- Two days after the Reds non-tendered Gabby Guerrero, the club has re-signed the outfielder to a minor league deal, according to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). The Reds claimed the nephew of former major league star Vladimir Guerrero off waivers from the Diamondbacks last week. The soon-to-be 23-year-old was a well-regarded prospect with the Mariners at one time, but he struggled with the Seattle and Arizona organizations over the past two seasons. Guerrero posted a .223/.258/.346 line in 488 Double-A plate appearances in 2015, when he was part of a trade involving Mark Trumbo and Welington Castillo, and stumbled to a combined .234/.281/.383 showing with the D-backs’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season.
- The rebuilding Reds are committed to giving regular playing time to young middle infielder Jose Peraza in 2017, general manager Dick Williams and manager Bryan Price told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). That’s particularly notable with two up-the-middle veterans – second baseman Brandon Phillips and shortstop Zack Cozart – in place. Cincinnati attempted to deal Phillips last offseason, but he took advantage of his ability to block a trade. Phillips, who has one year and $14MM left on his contract, is reportedly more open to waiving his no-trade clause this offseason. Cozart also has one year of club control remaining, and he nearly went to the Mariners prior to last summer’s non-waiver trade deadline. Seattle has since acquired Jean Segura, taking it out of the running for Cozart, but he could still interest other shortstop-needy teams looking for a capable and affordable stopgap. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $4.7MM arbitration award for Cozart.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who has a full no-trade clause and $179MM remaining on his contract, maintains that he would prefer to remain in Cincinnati, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. Votto produced an outstanding .326/.434/.550 line in 677 plate appearances last season, and it sounds like he wants to remain a Red as long as the team can still find a use for him. The Reds, of course, are rebuilding, and have traded a long string of veterans in the past couple years, including Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman. It sounds, however, like neither Votto nor the Reds have any desire to add Votto to that list, at least not right now.
“I’ve worked really hard to not look [bad] in my career and I’ve worked really hard to be a loyal worker, and I’d like to keep that going,” says Votto. “Until I feel like I’m being shuffled out, you saw [that] last year with Brandon [Phillips], you saw it in Philadelphia with Chase Utley. Until I start feeling like the broom is on my heels, I’ll be a really nice guy. If I feel the broom on my heels, I’ll be a bit of [a jerk]. I’m not going to be a nice guy.”
Votto adds that he looks up to stars in other sports who have been able to play their entire careers with one team. “I admire [the NBA’s] Tim Duncan in San Antonio,” he says. “Never once did you hear about him going anywhere. Or [the NFL’s] Tom Brady in New England. Never once do you hear about him going anywhere, because they hold up to their end of the bargain by performing at a certain level and teams are excited to keep them.”
Reds GM Dick Williams repeats that he has made no efforts to trade Votto this offseason. Two weeks ago, he said he had not spoken with Votto about the possibility of waiving his no-trade clause.
The Reds are listening to offers on all of their players, including Billy Hamilton, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required and recommended). There is, of course, a distinction to be made between entertaining offers and shopping Hamilton around, but Cincinnati’s openness should pique the interest of a number of clubs looking for a center field upgrade. Hamilton had a breakout year in 2016, slashing .260/.321/.343 with three homers while delivering his third consecutive season with 55-plus stolen bases. Those rate stats are far from elite, but Hamilton is an elite defensive center fielder and far and away the best baserunner in Major League Baseball, so progressing from a sub-.300 OBP to even a roughly league-average mark is significant. Hamilton swiped 58 bags in just 460 plate appearances last year and was caught a mere eight times. He also drew a +15 mark from Defensive Runs Saved and +13 from Ultimate Zone Rating in just 119 games.
As Olney notes, Hamilton is controllable for three more years and may not have much control left by the time the Reds are good again. There’s certainly some logic behind trading him, though the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan hears they’d need to be “really, really motivated by an offer” to part with Hamilton (Twitter link).
The Reds have claimed catcher Juan Graterol off waivers from the Angels and claimed outfielder Gabriel Guerrero off waivers from the Diamondbacks, the team announced today. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, the Reds have designated right-hander Keyvius Sampson and catcher Ramon Cabrera for assignment.
