David Aardsma Rumors

Braves Recall Christian Bethancourt, Designate David Aardsma

The Braves announced a series of roster moves today, most notably recalling young catcher Christian Bethancourt from Triple-A Gwinnett and designating veteran reliever David Aardsma for assignment. Outfielder Eury Perez has also been optioned to Triple-A, with righty Sugar Ray Marimon being recalled to join the bullpen.

Originally signed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers, the 33-year-old Aardsma excelled at the Triple-A level and opted out of his contract with L.A. in May, quickly latching on with the Braves. Aardsma was added to the big league bullpen in relatively short order, and he’s totaled 30 2/3 innings of relief with Atlanta this year.

Though he’s missed quite a few bats (10.3 K/9 and a career-best 14.8 percent swinging-strike rate), Aardsma has also been more homer-prone than usual, surrendering six long balls in his time with the Braves. Paired with a 4.1 BB/9 rate, he’s posted a 4.70 ERA this season. He’s already cleared revocable waivers, so the Braves will have the ability to try to trade him for a nominal return if there are teams intrigued by Aardsma’s strikeout capabilities. xFIP and SIERA, which both normalize his abnormally high homer-to-flyball rate, peg him a 4.13 and 3.44, respectively, giving some hope for improved performance.

As for Bethancourt, the 23-year-old was looked at as Atlanta’s catcher of the future not long ago and may still be, though reports earlier this year tied the Braves to young catchers. Bethancourt batted just .198/.221/.287 in 104 PAs earlier this year and has batted just .223/.248/.279 in 222 big league PAs. However, he was hitting .327/.359/.480 at Triple-A this season and is lauded by scouts for his defensive prowess, including a throwing arm which many grade as an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

Reed, Rodney, Axford, Mujica, Aardsma Clear Waivers

Right-handers Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Edward Mujica and David Aardsma have all cleared revocable trade waivers, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, making them eligible to be dealt to any club.

Of the listed group, only the veteran Aardsma has even posted a sub-4.00 ERA this season, as the 33-year-old has a 3.95 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 27 1/3 innings with the Braves. He’s generating grounders at just a 29.9 percent clip though and has had some home run issues to go along with his questionable control. Aardsma inked a minor league deal with the Braves, so his salary for the remainder of the season is light in comparison to the peers with whom he’s listed.

Reed, 26, was an up-and-coming closer not long ago was viewed in a strong enough light for the D-Backs to surrender one of their top prospects (Matt Davidson) for him in the 2013-14 offseason. His first season with the Diamondbacks resulted in a 4.25 ERA, however, and he’s up to 4.46 this season. Reed lost his job to Brad Ziegler earlier in the year and has been demoted to Triple-A this season.

Since returning, Reed has yielded just one run on nine hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in 10 innings, so things do look considerably brighter of late. However, Reed is also earning $4.875MM this season, and he’s still owed about $1.33MM of that sum through season’s end. He’s controllable through the 2017 season but is a definite non-tender candidate following the season, as he’ll top $5MM via arbitration despite his 2015 struggles.

The 38-year-old Rodney is perhaps the least surprising name on Sherman’s list. In 50 innings this season, he’s posted a 5.05 ERA with diminished strikeout (7.6 K/9) and walk (4.1 BB/9) rates to go along with a career-worst 1.44 HR/9 rate. Rodney’s fastball is averaging 94.9 mph, so he still has plenty of heat, but the results haven’t been there in 2015, and he’s owed $1.91MM of his $7MM salary through season’s end.

Axford, 32, has seen his share of struggles as well in his first year with the Rockies. Axford began the year in dominant fashion, yielding just one run in 19 innings and usurping LaTroy Hawkins as the Colorado closer. However, in the 19 2/3 innings that have followed that initial stretch, he’s been tagged for 19 runs on a dismal 29 hits and 15 walks. Teams in search of relief help may have some degree of hope that Coors Field has contributed to his poor results of late; Axford does have a 5.32 ERA in Denver versus a 3.78 ERA on the road. But, walks are walks in any park, and Axford has issued 10 free passes in 16 2/3 innings on the road.

Mujica has already been designated for assignment once this season (by the Red Sox), and his numbers have only worsened following a trade to the Athletics. The 31-year-old is still showing excellent control (1.3 BB/9 rate), but he’s averaging just six strikeouts per nine innings and has been entirely too hittable. Opponents are batting .309/.336/.525 against Mujica in 2015, and the result has been an unsightly 5.25 ERA. Even if he weren’t owed $1.3MM through the end of the season, he’d be a tough sell as a bullpen upgrade for a team seeking relief help.

Each of these relievers has been added to MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers, which can be always be found under the MLBTR Features on the right-hand sidebar for desktop users.

