 (94.5). Jackson will start off in Triple-A and could be an option down the line. He picked a solid landing spot, as the A’s rotation currently consists of Brett Anderson, Aaron Brooks and Frankie Montas, all injury risks.
Another former Athletic landed a deal last week, but instead of returning to Oakland, Parker Bridwell inked a minors deal with the Angels, with whom he had spent the past two seasons. Bridwell was one a highly regarded prospect with the Orioles, and was claimed off of waivers prior to the 2017 season. In his first extended look in the bigs, Bridwell excelled to a 3.64 ERA over 121 innings pitched, but posted lacking peripherals including a 4.84 FIP. He was horrible in 2018, but a lot of that had to do with a significant amount of injuries as well. Due to the fact that 2018 was his last option year, he rode the waiver wire through the offseason going from the Angels to the Yankees back to the Angels to the A’s, who then released him. Billy Eppler obviously sees something in Bridwell to re-acquire him twice in a single offseason. He will be assigned to Triple-A and could get a look in the majors if the Angels have to deal with more injuries in the rotation.
The Rangers added some veteran bullpen depth in righty David Carpenter. He signed a minor league deal the other day and was assigned to Triple-A. The veteran hadn’t thrown a pitch in affiliated ball since he posted a 9.90 ERA over 10 innings with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017. Once upon a time, however, he was one of the most dominant righties in the Braves’ bullpen posting a 2.63 ERA over 126.2 innings with a 2.88 FIP, a 10.0 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. After he was traded to the Yankees, following the 2014 season, however, he struggled posting a 4.01 ERA over 24.2 innings between the Yankees and the Nationals. He’ll look to get himself back on track in Arlington.
Former Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz inked a minors deal with the Mariners and will head to Triple-A. Feliz has been the definition of inconsistent over his career. After debuting in 2009, he had been on of the best relievers in the game, posting a cumulative 2.53 ERA over 241.2 innings pitched for the Rangers with a 3.61 FIP. The wheels fell off in 2015, however, after he posted a 6.38 ERA over 48 innings. Unfortunately, he had fallen victim to bad luck, as his FIP over the season (4.05) was actually lower than it had been the previous season (4.90). His velocity, which had been down in 2013 and 2014 jumped up almost 2 mph! He never fully rebounded from 2015, pitching for five major league teams in three seasons, posting a 5.06 ERA and a 4.72 FIP over 147.2 innings, while struggling with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in 2018, posting a 4.81 ERA over 91.2 innings pitched. Regardless, he’s a worthwhile name to take a shot on based on his past and his relative youth, as he’s still just 31.
The Mariners weren’t done there, however, as they shipped catcher David Frietas to the Brewers in exchange for minor league righty Sal Biasi. The 30-year-old catcher had been with the Braves in 2017. He spent the majority of the season in Triple-A, where he posted a .263/.338/.356 line. He received a six game cameo at the end of the season and was claimed off of waivers by the Mariners during October.
He had been a back-up for the Mariners during the 2018 season, splitting time between the majors and Triple-A. Over 106 major league plate appearances, he hit .215/.277/.312, and mashed Pacific Coast League pitching to the tune of a .349/.428/.527 batting line. He’s known for being an average to slightly above average defender with a below average arm. Frietas was made redundant when the Mariners picked up Tom Murphy in a minor trade from the Giants, resulting in him being sent to Triple-A. He will give the Brewers some additional depth behind the plate.
As for Biasi, the Scranton native was selected by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2017 draft out of Penn State and was traded to the Brewers at the end of last season for fellow righty John Perrin. Over 117 career innings pitched, he has posted a 3.23 ERA. He typically sits in the mid-90’s and can rack up a decent number of strikeouts. His most likely outcome is that of a taxi righty, with the ceiling of a very stellar mainstay middle.
