Chicago Cubs Rumors

Chicago Cubs trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Rockies Offering Charlie Blackmon For Pitching

The Rockies are discussing outfielder Charlie Blackmon with more than one team in trade talks and are hoping to get pitching in return, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal write. The Rockies haven’t made a significant pitching signing this offseason, and Morosi and Rosenthal write that the main reason is that they’re having trouble attracting pitching to Coors Field. The Rockies think they can deal Blackmon for a pitcher and then sign an outfielder, given that Denver would be an attractive destination for an outfielder for the same reason it’s a poor one for a pitcher. (The outfield market is rather thin at this late point in the offseason, although Colby Rasmus could be one possibility.)

Blackmon, 28, is coming off a solid 2014 season in which he hit .288/.335/.440 in 648 plate appearances. He also has another year before he becomes eligible for arbitration, so he would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target. Morosi and Rosenthal note that the Rockies have asked the Mets about Dillon Gee, for example, but Blackmon would surely have more trade value than Gee does (and the Mets probably aren’t on the hunt for a starting outfielder anyway). The Rangers, Braves, Orioles and Cubs could all make sense as potential trading partners.


Cubs Sign Francisley Bueno

The Cubs have signed lefty reliever Francisley Bueno to a minor league deal, Matt Eddy of Baseball America writes. Bueno is represented by Praver/Shapiro.

Bueno, 33, pitched 32 1/3 innings for the Royals in 2014, posting a 4.18 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He did not appear in the postseason, and the Royals non-tendered him after the season, even though he was not eligible for arbitration. He has a 2.98 ERA and 1.8 BB/9 in parts of four seasons, albeit with a low 4.9 K/9.


Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.

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Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday

As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for exchanging filing numbers, the volume of arb deals will increase. All arb agreements can be monitored using MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker, but here are today’s smaller agreements, with all projections referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a slight bump over Chisenhall’s projected $2.2MM salary.  Chisenhall hit .280/.343/.427 with 13 homers in 533 PA with the Tribe last season.
  • The Indians and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski have agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Rzepczynski surpassed his projected salary with the contract, as he was pegged to earn $1.9MM next season.  The southpaw posted a 2.74 ERA, 2.42 K/BB rate and an even 46 strikeouts over 46 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen last season.
  • The Nationals and catcher Jose Lobaton will avoid arbitration after agreeing to a deal, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman reports.  Lobaton will earn $1.2MM, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets, which exactly matches his projected 2015 salary.  Lobaton hit .234/.287/.304 over 230 PA in backup duty for the Nats last season.
  • The Athletics and outfielder Craig Gentry agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal to avoid arbitration, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Gentry was projected to earn $1.5MM.  After posting a .759 OPS over 556 PA in 2012-13, Gentry took a step back at the plate last season, slashing just .254/.319/.289 over 258 plate appearances but still providing tremendous defense (a +16 UZR/150).
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with second baseman Danny Espinosa, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  This deal falls below Espinosa’s projected $2.3MM contract, though Espinosa hit .219/.283/.351 in 364 plate appearances for the Nats last season and managed only a .465 OPS in 167 PA in 2013.
  • The Indians agreed to a one-year, $2.337MM deal with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).  This figure is a significant increase over the $1.4MM contract that was projected for Carrasco in his first arb-eligible year.  The righty enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, posting a 2.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.83 K/BB rate over 134 innings with the Tribe.  Carrasco pitched mostly out of the bullpen but also delivered several quality starts down the stretch.
  • The Dodgers and outfielder Chris Heisey agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.16MM to avoid arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This is slightly less than the $2.2MM Heisey was projected to earn.  Heisey is coming off a .222/.265/.378 slash line over 299 PA with the Reds last season and was dealt to L.A. last month.
  • The Angels inked catcher Drew Butera to a one-year, $987.5K deal to avoid arbitration, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Butera was projected to earn $900K next season.  The catcher posted a .555 OPS in 192 PA with the Dodgers last season and was dealt to the Halos last month.
  • The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM contract with Craig Stammen, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  This figure slightly tops Stammen’s projected $2.1MM contract.  Stammen posted a 3.84 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate over 72 2/3 innings out of Washington’s bullpen last season.
  • The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM deal with outfielder Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Bourjos was projected to earn $1.6MM.  Bourjos displayed his usual top-shelf defense with the Cards last season but only hit .231/.294/.348 over 294 PA.

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Mariners Acquire Mike Kickham

The Mariners have acquired lefty Mike Kickham from the Cubs in exchange for 21-year-old right-hander Lars Huijer, Seattle announced.

