Mets Acquire Alex Torres

The Mets announced that they have acquired left-handed reliever Alex Torres from the Padres in exchange for Minor League right-hander Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later.

Alex Torres

Torres, 27, will give the Mets a much-needed left-handed option in the bullpen. Josh Edgin, who had projected to be New York’s top southpaw reliever, underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month, leaving the team precariously thin in this department. Since that time, rumors have circulated about potential matches for the Mets, who have been linked to Baltimore’s Brian Matusz as well as J.P. Howell, Paco Rodriguez and Adam Liberatore of the Dodgers. Colorado’s Rex Brothers was also suggested as a fit.

In Torres, New York receives a pitcher that has posted a 2.49 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 44.7 percent ground-ball rate over the past two seasons. Torres has benefited from a perhaps unsustainbly low homer-to-flyball ratio of just 3.1 percent, though Citi Field’s generally pitcher-friendly dimensions may help him to sustain an above-average rate in that regard.

Torres does come with some control issues, as he averaged 5.5 walks per nine innings pitched in 2014. That, combined with some correction for his good fortune on home runs, leads sabermetric ERA estimators to peg him for an ERA in the mid-3.00s rather than to sustain his sub-3.00 mark.

Somewhat curiously, most of Torres’ control problems come against left-handed hitters. Right-handers have batted a meager .175/.260/.251 against Torres dating back to 2013, while lefties have exploited his lack of control and gotten on base at a .341 clip against Torres. Of course, they’ve also batted just .213 and slugged .276, so if he can rein in his control, he could post dominant overall numbers.

With one year and 141 days of service time under his belt, Torres can be controlled via arbitration through the 2019 season. However, because he’ll end up with two years, 141 days next offseason (assuming a full year of service time is accrued, as one would expect), he’s a likely Super Two player, meaning he will be arbitration-eligible four times as opposed to three.

The 25-year-old Mazzoni was New York’s second-round pick back in 2011 and is generally ranked as the Mets’ 15th-20th best prospect, per Baseball America, MLB.com and Fangraphs. Mazzoni split the 2014 campaign across four levels, spending the bulk of his time at Triple-A where he worked to a 4.67 ERA with 49 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 52 innings. Mazzoni has spent much of his career as a starter, but most feel that he’s likely destined for relief work if he surfaces in the Majors, where his low 90s fastball will instead reach the mid-90s, serving as a complement to an above-average slider.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported (via Twitter) that the Mets had acquired Torres.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Reds Release Paul Maholm

The Reds announced that they have released veteran left-hander Paul Maholm (Twitter link). Cincinnati told Maholm a week ago that he wouldn’t earn a spot in the team’s rotation, but at the time, Maholm was still uncertain about exercising the out clause in his contract.

Maholm, 32, spent last season with the Dodgers, working to a 4.84 ERA with 4.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 70 2/3 innings between their rotation and the bullpen. Though he’s struggled over the past two seasons, Maholm was a more than serviceable rotation arm for the Pirates, Cubs and Braves from 2011-12, recording 351 1/3 innings of 3.66 ERA ball in that time. He also pitched well this spring, yielding only three runs in 12 1/3 innings, although his 5-to-3 K/BB ratio in that time leaves something to be desired.

The Reds’ rotation figures to include Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Anthony DeSclafani and a yet-undetermined fifth starter, with Raisel Iglesias and Jason Marquis possibly still in the mix. Cincinnati made the surprising decision to shift Tony Cingrani to the bullpen earlier this spring.


