Jason Berken Rumors

Minor Moves: Purcey, Lowe, Moore, Miller, Startup

Pour a tall cup of coffee and open up a Baseball Reference tab. It’s time for this Saturday morning’s minor moves, via the Pacific Coast League and International League transaction pages (except where otherwise noted) …

  • The White Sox have signed lefty David Purcey to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had rejected an outright assignment from the Sox in late October to become a free agent. Purcey made 24 apperances for the Sox’s major league club in 2013, posting a 2.13 ERA but walking 6 batters per nine innings.
  • The Dodgers signed first baseman/outfielder Jamie Romak to a minor league deal, according to MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes (on Twitter).  Romak’s deal includes a July 1st opt out.  The 28-year-old posted a .242/.322/.461 slash line with 22 homers in 134 games for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate last season.
  • Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, 30, has signed with the Rays, reports ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Lowe was battered in just eleven appearances with the Angels last year, but posted a 3.60 ERA across 2009-12 and has continued to notch high strikeout totals while being stashed in the upper minors. 
  • The Cardinals signed third baseman Scott Moore, a thirty-year-old who has thrived at Triple-A but has yet to have a real shot in the bigs. Last year, over 485 plate appearances in the Oakland and San Diego organizations, he hit .271/.353/.448 with fourteen long balls. In his most extended MLB action, a 2012 stint with the Astros, Moore hit a more-than-respectable .259/.330/.448 with nine home runs in 228 plate appearances. 
  • Right-hander Jim Miller is back with the Yankees on a minor league pact after making just one MLB appearance last year, an ill-fated inning-and-a-third that resulted in three earned runs. The 31-year-old had been a solid member of the A’s pen just one year prior, however, as he registered a 2.59 ERA in 48 2/3 innings for Oakland. Miller did flash a 13.1 K/9 rate during his 63 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, a somewhat intriguing mark given his manageable walk rates. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had the news first on Twitter.
  • Lefty reliever Will Startup will stay with the Tigers after he notched a 3.41 ERA in 58 Double-A innings last year. Startup reached Triple-A as a 21-year-old back in 2006, but before joining Detroit had landed with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012.
  • The Giants have inked two righties to minor league deals, bringing aboard Jason Berken and Daryl Maday. Berken, 29, has thrown in 110 MLB games, including 28 as a starter, and recorded a 5.36 ERA over 248 2/3 innings. He spent last year at the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, where he managed a 3.80 ERA in 161 innings — all as a starter — and posted 6.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. Meanwhile, at 28 years of age Maday has yet to see San Francisco, but will continue to keep the dream alive in the Giants system. He has bounced between Double-A and Triple-A since 2008, and now serves primarily as a reliever. Last year, Maday notched a cumulative 4.17 ERA in 49 2/3 innings, with 7.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
  • The Pirates signed first baseman Miles Durham and catcher Francisco Diaz to minor league deals. At age thirty, Durham has spent his entire career in the Pittsburgh organization, other than a brief Independent League stint, and apparently served as a player-coach last season. Dia, 23, has all the markings of a light-hitting backstop (two career home runs in 1,115 plate appearances), though he has reached base at a productive clip in the low minors.
  • Longtime Yankees farmhand Walter Ibarra has agreed to play short in the Cubs organization on a minor league pact. The 26-year-old reached Triple-A for the first time last year. Known for his defense, Ibarra failed to himpress with a cumulative .276/.308/.367 slash across 212 Double-A and Triple-A plate appearances in 2013.
  • And the Nationals have reached agreement with a player by the name of Josh Johnson — not the starting pitcher, but the middle infielder and third baseman who has been in the Nats’ system since 2010. Last year, playing at both of the two highest minor league levels, the 27-year-old Johnson put up an impressive .293/.390/.458 line in 300 trips to the plate. He was especially impressive in his short time at Syracuse, where he had a .924 OPS and was a perfect six-for-six in stolen bases in just 111 plate appearances. Washington also added catcher Sean McCauley to the fold on a minor league pact. The 24-year-old was brought back to professional baseball by the Nats last year in a coaching capacity after losing his career to injury.
  • The Rangers have signed righty Zach Russell away from the Cards’ system. The 24-year-old reliever topped out with a brief Double-A stint last year, but struggled there.

Minor Moves: Donald, Berken, Gartrell

Today's minor moves…

  • Reds infielder Jason Donald cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page.  He'd been designated for assignment on Sunday.  The 28-year-old hit .277/.365/.441 in 296 Triple-A plate appearances last year.
  • The White Sox added righty Jason Berken to their Triple-A roster, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.  Berken, 29, tossed 19 2/3 big league innings in 2012, mostly for the Cubs, but was removed from their 40-man roster in October.  For the Orioles' Triple-A club, he posted a 3.50 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 0.63 HR/9 in 144 innings last year.  Four years ago, Baseball America explained that Berken can throw strikes with any of his four pitches, but doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff.
  • The White Sox also released outfielder Stefan Gartrell, tweets Gonzales. Gartrell had signed a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp. The 29-year-old hit .251/.335/.452 over 472 plate appearances last year for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Outrighted To Triple-A: Berken, Albaladejo, Ransom

