The Best Spring Training Additions Of 2013

Each year there are dozens of seemingly minor moves made over the course of Spring Training that generate little fanfare. A lot of Spring Training pickups generate more of a negative reaction than a positive one, but here's a look at some of the best minor (and one major) pickups that took place during Spring Training 2013…

  • Vernon Wells — Acquired by the Yankees at the end of Spring Training, Wells was regarded as a desperation move by GM Brian Cashman. While that may have been the case, the results have been astounding. He's batting .287/.341/.506 with 10 homers through May 23. Most (myself included) assumed Wells was done after he hit .222/.258/.409 from 2011-12, but Wells has proved to be arguably the best Spring Training pickup of 2013.
  • Kyle Lohse – Lohse would be the "major" pickup I referenced earlier, and he's been good for the Brewers through the first two months of his three-year deal. Lohse has a 3.76 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and 38.7 percent ground-ball rate through 55 innings. His ERA doesn't look as nice as it did in St. Louis, but in terms of FIP and xFIP he's pretty much right on par with his 2012 numbers.
  • Mike Carp — The Red Sox landed Carp for a player to be named later, and he's hit very well in his limited at-bats for Boston. Carp has just 51 plate appearances, but he's triple-slashing .277/.333/.596. Nine of his 13 hits have been for extra bases (five doubles, two triples, two homers).
  • Conor Gillaspie — The White Sox picked up Gillaspie in exchange for Jeff Soptic, who has a 6.48 ERA in 25 innings at High-A San Jose for the Giants. Gillaspie, on the other hand, has received regular at-bats against right-handed pitching and posted a .276/.341/.422 batting line against them. He's also been terrific defensively according to UZR/150 (+4.4) and The Fielding Bible (+3).
  • Jon Garland — Garland's 5.19 ERA doesn't look like much, but he's posted a 49.2 percent ground-ball rate and been done in by a fluky homer-to-flyball ratio. Pitching at Coors Field doesn't help much, but xFIP pegs him for an ERA around 4.32, which would certainly be serviceable. He's thrown 52 innings thus far, which puts him at nearly six innings per start.
  • Lyle Overbay — Overbay turned a four-day tryout with the Yankees into a roster spot and another scrap heap success story for Cashman. He's hitting .250/.286/.467, and the numbers would be a lo prettier if he was just sheltered completely from left-handed pitching. Seven homers and a .217 ISO isn't bad for a minor league signing.
  • LaTroy Hawkins — Hawkins made the Mets' 25-man roster out of Spring Training after signing a minor league deal and has a 3.15 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 20 innings of relief. He's 40 years old, but Hawk is showing he's still a valuable bullpen piece.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt — I debated whether or not to include Betancourt because of his .232 average and .267 OBP, but he's slugged eight homers and if Overbay is on the list with his low OBP, Betancourt probably should be as well. He's playing poor defense, but Betancourt can be a decent source of pop off the bench once the team is healthy enough to stop giving him regular at-bats. He's certainly been better than detractors thought, though a Major League deal still seems like overkill.

MLBTR's Transaction Tracker was used to create this post. Feel free to point out any that you feel should have been included in the comments section.

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