Drew Butera Rumors

Quick Hits: A-Rod, Gutierrez, Butera, Manfred

With a solo shot off of Chris Tillman during tonight’s 4-3 Yankees win over the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez officially passed Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.  Rodriguez’s 661 career homers put him behind only Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in the record books.  While A-Rod’s feat is certainly noteworthy in its own right, his homers have drawn even more attention due to the controversy around the so-called “milestone” bonuses in his contract that the Yankees are refusing to pay.  Here’s some more news from around the league…

  • Cuban right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez is now eligible to sign with teams during the 2015-16 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  Gutierrez has received residency in Mexico and registered with MLB, though since he still needs to be officially declared a free agent by the league, he may not be able to sign immediately when the signing period opens on July 2.  Gutierrez will be subject to the international bonus pool limits, so teams that are facing $300K signing caps in the upcoming signing period (the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) won’t be able to afford the promising youngster.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was hoping to keep Drew Butera after the catcher was designated for assignment, but as Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez), “it became fairly clear that he was going to get claimed on waivers, so putting together a trade made the most sense.”  Butera was dealt to the Royals for infielder Ryan Jackson earlier today.
  • On the Royals side of that trade, GM Dayton Moore told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan) that Butera won’t supplant Erik Kratz as the primary backup catcher.  “We’re just trying to get through this period of time,” Moore said, in reference to Kratz’s stint on the DL with an injured foot.  Since Butera is out of options, I’d guess he could be on the move again once Kratz is healthy.
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters before a recent Rangers/Astros game about a number of baseball topics, including the possibility of a shorter schedule.  The Associated Press has a partial recap of Manfred’s comments.
  • One topic that isn’t a major priority for the league office is adjusting the designated-for-assignment period.  As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets, Manfred said “that rule actually has functioned fairly effectively over a period of time.”  Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal and MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth both recently explored how some players, like Alex Hassan, can have their careers essentially put on hold due to constantly being in “DFA limbo.”
  • In his latest Insider-only post, ESPN’s Buster Olney cites the AthleticsScott Kazmir and the RedsMike Leake as potential trade candidates if their teams continue to struggle.  Both hurlers are scheduled for free agency this winter.  Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be interested in either pitcher to bolster their rotation, while Kazmir could also be a fit with the Red Sox or Astros.
  • While the Marlins bullpen hasn’t pitched very well this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro doesn’t think the club needs to turn to Edward Mujica, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier today.  Mujica pitched well for the Marlins in 2011-12 but as Frisaro notes, he’s struggled this year and Miami doesn’t really have any roster space for him.

Royals Acquire Drew Butera From Angels For Ryan Jackson

The Royals have acquired catcher Drew Butera from the Angels, Kansas City announced. Infielder Ryan Jackson will head back to the Halos in the deal.

For Kansas City to create roster space, lefty Tim Collins has been moved to the 60-day DL. Butera, who was designated for assignment recently by Los Angeles, will presumably slot in as the club’s backup catcher. He has never done much offensively, but represents an experienced option behind starter Salvador Perez, who is the league’s most heavily relied-upon backstop.

Jackson, 26, saw very brief major league time with the Cardinals but has mostly played at the Triple-A level in recent years. Over parts of four years at the last stop in the minors, he owns a .275/.346/.371 batting line.


Angels Designate Drew Butera For Assignment

The Angels have designated catcher Drew Butera for assignment, director of communications Eric Kay announced on Twitter. Carlos Perez will be brought up to take his spot.

Butera, 31, was installed as the team’s backup this year after the trade of Hank Conger. The journeyman has just three singles in 21 plate appearances this year. Over 754 turns at bat at the big league level, he owns a .183/.238/.266 slash. Butera has also seen time with the Twins and Dodgers.

In retrospect, at least, it seems likely that Butera was destined to keep the seat warm for Perez, a 24-year-old who came over in the Conger deal along with righty Nick Tropeano. Rated by Baseball America as the Halos’ 25th-best prospect entering the year, based largely on his quality defensive profile, Perez has come alive offensively this year. Through 79 Triple-A plate appearances, he owns a .361/.418/.556 slash with as many walks as strikeouts (seven apiece).



AL West Notes: Moss/Donaldson Trades, Joba, Johnson, Angels, Castro

Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.

A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…

  • Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
  • The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
  • Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
  • Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy“All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
  • Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.

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.

(more…)


Angels, Dodgers Complete Drew Butera Trade

The Dodgers announced today that they have acquired infielder/outfielder Matt Long from the Angels to complete last week’s Drew Butera trade. However, the team also announced that it has has immediately flipped Long and left-hander Jarret Martin to the Brewers in exchange for catcher Shawn Zarraga, essentially making the entire sequence into a minor three-team trade.

A 2009 30th-round draft pick, Long has never appeared on an Angels Top 30 prospect list (per Baseball America), but he does have a solid minor league track record. The 27-year-old has yet to reach the Majors but owns a nice career slash line of .279/.358/.442 in 1102 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.