Minor Moves: Perry, Aardsma, Reimold

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Tigers have released righty Ryan Perry, according to the International League transactions page. Perry, 28, struggled badly this year at Triple-A amid injury issues, and the same could be said, more or less, of the prior two seasons as well. His career started with real promise — he rose quickly through the minors and tossed 124 1/3 frames of 3.69 ERA ball out of the Detroit pen back in 2009-10 — but has failed to remain on course since. The 2008 first-round pick returned to the Tigers as a minor league free agent this winter after a few seasons in the Nationals organization.
  • Two veterans are headed back to the majors today, as the Braves selected the contract of just-signed reliever David Aardsma and the Orioles did the same with outfielder Nolan Reimold. Aardsma came to Atlanta after opting out of his deal with the Dodgers. He has thrown 19 2/3 solid innings at Triple-A, striking out 11.4 and walking 3.2 batters per nine en route to a 2.29 ERA. Reimold, who rejoined the Baltimore organization after departing last year, has slashed .286/.351/.389 over his 194 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors.

Braves Sign Aardsma To Minor League Deal

The Braves have signed right-handed reliever David Aardsma to a minor league deal, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com. He opted out of his contract with the Dodgers on June 1. With Los Angeles’ Triple-A affiliate, Aardsma posted a 2.41 ERA with 11.09 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9 in 18 and two-thirds innings. He will report to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Aardsma last appeared in the majors with the Mets in 2013. Over his career, he has a 4.23 ERA with 8.96 K/9 and 4.97 BB/9. His best seasons came with the Mariners in 2009 through 2010 when he collected 69 saves in 121 innings. A hip injury and Tommy John surgery caused him to miss most of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

The Braves bullpen is the worst in the majors by conventional measures. Adding Aardsma is a savvy, low risk move for the club. Atlanta has used 16 relievers, and they have contributed a league worst 5.03 ERA. Advanced metrics like SIERA and xFIP rate the club between the second and fifth worst bullpen.

Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson have acquitted themselves nicely in the late innings, but the front end of the bullpen remains in disarray. Given the state of affairs in Atlanta, Aardsma should have an opportunity to rejoin the majors.

David Aardsma Opts Out Of Dodgers Contract

Right-hander David Aardsma has opted out of his minor league contract with the Dodgers and is now a free agent, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). The veteran righty had a June 1 opt-out clause that triggered a 72-hour window for the Dodgers to place him on the 25-man roster, which expired today.

The 33-year-old Aardsma has pitched quite well for L.A.’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, working to an excellent 2.41 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 15 saves in 18 2/3 innings. Aardsma recently explained to The Oklahoman’s Jacob Unruh that his offseason work in a strengthening program called Top Velocity helped him add a couple of ticks back to his fastball, which is now regularly sitting in the 91-93 mph range.

Aardsma enjoyed a successful run as the Mariners’ closer from 2009-10, tallying a 2.90 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 121 innings before hip surgery and Tommy John surgery put his career on hold. He made a brief return to the Majors late in 2012, throwing an inning for the Yankees, and he spent much of the 2013 campaign in the Mets’ bullpen, working to a 4.31 ERA in 39 1/3 innings.

In the 2013-14 offseaon, Aardsma signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals, and his 2014 success at Triple-A was similar, if not even greater than the success he has enjoyed thus far in 2015. However, a groin injury ended his 2014 season after 35 innings of 1.29 ERA ball with the Cardinals’ top minor league affiliate.

Aardsma is one of a handful of pitchers to opt out of his minor league deal in early June. We’ve also seen J.C. Gutierrez, Robert Coello and Kevin Correia opt out of their deals with the Giants, and lefty Dana Eveland opted out of his Red Sox contract last night. The recent influx of experienced arms on the free agent market will give teams that are searching for bullpen help a deeper pool from which to draw.

Just today, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that his club is on the lookout for right-handed relief options. The Braves, too, are said to be trying to trade for relief help, but it stands to reason that their reluctance to spend significant money could lead them to look to recent opt-outs as well.

