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Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Continuing their trend of adding veteran arms on minor league deals, the Braves have added right-hander Todd Coffey on such a pact and invited him to Spring Training, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Coffey missed the 2013 season after undergoing his second career Tommy John surgery and spent much of the 2014 campaign with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, where he posted an excellent 1.93 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 37 1/3 innings of work. From 2009-12 with the Brewers, Nationals and Dodgers, Coffey notched a 3.76 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 225 innings. The Braves have also added Jose Veras, Matt Capps, Chien-ming Wang, Wandy Rodriguez and Donnie Veal on minor league deals this winter.
- The Blue Jays announced that first baseman/outfielder Chris Colabello has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A (h/t: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet). The 31-year-old Colabello found himself designated for assignment to make room for waiver claim Jayson Aquino. The longtime indy ball star has been a nice story since signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and rising through their ranks to the MLB level.
- The Indians have signed former Phillies utility man Michael Martinez to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (on Twitter). The 32-year-old switch-hitter brings plenty of defensive versatility to the table, though he’s just a .181/.231/.251 hitter in 440 big league plate appearances.
- The Marlins have inked infielder David Adams to a minor league deal that does not include an invitation to big league camp, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). Now 27, Adams slashed a meager .193/.252/.286 in 152 trips to the plate with the Yankees in 2013. He has performed much better in the upper minors, slashing .255/.349/.397 in 333 plate appearances at Triple-A and putting up a .290/367/.443 line in 899 Double-A turns at bat.
- Another utility infielder, Chris Dominguez, has agreed to a minor league pact with the Reds, the club tweeted. Dominguez, who was recently designated and released by the Giants, will participate in MLB camp. The 28-year-old saw his first action in the bigs last year, a quick stop with San Francisco, but has spent most of his time over the last two seasons at Triple-A. In 1,203 total PCL plate appearances, Dominguez owns a solid .278/.312/.446 slash with 39 home runs.
- Lefty Cesar Jimenez has cleared waivers and accepted a Triple-A assignment, the Phillies announced. Despite a strong 2014 and deal to avoid arbitration, Jimenez was designated and then outrighted recently.
With the exception of a 13 1/3 inning stint as the Cubs’ closer, Veras has been largely effective over the past two seasons. The Praver/Shapiro client pitched to a 3.02 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings between the Astros and Tigers in 2013, registering 21 saves while serving as Houston’s closer. Upon his release from the Cubs in 2014 (which came on the heels of a ghastly 12 earned runs allowed in those 13 1/3 innings), Veras went back to Houston and worked to a 3.03 ERA with 37 strikeouts against 16 walks in 32 2/3 innings of work.
Veras had previously said he hoped to return to the Astros — an organization that has come to feel like home for him. However, Houston was but one of four teams with whom he was speaking at the time, and it appears that the Braves presented a better opportunity for the 34-year-old. He’ll compete for a spot in a revamped bullpen that has seen David Carpenter, Jordan Walden and David Hale depart via trade. In their place, Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson and Josh Outman have been added on Major League deals. Veras will look to join that trio, as well as elite closer Craig Kimbrel, lefty James Russell and righty Shae Simmons in manager Fredi Gonzalez’s bullpen.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Braves have inked righty Matt Capps to a minor league deal, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. An eight-year big league veteran, Capps has not worked in the majors since 2012 and has thrown few minor league innings over the last two seasons owing to injury struggles. The former Pirates, Nationals, and Twins closer is still only 31 years old. He owns a 3.52 ERA over 439 2/3 lifetime frames at the game’s highest level, with 6.5 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9.
Cuban first baseman/third baseman Yosvani Bell has been unblocked by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control and Major League Baseball, making him free to sign with teams, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (Twitter link). Bell, who is represented by Bryce Dixon (Johnny Cueto‘s agent), will host a showcase in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic at month’s end, per Rojas. Bell also hosted a showcase for teams back in July, when he was 23 years of age, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). There’s been very little written on Bell to this point, but MLBTR will of course keep readers apprised of reports on the corner infielder if they become more readily available.
Here’s the latest on a pair of international prospects that have had no shortage of ink dedicated to their names…
- The Dodgers still have legitimate reservations about going after Moncada given the high price he is expected to command, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. The club’s ultimate interest level remains somewhat unclear, per the report, in spite of previous statements by GM Farhan Zaidi that the team would be “players” for Moncada “to the extent that our evaluation of him matches or exceeds where the market goes.”
- Hector Olivera was extremely impressive in a game setting at his second open showcase today, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. The right-handed hitting, 29-year-old second baseman ripped a pair of home runs and also hit a double to the opposite field gap. Olivera split his time between second base and third base and also showed an above-average time in the 60-yard dash (6.65 seconds) prior to the game. The Dodgers had the most notable presence in attendance, per Badler, with VP of baseball operations Josh Byrnes among those in attendance. The D-Backs had their own VP of baseball operations, De Jon Watson, in attendance, and the Giants were well-represented, too. According to Badler, the Padres, Giants and Braves have all had their top scouts watching Olivera recently, and he’s also been seen by Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and president Kevin Mather. (Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweeted last night, however, not to read too much into the Mariners’ presence at a workout; they were in the Dominican for organizational meetings at the time already.)
