Brian Bixler Rumors
Rounding up today's minor signings:
- The Blue Jays signed Brian Stokes, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The 31-year-old struggled through 16 2/3 innigns for the Angels last year, but was useful for the Mets from 2008-09 before they sent him to L.A. for Gary Matthews Jr..
- The A's signed right-hander Jonathan Ortiz, who combined a sinker and an above-average changeup to post 11.8 K/9 in the Yankees system this year, according to Eddy (all links go to Twitter).
- The Tigers signed shortstop Argenis Diaz, who was non-tendered by the Pirates despite his strong glovework.
- The Angels signed Ryan Braun - not the Brewers slugger, but the 30-year-old right-hander who posted a 2.20 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 57 1/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte last year. He last pitched in the majors for the 2007 Royals.
- The Twins signed Matt Brown, a former Angel who should provide corner infield depth.
- The Pirates re-signed Tyler Yates, who missed last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
- Brian Barton, who hit 19 homers and stole 18 bases in the Atlantic League this year, signed with the Reds, according to Eddy (on Twitter).
- The Cubs signed lefty Polin Trinidad, who posted a 4.81 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 149 2/3 innings in the upper minor for the Astros last year (Twitter link).
- The Brewers signed Edwin Maysonet and Shawn Riggans to minor league deals and invited them to Spring Training, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). Maysonet, 29, appeared in 46 games as a backup infielder for the Astros in 2008-09 and hit .248/.308/.329 in 356 minor league plate apperances last year. Riggans, who spent parts of four seasons with the Rays, barely played in 2010.
- The Twins inked lefty Chuck James, tweets Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. The 29-year-old former Brave had rotator cuff surgery in September of 2008.
- The Nationals announced seven signings, including previously unreported contracts for Ryan Mattheus, Michael Aubrey, and Brian Bixler. Mattheus, a 27-year-old right-handed reliever, was acquired by the Nats at the '09 trade deadline in the Joe Beimel deal, the same month he had Tommy John surgery. His is a Major League deal. Aubrey, drafted 11th overall by the Indians in 2003, hit .235/.310/.495 at Triple-A this year. Bixler, a defensive-minded utility infielder, was acquired by Washington from the Pirates in August.
Pittsburgh dealt Bixler to the Indians in January and re-acquired him from the Tribe less than a month ago for a player to be named later. In 75 Triple-A games this season, Bixler has hit .264/.327/.362 with three homers.
The Pirates re-acquired Brian Bixler from the Indians for a player to be named later, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). Bixler, 27, has spent the 2010 season playing for the Indians' Triple A team, but he picked up 166 plate appearances for the Pirates from 2008-09. The 2004 second rounder has a .178/.238/.237 line at the major league level.
Bixler is hitting better at Triple A, where he has a .278/.345/.383 line as a super-utility player. He has played all three outfield positions and appeared at second, third and short so far this season. Oddly enough, Bixler is going from the Indians to the Indians, since he'll report to Pittsburgh's Triple A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians.
MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince opened up his reader mailbag to answer a number of questions about the Tribe and other AL Central topics...
- Jermaine Dye's right-handed bat "would have been a better fit in this lineup" than Russell Branyan, Castrovince notes, but Cleveland needed a first baseman and Dye is a defensive liability in the outfield.
- The trade for, and subsequent DFA of, Brian Bixler is described as "wasted energy" by Castrovince. However, he notes that Jesus Brito (who the Tribe dealt to Pittsburgh for Bixler) is "a little old" to still be in the low minors, in spite of his strong numbers last season.
- Castrovince discusses Joe Mauer's contract extension and says that it "was a special circumstance" given Mauer's Minnesota roots and the fact that the Twins could afford the deal thanks to their new ballpark. He also warns that the deal might not look so good when Target Field stops being a major revenue stream, such as what happened to the Indians after the novelty of Progressive Field (then Jacobs Field) wore off.
- Along those same lines, Castrovince notes that the Tribe didn't have the benefit of a new ballpark to generate revenue when they attempted to re-sign C.C. Sabathia to a long-term deal before the 2008 season.
- Castrovince reports the Tribe didn't re-sign LHP Juan Lara, as they have the last two springs to minor-league deals. The team did allow Lara to train at their Dominican Republic facilities over the winter. Lara hasn't pitched in the majors since 2007 due to a car accident suffered in November of that year, but he returned to appear in 15 games for Cleveland's Arizona Rookie League team in 2009.
