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The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.
Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…
- The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
- Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
- Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
- Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
- Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
- It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
- The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
- In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexi Amarista | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Correa | Chicago Cubs | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Didi Gregorius | Hector Rondon | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Juan Uribe | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Garza | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Noah Syndergaard | Oakland Athletics | Rafael Soriano | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Troy Tulowitzki | Wilmer Flores | Yunel Escobar
With more than a fifth of the season in the books, we’ve had an early look (a peek, really) into where things may be headed on next winter’s free agent market. One of the most interesting positions to watch, in my estimation, is center field, where there are several players who had a lot to prove coming into the season.
There figure to be several clubs looking at adding new, mid-term or long-term options. The Indians, Mariners, Rangers, Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, and Padres all look like fairly good bets to at least dabble in the market at center. Depending upon how things shake out, it is not impossible to imagine that clubs like the Blue Jays, Tigers, Astros, Cardinals, and Giants could be as well.
Looking at MLBTR’s 2016 free agent list, which documents the players currently on track to qualify for the open market, a small group stands out as possible starting-caliber options. The trio is particularly interesting because they were so tightly bunched coming into the season — all looking to be solidly average to above-average performers, depending on one’s particular viewpoint. (Note: I’m not considering Colby Rasmus here because he has spent most of his time in the corner outfield this year. But he could also figure into the mix.)
Let’s see where things stand:
Value up: Denard Span, Nationals.
After missing the spring and early part of the season following core muscle surgery, Span needed more than ever to show that he could repeat last year’s excellent campaign. Things are certainly pointing up in the early going, as he owns a .316/.375/.532 slash over 88 turns at bat.
While it’s obviously unlikely that he’ll maintain that kind of power output — his current .215 ISO is more than double than his career 108 mark — Span is driving the ball consistently, as he did in 2014, while posting an impeccable strikeout-to-walk ratio. His .310 BABIP actually trails his career levels slightly, so it seems that quality contact is driving the early productivity.
Overall regression is almost certainly in store, but the early returns serve to confirm that Span is a quality top-of-the-order bat and, perhaps more importantly, that he is healthy. Span will need to keep things up in both regards after entering the year with injury questions and as the elder member (31 years of age) of the group considered in this post. Of course, he could stand to see a boost in his somewhat lagging early defensive ratings (which seem to belie the perceptions of some around the game) and his stolen base tallies, but the arrow is pointing up overall and he’s done the most to increase his stock.
Value neutral: Dexter Fowler, Cubs.
While his walks are down somewhat early, Fowlers continues to deliver solid results at the plate with a fairly typical .262/.345/.397 batting line. He has shown more at times, but that lands firmly within expectations. More promisingly, the 29-year-old has swiped eight bags already and is on pace for career highs in that arena, though he has been caught three times as well.
The major talent assessment question with Fowler is his defense in center. He has spent much of his time in tough-to-patrol outfields — Coors Field and Minute Maid Park — and rated terribly at the position last year (tallying negative 20 Defensive Runs Saved and negative 21.8 UZR on the year). That has turned around somewhat in a still-small sample this year in Chicago, with Fowler posting positive UZR marks (10.7 UZR/15) while receiving a less-glowing -3 DRS rating.
All said, the early speed and defense returns rate as good signs for Fowler, and the results at the plate have done nothing to detract from his appeal. You could argue, then, that his value is slightly on the rise. If nothing else, Fowler seems a reasonable target at center, after entering the year with the possibility that he’d be viewed more as a corner option. Some clubs may still end up seeing him that way, of course, especially as it is really too soon to draw much from defensive numbers. All said, Fowler’s value is largely holding steady at the present time.
Value down: Austin Jackson, Mariners.
Jackson looked like a nice get for the Mariners at last year’s trade deadline, but has been a significant disappointment thus far in Seattle. He just turned 28 a few months back, but 2015 has continued a troubling downturn in his overall productivity.