We'll keep track of the day's outright assignments right here… 

  • The Padres outrighted right-hander Thad Weber to Triple-A Tucson, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter).  Weber was claimed off of waivers from the Tigers in late August and saw time in two big league games for Detroit in April.
  • The Cubs announced that they have outrighted utility man Adrian Cardenas and right-handers Jason Berken, Miguel Socolovich, and Marcos Mateo to Triple-A.  Socolovich spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A for the Cubs and Orioles, posting a 2.11 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.  Berken was also claimed off of waivers from the O's and posted a 3.50 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 26 Triple-A starts.
  • The Diamondbacks outrighted Jonathan Albaladejo, Tyler Graham, Mike Jacobs, Joe Martinez, and Cody Ransom to Triple-A Reno, according to the official MLB.com transactions page.  Albaladejo spent the 2011 season in Japan and saw just three innings of work for Arizona this year.  Jacobs, 31, hit .279/.362/.486 with 18 homers for Triple-A Reno.  Ransom was claimed off of waivers mid-season from the Brewers and hit .220/.312/.411 in 90 games.
  • The Mariners announced that they outrighted first baseman Luis Jimenez to Triple-A. The 30-year-old appeared in seven games with the Mariners this past September after spending most of the season at Triple-A. Jimenez hit 20 homers with Tacoma, posted a .310/.394/.514 batting line, and was named his team's Offensive Player of the Year. The left-handed hitter can become a minor league free agent five days after the World Series ends. Seattle now has two open spots on its 40-man roster.

Zach Links contributed to this post.



Cubs Claim Jason Berken

The Cubs have claimed Jason Berken off of waivers from the Orioles, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Baltimore had designated the right-hander for assignment four days ago in order to free up roster space for Zach Phillips.

Berken spent most of the 2012 season at Triple-A, where he posted a 3.50 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 26 starts. The 28-year-old appeared in just one game with Baltimore this year, but he was a fixture in the Orioles' rotation in 2009 and in their bullpen from 2010-11. The Cubs claimed right-hander Miguel Socolovich off of waivers from Baltimore less than a month ago.


Orioles Designate Jason Berken For Assignment

The Orioles have designated right-hander Jason Berken for assignment, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).  The move will create space for left-hander Zach Phillips on the 40-man roster.

Berken threw just one big league inning this year while posting a 3.50 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 26 starts for Triple-A Norfolk.  The 28-year-old made 24 starts for the O's in 2009 and 81 relief appearances in '10 and '11 and owned a 5.40 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 during that stretch.


Quick Hits: Abreu, Uribe, Rendon, Sanches

This day in baseball history saw the birth of the Blue Jays in 1943…the Philadelphia Blue Jays, that is.  The Phillies adopted the 'Blue Jays' nickname in what new team president Bob Carpenter saw as a break from the club's largely mediocre history.  The nickname didn't stick, however, and it wasn't until the Toronto expansion franchise came into being that the Blue Jays name returned to Major League Baseball.

Some news items to take us into the weekend…

  • Bobby Abreu's $9MM option for 2012 will vest if he makes 433 plate appearances this season.  As Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com points out, the Angels could face a tough playing-time decision since the veteran is coming off his worst full season, yet can still be productive.  MLBTR's Mike Axisa recently profiled Abreu as a make-or-break year player, though given Abreu's durability, his status for 2012 shouldn't be in question as long as the Halos play him.
  • Juan Uribe tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that the Dodgers contacted his agent almost every day before finally signing him to a three-year, $21MM contract.
  • Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner profiles Anthony Rendon, who may be the first overall pick in June's amateur draft.
  • Right-hander Brian Sanches is out of options and is battling for the last spot in the Marlins' bullpen, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.  Sanches has a 2.40 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 120 innings for Florida over the last two seasons, so he'll definitely draw interest if the Marlins put him on waivers or try to trade him.
  • Steve Slowinski of Fangraphs.com looks at the 10 completed and about-to-be-completed $100MM contracts in baseball history.  Of those 10 players, only four played consistently well enough to make those contracts a wise investment — Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez.  (Rangers fans may argue that last one, but Slowinski is strictly looking at player performance.)
  • The Orioles agreed to terms with all of their pre-arbitration players except for right-hander Jason Berken, whose contract was renewed, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.  Berken also had his deal renewed last season.
  • Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the top 10 prospects in the Padres' system.  Mayo puts three pitchers (Casey Kelly, Simon Castro, Cory Luebke) in San Diego's top four, as he notes the emphasis the team puts on developing young arms.   
  • In a chat with fans on ESPNChicago.com, Bruce Levine notes that scouts were in attendance to see Carlos Silva during his six-run first inning and subsequent dugout altercation with Aramis Ramirez on Wednesday.  Levine says that the Cubs would probably be able to trade Silva, not release him, if they wanted to part ways.  There's also the $11.5MM salary Silva is owed for this season that the Cubs would have to swallow if they released the right-hander.