The Indians claimed infielder Anderson Hernandez off waivers from the Mets, tweets Brian Costa of the Newark Star-Ledger. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that the Tribe designated Brian Bixler for assignment to make room for Hernandez.
Hernandez, 27, hit .251/.312/.339 in 404 plate appearances for the Nationals and Mets last year while playing second base and shortstop. Regarding his defense, Baseball America had this to say before the '07 season: "He has soft hands, plus range, and an above-average arm but sometimes gets lazy and doesn't charge balls aggressively enough."
Bixler, 27, was acquired by the Indians from the Pirates on January 18th. Heading into 2009 Baseball America labeled him an "average defensive shortstop," noting his ability to play second base and predicting a utility future.
The Indians acquired shortstop Brian Bixler from the Pirates for infielder Jesus Brito, according to a team press release. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince says Bixler will compete with Jason Donald, Mark Grudzielanek, and Luis Rodriguez for a utility infield role.
Bixler, 27, hit .275/.343/.439 at Triple A this year - his third stint at the level. Heading into 2009 Baseball America labeled him an "average defensive shortstop," noting his ability to play second base and predicting a utility future. Brito, 22, hit .353/.431/.567 for the Indians' rookie and short-season clubs in '09.
The Pirates' bullpen might have a new look soon. According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they're working on deals for three free agent relievers.
"Productive talks" with Octavio Dotel and D.J. Carrasco "could result in agreements soon," writes Kovacevic. The Pirates appear to be working on a minor league deal for Carrasco, which is surprising given his solid work in 93.3 innings for the White Sox last year. Pure speculation on my part, but perhaps Carrasco is lured to the Pirates by an opportunity to compete for the fifth starter job. Interesting side note: Carrasco and new Pirate Brian Bass ranked #1-2 in relief innings for all of MLB last year.
Dotel would be the big-ticket bullpen acquisition; he could have a shot at replacing Matt Capps as the Pirates' closer. I imagine Dotel won't get much more than $3MM, which would be half his '09 salary. That contract with the White Sox was signed in January of '08, a different time for free agents.
The third Pirates bullpen addition would be an unknown free agent right-hander on a big league deal. Kovacevic speculates on several names, and also rules out Kevin Gregg while noting past Pirates interest in Jamey Wright.
One consequence of adding two relievers on Major League deals would be the need to clear a pair of 40-man roster spots. Kovacevic speculates that Steve Pearce, Brian Bixler, and Delwyn Young could be on the bubble.
The Pittsburgh Pirates won't raise their payroll, but have increased spending in other areas, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel details how the Pirates are committing money to areas less obvious to fans than player contracts, including facilities, scouting and player development.
In a separate article, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks back at the Jason Bay trade from Pittsburgh's perspective, and adds a few more Pirates-related nuggets:
- The Pirates haven't talked to Andrew McCutchen about a long-term extension yet, but have him under team control until 2015, so there's plenty of time.
- The team is hoping that Brian Bixler will develop into a super-utility type, since they like his defensive versatility.
- Given the number of free agents still available, the club would prefer to "wait for what it sees as the best value."
- In particular, the Pirates will be looking at value signings for their outfield and bullpen.
10:39pm: Frisaro says the Marlins released McPherson, as they were unable to find a trade.
10:36am: Joe Frisaro of MLB.com has the latest on the Marlins.
- Out of options Marlins shortstop Robert Andino remains on the Pirates' radar; the interest dates back to at least the Winter Meetings. Frisaro wonders if the idea of an Andino-Brian Bixler swap could be reignited. However, with Andino being out of options and Bixler raising his profile during Spring Training, that seems unlikely. My own speculation - the San Diego would be a good destination for Andino.
- Frisaro says the Marlins appear to be shopping third baseman Dallas McPherson, who is also out of options. McPherson, 28, hit .275/.379/.618 with 42 home runs in 448 at-bats last year at Triple A. Projection systems remain unimpressed, but I'd like to see what he could do in Minute Maid Park.
- The Marlins are eyeing lefty relief help, with Frisaro naming Pittsburgh's Sean Burnett and free agent Ron Villone as possibilities.