- The Brewers are interested in Yoan Moncada and will keep tabs on him, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, though he notes that Milwaukee is not likely to sign the 19-year-old. The Brewers sent at least six people to watch Moncada in a private workout, including pro scouting director Zack Minasian, amateur scouting director Doug Reynolds and senior director of baseball operations Tom Flanagan, per McCalvy. However, GM Doug Melvin said that while the reports on Moncada were unsurprisingly positive, he didn’t want to tip his hand with other teams in negotiation.
- McCalvy also notes that while the Brewers are an unlikely landing spot, the team did make a six-year, $64MM offer to Jose Abreu prior to his contract with the White Sox, though the team had some concerns that it was used more as a bargaining chip. Of course, it has to be noted that being willing to offer a 26-year-old MLB-ready first baseman a sizable Major League deal certainly does not mean they’ll be comfortable offering a similar, if not larger sum to a 19-year-old prospect in the form of a signing bonus.
- The Giants feel that they are long shots in the Moncada sweepstakes, general manager Brian Sabean told reporters, including John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Some have speculated that the Giants would be in on Moncada after showing a willingness to spend on both Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval but failing to secure either player this winter.
Before diving into the latest minor league transactions, check out Steve Adams’ piece about how much work can go into negotiating these seemingly “minor” contracts. Here are today’s moves, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…
- The Braves traded infielder Edward Salcedo to the Pirates in exchange for right-hander Bryton Trepagnier, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link). Atlanta signed Salcedo to a $1.6MM bonus in 2010 and he entered the season as the 12th-ranked prospect in the Braves’ system according to Baseball America. He has yet to find much success at the plate, hitting .230/.297/.375 over 2447 minor league PA and posting only a .651 OPS over 413 PA at the Triple-A level last season. Trepagnier, a 41st-round pick in the 2010 draft, has pitched mostly as a reliever in his five-year pro career, posting a 4.19 ERA, 1.59 K/BB rate and 7.1 K/9 over 204 innings, none above the high-A ball level.
- The Braves outrighted outfielder Jose Constanza to Triple-A Gwinnett, according to the International League’s transactions page. Atlanta designated Constanza for assignment last week. The 31-year-old has spent the last four seasons in the Braves organization, including 240 plate appearances at the Major League level.
- The Yankees have signed Cole Figueroa to a minor league contract with an invitation to their Spring Training camp. The team announced the move as part of its full list of spring invitees. Figueroa owns a .288/.377/.388 slash line over 2944 career plate appearances in the minors, and he made his Major League debut last season, posting a .611 OPS over 49 PA for the Rays. Figueroa was released by Tampa Bay in November.
Diamondbacks right-hander Touki Toussaint, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has hired Rick Thurman and Nate Heisler of the Beverly Hills Sports Council as his new agents, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). The 18-year-old struggled greatly in his pro debut last year but still ranked as the D-Backs’ No. 5 prospect, per Baseball America and Fangraphs, and No. 98 overall in the game, per MLB.com. Toussaint’s change has been reflected in the MLBTR Agency Database, which contains agent information for more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. Agents, if you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: email@example.com.
Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…
- David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com expects the Cubs to move Welington Castillo and possibly Travis Wood before the team heads to Arizona for Spring Training (Twitter link). The Phillies are one of multiple teams that have shown interest, according to Kaplan. Castillo has been displaced as a starter with the addition of Miguel Montero, and the team has also added David Ross as a backup option as well. Wood figures to battle for the team’s fifth starter spot, as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks are the likely front four in the rotation. The Cubs also have Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront as options for the fifth spot.
- Mike Minor and the Braves have an arbitration hearing set for Feb. 19, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That’s just one day before pitchers and catchers are slated to report to Spring Training. Minor filed for a $5.6MM salary, while the team countered at $5.1MM, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
- Kyle Kendrick tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he had interest from multiple teams before signing with the Rockies. Though it’s clearly not a favorable environment for a pitcher, Kendrick praised the Rockies’ offense and defense as reasons to sign with the team.
Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins had varying reactions to being traded to the Braves in the Jason Heyward deal, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Miller, who learned he’d been dealt before learning which team had traded for him, was apprehensive at first, but ultimately happy to learn that he was heading to Atlanta. Jenkins, a former Cardinals first-round pick, was “upset” to be leaving that organization, although he eventually came around to the idea that the Braves must really want him to acquire him in a trade for a player of Heyward’s caliber. Both Miller and Jenkins credit Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright with helping them as pitchers. Miller says Wainwright encouraged him to throw a sinker (although it wasn’t until Justin Masterson showed him a grip he liked that he actually started using it). Jenkins, meanwhile, credits Wainwright with helping him with his delivery. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Free agent outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. is hoping to find a new team for 2015, his agent told MLB Network Radio (via a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports). Gwynn, 32, hit .154/.262/.190 in 127 plate appearances with the Phillies in 2014, also appearing in 20 games (and hitting significantly better) for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Gwynn isn’t likely to provide much offense, but he’s provided good defensive and baserunning value in the past.