NL East Notes: Phillies, Mets, Gilmartin, Johnson, Janssen

The Phillies may be preparing to add their fifth starter from outside the organization, according to a tweet from Jayson Stark of ESPN. Stark spoke with an executive who asked the Phillies who their fifth starter was expected to be and received a reply of, “He’s not here yet.” A number of rotation options have been released over the past few days, including Jhoulys Chacin, Scott Baker and Felix Doubront. More releases figure to come soon, and other rotation options will be placed on waivers as we get late into camp. I’d be surprised if the Phillies made any form of significant move, but adding someone with a bit of upside, such as Chacin, could prove beneficial if they can get him back on track. The Phillies will go with Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams in their first four rotation spots.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The Mets are confident that they can land a left-handed reliever before Opening Day, but even if they do bring in someone from the outside, Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin has a good chance of making the club, per ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Gilmartin, 25 in May, was the Braves’ first-round pick in 2011 but was traded to the Twins for Ryan Doumit last offseason. Gilmartin posted a combined 3.71 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 145 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Twins last season, but they made the at least somewhat curious decision to leave him unprotected in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. With the Mets this spring, Gilmartin has allowed five runs in 8 2/3 innings with an 11-to-5 K/BB ratio. Last year in the Minors, Gilmartin held lefties to a miserable .201/.219/.235 batting line.
  • Marlins manager Mike Redmond tells Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post that he “lost a few nights of sleep” over the decision to cut Reed Johnson, who was released earlier this morning. Redmond spoke highly of Johnson’s influence on the team’s young hitters last season and voiced an opinion that while he expects Johnson to get picked up by another club, he also can see him transitioning to a coaching or even managerial role in the future. Redmond called the 38-year-old Johnson “a guy who has truly earned everything he’s been given in this game.” D’Angelo notes that Jordany Valdespin, Don Kelly, Donovan Solano and Reid Brignac are competing for the final two bench spots in Miami. The Marlins are prioritizing taking someone who can play shortstop for one of the two spots.
  • Tom Schad of the Washington Times spoke to Nationals right-hander Casey Janssen and was told that the setup man isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Janssen underwent an MRI on his right shoulder yesterday and while the results haven’t been released yet, Janssen said he doesn’t believe the test indicated a significant injury.


Mets Remain Open To Trading Dillon Gee

Though right-hander Dillon Gee is expected to open the season in the Mets’ rotation and there are no active trade talks surrounding him at this time, the team may still trade him within a month’s time, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports.

Gee is slated to be the team’s fifth starter to open the season, but he has his dissenters within the organization who prefer Rafael Montero in the rotation, Rubin hears. The Mets, of course, also have a wealth of young pitching in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues, including Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Even with right-hander Zack Wheeler out for the year, it does seem that the Mets would have enough pitching depth to move Gee and his $5.3MM salary.

Gee, who will turn 29 in late April, is under control through the 2016 season. He pitched to a 4.00 ERA in 137 1/3 innings last season with the Mets and has turned in a 3.91 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 45.6 percent ground-ball rate in 639 2/3 innings over parts of five seasons in New York.

From a purely speculative standpoint, the Rangers, Phillies, Braves, Blue Jays, Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Rays all make some degree of sense, as each has either dealt with pitching injuries or was open to adding depth late in the offseason. The Mets are known to be seeking left-handed relief options, but they’re apparently reluctant to move Gee for such a pitcher.

It’s somewhat rare to see a regular player or rotation option moved in the season’s first month, but it does happen from time to time, and Mets GM Sandy Alderson is no stranger to such moves; the Mets matched up with the Pirates on a trade for Ike Davis on April 18 last season.


Red Sox Acquire Sandy Leon; Christian Vazquez Placed On 60-Day DL

9:05am: The Red Sox announced that they have acquired Leon from the Nationals in exchange for cash considerations. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Vazquez has been placed on the 60-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow.

7:05am: Catcher Sandy Leon tells James Wagner of the Washington Post (Twitter link) that he has been traded to the Red Sox. The 26-year-old Leon was out of options and unlikely to break camp with the Nationals, and the Sox have a need behind the plate with Christian Vazquez‘s immediate future uncertain as he deals with an elbow injury.

Leon, a switch-hitter, has played sparingly over the past three seasons, totaling 107 plate appearances in the Major Leagues and hitting just .189/.280/.253 in that extremely small sample. Leon’s track record in Triple-A — a .257/.358/.414 triple slash — is more impressive, but it, too, has come in a small sample of just 257 PA. Overall, Leon is a .236/.324/.329 hitter in the Minors, but he’s been a dominant force behind the plate when protecting against the running game, as he’s gunned down 45 percent of base stealers in his Minor League career.

Vazquez is slated to meet with Dr. James Andrews this week after an MRI has led to speculation that he could require Tommy John surgery. The move would be a significant blow to the Sox and devastating news for Vazquez, who was in line to see significant time behind the plate this year. Boston has already acquired Ryan Hanigan this winter, and he figures to receive the bulk of the playing time behind the dish.

