Yankees Designate Chris Capuano For Assignment

The Yankees have designated lefty Chris Capuano for assignment, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (Twitter links). Righty Caleb Cotham will be recalled to take his active roster spot.

Capuano hits the DFA wire after a rough outing yesterday, in which he gave up five earned runs on five walks and three hits while recording just two outs. Over 31 total innings on the year, he’s posted a 6.97 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9. After missing time early on, Capuano has worked mostly from the pen, though he’s also made four starts.

The 36-year-old is playing on a one-year, $5MM contract signed as a free agent. Obviously, New York has not received quite the value it hoped for out of that deal. The club is said to be at least considering a move to add another arm at the deadline.


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Red Sox, Giants Unlikely To Get Hamels; No-Trade Clause Is “Roadblock”

12:12pm: The Giants are “fading” back of the pack chasing Hamels, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. San Francisco has not communicated with the Phillies on a deal in the last 24 hours, he adds.

It’s not entirely surprising to hear that San Francisco could fall out of the running. The club does have plenty of options in its rotation, so the immediate need is not pressing. And the Giants arguably lack the same stable of high-upside minor leaguers that other teams with interest can dangle.

8:51am: The Red Sox appear unlikely to land Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, according to a report form Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Boston’s pursuit of the veteran has been complicated throughout by his no-trade clause, per the report.

While the Red Sox have seemed more an outside contender to add Hamels in recent weeks, the report provides interesting insight into how the Phillies will handle their decision. Philadelphia reportedly asked teams to submit their best offers on Hamels today, and presumably will move to work out a deal with the preferred suitor in relatively short order.

Bradford says there are indications that the Phillies may be devoting more attention to working with interested teams that do not appear on the list of teams over which Hamels has veto power. That may suggest that the clause is a significant barrier — and one, perhaps, that the Phillies do not want to deal with in finalizing an agreement.

As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com recently tweeted, Hamels can be dealt to two American League clubs (the Yankees and Rangers) or seven National League clubs (the Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cubs, and Mets) without his consent. Of those teams, of course, Texas and Los Angeles have been most heavily tied to Hamels, with the Yankees and Cubs also mentioned at times as teams with possible interest.



Latest On Padres’ Deadline Strategy

The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.


Dodgers To Acquire Mat Latos, Michael Morse

The Dodgers have agreed to acquire starter Mat Latos and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse from the Marlins, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports on Twitter. Three pitching prospects are going to Miami in the deal, in which Los Angeles will take on all of the remaining salary owed to Latos and Morse, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (Twitter link). Notably, the Dodgers will also get the Marlins’ competitive balance selection in next year’s draft; currently, it’s the 35th overall selection, though that will likely change as teams sign qualifying offer-bound players next winter.

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Los Angeles has long been said to be heavily pursuing starting pitching, and the addition of Latos gives the team a mid-rotation arm with some upside. The Dodgers will still pursue higher-end pitching, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter), with the club still looking to add either David Price or Cole Hamels.

While he’s battled injuries and struggled early in the season, Latos has increased his velocity and upped his results since returning from a DL stint. All told, the 27-year-old Latos owns a 4.48 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 over 88 1/3 innings on the year. But ERA estimators view him more as a mid-3.00 ERA contributor, and that has shown up in his last seven starts, over which he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 45 2/3 frames with a 43:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Latos is earning $9.4MM this year, his final season of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market. Morse, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $16MM pact ($7MM this season, $8MM next, plus a $1MM signing bonus). That would appear to suggest that Los Angeles will take on around $14.3MM in total salary in the swap, though Nightengale tweets that the deal passes on about $13.5MM in obligations.

Morse seems an odd fit for a Dodgers club that is set at first with Adrian Gonzalez and loaded with outfield bats. (The club also does not have a need for the services of a DH, of course.) But taking on his salary surely offsets the prospect price that was required to bring on Latos, and Los Angeles surely also valued the draft choice it will receive. Miami received the fifth Round A selection in next year’s draft in this year’s competitive balance lottery; the precise pick slot will depend upon the results of next year’s qualifying offer free agents.

The 33-year-old Morse continues to produce up-and-down results. After a quality 2014 campaign with the Giants, he’s missed significant time for Miami and owns a .214/.277/.314 slash over 173 plate appearances. He could still hold appeal for other teams looking for a bat, assuming that Los Angeles sees no use for him in its current alignment.