Kickham, 26, was designated for assignment when the Cubs made their signing of Chris Denorfia official. Chicago had claimed the southpaw off waivers from the Giants earlier this winter. Kickham has struggled in 30 1/3 big league innings yielding a jarring 37 earned runs in that time. He’s fared better in the minors, where he sports a 4.37 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 259 innings at the Triple-A level. Presumably, he’ll provide the Mariners with some organizational depth that can be stashed at Triple-A, as he does have a minor league option remaining.

Huijer, who hails from the Netherlands, split his age-20 campaign (2014) between Class-A and Class-A Advanced. After strong seasons in Rookie ball (2012) and short-season Class-A (2013), Huijer posted respectable numbers at Class-A Clinton, registering a 4.02 ERA with 5.5 K/9 but a somewhat troublesome 4.3 BB/9 rate in 71 2/3 innings. The leap to High-A was more difficult, though that’s to be expected given the fact that he was roughly three years younger than the league average. In 52 1/3 innings in the California League, Huijer struggled to a 6.54 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9. He allowed eight homers in his short time there despite only having surrendered 11 in 228 2/3 prior career innings.

Baseball America ranked Huijer 28th among Mariners farmhands last offseason, prior to his struggles, noting that he figured to add to his 85-90 mph fastball as he filled out. BA noted at the time that he projected as a back-end starter with potential for more growth, though his development obviously didn’t go as planned in 2014. As Mike Salk of ESPN 710 in Seattle notes (Twitter link), this caps a bizarre scenario in which the Mariners acquired Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs to replace Denorfia, who then signed with the Cubs, prompting a DFA of Kickham, who was then dealt to Seattle.


Nats, Mets, Rays Discussed Desmond/Zobrist Trade

The Nationals, Mets and Rays discussed a three-team deal involving Ian Desmond, Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar before the Rays sent Zobrist and Escobar to Oakland, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Mets would have received Desmond, with Zobrist and Escobar heading to Washington and the Mets sending prospects to Tampa. The deal ultimately fell through when the Mets declined to part with two prospects from a list of three, one of whom was pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The Mets also discussed acquiring Zobrist from the Rays in a more conventional two-team trade, although the two teams encountered the same hangup regarding prospects.

The structure of the potential three-team deal makes sense, at least on some level, for all sides. The Mets continue to be weak at shortstop, and Desmond would have been an enormous upgrade over Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada. The Nationals had been connected to Zobrist, and Escobar, who is under control through 2016 with an option for 2017, would have provided an everyday shortstop for at least the next two years, helping alleviate a headache that could arrive next offseason as a number of key players become eligible for free agency. (Zobrist, who would have upgraded the Nats at second base while also providing them with options in the outfield, would have joined the list of Nationals eligible for free agency next winter, however.) And it’s hardly surprising that the Rays would have asked for high-upside young talent for Zobrist, since that’s what they ultimately got (in Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell, who they received along with John Jaso and cash) when they sent him to the Athletics.

Desmond is eligible for free agency after the season, however, and Rosenthal notes that the Mets were concerned about paying a high price for a one-year player, particularly given the possibility that they could sign him next winter anyway. The Rays’ asking price evidently was high, even without knowing who they might have received besides Syndergaard — MLB.com and Baseball America both rank Syndergaard as the Mets’ No. 1 prospect, with MLB.com ranking him the No. 10 prospect in all of baseball. The 22-year-old posted a 4.60 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 133 innings for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate in 2014.

The Nationals would not have been concerned about having Desmond play for another team in the NL East, Rosenthal writes. The Cubs, Giants and other teams besides the Athletics and Nationals also had interest in Zobrist.


Minor Moves: Hoffman, Colvin, Valaika, Wilson

The latest notable minor league signings, courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy except where noted.

  • The Red Sox have signed lefty Matt Hoffman, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Hoffman, 26, pitched in the high minors in the Phillies and Twins organizations in 2014, posting a 3.75 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 48 innings of relief. He’d spent the previous six years in the Tigers organization, working his way up to Triple-A Toledo.
  • The Marlins signed 29-year-old outfielder Tyler Colvin.  In 2014, he posted a .223/.268/.381 slash line with two homers over 149 PA for the Giants.  Colvin elected free agency in October, allowing him to pursue opportunities elsewhere.  Over parts of six seasons at the big league level with the Cubs, Rockies, and Giants, Colvin has a career line of .239/.287/.446.
  • The Cubs re-signed second baseman Chris Valaika. The 29-year-old slashed .231/.282/.339 across 131 plate appearances for the Cubs last season, which is more or less consistent with his career .238/.282/.351 slash line over parts of four seasons. At Triple-A Iowa, Valaika hit .278/.344/.423 in 397 PAs.
  • The Tigers signed Josh Wilson to a minor league pact. The 33-year-old infielder hit .239/.271/.299 in 72 PAs for the Rangers in 2014, though he spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A Round Rock.
  • The Orioles signed left-hander Cesar Cabral. The 25-year-old pitched in four games for the Yankees last year allowing three runs, four hits, three hit batsmen, and a pair of walks in only one inning of work. Cabral spent the rest of the season splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A posting a 6.28 ERA, 10.2 K/9, and 7.9 BB/9 in 32 relief appearances totalling 38 2/3 innings.