The wild card in Boston’s catching situation is top prospect Blake Swihart, whose name has continually surfaced in Cole Hamels trade rumors. However, the Sox have steadfastly refused to consider trading Swihart, who is regarded as a Top 20 prospect in the game. Swihart batted a combined .293/.341/.469 between Double-A and Triple-A last season, and he’s had an excellent spring, hitting .296/.345/.444. Some have speculated that the 23-year-old could break camp with the club if Vazquez has a serious enough injury, but the addition of Leon gives the Red Sox the ability to give Swihart a bit more time to develop in the Minors if they wish. Swihart played just 18 games at the Triple-A level last season, so it would be understandable if Boston was yet uncertain about rushing their prized prospect to the Major Leagues.


Marlins Release Reed Johnson

The Marlins have granted Reed Johnson his unconditional release from a Minor League contract, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

The 38-year-old Johnson was in camp as a non-roster invitee after spending the 2014 season with Miami as a backup outfielder. Last season, he batted .235/.366/.348 in 201 trips to the plate for the Marlins. Miami signed Ichiro Suzuki as their fourth outfielder behind Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, leaving Johnson to compete for the team’s fifth bench spot. The veteran Johnson batted .205/.225/.231 in 40 plate appearances this spring.

Though his bat has deteriorated with age, Johnson is a career .310/.363/.454 hitter against left-handed pitching and batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year. He can now seek an opportunity to latch on with another club.


West Notes: Rockies, Rosario, Heaney, Tropeano

An overhaul of the Rockies pitching process could pay dividends, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The club brought in Steve Foster and Darren Holmes to serve as the pitching and bullpen coaches, and the new organizational hierarchy is expected to provide better leadership and creativity. Additionally, the club has moved Wilin Rosario to the third catcher role. The addition of Nick Hundley over the offseason should help the staff perform at a higher level. Rosenthal notes that Rosario is viewed as a poor defensive catcher who allowed too many passed balls, rarely caught base stealers, struggled with game calling, and worked too slowly behind the plate. Of course, these changes don’t solve the long standing issue of pitching in a massive, elevated stadium.  That’s up to the new front office.

  • Speaking of the Rockies front office, GM Jeff Bridich is excited about the new internal structure, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Bridich hears the criticism that the new group is too tied to the old guard. He is quick to point out that this is a developing front office team. The decision to bring in Hundley was the opening gambit for Bridich. The move should help the entire pitching staff.
  • The Angels plan to open the season with four starting pitchers, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. That means offseason acquisitions Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney will open the year in Triple-A. The Angels don’t need a fifth starter until April 14, so they’ll roster an additional reliever for Opening Day. Garrett Richards is working his way back from injury. He probably won’t be ready for the April 14 start, but he could be back before much longer.

East Notes: Herrera, Lough, Rays

Here’s the latest from the East coast:


Central Notes: Garcia, Marcum, Brewers, Ramirez

After visiting with a team physician, Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia has been diagnosed with arm fatigue, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Garcia is still trying to work his way back from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He was on track to earn the fifth slot in the rotation, but will now miss the opening week. As Langosch noted, former Cardinal Chris Carpenter failed in his return bid from the surgery, although he was older at the time. One of Carlos Martinez or Marco Gonzales will likely replace Garcia.

  • Indians pitcher Shaun Marcum will report to Triple-A to start the season, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He’s currently still in big league camp and was informed last Tuesday that he would not make the Opening Day roster. He last appeared in the majors in 2013 with the Mets. He made 14 appearances and 12 starts with a 5.29 ERA.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin does not anticipate adding any players from outside of the organization for the Opening Day roster, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rather, all roster decisions will pertain to players already in the system.
  • The Brewers and Aramis Ramirez will meet to discuss how he’ll be used this season, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Leg injuries plagued Ramirez last year, so the thought is that frequent rest could improve his durability. The current plan is to sit him once a week with other off days built in as needed. Of course, no plan will be immutable. Ramirez and the Brewers will respond to how he feels and matchups.

 


Rangers Release Ryan Ludwick

The Rangers have released Ryan Ludwick from his minor league contract, tweets Rangers EVP of Communications John Blake. He was informed earlier this week that he would not make the Opening Day roster.

