March 2011

Minor Deals: Swaggerty, Cruz, Brewers, Pirates

Teams are making procedural moves left and right as they finalize their Opening Day rosters. Here's the latest on some minor deals from around the majors…

  • The Royals granted minor league left-hander Ben Swaggerty his release, according to MLB Reports (on Twitter). The 28-year-old has a 3.35 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in four minor league seasons as a reliever.
  • The Rangers signed Luis Cruz after the Brewers released him, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). The infielder is playing short for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate tonight.
  • The Brewers released a number of minor leaguers besides Cruz and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has all the details.
  • The Pirates are "looking hard" into an external move, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter links). Pittsburgh would like to add pitching.

Giants Designate Travis Ishikawa For Assignment

The Giants designated Travis Ishikawa for assignment, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Rookie Brandon Belt made the Giants' Opening Day roster, bumping Ishikawa from the team.

The 27-year-old appeared in 116 games last year and hit .266/.320/.392 in 173 plate appearances. He doesn't have much power for a first baseman (career .400 SLG), but UZR suggests he is well above average with the glove (career 13.5 UZR/150).

Ishikawa, who is out of options, didn't draw trade interest this spring, according to Henry Schulman of the Chronicle (on Twitter). That could change now that the Giants only have ten days to trade Ishikawa, release him or outright him to the minor leagues. 

Carlos Rosa Heading To Japan

The D'Backs announced that they released Carlos Rosa to sell him to a Japanese team. Rosa, 26, is out of options, so he would have had to clear waivers before going to the minor leagues.

Rosa appeared in 22 games for the D'Backs last year, allowing 20 hits and 12 walks in 20 innings while striking out nine. He had cameos with the Royals in 2008 and '09, but most of his pro experience comes in the minors, where he has a 3.54 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 623 2/3 innings.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic first reported the move (on Twitter).

Procedural Notes: Abreu, Blanco, Evans, Hernandez

The latest procedural notes…

Royals Designate Lucas May For Assignment

The Royals designated catcher Lucas May for assignment, the team announced. In corresponding moves, the Royals placed Jason Kendall on the 15-day DL, selected the contract of Tim Collins and outrighted Gregor Blanco to Triple-A. Kansas City now has 39 players on its 40-man roster.

The Royals acquired May from the Dodgers with Elisaul Pimentel for Scott Podsednik last July and the backstop debuted with the Royals as a September callup. He seemed ready to become a big league backup, but the Royals acquired Matt Treanor this week and he will take May's place.

May hit .283/.349/.483 for three teams in the upper minors last year, adding 16 homers and 21 doubles. The 26-year-old has thrown out 28% of would-be base stealers in his minor league career. He is out of options.

How Teams Obtained Their Opening Day Starters

You can define a No. 1 starter in any number of ways, but in one respect, managers around the game have already done the work for us. Here's a list of the pitchers who got the Opening Day nod this year and how their current teams acquired them:

Draft Picks (15)

  • Luke Hochevar, Royals – Selected in the first round of the 2006 draft (1st overall).
  • David Price, Rays – Selected in the first round of the 2007 draft (1st overall).
  • Justin Verlander, Tigers – Selected in the first round of the 2004 draft (2nd overall).
  • Tim Stauffer, Padres – Selected in the first round of the 2003 draft (4th overall).
  • Ricky Romero, Blue Jays – Selected in the first round of the 2005 draft (6th overall).
  • Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – Selected in the first round of the 2006 draft (7th overall).
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets – Selected in the first round of the 2005 draft (9th overall).
  • Tim Lincecum, Giants – Selected in the first round of the 2006 draft (10th overall).
  • Jered Weaver, Angels – Selected in the first round of the 2004 draft (12th overall).
  • Jon Lester, Red Sox – Selected in the second round of the 2002 draft.
  • Yovani Gallardo, Brewers – Selected in the second round of the 2004 draft.
  • Trevor Cahill, Athletics – Selected in the second round of the 2006 draft.
  • Josh Johnson, Marlins – Selected in the fourth round of the 2002 draft.
  • C.J. Wilson, Rangers – Selected in the fifth round of the 2001 draft.
  • Mark Buehrle, White Sox – Selected in the 38th round of the 1998 draft and later extended.