For Miami, the deal follows the sale of Steve Cishek as the team looks to save some salary and re-organize its roster in the midst of a disappointing campaign. Latos was brought in from the Reds over the winter in exchange for a more controllable arm in Anthony DeSclafani, while Morse was the team’s biggest free agent acquisition. One other significant move in the offseason was the trade that delivered Martin Prado. He too could still be traded, but Frisaro tweets that clearing Morse’s salary makes that less likely. The club has also continued to sell off its competitive balance picks, sacrificing the ability to add draft talent (though it has obviously managed to shed salary obligations and/or add other pieces in the process).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Cubs Designate Mike Baxter

The Cubs have designated outfielder Mike Baxter for assignment, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. The club needed roster space for Ben Rowen, who was called up today.

Baxter, 30, put up a .246/.348/.263 slash in his 66 big league plate appearances this year. His stint with Chicago marked his sixth straight season with at least some time in the majors, though he’s only compiled 489 total turns at bat (with a cumulative .664 OPS).


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07.29.2015 DK

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AL Central Notes: Twins, Polanco, Tigers, White Sox

The Twins announced the call-up of highly-regarded shortstop prospect Jorge Polanco, who will take the roster spot of Trevor Plouffe as he heads to the paternity list. It’s unclear as yet whether Polanco — currently rated the 89th overall prospect in the game by MLB.com — will stick around for a lengthier stretch. He has already seen two brief cameos, and Minnesota probably hopes he’s the future at the position. But the team is struggling to find consistency at shortstop now, as it continues to remain in contention. GM Terry Ryan said yesterday that he isn’t ruling out the possibility of adding a shortstop in the next three days, as MLB.com’s Betsy Helfand reports“If you’ve got a chance to get better, then you look at it,” Ryan said. “If you’ve got a chance to just do something to make a move, that wouldn’t be very smart, either. We’ve got three of them here.” Polanco now joins that group, which also includes Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, and Eduardo Nunez. As I noted in breaking down the shortstop trade market, Minnesota figures as a possible participant, and could find some veteran options available at reasonable prices.

Here’s more from the AL Central:

  • As they approach the deadline, the Twins should exercise caution in making deals for their short-term impact, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN writes. He advocates for a bullpen addition or two, at a relatively low cost, as the best way to balance the team’s solid position in the Wild Card hunt with its long-term interests.
  • Indeed, even with the Royals making big moves to bolster their already high-performing roster, the Twins do not seem inclined to respond to keep up with their division rivals. As MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports on Twitter, Ryan indicated that his moves won’t be dictated by what Kansas City has done: “You still have to do what’s right for your own club,” he said. “You’re not going to be reactionary.”
  • The Twins have steadily enhanced their reliance on analytics, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press writes“It’s probably not at the level the Pirates were at and are at,” says Twins manager of major league administration and baseball research Jack Goin, “but it’s significantly better (than it was). This is just kind of a natural evolution.” You’ll want to give the full piece a read for an interesting look at Minnesota’s changing philosophies.
  • After another rough loss yesterday, the Tigers should be deadline sellers, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press opines. While Detroit is still on the periphery of the Wild Card race, four and a half out, the club has now dipped 13.5 games back of the division-leading Royals. For George Sipple of MLive.com, given the club’s veteran core, there’s a case to be made in either direction — adding pieces or selling off expiring veteran contracts — but no real argument for standing pat.
  • With the White Sox now climbing past the Tigers in the standings, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that he believes there’s a better chance of Detroit moving David Price than there is of Chicago parting with Jeff Samardzija. Both will hit the open market after the year, of course. It’s worth bearing in mind that the latter has far less trade value, making it somewhat easier for the White Sox to keep him and plan to recoup prospect value by extending a qualifying offer after the season (with expectations that it will be declined).