Cafardo On Hamels, Shields, Duquette, Maddon

It’s time to add Pete Rose’s name to Hall of Fame ballot, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Cafardo always agreed with the decision from commissioner Bart Giamatti to keep Rose out of baseball after he bet on games but after 25 years at the age of 73, he feels that the all-time great has paid for his crime.  He’s not sure whether he’d vote for Charlie Hustle, but he should at least have the opportunity to be elected.  More from today’s column..

  • Cafardo hears that there have been no talks this month between the Phillies and Red Sox regarding Cole Hamels.  Boston will not part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart but the Phillies want one of the two to make a deal.  West Coast teams, meanwhile, are in pursuit of the left-hander.
  • One National League GM speculated that James Shields hasn’t jumped on his rumored $110MM offer because he doesn’t want to play for that team.  Of course, at 33, teams are wary of giving a five-year deal.  “There isn’t a team who wouldn’t want Shields for three years. But five? That’s where it gets tough,” one GM said.
  • Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette is still in the running for the Blue Jays president’s job, according to a major league source that spoke with Cafardo.  In order that that to advance, of course, the two teams would have to agree on compensation, which is where deals such as this usually break down.
  • The tampering charge the Rays filed against the Cubs over manager Joe Maddon is still alive.  A major league source tells Cafardo that MLB investigators have been gathering information on the matter.
  • Alexi Ogando‘s shoulder medicals don’t look great, according to an American League executive.  Still, once his price lowers and he’s no longer holding out for a major league contract, teams will compete for his services.
  • Mark Mulder says he’s in the final stage of rehab for his Achilles’/ankle injury and will soon make a decision on whether to resume his pitching career.  “The ankle is great,” Mulder said.

Minor Moves: Royals, Braves, White Sox, Cubs

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, with the most recent updates at the top.

  • The Royals have signed pitcher Roman Colon, outfielder Brandon Jacobs and third baseman Alex Liddi, and they’ve re-signed outfielder Mitch Maier, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The 26-year-old Liddi, who appeared with the Mariners in the 2011 through 2013 seasons, is perhaps the most interesting of those, although he’s coming off a .207/.286/.355 season at Double-A and Triple-A in the Dodgers and White Sox systems.
  • The Royals also outrighted infielder Ryan Jackson to Triple-A Omaha, per the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Kansas City had previously designated Jackson for assignment to clear space for Edinson Volquez. Jackson missed most of last season (which he spent in the Padres organization) with a wrist injury. The 26-year-old has a career minor league line of .268/.338/.363.
  • The Braves have signed outfielder Joe Benson and lefty reliever Leyson Septimo, Eddy tweets. Benson, 26, hit .264/.364/.410 with Double-A Jacksonville in the Marlins system in 2014. The 29-year-old Septimo, who appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012, pitched in 2014 with Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League. There, he issued ten walks in 6 2/3 innings, continuing to have the control problems that have persisted throughout his career.
  • The White Sox have re-signed outfielder Michael Taylor and signed third baseman Andy LaRoche, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Chicago acquired Taylor from the Athletics last June, and the 29-year-old hit well for Triple-A Charlotte down the stretch to finish the year with a .275/.371/.437 minor league line in 512 plate appearances. LaRoche, a former top prospect with the Dodgers and Pirates and the brother of current White Sock Adam LaRoche, spent most of the past two seasons with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A club in Buffalo, where he hit .248/.309/.396 in 2014. The White Sox also signed first baseman Chris Jacobs, a 26-year-old who played for Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga in the Dodgers system last year.
  • The Red Sox have signed outfielder Blake Tekotte, Eddy tweets. The 27-year-old Tekotte, who has appeared in the big leagues in past years with the Padres and White Sox, hit .249/.320/.439 in 340 Triple-A plate appearances last season in the White Sox and Diamondbacks systems.
  • The Cubs have signed righty Andres Santiago, according to Baseball America’s Minor League Free Agent Tracker (via the Tennessee Smokies’ Andrew Green on Twitter). Santiago, 25, pitched for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga last season, posting a 4.47 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 129 innings. Green points out that Santiago no-hit the Cubs’ Smokies team last season.
  • The Cubs have also added catcher Taylor Teagarden and righty Jorge De Leon, Eddy tweets. The 31-year-old Teagarden hit .303/.403/.579 in 211 plate appearances with the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season. De Leon, 27, posted a 3.01 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 68 2/3 innings in the Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City bullpens in the Astros system in 2014, also making eight appearances in the big leagues.