- In March, free agent infielder Marco Scutaro will know more about whether he can continue his career after having back surgery, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in a piece we’ve linked to elsewhere today. The Giants released Scutaro last week even though he still had one year left on his three-year, $20MM deal. He had fusion surgery in December.
With the Braves in the throes of a rapid rebuilding effort, first baseman Freddie Freeman has now played more games with the Braves than anyone else on the roster, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. While Freeman is optimistic about the 2015 season, it’s worth noting that Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis represented 51 percent of the club’s home runs in 2014. Losing the three biggest bashers from an otherwise moribund offense could be seen as a major issue. Freeman hopes a greater emphasis on contact will help to counteract the loss of power.
- The Braves held a private workout for Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. In attendance to watch the 29-year-old were manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant GM John Coppolella. Olivera is likely to sign as a second or third baseman – both positions the Braves could improve upon. Current candidates for both positions include Chris Johnson, Alberto Callaspo, Kelly Johnson, Jace Peterson, and Phil Gosselin. The Padres and Giants have also been tied to Olivera per Baseball America.
- The Marlins should consider a “Hail Mary” offer for free agent pitcher James Shields, suggests Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. A two-year, $35MM proposal might represent the limit for what the club can afford. Since Shields rejected a qualifying offer, he’ll cost a draft pick to sign in addition to the financial considerations. Such an offer represents a long shot for both sides. The Marlins are thought to be up against their payroll limit, so an addition would require the approval of owner Jeffrey Loria. From Shields perspective, he’s thought to be seeking at least four years and $70MM.
Let’s run down the day’s minor moves:
- The Pirates announced the signing of righty Josh Wall and catcher Wilkin Castillo to minor league deals with spring invites. And the club also added righty Chris Volstad, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). Wall, 28, logged just one unsightly inning last year with the Angels but threw 44 1/3 productive innings at Triple-A. Oddly enough, Castillo has spent most of his time in the minors as a backstop but played only left field and second base in brief big league time back in 2008-09. The true utility man has been playing in Mexico since 2012. Volstad, of course, was a fixture in the Marlins rotation from 2008-11, but has seen minimal action since an unsuccessful 2012 run with the Cubs.
- Right-hander Hiram Burgos is heading back to the Brewers, Eddy tweets. Burgos was a 40-man casualty in September, but will remain in the only professional organization he has known. The 27-year-old made one brief, unsuccessful stint in the bigs. He missed significant time last year due to shoulder surgery.
- One additional catcher is joining the Braves organization, Eddy tweets, with Jesus Flores signing a minor league deal. A five-year veteran of the division-rival Nationals, the 31-year-old has bounced around in the upper minors the last two years and will look to extend his career in Atlanta.
Of the players involved in this trade, Hale easily has the most big league experience. The 27-year-old Hale has turned in 98 1/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball over the past two seasons in a swingman role for the Braves, making eight starts and 39 relief appearances. He’s averaged just 5.3 K/9 and walked a slightly troubling 3.7 hitters per nine, but he’s also posted a stellar 56.7 percent ground-ball rate, which undoubtedly has appeal to the Rockies. It’s unclear at this time what role Hale will fill for the Rockies; Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Matzek and Jordan Lyles appear likely to hold down the first four rotation spots, and Hale could join Eddie Butler, Christian Bergman and Chris Rusin in competing for the fifth slot. He could also again serve as a swingman, providing long relief when needed and slotting into the rotation on occasion throughout the year.
As for Schlosser, the 26-year-old debuted in 2014 but struggled to a 7.64 ERA in 17 2/3 innings of work. Schlosser struck out just eight hitters against six walks in that stretch, though he fared better in the minors to some extent, notching a 4.18 ERA with 6.4 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman points out (on Twitter), Schlosser has been through a curious cycle with the Braves over the past two months. He was non-tendered on Dec. 2 to clear a space on the 40-man roster then re-signed to a minor league deal four days later, and he’s now been shipped to Colorado.
Briceno, the more highly regarded of the two prospects headed to the Braves, didn’t rank among the Rockies’ Top 10 prospects per ESPN’s Keith Law or Baseball America, but he did place 11th among Rockies farmhands on the list of Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel. Briceno, who turned 22 in September, spent this past season at Class-A where he batted .283/.336/.476 with 12 homers in 350 plate appearances. As McDaniel notes, Briceno is a work in progress defensively but has a plus arm and plenty of athleticism to go along with raw power and a feel for hitting. It’s a long shot, but he’s a potential everyday option behind the plate in McDaniel’s eyes, which is enough for him to praise Atlanta for making this move (Twitter link).
O’Dowd, the son of former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, was San Diego’s 23rd-round pick in the 2012 draft. He split the 2014 season, his age-23 campaign, between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, posting a combined batting line of .271/.335/.385 in 471 plate appearances.
From Atlanta’s perspective, this move will open a slot on their 40-man roster, allowing the team to make Jonny Gomes‘ one-year contract official.