The 25-year-old Martin was previously designated for assignment and outrighted this past offseason. He spent the 2014 campaign with Double-A Chattanooga where he posted a strong 3.29 ERA in 54 2/3 innings of relief. While Martin’s 64 strikeouts in that time were impressive, he also walked a very troublesome 48 hitters. Control problems have long been an issue for Martin, who has averaged 6.1 walks per nine innings since being selected in the 18th round of the 2009 draft.

Zarraga is a 25-year-old catcher that was born in Aruba but attended high school in Florida and was selected in the 44th round by the Brewers in 2007. Zarraga was excellent at Double-A this past season, hitting .330/.440/.419 in 267 plate appearances, but he batted just .213/.304/.255 in 57 PA at Triple-A — his first crack at that level.


Angels Acquire Drew Butera From Dodgers

2:22pm: The Dodgers announced that they will receive a player to be named later or cash considerations for the catcher.

2:14pm: The Angels have acquired Drew Butera from the Dodgers, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter).  Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter) first reported that the Halos were close to acquiring Butera.

Halos GM Jerry Dipoto said that he was on the verge of landing a backup catcher just minutes ago (via Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com on Twitter) and it turned out to be Butera.  The 31-year-old isn’t much of a hitter – he boasts a career .183/.239/.268 slash line across parts of five big league seasons – but he’s known for solid defensive play.  That reputation behind the plate was enough for him to get a combined 733 plate appearances between the Twins and Dodgers.

The Dodgers designated Butera for assignment last week after claiming Ryan Lavarnway off waivers.


Dodgers Claim Ryan Lavarnway, Designate Drew Butera

The Dodgers announced that they have claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Red Sox and designated fellow backstop Drew Butera for assignment (Twitter link).

The 27-year-old Lavarnway has seen MLB action in parts of four seasons with the Red Sox but failed to establish himself at the plate, having posted a combined .201/.249/.315 batting line in 301 plate appearances. Formerly ranked as a Top 100 prospect by both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, Lavarnway has a strong minor league track record, including a .284/.377/.448 triple-slash in 1102 Triple-A plate appearances. He comes with more upside at the plate than the defense-first, though Lavarnway has caught just 10 of 63 potential base-stealers in the Majors (16 percent) and didn’t stand out in terms of pitch-framing in his two longest Major League stints.

Butera, 31, is a glove-first catcher that has never hit much at any level and owns just a .183/.239/.268 batting line in the Majors. However, his reputation behind the plate has led to him receiving 733 plate appearances between the Twins and Dodgers (192 with L.A. in 2014) in spite of his deficiencies with the bat.

The Dodgers’ catching situation remains in flux, as the team was in hard on Russell Martin earlier this offseason and has recently been linked to Yasmani Grandal in trade rumors. A.J. Ellis typically steady bat took a large step backwards in 2014, and improving the production behind the plate appears to be a priority for the new front office regime.


Dodgers Avoid Arbitration With Elbert, Butera

4:50pm: Butera's deal includes $100K in attainable performance bonuses, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Likewise, Elbert can earn up to $100k in incentive pay, Heyman further tweets.

4:01pm: The Dodgers' deals with Elbert, Butera, and Mike Baxter are all non-guaranteed, Hernandez tweets.

3:49pm: The Dodgers have avoided arbitration with Scott Elbert and Drew Butera, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).  Elbert gets a one-year, $575K deal while Butera will earn $700K (link).  

Our own Matt Swartz projected that Elbert would earn $600K through arbitration while Butera would get $700K.  Elbert, 28, underwent Tommy John surgery in June and was considered a non-tender candidate, but it would appear that the Dodgers are confident that he will bounce back strong in 2014.  The lefty reliever posted a 2.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 2012.  

Butera, 30, saw just six big league games in total last season for the Twins and Dodgers.  The catcher came to Los Angeles in a July 31st deal for a player to be named later.  In 43 Triple-A games last year, Butera hit just .187/.228 /.281.

The Dodgers have now avoided arbitration with three of their players today after signing Elbert, Butera, and Mike Baxter earlier today.  There are four remaining arbitration eligible Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis, and Ronald Belisario.


AL Central Notes: Yost, Iglesias, Sulbaran

Royals manager Ned Yost would like Major League Baseball to change its rules regarding September callups, Dick Kaegel and Kathleen Gier of MLB.com report. Teams who call up more players will have more tactical options than teams who call up fewer, so Yost would prefer to have teams limited to a specific number of players they can use each day, perhaps 28 to 30. Here are more notes from the AL Central.

  • Jose Iglesias is back in Boston after being sent from the Red Sox to the Tigers in the Jake Peavy deal, MLB.com's Jason Beck notes. New manager Jim Leyland is trying to help his new shortstop refine his play and become more consistent. "You don't want to take any of that aggressiveness and energy away," says Leyland. "You just have to make sure you channel it in the proper direction. I think it takes time to let that happen."
  • The Twins had a choice of players they could take as the PTBNL in the Drew Butera deal with the Dodgers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. They eventually settled on 19-year-old lefty Miguel Sulbaran, who has pitched well as a starter in Class A this year. Sulbaran is undersized and may struggle as he ascends through the minors, but he still appears to be a very strong return for the Twins, given that Butera recently turned 30 and has only played in Triple-A in the Dodgers organization so far.