The Nationals signed lefty Dan Jennings to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A on Monday. I am high on Jennings, but don’t believe this is the best fit. Jennings is a very similar pitcher to Tony Sipp, who has been grossly misused by the Nationals. The Nationals’ bullpen as a whole has been a disaster this season, but talent isn’t the issue, in my opinion. No, the Nationals’ pen isn’t top five, but Sean Doolittle and Kyle Barraclough are a very solid one-two-punch at the back , while Wander Suero, Tony Sipp, Joe Ross and Matt Grace are solid when used correctly. The unit as a whole has been mismanaged throughout the season. An example of this was when Tony Sipp was brought in to start the eighth to protect a one-run lead when Kyle Barraclough was available.
The Orioles brought in infielder Jesmuel Valentin on a minors deal after he had signed in the Atlantic League. The 24-year-old spent the 2018 season with the Phillies, with whom he received 89 plate appearances and slashed .177/.258/.304. Originally a first round pick by the Dodgers, he was acquired alongside Victor Arano in the Roberto Hernandez trade of 2014. He was assigned to Double-A and could eventually be an option as a super utility guy. He brings with him a strong glove and excellent versatility.
Former Orioles outfielder Craig Gentry latched on with the Colorado Rockies on a minor league deal and was assigned to Triple-A. Gentry was very solid for the O’s last season slashing .269/.321/.346 with 12 stolen bases and plus defense in the outfield. As a veteran, he should mash in the PCL and could be a boost to the Rockies’ defense sooner rather than later. If the season continues as it’s been going for the Rockies, he could even be considered to be a minor trade chip.
Carlos Gonzalez, formerly of the Rockies, had his contract purchased by the Indians earlier this week alongside Mike Freeman. Gonzalez signed on as a minor league free agent with the Indians in mid-March and was given an early opt-out and a $2 million salary in the majors. He certainly did his part over a six game stint in Triple-A slashing .348/.483/.522, showing why he shouldn’t have been limited to a minor league deal in the first place. He will step into the middle of the order for the tribe, who have been underwhelming this season.
This, of course, is due to the fact that superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor has missed the entire season to date. While things are looking up for him, the Indians haven’t done a great job handling his absence. While Brad Miller, who ranked 15th among my top minor league free agents, had been hitting rather well, slashing .250/.325/.417 while playing solid defense at second, he was designated for assignment after Jason Kipnis was activated from the disabled list. The Indians opted, instead, to keep Max Moroff and Eric Stamets, who have provided next to nothing offensively. This move was even more head-scratching seeing as how Stamets has minor league options remaining. It should also be noted that there was a financial component to the deal, as Miller’s $1 million salary wasn’t fully guaranteed until a certain date, therefore, cutting him saves them a few hundred thousand. For an organization so far into “win-now” mode, that insignificant amount of money should not have played as much of a part in their decision-making. Even if they were to retain Moroff, they should’ve optioned Eric Stamets upon Kipnis’ activation and then should have planned to cut ties with Hanley Ramirez when Lindor came back. Miller’s avreage to slightly above average bat, on top of his versatility just makes him too valuable to an organization that has its sights set on winning a division. If they are able to get something back for him via trade, my opinion on the move could very well change, but that remains to be seen.
Finally, the Cubs cut ties with Jen-Ho Tseng after he cleared waivers. Tseng was bad last season, but the release was a bit surprising to be based on how recently he was considered to be a top prospect. He’s still very young and could still develop into a back of the rotation starter. My guess for what went wrong last season is that he lost confidence after a rough first showing in the major leagues and wasn’t able to regain traction in the hitter friendly PCL. I think it would make sense to start him off in Double-A for a while to allow him to regain his confidence, and let him rise back up. He will be 24 for the entirety of the 2019 season, therefore, he has time to raise his standing once again. It’s a delicate case and I think his success in the future will be dependent on who he signs with, assuming he lands another affiliated contract. If he latches onto a team that is known for successfully reviving careers of young guys on buy low deals, then the likelihood of his success is much higher. The Pirates, Dodgers and Athletics would be my picks for the best fits.