The 22-year-old Guerrero is the nephew of former Major League superstar Vladimir Guerrero and long rated as one of the top prospects in the Mariners’ system before being traded to Arizona in last year’s Mark Trumbo/Welington Castillo trade. Guerrero posted strong numbers as recently as 2014 in Class-A Advanced — .307/.347/.467 with 18 homers and 18 steals in 530 plate appearances — but his production has plummeted upon reaching the upper levels of the minors. He hit just .223/.258/.346 between his two organizations’ Double-A affiliates in 2015 and struggled similarly this year, hitting .234/.281/.383 between Double-A and Triple-A.
Graterol, 27, made his Major League debut and tallied 15 PAs with the Halos this past season. The former Royals farmhand spent the 2015 season in the Yankees organization before inking a minors pact with the Halos last offseason. He’s a career .274/.306/.338 hitter in parts of three seasons (95 games) at the Triple-A level and has halted stolen base attempts at a very strong 38 percent clip in the minors. Baseball Prospectus gives him average pitch-framing grades in the minors as well.
Sampson, 25, pitched 39 1/3 innings with the Reds this year across 18 games — two starts, 16 relief appearances — and logged a 4.35 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 6.2 BB/9. Control has long been an issue for Sampson, who has walked 53 men, hit two batters and also rattled off seven wild pitches in his 91 2/3 big league innings. The former Padres farmhand pitched well in the minors up through Double-A but began to struggle at Triple-A (5.18 ERA in 231 innings) and clearly hasn’t fared much better in the Majors, where he owns a collective 5.60 ERA.
Cabrera, meanwhile, made his big league debut with the Reds in 2015 and played in a career-high 61 games for Cincinnati this season. The 27-year-old received 185 plate appearances due largely to the season-ending injury sustained by Devin Mesoraco and batted .246/.279/.357 with three homers and 10 doubles. He’s a lifetime .274/.327/.343 hitter at the Triple-A level and could end up elsewhere on waivers, though he’s never excelled at throwing out runners (23 percent in the minors) and draws routinely negative framing marks. From that standpoint, it’s not difficult to see why the Reds felt that Graterol was a superior option to function as the third catcher on their 40-man roster, behind Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart.
We’ll use this post to keep track of the players being added to their teams’ respective 40-man rosters today, which is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. Players must be added to the big league roster within either four years (if they were 19 or older at the time of their original signing) or five years (if 18 or younger) of their signing year in order to be shielded from selection.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo took a look at some of the biggest names who face roster decisions, though most of those won’t be much in question. At the fringes, teams must also consider the major league readiness of the player, since that factors heavily into whether they’ll be taken and kept. Any drafting team, of course, must keep a player on its active MLB roster for the full season (with certain exceptions relating to the DL) in order for their control rights to vest. Adding a player to the 40-man too early can have its own risks, because it limits flexibility and could require a team to expose that player to waivers if a need arises. With 26-man rosters reportedly under consideration, the Rule 5 draft could be quite intriguing this year, and that may bleed into today’s decisions as well.
Below is a division-by-division rundown of the names that were added to each team’s 40-man roster (plus the various waiver claims that spawned from teams trying to outright players to protect Rule 5-eligible prospects). We won’t delve into each player’s background, but if you’re looking to a little more about the names that were added, I’d highly recommend this tremendous, in-depth examination of each team’s additions by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. If you want to see how the moves look in the context of a team’s roster, head over to Roster Resource for your club’s depth chart.