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/29/15

We’ve got some catching up to do on the minor moves front after a busy couple of days:

  • Reds outfielder/first baseman Chris Dominguez has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Dominguez has seen short big league stints in each of the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old has played mostly in the upper minors. He owns a .216/.264/.368 slash over 221 plate appearances on the year at Louisville.
  • The Pirates outrighted infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A after recently designating him for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). Following two seasons as a significant utility piece for the Nationals, Lombardozzi has received only 85 big league plate appearances over the 2014-15 campaigns. He owns a .303/.362/.352 slash in his 291 turns at bat for Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • After he, too, cleared waivers, Pirates third baseman Brent Morel elected free agency, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). The 28-year-old has spent at least some time in the big leagues in every season since 2010, putting up a .601 OPS in 712 plate appearances. In 326 times coming to bat at Triple-A this year, he owns a .266/.322/.441 batting line.
  • As expected, Astros outfielder Alex Presley has accepted an outright assignment with the organization, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. He previously agreed to an outright assignment in order to preserve his $1MM arbitration salary, and chose to do the same once again.
  • The Mariners acquired righty J.C. Ramirez from the Diamondbacks, Seattle announced. Ramirez, 26, made it up to the big leagues for the second time this year, throwing 15 1/3 innings of 4.11 ERA ball from the Arizona pen. He’ll return to his first professional team, which shipped him to the Phillies in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.

Trade Notes: Chapman, Chavez, Shields, Dodgers, Gomez, Kelley, O’s, Nats

The Reds are currently “examining offers” for closer Aroldis Chapman, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney, but at this time, there’s no sense as to whether or not they feel “devoted” to finishing a trade as they did with Johnny Cueto over the weekend. Chapman’s name has been connected to the Nationals (who have since acquired Jonathan Papelbon), D-Backs, Blue Jays and others in recent weeks, but because he’s controlled through 2016, the urge to move him isn’t as great as the urge to move Cueto or teammate Mike Leake.

A few more general trade notes for all you late-night readers…

  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick gets the sense that the Athletics won’t move right-hander Jesse Chavez (Twitter link). I listed Chavez in my breakdown of the trade market for starting pitching, but as Crasnick notes, he’s controlled through 2016 at what should be a reasonable rate. Chavez is owed just $2.15MM in 2015 and should get a nice, but not enormous raise in arbitration this winter. Following today’s trade of Ben Zobrist, A’s general manager Billy Beane said that he didn’t plan on moving pieces that are controlled beyond the current season.
  • Sticking with the ESPN group, Jayson Stark noted in today’s roundup of trade rumors that one exec predicted to him that James Shields would end up with the Giants. However, Stark hears that the Padres have changed their stance on trading within the division and now may be hesitant to trade their top chips to a division-rival. San Diego, of course, made a huge intra-division trade by acquiring Matt Kemp from the Dodgers this offseason.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers, Stark also hears that L.A. could land two starting pitchers instead of one this week. He goes on to add that the Dodgers have a limited number of prospects they’re actually willing to deal, though, so if they can line up on a trade for a big name like Cole Hamels, they may not have the remaining pieces to add a second arm.
  • One executive tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he doesn’t think the Brewers particularly want to trade Carlos Gomez (Twitter link). The asking price on Gomez at this time is “very” high, the exec tells Rosenthal, adding that he thinks Milwaukee is hoping to get blown away but may otherwise hang onto the center fielder.
  • The Pirates have interest in Padres right-hander Shawn Kelley, reports John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times (on Twitter). A free agent following the season, Kelley has turned in a very strong 3.09 ERA with excellent strikeout-to-walk numbers in 2015. He’s averaged 10.9 K/9 against a minuscule 1.8 BB/9 in his first season with San Diego.
  • The Orioles‘ interest in Carlos Gonzalez was characterized by one source as “mild,” tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, Morosi tweets that the Orioles are still in the Justin Upton market. Baltimore is known to be looking for a corner outfield upgrade but has limited prospect depth from which it can deal to achieve that goal.
  • Morosi also notes (via Twitter) that the Nationals are interested in upgrading their bench, but the want to fully assess the health of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, both of whom are now off the disabled list. He notes that an extra outfielder would be a nice pickup for the team, speculatively listing both Will Venable of the Padres and Gerardo Parra of the Brewers as fits.

Rangers Out Of Market For Top Rentals, Have Talked To Padres About Pitchers

JULY 28: Not only are the Rangers in contact with the Padres regarding Ross and Cashner, they’re discussing the pair with San Diego as much as they’re discussing Hamels with the Phillies, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (Twitter link).