Over 339 plate appearances with the M’s, Jackson has put up a meager .233/.275/.280 line with two home runs. He has added a healthy 16 stolen bases over that stretch, but that’s hardly enough to offset concerns. To be sure, Jackson’s .284 BABIP is due for some positive regression — his career mark sits at .351 and he’s never ended a professional season below last year’s .325 — and his strikeout/walk numbers are in line with career norms. But he is making more weak contact than ever before while hitting more groundballs (50%) this year than is his custom.
Jackson still rates as a solid average center fielder and seems to have the legs to maintain that going forward. His current DL stint with a sprained ankle is probably not cause for any long-term concern, and may even afford him a chance to work on his difficulties if he takes a short rehab stint. But the sub-.100 ISO he has carried over this season and last has significantly reduced his appeal. There’s plenty of time for a turnaround, but Jackson is trending down at present.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
We’ll keep up with the minor moves of the day in this post:
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Lendy Castillo to a minor league pact, reports the Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley (Castillo’s mention is at the bottom of his post). The 26-year-old Castillo tossed 16 innings of relief for the 2012 Cubs, yielding 14 runs with 13 strikeouts against 12 walks. He spent last year with Chicago’s Double-A affiliate, posting a 3.95 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 41 innings. However, Castillo was old for the level and also mixed in an alarming 39 walks. He hasn’t had such pronounced control problems in the past, however, so the Rangers will hope to be able to help him rediscover the ability to throw strikes while maintaining his proclivity for whiffing batters.
- Righty Anthony Varvaro has cleared outright waivers and is expected to be assigned to the Cubs‘ Triple-A affiliate, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Varvaro figures to take up residence as a handy depth option for Chicago, which recently called upon fellow former Braves reliever James Russell after he took a stint in Iowa. In his case, the 30-year-old Varvaro had worked to a 4.09 ERA in 11 frames early in the season with the Red Sox. While that is hardly dominant run prevention, and his 4.9 BB/9 were less than promising, Varvaro has put up good results with solid peripherals over the last several years and is a nice arm to have stashed.
With the teams in the midst of an interesting series at Wrigley Field, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer discussed the oft-speculated match between his club and the Mets, with the former blessed with numerous young middle infielders and the latter possessing a number of appealing young arms. Hoyer acknowledged that there have been discussions between the clubs. “We haven’t made a deal yet, but there’s been matches that made sense, and I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future,” said Hoyer. Though the Chicago executive noted that it remains likely that the clubs will match up on a deal of some kind “at some point,” it remains unclear whether there is any realistic possibility of traction on a significant deal involving their best respective talent.
- While plenty of water has passed under the bridge in the meantime, the Mets did ask the Cubs about the availability of top shortstop prospect Addison Russell at more than one point over the winter, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. But talks never moved on that front, as Chicago made clear it was not interested in dealing its newly-acquired blue chip piece. The report, along with the team’s aggressive promotion of Russell to man second base at the big league level, obviously suggests that the Cubs’ internal assessment of Russell meets or exceeds that of the industry as a whole. Indeed, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com opines that a trade of Starlin Castro — possibly, to the Mets — and commitment to Russell makes good sense for the Cubs, at least in the long term.
- Both clubs are, of course, set to get a good look at the Mets‘ own best prospect, Noah Syndergaard, as he squares off against Russell and company tonight in the first start off his big league career. MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes that the ascension of Syndergaard is a clear sign that New York is ready to compete — and to do so on its own terms. “It’s been tough,” skipper Terry Collins said yesterday. “There have been times there are big names out there [available in trades or free agency] and we said, ‘We have to hold tight, we have to be patient. Our guys are coming, and when they get here, we’re going to be good for a long period of time.’ And I think that time is right around the corner. I hope it starts tomorrow.” As is the case with Russell, these comments seem to indicate that New York is hopeful that a rising Syndergaard will help drive the club in the immediate term — even in spite of an already quite productive rotation — which certainly reduces the already-low chance that he will be considered as a trade chip. They also provide further reminder that Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been quite selective in striking trades, preferring for the time being to monitor the development of internal talent while adding additional young pieces (quite successfully, of late) when the timing proved beneficial.