The 36-year-old outfielder scuffled over the last two seasons with the Reds. In 400 plate appearances, he hit .244/.308/.375 with nine home runs. Ludwick got a late start to his major league career, finally breaking out with the Cardinals in his age 29 season. His last successful season came in 2012, when he blasted 26 home runs with a .275/.346/.531 line. He hit just .200/.188/.300 in 30 plate appearances this spring.


MLBTR Originals

A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR the last seven days:

 


Full Story | Comments | Categories: MLBTR Originals

Brewers Release Chris Perez

The Brewers have released reliever Chris Perez, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Perez was in camp on a minor league deal. He was granted his release rather than re-assigned so he can look for another big league opportunity (also Twitter).

Perez, 29, pitched 46 innings for the Dodgers in 2014. He posted a 4.27 ERA with 7.58 K/9 and 4.86 BB/9. The former Indians closer has locked down 133 career saves, but he began to struggle with command and control in 2013. His stuff has remained largely intact, including a 94 mph fastball. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA this spring with five strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings.


Nationals Notes: Uggla, Janssen, Injuries, Strasburg, Zimmermann

Second baseman Dan Uggla has done enough to make the Opening Day roster, but it’s unclear how he’ll be used, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. After a couple dismal seasons, Uggla is in camp as a NRI. He’s hit a solid .278/.422/.500 after undergoing a new vision treatment over the offseason.

His lack of defensive versatility makes him difficult to roster. The club intends to use Yunel Escobar  at second base with Danny Espinosa as a utility infielder. Uggla has an opt out, so he’s unlikely to remain with the organization if he’s assigned to the minors. Per Uggla, he wouldn’t feel comfortable in a reserve role. Once Anthony Rendon returns from injury, it’s hard to imagine the Nationals finding a place to keep Uggla.

  • Reliever Casey Janssen will undergo a MRI on his sore pitching shoulder, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Manager Matt Williams described the injury as “generally it’s in his lat…it’s not something that’s normal soreness for him.” That’s worrisome because he missed time with a lat injury late last season. He’s also dealt with other shoulder injuries in the past. Janssen signed a one-year, $3.5MM over the winter and is expected to serve as the eighth inning reliever for the Nationals.
  • GM Mike Rizzo won’t be tinkering with the roster much in the coming days. When asked if he could add players before the opener, he told reporters, including Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider (on Twitter), “We’re satisfied.  We like the team we have.” The injury bug has bitten multiple Nats player, including Denard Span and Rendon.
  • The Nationals may allow star pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg to walk via free agency, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. The reason has nothing to do with their performance. Both pitchers received Tommy John surgery in the past. Per Boswell, the “life expectancy” for the reconstructed elbow is eight years. Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs estimates that risk of re-injury increases sharply after just 400 to 600 innings. In either event, the injury history may partially explain the club’s willingness to add Max Scherzer over the offseason.

Minor Moves: Burton, Garner, Toles

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • Three days after releasing him, the Yankees have signed right-hander Jared Burton to a minor league deal, reports Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Burton was an Article XX(B) free agent, so the release/re-signing allows the Yankees to avoid paying the reliever a $100K retention bonus to remain in the organization.
  • The Phillies have released their 2010 second-round pick right-hander Perci Garner, tweets CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Garner never advanced beyond Double-A and compiled a mark of 4.50 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 during 87 appearances (73 starts) in his five seasons in the Philadelphia organization.
  • The Rays have released outfielder Andrew Toles, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Toles, the Rays’ 2013 minor league player of the year, posted a line of .261/.302/.337 in 218 plate appearances last year at Class A-Advanced Charlotte despite missing two months for personal reasons. The 22-year-old was a third-round selection of the Rays in the 2012 draft.

Twins Outright Stephen Pryor

The Twins have outrighted right-hander Stephen Pryor to Triple-A Rochester, tweets Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Twins’ 40-man roster now stands at 38, which, Miller notes, will allow the team to add a pair of non-roster invitees, presumably reliever Blaine Boyer and outfielder Shane Robinson.

The Twins acquired the 25-year-old from the Mariners last July in exchange for Kendrys Morales. Pryor, who underwent surgery to repair his latissimus dorsi muscle in 2013, excelled at Triple-A for the Twins after the trade recording a 0.89 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 14 relief appearances covering 20 1/3 innings, but demonstrated a lack of command as evidenced by his 7.1 BB/9 rate.