Eli Whiteside Rumors

NL West Notes: Whiteside, Johnson, Descalso, Guerrero

Catcher Eli Whiteside has opted to accept a coaching job with the Giants rather than taking one of several offers he had to continue playing, MLB.com’s Chris Haft reports. The veteran played in parts of six MLB seasons, including a three-year run in which he was a significant contributor for San Francisco. He will retire after getting one last short run in the bigs last year with the Cubs.

More from the NL West:

  • Padres righty Josh Johnson has progressed to the point that he’ll throw to a catcher on flat ground, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. With his training program currently on track, Johnson is scheduled to throw a pen session for the first time by mid-March with a target of game action by June, if all goes according to plan. Johnson’s deal with San Diego promises him only $1MM but can increase all the way to $7.25MM if he maxes out his incentives.
  • Fellow two-time TJ patient Cory Luebke is also hoping to return strong for the Padres, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. The story details some of the ups and downs that Luebke has had in dealing with his two procedures. As with Johnson, 2015 is something of a make-good season for the lefty: his early-career extension is up after the season, when San Diego will have to decide whether to exercise a $7.5MM option or pay a $1.75MM buyout.
  • The Rockies pursued utilityman Daniel Descalso not only because he would offer a versatile bench option, but because of his big-game experience, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. Skipper Walt Weiss explained that the former Cardinals infielder brought an underappreciated element to the squad. “All of that factored in quite a bit,” said Weiss. “I think we sometimes underestimate the value of that — guys that have played in big games, pennant races, and have won a World Series. Those types of players are valuable, and that’s a big reason why we brought Danny in here.”
  • Alex Guerrero‘s contract and the Dodgers roster situation makes for quite a puzzle, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. On the one hand, Guerrero can refuse an optional assignment and has said he will do just that. On the other, if he is traded he will earn the right to opt out of his deal after the season. Cameron posits that the club could send Guerrero out in exchange for some savings on his 2015 tab, agreeing to remain responsible for post-2015 responsibilities while hoping he will opt out. The Angels, Blue Jays, Rockies, and Rangers all look like reasonable landing spots, in Cameron’s estimation.

Players Who Have Elected Minor League Free Agency

A total of 43 players have elected to become minor league free agents, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy in his latest round-up of minor league transactions.  MLBTR has already reported on some of these moves over the last few days, and here is the rest of the list, with players grouped by their most recent team…

Minor Moves: Whiteside, Texeira, Slowey, Bell, Schlereth

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves from around the league right here…

  • Cubs backstop Eli Whiteside has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old, who saw only minimal action with the Cubs, was designated for assignment on Sunday.
  • The Braves have inked righty Kanekoa Texeira to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. The 28-year-old, who last threw in the bigs in 2011 with the Royals, threw effectively over each of the last two seasons at Triple-A with the Reds. He had been pitching for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish in 2014 before joining Atlanta.
  • Righty Kevin Slowey has been released by the Marlins, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter). Slowey owned a 5.30 ERA through 37 1/3 innings this year, most of which came in relief. He had been a starter for much of his prior time as a big leaguer, and owns a 4.62 ERA over 662 career MLB frames.
  • The Yankees have released reliever Heath Bell, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). Bell, who recently signed a minor league deal, had a 7.50 ERA in five appearances at Triple-A Scranton. In 17 1/3 frames at the major league level with the Rays this year, Bell threw to a 7.27 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
  • The Tigers have acquired southpaw Daniel Schlereth from the Pirates, reports John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. James Schmel of MLive.com tweets that the Pirates will receive cash considerations. This will be Schlereth’s second stint with the Tigers, as he spent the 2010-12 seasons in Detroit’s bullpen after coming over in the three-team Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson blockbuster. Schlereth’s long-standing control problems have been very apparent this season at Triple-A; he’s walked 18 batters and surrendered 18 hits in 18 2/3 innings en route to a 7.23 ERA. On the plus side, he’s also fanned 18 hitters in that time.

Cubs Designate Eli Whiteside For Assignment

The Cubs have designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald reports (Twitter link).  Welington Castillo has been activated from the disabled list in a corresponding move.

Whiteside was called up from Triple-A Iowa when Castillo hit the DL earlier this month.  Whiteside hit only .120/.115/.160 in 26 PA over eight games with Chicago, his first taste of big league action since 2012 when he was a member of the Giants.  The 34-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in the offseason and Miles believes Whiteside will return to Iowa if he isn’t claimed.