- For my money, while attention is focused on the matter now, Chicago would be wise to wait until the last possible moment to decide whether to move a middle infield piece this summer. Much depends upon the information gathered in the meantime on the team’s ultimate postseason likelihood and specific needs, the readiness of Russell, and the development of Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. As a large market club with rising payroll capacity, Chicago can afford to wait to make its moves. Similarly, the Mets are right to take more time in assessing Wilmer Flores at short — to say nothing of watching Dilson Herrera at second and seeing how David Wright responds to his rehab — and getting a better read on their own playoff prospects this year. It remains possible to imagine a scenario where these clubs match up over the summer, or perhaps more plausibly next winter, but the connection remains highly conditional as things stand.
The 31-year-old Paulino spent the 2014 season with the White Sox after signing a one-year, $1.75MM contract with a club option for the 2015 season. However, Paulino was able to total just 18 1/3 innings before a shoulder injury put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season. The time he spent on the mound wasn’t pretty, either, as he posted an 11.29 ERA with 35 hits (six homers) and a 14-to-12 K/BB ratio in that time.
Those numbers won’t do much to excite Cubs fans, but Paulino does come with an intriguing track record. Though his career ERA is an uninspiring 5.22, he’s averaged 95.1 mph on his fastball since debuting in the Majors and has long shown the ability to miss bats in the rotation, as evidenced by a career K/9 rate of 8.3. From 2010-12, Paulino pitched 268 2/3 innings with the Astros, Rockies and Royals, posting a 4.29 ERA but a markedly better 3.54 FIP.
Paulino has always struggled a bit with his control, and injuries have certainly slowed his career. He had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and shoulder surgery in 2013 prior to a recurring shoulder injury last season. Nonetheless, when healthy, he’s represented an arm with some upside. The White Sox’ flier on him in the 2013-14 offseason was among my favorite low-risk moves that winter (even if, in hindsight, the results were poor), and on a Minor League deal, he’s a perfectly reasonable depth piece to add to an organization. Paulino had signed a Minor League pact with the Red Sox this offseason and yielded one run with three strikeouts against one walk in four Spring Training innings with Boston, but he was released at the end of camp.
The Cubs‘ pitching staff is having trouble this month, and it’s unclear where help will come from, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes. It isn’t the best time of the year to make trades. While the Phillies likely don’t feel they have to wait until the trade deadline to make a Cole Hamels deal, such a trade might be easier for the Cubs to strike after some time to make sure they’re contenders. And finding relief help in the trade market will likely be more straightfoward later in the summer. Rafael Soriano is available via free agency, but the Cubs aren’t likely to sign him unless they’re more impressed with him than other teams have been. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- Closer Kenley Jansen‘s impending return from a foot injury will result in a tough decision for the Dodgers, whose bullpen has been terrific in his absence, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group writes. The Dodgers reliever who’s gotten the worst results has been Chris Hatcher, so he might seem like the most obvious candidate to come off the active roster, although he’s out of options and was only recently acquired via trade. (Also, his 13.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and mid-90s velocity strongly suggest the Dodgers would be unwise to give up on him too quickly).
- 30-year-old Nationals rookie reliever Rafael Martin has a highly unusual background, Lacy Lusk writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). The Southern California native spent four years after high school working in construction, then ended up in the Mexican League as the result of a tryout. After three years in Mexico, he signed with the Nationals in 2010, then toiled in the high minors, struggling with injuries before pitching brilliantly at Double-A and Triple-A last year. The Nats finally purchased his contract last month, and he whiffed five straight batters in his first big-league appearance.
- The Rays have a winning record so far this season despite their rotation being decimated by injuries, Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida writes. It’s helped that they’ve gotten remarkable performances from Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, who have stayed healthy the entire season. Nate Karns has also gotten reasonable results in seven starts, and Alex Colome has pitched well in two. The team has also already leaned on Erasmo Ramirez, Steve Geltz, Matt Andriese and the now-injured Drew Smyly to start, meaning they’ve already used eight starters even though the season is less than six weeks old.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The White Sox have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chris Beck to be the 26th man for the second game of their doubleheader today. Beck, 24, has made his way through the minors with few strikeouts but strong control, posting 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 since the White Sox drafted him in the second round in 2012. This season, he had a 4.78 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 26 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.