JULY 26: Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported yesterday that the 47-50 Rangers were mostly seeking players who could help beyond 2015. Today, Wilson writes (Twitter links) that according to GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers are out of the market for top rental players, although they could pursue minor trades for impending free agents. The Rangers have, of course, lately been strongly connected to Cole Hamels, but Hamels is under contract for several seasons beyond this one.

The team has recently had discussions with the Padres about Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, Wilson writes. Cashner is under control through 2016, Ross through 2017. Ross, who has more years of control remaining and is a strikeout pitcher with an excellent ground ball rate, appears especially likely to require a significant return. The two pitchers were, until recently, frequently connected to the Astros, although Houston would seem less likely to acquire either of them now that they’ve traded for Scott Kazmir.


Reactions To The Ben Zobrist Trade

The Royals added their second major rental piece via trade earlier today, acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Athletics in exchange for right-hander Aaron Brooks and minor league lefty Sean Manaea. It’s another steep price for the Royals to pay, as they’ve now parted with their first-round picks from both 2014 (Brandon Finnegan) and 2013 (Manaea) in addition to their 2013 second-rounder (Cody Reed).

Here are some reactions from around the web…

  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with several Athletics players and GM Billy Beane about the move. “You’d rather be on the other end of it,” Beane told Slusser. “We’ve been on both sides in my tenure here, but you have to be realistic in evaluating your situation going forward. This season we had high hopes and we got off on the wrong foot….and it just snowballed.” Beane stressed that he has no plans to trade a player that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, Slusser adds. Beane said that Manaea wasn’t the type of player he thought he could get in a deal, but he’s happy to bring him on board. Athletics DH Billy Butler is familiar with Manaea from his time in the Royals organization. “I thought Manaea was untouchable,” said Butler, who praised Manaea’s “tremendous” arm.
  • Brooks was assigned to Triple-A following the trade, but he won’t stay there long. Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area tweets that Brooks will start Saturday’s contest for the Athletics. A roster move will have to be made prior to that happening, of course, though Brooks is already on the 40-man roster.
  • While Zobrist isn’t the player that he was a couple of years ago, he’ll still be a significant improvement over Omar Infante at second base (once he moves there upon Alex Gordon‘s return from the DL), writes ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required/recommended). Zobrist is at least a one-win upgrade, if not more, says Law, who finds the price paid by Kansas City a reasonable one. Manaea’s upside is tantalizing and Law has seen him at his best, but he also notes that he saw him unable to hold his velocity two weeks ago. Manaea’s injury history raises questions about whether he can handle the workload of a starter. If he proves durable enough, Law notes that Manaea can be at least a mid-rotation starter even with average velocity, or more if he can stay healthy and maintain his velocity deeper in games. Brooks fits the strike-thrower mold of Tommy Milone or Kendall Graveman he adds — a fringe rotation option for many teams that could succeed due to Oakland’s cavernous stadium.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com (video link) broke down the prospects acquired in the trade, praising Manaea’s “solid first full season” but explaining that the lefty dropped off MLB.com’s Top 100 on their midseason update, in part due to missing the first half of 2015 with non-arm related injuries. Mayo feels that if everything comes together for Manaea, he can be “at least” a No. 3 starter, but “has a chance to be much more than that.” Brooks doesn’t come with a big upside but has average stuff across the board and four-pitch mix that can pitch as a fourth or fifth starter. The Athletics’ trade activity over the past week has done quite a bit to restore what had been a declining group of Top 30 prospects and deepen Oakland’s farm, Mayo adds.
  • The Royals were pursuing Zobrist even before acquiring Cueto, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The team had, in fact, pegged Cueto and Zobrist as its two top targets entering the trade deadline, and they’ve managed to secure both pieces. As McCullough notes, last season, the Royals “spun their wheels” and tried for incremental upgrades at the deadline, pursuing deals for Marlon Byrd and Alex Rios without success. Riding a World Series berth and record attendance, however, the Royals have been able to take a win-now, all-in approach that the organization and its fans haven’t experienced before.
  • One NL exec told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that Manaea was the most surprising prospect he saw traded today, calling him an “impact player” and opining that the A’s did well to acquire him in the deal (Twitter link). Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, tweets that he’s heard other teams praising the Athletics’ acquisition of Manaea as well.
  • MLBTR’s Zach Links was among the reporters on today’s conference call with Royals GM Dayton Moore. As Zach wrote, Moore said he doesn’t foresee making any significant additions between now and the trade deadline, so it would seem that the heavy lifting for Kansas City is out of the way.
  • Instagram users can check out our new @traderumorsmlb account for a glimpse of what Zobrist will look like in his new uniform when he joins the team, which will reportedly happen on Thursday.