Onto the moves…
American League West
- Angels: Nate Smith (LHP), Keynan Middleton (RHP), Austin Adams (RHP) and Eduardo Paredes (RHP)
- Astros: None today
- Athletics: Paul Blackburn (RHP), Bobby Wahl (RHP), Franklin Barreto (SS), Yairo Munoz (INF) and Jaycob Brugman (OF)
- Mariners: Paul Fry (LHP), D.J. Peterson (1B/3B) and Thyago Vieira (RHP); Also acquired LHP James Pazos (link), 1B/OF Richie Shaffer and INF/OF Taylor Motter (link)
- Rangers: Ronald Guzman (1B); Also claimed RHP Tyler Wagner
American League Central
- Indians: Francisco Mejia (C); Also claimed LHPs Tim Cooney (link) and Edwin Escobar (link)
- Royals: Andrew Edwards (RHP), Jake Junis (RHP), Cam Gallagher (C), Samir Duenez (1B)
- Tigers: Sandy Baez (RHP)
- Twins: Felix Jorge (RHP), Fernando Romero (RHP), Zach Granite (OF), Daniel Palka (OF), Mitch Garver (C), Engelb Vielma (SS)
- White Sox: Brad Goldberg (RHP), Adam Engel (OF), Jacob May (OF)
American League East
- Blue Jays: Anthony Alford (OF), Ryan Borucki (LHP), Richard Urena (INF); Also claimed RHPs Dominic Leone (link) and Leonel Campos (link)
- Orioles: Joe Gunkel (RHP) and Jesus Liranzo (RHP)
- Rays: Chih-Wei Hu (RHP), Hunter Wood (RHP), Ryne Stanek (RHP), Austin Pruitt (RHP), Jaime Schultz (RHP), Willy Adames (INF), Daniel Robertson (INF) and Jose Alvarado (LHP)
- Red Sox: Kyle Martin (RHP) and Luis Ysla (LHP)
- Yankees: Miguel Andujar (INF), Dietrich Enns (LHP), Jorge Mateo (SS), Giovanny Gallegos (RHP), Ronald Herrera (RHP) and Yefrey Ramirez (RHP)
National League West
- Diamondbacks: Anthony Banda (LHP), Jimmie Sherfy (RHP), Dawel Lugo (SS), Jack Reinheimer (INF) and Ildemaro Vargas (2B)
- Dodgers: Chase De Jong (RHP), Jacob Rhame (RHP) and Kyle Farmer (C)
- Giants: Orlando Calixte (SS), Miguel Gomez (3B), Reyes Moronta (RHP), Dan Slania (RHP), Chase Johnson (RHP)
- Padres: Franchy Cordero (OF),Javier Guerra (SS), Walker Lockett (RHP), Jose Ruiz (C)
- Rockies: Yency Almonte (RHP), Shane Carle (RHP), Rayan Gonzalez (RHP), Zach Jemiola (RHP) and Sam Moll (LHP)
National League Central
- Brewers: Josh Hader (LHP), Taylor Williams (RHP), Lewis Brinson (OF), Ryan Cordell (OF) and Brett Phillips (OF); Also claimed 1B/OF Adam Walker
- Cardinals: Magneuris Sierra (OF), Eliezer Alvarez (INF), Edmundo Sosa (INF) and Rowan Wick (RHP)
- Cubs: Victor Caratini (C), Duane Underwood (RHP), Jacob Hannemann (OF) and Jack Leathersich (LHP); Also claimed LHP David Rollins
- Pirates: Clay Holmes (RHP)
- Reds: Barrett Astin (RHP), Keury Mella (RHP), Jackson Stephens (RHP), Nick Travieso (RHP), Aristides Aquino (OF), Phil Ervin (OF) and Jesse Winker (OF)
National League East
- Braves: Max Fried (LHP), Lucas Sims (RHP), Johan Carmago (INF); Also claimed C Tuffy Gosewisch
- Marlins: Luis Castillo (RHP), Drew Steckenrider (RHP), Austin Nola (INF), J.T. Riddle (INF); Also claimed LHP Elvis Araujo
- Mets: Amed Rosario (SS), Wuilmer Becerra (OF), Chris Flexen (RHP), Marcos Molina (RHP), and Tomas Nido (C)
- Nationals: Austin Voth (RHP), Rafael Bautista (OF), Raudy Read (C), Matt Skole (1B/3B) and Jose Marmolejos (1B/OF)
- Phillies: Drew Anderson (RHP), Mark Appel (RHP), Ricardo Pinto (RHP), Nick Pivetta (RHP), Alberto Tirado (RHP), Ben Lively (RHP), Dylan Cozens (OF), Nick Williams (OF), Andrew Knapp (C), Elniery Garcia (LHP) and Jesmuel Valentin (2B)
- Reds GM Dick Williams continues to downplay any notion that Joey Votto could be traded, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. Speaking at last week’s GM Meetings, Williams said that he “certainly [hasn’t] had any discussions with [Votto]” about waiving his no-trade clause, per Sheldon. Williams said that the constant speculation is understandable for a player of Votto’s caliber but believes the first baseman will be at the center of the team’s lineup throughout the rebuild and beyond. As we’ve pointed out here at MLBTR many times, Votto also has a full no-trade clause and has gone on record as saying he has no desire to leave Cincinnati. Sheldon offers another quote from Votto, from 2015: “I just absolutely love playing here. I really like where I live. … I like the location of the ballpark and the fans and the clubhouse and the uniform and the number on my back — all the littlest things that people take for granted are very comfortable to me and something I look forward to. I don’t think of myself as anything other than a Cincinnati Red. It’s one of the really cool things about having a no-trade clause.”