- The Reds have signed outfielder Jose Constanza to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The 31-year-old Constanza collected 240 plate appearances with the Braves from 2011 through 2014, batting .273/.316/.323. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves released him last month.
- The Blue Jays have signed veteran starter Joel Pineiro to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Double-A New Hampshire, Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner tweets. Pineiro, 36, last pitched in the big leagues with the Angels in 2011. He pitched briefly in the Cubs and Angels systems in a comeback bid last season, then pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico.
- The Brewers will sign infielder Chris Nelson to a minor-league deal, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). The Phillies recently released Nelson from their minor-league deal with him. The five-year veteran played briefly with the Padres in 2014. The former first-round pick has a career line of .265/.311/.388, with many of his at-bats coming in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
- The Padres have outrighted catcher Wil Nieves to Triple-A El Paso, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Padres designated Nieves for assignment earlier this week to make room for top prospect Austin Hedges. It’s unclear whether Nieves will accept his outright assignment or opt for free agency. Nieves appeared in just six games for the Padres this year.
- The Cubs have outrighted righty Anthony Varvaro, also according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Cubs recently claimed Varvaro from the Red Sox and then designated him for assignment on Wednesday. He did not appear in a game for them. He pitched in nine games for Boston earlier this season.
- The Athletics have released outfielder Alex Hassan, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. That news might actually come as a relief to Hassan, who had been claimed five times in the past seven months. The A’s designated Hassan for assignment yesterday.
- The Angels have released corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, via the Pacific Coast League transactions page. They had claimed the 26-year-old from the Rockies last August. Wheeler, who played briefly in the big leagues in 2012, 2013 and 2014, was hitting .291/.304/.418 for Triple-A Salt Lake, although he has a track record of hitting for better power at the Triple-A level.
- The Rays have announced that they’ve placed Alex Cobb, who’s having Tommy John surgery, on the 60-day DL and selected the contract of 23-year-old righty Andrew Bellatti. Bellatti had struck out 20 batters in 21 1/3 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, posting a 2.11 ERA, pitching as a starter even though he had spent most of the previous three seasons working in relief. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explains, it’s been a strange path to the Majors for Bellatti, a 2009 draft pick who spent a few months in jail for vehicular manslaughter following a 2010 car accident.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Hassan | Anthony Varvaro | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Nelson | Cincinnati Reds | Joel Pineiro | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Milwaukee Brewers | Oakland Athletics | Ryan Wheeler | San Diego Padres | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Wil Nieves
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman touched on many topics in his latest “Inside Baseball” column, and since we’ve already focused on Heyman’s notes about the Brewers, let’s look at some of his other hot stove info from around the league…
- The Astros will be looking to add one or even two starting pitchers, though Cole Hamels is “too pricey” for them, according to one team source. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored the case for Houston going after the Phillies southpaw, and 42.44% of MLBTR readers polled thought that the Astros should indeed pursue Hamels.
- Rival executives aren’t bothered by Hamels’ sub-par performance this season since all of this trade speculation is assumed to be impacting his work. Executives “seem to be split on” whether the Phillies are making the right move in holding out for a blue chip prospect or two in exchange for Hamels, or if they should just be looking to get his big salary off the books for a lower return of young talent.
- A.J. Hinch’s deal with the Astros is a three-year contract with a club option for 2018. The exact dollar figure isn’t known but Heyman reports that the average annual value is less than $1MM, which could end up being a bargain given how Houston has thus far played under Hinch’s management.
- While Zack Greinke is expected to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, Heyman doubts he’ll leave the Dodgers since they certainly have the money to sign him to a new deal.
- One scout suggests that Javier Baez might need “a change of scenery” to get back on track. Baez struck out a whopping 95 times in 229 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, and only has a .755 OPS at the Triple-A level this year. Baez is only a year removed from being considered an elite-level prospect, so while it seems early to consider trading him, Chicago is already deep in young middle infield talent.
