Ernesto Frieri Rumors
It was on this day in 1869 that professional baseball had its first rainout, as a game between the Red Stockings and the Antioch Nine was postponed due to poor weather. While some teams can guarantee games will always be played thanks to retractable roofs or domed stadiums, the rainout is still a common element of baseball, welcomed by nobody except fans of the 1948 Boston Braves.
Some news from around the majors as we head into June...
- The Phillies and Cole Hamels haven't made any progress in contract negotiations, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. Some baseball executives expect Hamels to hit free agency this winter, with one NL official telling Olney, "Unless the Phillies give him one of the top deals in history, why wouldn't he test [the market]? He's so close to free agency."
- Roberto Hernandez could be back in the Major Leagues by the All-Star Break, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hernandez, a.k.a. Fausto Carmona, isn't expected to receive an eight-week suspension for identity fraud like Juan Carlos Oviedo, as his restructured contract with the Indians is expected to be seen as sufficient penalty.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) predicts Braves outfielder Michael Bourn will look for a five- or six-year contract with an average annual value of around $15MM when he hits free agency after this season. The Braves were known to be looking for young center field talent last winter since they weren't keen on paying Bourn such a large contract, though his strong performance thus far in 2012 could change the team's mind.
- Jair Jurrjens "is a guy that other clubs need to get back on," says a scout who has seen Jurrjens pitch in Triple-A, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The Braves dangled Jurrjens as trade bait during the offseason, though if he really was back on form, you would think Atlanta would want him to help its own struggling pitching rotation. Jurrjens has a 4.85 ERA and a 2.63 K/BB ratio in six minor league starts this season, pitching very well in four outings but getting rocked in two others.
- "There might be no team further away from success than the Minnesota Twins," writes Jonah Keri for Grantland in a piece that outlines how the Twins have become one of baseball's worst clubs.
- Ernesto Frieri has been a boon to the Angels' bullpen, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Since being acquired from the Padres four weeks ago, Frieri has yet to allow a run or even a hit in 12 innings for the Angels, though he has recorded 10 walks.
The Angels were known to be looking for bullpen help and they have addressed that need in the form of Ernesto Frieri. The Angels acquired the right-handed reliever from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Donn Roach and infielder Alexi Amarista. The Padres first announced the move on their official Twitter feed.
Frieri has been one of the game's more underrated relievers during his four Major League seasons. Frieri has a 2.33 ERA, a 2.45 K/BB ratio, an 11.4 K/9 rate and 0.6 HR/9 over 105 career appearances, with 137 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings. As Padres broadcaster Andy Masur points out (Twitter link), Frieri had been the longest-tenured player in the San Diego organization, originally signing with the team in January 2003 at age 17. Frieri turns 27 in July and has virtually identical home/away splits for his career, indicating he isn't a creation of Petco Park's pitcher-friendly dimensions. Frieri is represented by Matt Colleran and is under team control through 2016.
Though the Angels' closing situation is currently in flux with Scott Downs stepping in for Jordan Walden, it's probably unlikely that Frieri would immediately be thrust into the closing mix or even necessarily a setup role in Los Angeles. Frieri pitched in relatively few high-leverage situations in San Diego, though the Padres' deep bullpens of recent years didn't necessarily require Frieri to be used in a larger role.
In Amarista and Roach, the Padres pick up two young players ranked by MLB.com as the 12th and 16th-best prospects, respectively, in the Angels' system. Amarista has a .313/.370/.441 career slash line in six minor league seasons, including a .776 OPS at the Triple-A level. The 23-year-old second baseman helps fill the Padres' big organizational need for middle infielders, though Amarista also has experience at third, shortstop and the corner outfield positions. Amarista was probably expendable in Anaheim given the long-term deals recently given to Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick, not to mention highly-touted prospect Jean Segura, who MLB.com ranked as the Angels' second-best prospect (behind only Mike Trout).
Roach, 22, was taken by the Angels in the third round of the 2010 amateur draft. The right-hander's numbers have gotten progressively better over his three minor league seasons, and Roach has a 2.16 ERA and a 9.67 K/BB ratio in six starts at high A-ball in 2012.
This is the first trade between Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and Padres GM Josh Byrnes. Dipoto worked under Byrnes in Arizona and took over as the Diamondbacks' interim GM when Byrnes was fired as the Snakes' general manager in July 2010.