Braves Designate David Carpenter For Assignment

The Braves announced tonight that they’ve designated right-handed reliever David Carpenter for assignment. The move creates a spot for Mike Foltynewicz to return to the big league club.

This marks the second DFA of the season for Carpenter, who is not to be confused with the Nationals reliever of the same name. Both David Carpenters, of course, have pitched for the Braves in the past two seasons, creating a bit of confusion around Atlanta’s pair of DFAs this season.

The Carpenter in question — David Lee Carpenter — has the more limited track record of the two. He’s pitched just 3 2/3 innings for the Braves this season, allowing three runs in that time but also fanning five without any walks. Carpenter has a 5.40 ERA over the life of his career — a span of 46 2/3 innings. He has a 4.02 ERA in 118 2/3 Triple-A innings to go along with averages of 7.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9.


Henderson Alvarez Undergoes Season-Ending Shoulder Surgery

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear in his right shoulder, manager Dan Jennings told reporters today. As MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes, Dr. James Andrews performed the operation, and there’s no timetable for his recovery at this juncture. It’s possible, though, that Alvarez’s readiness for the 2016 season could be impacted, according to Frisaro.

As was reported last week, Alvarez experienced a setback in his most recent attempt to rehab the shoulder, which brought his season into question. The 25-year-old was Miami’s Opening Day starter, but he’ll finish the 2015 season with just 22 1/3 innings, four starts and a dismal 6.45 ERA under his belt.

Originally acquired from the Blue Jays in the Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle/Josh Johnson blockbuster in the 2012-13 offseason, Alvarez looked to be an increasingly important member of the Marlins’ rotation in 2013-14 (and he may very well still be), as he tossed 102 2/3 innings of 3.59 ERA ball in 2013 and showed improved results (2.65 ERA) with an increased workload (187 2/3 innings) in 2014. The young righty’s season-ending no-hitter served as one of the bright spots to the 2013 campaign for the Marlins.

Alvarez and his now-former agents at Praver-Shapiro agreed to a $4MM contract this offseason, avoiding arbitration with Miami. He and his new agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council won’t have much of a case for a big raise this winter, so Alvarez will likely earn a very similar amount in 2016.

Given Alvarez’s injury and the likely departures of Dan Haren and Mat Latos (presumably via trade), pitching depth figures to be an area of focus for Miami this offseason. The Marlins do have Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler, David Phelps, Brad Hand, Jarred Cosart, Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino as rotation options, but that group is lacking in both experience and certainty.


Joe Thatcher Elects Free Agency

JULY 28: The Astros announced today that Thatcher cleared waivers and elected free agency. He and his representatives at Platinum Sports are now free to seek a deal with interested parties.

JULY 21: The Astros have designated left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher for assignment in order to clear room on the active roster for Vincent Velasquez, reports MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (via Twitter).

Thatcher signed a minor league deal with Houston in the offseason but made the team out of Spring Training and has enjoyed generally successful results in his first year with the Astros. He’s posted a 3.79 ERA and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, though he’s also battled his command, yielding 5.2 walks per nine frames as well.

Thatcher is typically an effective weapon versus left-handed hitters, but that wasn’t the case in 2015. In fact, opponents as a whole batted .292/.376/.389 versus the 33-year-old. However, Thatcher did have his share of poor luck on balls in play; over the life of his career, opponents have notched a .321 BABIP versus Thatcher, but that number soared to .377 this season in Houston. He did have his share of good fortune as well, as both his strand rate and homer-to-flyball rate were a bit more favorable than his career norms.

Thatcher’s minor league deal had a $1MM base salary and called for up to $1.3MM worth of additional incentives, so his financial cost wouldn’t be exorbitant. Given the reasonable dollars and the fact that he has a 3.04 ERA with 10.0 K/9 vs. 3.0 BB/9 dating back to 2009, Thatcher looks to be capable of serving as a useful bullpen cog elsewhere, should the Astros attempt to gauge interest on the trade market. Of course, the return for a player that took a minor league deal in the winter and has since been designated — decent results notwithstanding — would be minimal.