- The Rangers are willing to deal Shin-Soo Choo, rival executives believe. This is no surprise given Choo’s huge contract and underwhelming performance in Texas, though obviously those same issues will make dealing him a tall order. Heyman notes that the Yankees were interested in Choo when he was a free agent two winters ago, though even if Choo turns it around, I’m not sure I see New York taking on a big contract when they already have a pretty full outfield.
- The Cardinals “will rue the day they made that trade” of Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jorden Walden, in the words of one scout. Heyman feels this is a bit of a stretch, even though Miller has been outstanding for the Braves and Heyward has struggled for the Cards (and Walden is on the DL).
- Veteran Andruw Jones isn’t yet planning to retire, though he won’t play in 2015. Jones has played in Japan for the last two seasons and expressed interest in a return to Major League Baseball this winter, drawing interest from at least two teams, including the Indians. According to Heyman, Jones turned down minor league contract offers from multiple teams.
Some minor transactions from around the league and the independent circuit…
- The Cubs have released right-hander Blake Parker, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Parker, designated for assignment yesterday, had not appeared in the big leagues this year. In his 3 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, Parker permitted one earned run to score while striking out one and walking three batters. He does own a 3.68 career ERA in the majors, with a healthy 10.4 K/9 against just 2.9 BB/9.
- Righty Daniel Cabrera has been released by the Reds, the club’s Triple-A affiliate tweets. The 33-year-old has not appeared in the big leagues since 2009, and spent each of the last two seasons playing in Japan. He made just one appearance at Louisville this season, going three innings and allowing one earned run but issuing four free passes and striking out only one opposing batter.
- The Dodgers have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, who had been pitching with the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers, reports Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Walters should join L.A.’s Minor League ranks following the move. Though Walters has posted just a 6.28 ERA in parts of five Major League seasons with the Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays, he does have a lifetime 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in Triple-A.
- Former Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez has signed a contract with the independent St. Paul Saints, the team announced. Hernandez was acquired along with Eduardo Escobar in the 2012 trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox. The now-26-year-old Hernandez struggled to a 7.33 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 26 walks in 66 1/3 Major League innings with the Sox, Twins and Rockies from 2012-14. He posted solid, if unspectacular numbers throughout much of his Minor League career until reaching the Triple-A level.
- Right-hander Robert Stock‘s contract has been purchased by the Pirates, according to a tweet from the Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League. The 25-year-old hit the indy circuit after posting a 4.12 ERA with 43 strikeouts against 46 walks in 63 1/3 innings between the Cardinals’ Class-A and Class-A Advanced affiliates in 2014.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Cabrera | Eduardo Escobar | Francisco Liriano | Los Angeles Dodgers | Minnesota Twins | P.J. Walters | Pedro Hernandez | Pittsburgh Pirates | St. Louis Cardinals | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions
The Cubs announced today that they have designated right-hander Anthony Varvaro for assignment. His roster spot will go to fellow righty Justin Grimm, who was activated from the disabled list. Additionally, the Cubs have optioned Junior Lake to Triple-A Iowa and recalled outfielder Matt Szczur.
The Cubs claimed the 30-year-old Varvaro off waivers from the Red Sox just three days ago, and he didn’t get into a game with Chicago in his brief time with the club. Varvaro was likely added to keep a fresh arm in the ‘pen should a need arise, and the Cubs may have similar hopes to those of the Dodgers, who have recently claimed and quickly designated promising arms in the hopes that they will clear outright waivers and be able to be kept in the organization.
That may be unlikely in Varvaro’s case, as the former Braves/Red Sox hurler has a solid track record in the Majors. Varvaro posted a 2.74 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate near 48 percent with the Braves from 2012-13, making their offseason decision to part ways with him somewhat surprising. With the Red Sox this year, Varvaro appeared in nine games and totaled 11 innings. The five runs he surrendered aren’t particularly concerning, but his velocity was down from an average of 92.5 mph in 2014 to 91.1 mph in 2015. That, combined with the 14 hits and six walks he yielded in his 11 innings, likely aided in his swift exit from the Boston organization.
The Cubs will have 10 days to trade Varvaro or place him on outright waivers. Given his track record, it’s not difficult to envision another club claiming him if he is placed on waivers.