According to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker, Whiteside joins Kevin Slowey (Marlins), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Josh Outman (Indians), Roger Bernadina (Reds), Jake Dunning (Giants) and Evan Reed (Tigers) in “DFA limbo.”

Minor Moves: Valaika, Whiteside, Wheeler

We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.  All news is courtesy of the MLB.com transactions page, unless otherwise noted.

  • The Cubs signed infielder Chris Valaika to a minor-league deal with a spring training invite, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Valaika hit .219/.261/.344 in 70 plate appearances with the Marlins last season.
  • The Cubs signed free agent catcher Eli Whiteside to a minor league contract.  The 34-year-old spent last season with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate and hit just .187/.242/.280 in 67 games.  Whiteside, who last appeared in the majors with San Francisco in 2012, owns a career .215/.273/.335 slash line across parts of five seasons.
  • The Yankees signed third baseman Zelous Wheeler to a minor league contract.  Wheeler split time between the Orioles' Triple-A and Double-A affiliates in 2013, posting a .275/.354/.414 batting line.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.

Outrighted To Triple-A: Eli Whiteside

Here are Saturday's outright assignments…

  • The Rangers have outrighted Eli Whiteside to Triple-A Round Rock, reports Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake (on Twitter). Texas designated the catcher for assignment when they signed Jason Frasor. Whiteside, 33, is a .215/.273/.335 career hitter in the big leagues, and he's been claimed off waivers three times this offseason as our Transaction Tracker shows.

Rangers Sign Jason Frasor

12:07pm: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) the deal is worth $1.5MM.

11:30am: The Rangers have signed free agent right-hander Jason Frasor to a one-year contract, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest reports (on Twitter). The team designated catcher Eli Whiteside to create roster space for Frasor, Andro reports. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News first reported that the Rangers were nearing a deal with Frasor, a Dave Meier client.

Frasor, 35, pitched for the Blue Jays in 2012, posting a 4.12 ERA with 10.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 38.4% ground ball rate in 43 2/3 innings. He didn't pitch at all in August, as forearm tightness led to an extended stint on the disabled list. Frasor, the Blue Jays' all-time leader in appearances, averaged 93 mph with his fastball in 2012. In nine seasons at the MLB level, the Chicago native has a 3.77 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 43.0% ground ball rate. He earned $3.75MM this past season.

At the end of the 2012 regular season Frasor told me that he didn't intend to be overly picky about his next destination. The Brewers and Blue Jays also appeared to have some level of interest this offseason. He'll join a Rangers bullpen that includes Joe Nathan and, eventually, Joakim Soria.

Whiteside appeared in 12 games with the Giants this past season and played another 60 games with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate. In parts of five seasons at the MLB level, the 33-year-old has a .215/.273/.335 batting line. Whiteside is set to earn $625K in 2013 and $200K of that sum is guaranteed. He has already been claimed on waivers three times this offseason, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.

Rangers Claim Eli Whiteside

Eli Whiteside's busy offseason continued today with yet another waiver claim. The Rangers claimed the catcher off of waivers from the Blue Jays, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Whiteside's offseason began when the Yankees claimed him from the Giants. After the Yankees claimed him, he agreed to a one-year deal for 2013, only to be designated him for assignment. The Blue Jays then claimed Whiteside off of waivers last week.

Whiteside appeared in 12 games with the Giants this past season and played another 60 contests with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate. In parts of five seasons at the MLB level, the 33-year-old has a .215/.273/.335 batting line. He had been a non-tender candidate with a projected salary of $600K. Whiteside is set to earn $625K in 2013 and $200K of that sum is guaranteed.

Blue Jays Claim Eli Whiteside

The Blue Jays claimed catcher Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Whiteside had been designated for assignment last week; the Yanks had claimed him off waivers from the Giants.

As Rosenthal notes, the Jays already have J.P. Arencibia, John Buck, and Travis d'Arnaud vying for time behind the plate, and trades remain possible.

Yankees Designate Eli Whiteside For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment. The move creates 40-man roster space for Andy Pettitte.

The Yankees avoided arbitration with Whiteside just two days ago, agreeing to terms on a $625K contract for 2013. The Yankees guaranteed Whiteside $200K of that sum, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

Whiteside appeared in 12 games with the Giants this past season and played another 60 contests with San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate. In parts of five seasons at the MLB level, the 33-year-old has a .215/.273/.335 batting line. He had been a non-tender candidate with a projected salary of $600K. Be sure to check out MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker for the status of arbitration eligible players.