NL West Notes: Dahl, Aardsma, Bradley, Cahill

Rockies prospect David Dahl was at one point thought to be out for the season following a collision that led to a massive laceration on his spleen, but he’s now opted for a splenectomy and, incredibly, is hoping to return to the field within six weeks, agent Adam Karon tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick“David has put in an incredible amount of work the last two offseasons, and he just couldn’t fathom the idea of a shortened season,” Karon told Crasnick. “…A normal person would just leave the spleen in. But for an athlete, there’s an additional risk of the spleen rupturing again in a collision. David said, ‘I can’t play the rest of my career worrying about this, and I don’t want to miss any more time this year than I have to.'” Dahl got off to a slow start at Double-A this season, but it seems likely that he’ll get a chance to improve those numbers yet — an outcome that seemed impossible as recently as one week ago.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • The Dodgers are in the midst of a 72-hour window to make a decision on veteran right-hander David Aardsma, writes Jacob Unruh of The Oklahoman. The 33-year-old Aardsma has been lights-out in relief for the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City this year, but the team may not be able to find room for him on the 25-man roster. Aardsma’s contract contains a June 1 opt-out that triggers the 72-hour window; he must be added to the roster or he can elect free agency. Aardsma reworked his mechanics and went throw a program called Top Velocity this offseason in an effort to rediscover his velocity, and he tells Unruh that he feels he can contribute to a Major League bullpen again. If the results in Triple-A are any indication, that may well be true, as Aardsma has posted a 2.55 ERA with a 21-to-7 K/BB ratio and 15 saves in 17 2/3 innings thus far.
  • Archie Bradley is placing the Diamondbacks in a tough spot, writes Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. The top prospect won a job in the rotation out of Spring Training — impressing the team so much that they traded Trevor Cahill to clear a place for him — but he’s struggled since returning from a frightening injury. Bradley missed two weeks after being struck in the face by a Carlos Gonzalez line drive, and since coming back, he’s averaged just four innings a start and allowed 19 runs in 15 2/3 innings. Bradley maintains that the injury isn’t the reason for his downturn in performance, but as Buchanan notes, the D-Backs rank at the top of the league in terms of innings pitched by their bullpen. Bradley’s current inability to work deep into games is further stretching the club’s relief corps, but despite that troubling trend, general manager Dave Stewart told Buchanan that there are “no plans right now” to make a move involving Bradley.
  • Speaking of Cahill, the right-hander recently spoke to the Republic’s Sarah McLellan about being traded to Atlanta at the end of Spring Training. Cahill said that it was “kind of shocking” to be traded with just one day of camp remaining, but he ultimately told himself to view the transaction as a new opportunity. Of his time with the Snakes, Cahill told McLellan, “I worked hard and competed as best as I could, but I wished I could have done more to help the team.” His struggles have persisted to this point in Atlanta, where he’s pitched to a 7.33 ERA with 12 strikeouts against 11 walks in 23 1/3 innings and ceded his spot in the rotation to young flamethrower Mike Foltynewicz.
  • A pair of NL West news items came in late last night as well, for those who had turned in for the evening: the D-Backs announced that Tuffy Gosewisch will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, and veteran righty Juan Gutierrez opted out of his minor league deal with the Giants.

Quick Hits: Opt-Outs, Correia, Draft, Rodriguez, Braves

June 1 (that’s Monday) is a popular opt-out date, with multiple players having the chance to become free agents if not elevated to the big league roster. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation ran down a few of those on Twitter: David Aardsma of the Dodgers, Juan Gutierrez and Kevin Correia of the Giants, Rich Hill of the Nationals, and Brad Penny of the White Sox. (He also lists Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but he’s now up with the D’Backs.) As MLBTR’s Steve Adams notes (Twitter links), Aardsma is throwing quite well at Triple-A, and could well end up opting out — making him a nice target for teams in need of an arm.

  • One player who is very likely to find a new home is the Giants‘ Correia, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Correia will likely be released today, says Crasnick, as the team doesn’t have a need for his services at the big league level. He has been effective thus far at Triple-A, throwing 37 2/3 innings of 3.58 ERA ball over six starts and posting 6.0 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
  • The upcoming draft is not going to feature two eligible players, as righty/first baseman Luken Baker will head to TCU and center fielder Kevin Collard intends to play at San Diego, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). Kiley rated Baker the 40th-best prospect available, noting that he could end up as either a pitcher or position player.
  • In a recent chat, Ben Badler of Baseball America addressed the question of how Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (read more on him here) stacks up against current minor leaguers. Badler says that, while some teams place a higher value on Rodriguez’s skillset (weak bat, good fielding and speed) than do others, he wouldn’t place him within the game’s 200 best prospects.
  • Badler also says that he hears the Braves are planning to make a huge push in the international market — not this coming July 2, but next. Atlanta seems to be hoping to take advantage of the fact that several big-spending teams will be restricted from giving out $300K+ bonuses in that market.
  • Roc Nation has hired former Excel agent Kyle Thousand to head up its baseball representation operations as managing director, Crasnick tweets.

Quick Hits: Aardsma, Murphy, Rodon, Boras

Dodgers reliever David Aardsma has allowed his opt-out date to pass without exercising his clause, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. The 33-year-old has not thrown in the bigs since 2013, but was lights out at Triple-A last year and has continued that success into the current season. He looks like useful relief depth for Los Angeles.

