Minor Moves: Deolis Guerra, Josh D. Smith

As October continues, non-roster players have continued to elect free agency, and organizations have begun to trim their 40-man rosters to facilitate offseason acquisitions.

Right-handed pitcher Deolis Guerra elected free agency earlier this month after a strong showing with the Milwaukee Brewers Triple-A affiliate. His stay on the market, however, didn’t last long, as the Brewers re-signed him to a one-year, major-league contract for the 2020 season. Guerra will join the Brewers 40-man roster and has the inside track on an opening day bullpen spot, as he doesn’t have any minor-league options remaining.

No financial terms have been announced, but it seems likely that Guerra will earn the pro-rated version of the league minimum. For 2020, the league minimum salary is described in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as “subject to the cost of living increase,” which would place it at roughly $563,880. My projections have him posting a 3.99 ERA over 42 innings with a 7.98 K/9 and a 2.58 BB/9, which, at that salary, would be quite the bargain. The 30-year-old righty would then be under team control via arbitration through the 2023 season.

The day before the signing was announced, Hernan Perez was removed from the 40-man roster and promptly elected to become a free agent. While Perez struggled in 2019, slashing just .228/.262/.379 (.642), there should be no shortage of interest in him on the open market. While he’s more known for his defensive chops, Perez provides some level of offensive value, as my projections have him slashing .260/.296/.403 (.703 OPS) with 13 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, and 11 stolen bases over 11o games and 323 plate appearances.

His career range factor numbers are above average at third base, second base, right field, and first base, and he has seen time at shortstop, left field, and center field in the past. My expectation is for Perez to earn a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training, a base salary around $1.5 million, and a package of incentives and/or opt-out dates.

Remaining in the National League Central, the Cincinnati Reds claimed left-handed reliever Josh Smith off waivers from the Miami Marlins. The Marlins were in the process of beginning to trim their 40-man roster, also sending right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi and catchers Tyler Heineman and Bryan Holaday outright to Triple A. Noesi and Holaday have already elected free agency, and Heineman seems likely to follow suit in the near future.

Smith joins the Reds 40-man roster after splitting the 2019 season between the Marlins and Cleveland Indians. He signed a minor-league deal with the Indians last December and had his contract purchased on May 25. He struggled over limited opportunity on the taxi squad before being removed from the 40-man roster to make room for James Karinchak. He was claimed by Miami just over a month ago and struggled over just 4.1 innings pitched.

While he brings a pair of minor-league options to the table, I doubt that he remains on the 40-man roster through the offseason, as the Reds have a habit of non-tendering recently claimed players and re-signing them in the days that follow. My projections have him posting a 4.54 ERA with a 9.63 K/9 and a 5.48 BB/9. I would consider him likely to spend the majority of 2020 in Triple A and earn an injury call-up at some point throughout the season.

To accommodate the transaction, the Reds designated catcher Juan Graterol for assignment. He cleared waivers and is likely to become a free agent in the coming weeks. Graterol has served as an emergency catcher over the past four years, only seeing more than 20 plate appearances in 2017 with the Los Angeles Angels. In 2019, he slashed .249/.301/.325 (.626 OPS).

The 30-year-old catcher seems likely to land elsewhere on a minor-league contract, where he should fill the same or a similar role. My projections have him slashing .265/.290/.330 (.619) over 36 games while offering little to no power or speed tools. Defensively, Graterol is roughly average in terms of range factor, but he has an excellent arm behind the plate, boasting a 38 percent caught stealing percentage between all levels (197 for 524 all time).

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