The Mariners nearly acquired Reds shortstop Zack Cozart prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, and their interest in the veteran infielder has persisted into the offseason, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Dutton has previously reported that back on Aug. 1, the Mariners and Reds were in talks that would’ve sent Cozart and a minor leaguer to Seattle in exchange for minor league left-hander Luiz Gohara and another prospect, but the deal never materialized, as Dutton suggested that Cincinnati simply ran out of time to complete the deal after dedicating so much effort to completing its Jay Bruce trade with the Mets.
Seattle still holds interest in Cozart, according to Dutton, but the team seemingly considers a shortstop upgrade more of a luxury than a necessity. “We don’t need a shortstop,” one Seattle exec told Dutton. “We have [Ketel] Marte, and we think he’s going to be fine in the long term. Now could he benefit from some additional development time in the minors? Yes. We did that with [Mike] Zunino, and we think that really helped him. But it’s not the same. Zunino absolutely needed that development time. With Marte, we think it would be beneficial, but it’s not a must.”
If the Mariners do feel that Marte would benefit from additional time in the minors, then Cozart, on paper anyway, would seemingly be an excellent stopgap. The 31-year-old is somewhat OBP-challenged (.309 OBP over the past two seasons) but is one of the game’s premier defenders at shortstop and has demonstrated considerably improved power numbers in the past two seasons as well. Cozart hit 15 homers as a rookie in 2012 but saw that number dip to 12 in 2013 and just four in 2014. He belted nine long balls in just 53 games in 2015, though (his season was cut short by a knee injury), and connected on a career-best 16 homers last year despite playing in just 121 games.
The abbreviated nature of those past two seasons illustrates a potential area of concern when it comes to Cozart: his durability. Cozart suffered a torn ACL and LCL that ended his 2015 season in mid-June, and on multiple occasions in 2016 he missed a handful of games due to knee problems that didn’t necessitate a trip to the disabled list. However, his season did ultimately come to an end in September when his right knee forced him to the disabled list. Cozart’s final game of the year came on Sept. 10.
As for Marte, the 23-year-old looked to have solidified his place in the Mariners’ lineup with a terrific rookie season (2015) during which he slashed .283/.351/.402, but his offensive production cratered in 2016. In 466 plate appearances for Seattle this past year, Marte hit just .259/.287/.323 and saw his walk rate plummet from 9.7 percent to 3.9 percent. On top of that, he drew negative marks for his defense at shortstop. Marte debuted as a 21-year-old and played the entire 2016 season at the age of 22, so recommending some additional minor league time would hardly mean the organization has given up on him.
Even if the Mariners aren’t the team to ultimately acquire Cozart, it does seem like there’s a solid chance he’ll be moved this offseason. Cincinnati general manager Dick Williams said at last week’s GM Meetings that a Cozart trade was “something we’d have to consider” if it could put the club in a better position for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. And the Reds have a pair of intriguing middle-infield prospects in Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera that the team would like to work into the lineup in 2017, which should lead to plenty of chatter about both Cozart and second baseman Brandon Phillips as the winter progresses.
- Like Rutledge, Reds utilityman Ivan De Jesus has also elected free agency in lieu of an outright assignment. De Jesus picked up 465 PAs with the Reds during the previous two seasons and garnered playing time in the infield and outfield, but he batted just .249/.311/.341 along the way. Cincinnati also released right-hander Soid Marquez, who threw 186 2/3 innings with low-level Reds affiliates from 2012-16 and posted a 5.26 ERA, 6.7 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.