Free Agent Signings (8)

  • C.C. Sabathia, Yankees – Signed a free agent contract worth $161MM over seven years in December, 2008.
  • Derek Lowe, Braves – Signed a free agent contract worth $60MM over four years in January, 2009.
  • Ryan Dempster, Cubs – Signed a free agent contract worth $52MM over four years in November, 2008.
  • Carl Pavano, Twins – Signed a free agent contract worth $16.5MM over two years in January, 2011. The Twins originally traded for him in 2009, but Pavano has since hit free agency.
  • Kevin Correia, Pirates – Signed a free agent contract worth $8MM over two years in December, 2010.
  • Brett Myers, Astros – Signed a free agent contract worth $5.1MM for one year in January, 2010 and later extended.
  • Livan Hernandez, Nationals – Signed a free agent contract worth $900K for one year in February, 2010 and later extended.
  • Chris Carpenter, Cardinals – Signed a free agent contract worth $500K for one year in December, 2002 and later extended.

International Free Agent Signings (3)

  • Felix Hernandez, Mariners – Signed as an amateur free agent in July, 2002.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies – Signed as an amateur free agent in April, 2001.
  • Fausto Carmona, Indians – Signed as an amateur free agent in December, 2000.

Trades (3)

Waiver Claims (1)

  • Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles – Acquired from the Indians in a January, 2007 waiver claim.

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Astros To Designate Rowland-Smith For Assignment

The Astros plan to designate Ryan Rowland-Smith for assignment Thursday, the team announced. The Astros signed Rowland-Smith to a deal that could have been worth $725K last December, but he didn't crack the team's Opening Day roster.

The 28-year-old Australia native posted a 6.75 ERA with 4.0 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 37.1% ground ball rate last year before the Mariners non-tendered him. He missed time with a triceps injury in 2009 and a lower back strain in 2010. 

The Astros' rotation is set with Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Nelson Figueroa. The Astros will have ten days to outright Rowland-Smith to the minor leagues, trade him, or release him, assuming they go ahead with the DFA tomorrow. If outrighted, Rowland-Smith has the right to elect free agency.

Yankees Designate Romulo Sanchez For Assignment

WEDNESDAY: The Yankees designated Sanchez for assignment and announced that he has an offer to play in Japan.

MONDAY: The Yankees are selling Romulo Sanchez's rights to a Japanese team, according to's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter).  Sanchez, 27 in April, is an out of options hurler with a 95 mile per hour fastball. 

He spent most of last year at Triple-A, posting a 3.97 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 5.1 BB/9, and 0.7 HR/9 in 104 1/3 innings.  The Yankees acquired him from the Pirates about two years ago for Eric Hacker.  At that time, Baseball America wrote Sanchez was "a big, intimidating presence…[who] lacks a great feel for pitching and has control lapses that keep him from dominating."

MLBTR Chat Transcript

Click below to read the transcript of today's chat with Tim Dierkes.


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Ethier’s Agent Issues Statement

WEDNESDAY, 1:22pm: Ethier's agent Nez Balelo issued a statement, acknowledging extension talks with the Dodgers but adding that an offer was never made.  He says Ethier is open to staying with the Dodgers for the rest of his career.  Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times has the full statement.

TUESDAY, 9:25pm: Andre Ethier told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles that he won't be surprised if the Dodgers trade or non-tender him after the season. The outfielder will earn $9.25MM this year and remains under team control through 2012 as an arbitration eligible player, though he knows that doesn't guarantee him a roster spot.

"If I don't play well, we have seen [the Dodgers] non-tender guys here," Ethier said. "If you do play well, sometimes they don't offer those guys arbitration because their salaries are too high."

Ethier won't be cheap in 2012, assuming typical production in '11, but he would figure to have value on the trade market even if the Dodgers decide his salary is rising to unacceptable levels. Ethier will play the 2012 season as a 30-year-old and he has never posted an OPS below .800 in five MLB seasons. He hit .292/.364/.493 with 23 homers last year, so teams may not flinch at a salary of $13MM or so (Ethier could surpass the $12.5MM salary Mark Teixeira earned in his final year as an arbitration eligible player). 

Ethier's agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, briefly discussed an extension with the Dodgers this spring, but talks did not develop and Ethier was not aware that they had occurred.