Let’s round up the day’s news with a few more links:

  • Giants executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean has been taking in the Mets‘ weekend series, ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports. Rubin cautions that it is not clear precisely why Sabean is on hand, though obviously San Francisco looks like a theoretical match for Daniel Murphy — who is slotting in at third base at present while New York awaits the return of David Wright. Of course, his young would-be replacement at second, Dilson Herrera, has looked somewhat overmatched in his first two games back in the bigs, with four strikeouts and an infield hit to show from eight plate appearances.
  • The White Sox are still feeling out how they will use rookie lefty Carlos Rodon, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. Chicago is burning through Rodon’s service time while giving him relatively little action as the team tries to balance the need to introduce him to the bigs, keep him stretched out, and conserve his innings.
  • Agent Scott Boras says he believes that the MLB rules should be loosened to allow the free trading of all draft picks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. “Trade picks, trade players — there should be a whole universe of options,” opined Boras. “I’m a believer that you want as many chips on the table so the intellect can operate and a master plan can be created from a variety of different avenues of trade, draft, scouting and development, free agency, all the structures.” Of course, as one executive notes to Piecoro, opening that avenue of trade activity could potentially transfer leverage to premium players who have a desire to influence their ultimate destination.
  • Boras also rejected the idea of allowing teams expanded access to medical information, stating forcefully: “That’s not going to work.” Citing concern with players’ rights not to have their medical information spread broadly to every team, Boras previewed some of the difficulties in addressing what promises to be a tricky issue on which to build a consensus between the players and the league.

Dodgers Notes: Aardsma Opt-Out, Hamilton, Ryu

Right-hander David Aardsma has a May 1 opt-out on his Minor League pact with the Dodgers, Jacob Unruh of NewsOK.com reported yesterday. Aardsma can opt out on Friday if another club wants him on its Major League roster, and he has a complete opt-out from the Dodgers on June 15, per Unruh. The 33-year-old veteran didn’t make the club’s bullpen out of Spring Training despite strong numbers, but he’s continued to pitch effectively, yielding one run on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in seven Triple-A innings. Aardsma hasn’t logged significant big league action since 2013, but he pitched quite well for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate last year (1.48 ERA, 38-to-18 K/BB ratio in 37 innings) before a groin injury sidelined him for the season’s second half. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been surprisingly dominant despite incurring significant injuries, and with Kenley Jansen nearing a return, things will get even more crowded, further blocking Aardsma’s path to L.A. It wouldn’t be a shock for one of the many teams around the league in need of ‘pen help to look at the former Mariners closer as a potential upgrade.

Here’s more on the Dodgers…

  • The Dodgers were involved in trade talks regarding Josh Hamilton before he was moved to the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, the Dodgers were more interested in acting as a third party with the Angels and Rangers, contributing cash to the deal as a means of acquiring prospects to add to their farm system. The Dodgers also discussed a straight up deal to acquire Hamilton, according to Heyman, but even in that scenario they’d likely have just flipped Hamilton to the Rangers in the long run, as they weren’t interested in adding to their outfield glut. This marks another effort by the Dodgers’ new front office to use the team’s financial muscle to bolster the farm system in a unique way. The Dodgers already essentially bought a draft pick by agreeing to take on Ryan Webb‘s $2.75MM salary from the Orioles in order to convince Baltimore to part with a Competitive Balance draft selection.
  • Left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu is at least a month away from rejoining the Dodgers’ roster, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted yesterday. The loss of Ryu for nearly two months and of Brandon McCarthy for the entire season has thinned out the Dodger rotation considerably, though president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman recently stated that he was likely to utilize internal options until at least June as he assessed what the team had in-house.

Dodgers To Sign David Aardsma

Right-hander David Aardsma has signed with the Dodgers, the pitcher himself tweeted today. As MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick writes, Aardsma will be in Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee looking to secure a spot in the team’s bullpen. Aardsma is represented by TWC Sports.

Aardsma, formerly the closer for the Mariners (he saved 69 games in Seattle from 2009-10), spent the 2014 season with the Cardinals, working to an excellent 1.46 ERA with 38 strikeouts against 18 walks in 37 minor league innings. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently noted, Aardsma has re-worked his mechanics and seen improved velocity as a result. Last week, I tweeted that Aardsma’s velocity reached 92 mph in his final bullpen session, which was attended by 18 scouts.

A groin injury ultimately ended Aardsma’s 2014 campaign and halted his chances of making an impact with the Cardinals’ bullpen, but 33-year-old does bring some upside to L.A. if healthy. Over his past 161 2/3 innings in the Majors, Aardsma has a 3.28 ERA with 166 strikeouts against 79 walks. He’ll look to force his way into a mix of arms that includes closer Kenley Jansen as well as setup men J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Joel Peralta. Other candidates for the Dodger ‘pen include Paco Rodriguez, Carlos Frias, Pedro Baez, Juan Nicasio and Chris Hatcher.