Jay Jackson Rumors

Padres Sign Ramiro Pena To Minor League Deal

The Padres announced their list of non-roster invitees today, and among several previously reported names (e.g. Brett Wallace, Scott Elbert, Jose Valverde, Jason Lane and Marcos Mateo) was the news that the team had signed Ramiro Pena to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training.

Pena, 29, has spent the past two seasons with the Braves, batting a combined .258/.315/.385 over the course of 272 plate appearances, although his 2013 numbers were considerably better than his 2014 numbers. Pena, who has also spent parts of four seasons with the Yankees, is experienced at second base, third base and shortstop, having totaled at least 339 big league innings at each of the positions. Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating feel that his best positions are third base and shortstop, where he’s well above-average and average, respectively, though the sample size of his work at all three positions is too small to represent a truly accurate level of his defensive capabilities.

The Padres have a good deal of uncertainty around the infield, and Pena should provide them insurance. Will Middlebrooks and Yangervis Solarte will compete at third base, though Middlebrooks will need to prove that he is healthy an can cut down on his strikeouts to cement himself as a regular. Jedd Gyorko figures to man second base, but he’s coming off a dreadful season in which he slumped to a .210/.280/.333 batting line just one season after looking like a Rookie of the Year candidate. At shortstop, Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes are the top in-house options, and neither brings much upside at the plate, though Barmes is an excellent defender.

The Padres also announced that catcher Griff Erickson and right-hander Jay Jackson have been signed to minor league deals and invited to camp. Jackson, a former top prospect with the Cubs, struggled to a 4.93 ERA in 111 innings with the Triple-A affiliates for the Pirates and Brewers in 2014. The 27-year-old struck out 115 batters against 52 walks last year. Erickson, meanwhile, has spent his whole career with the Dodgers and batted an impressive .297/.384/.510 in his first extended taste of Triple-A action last season (60 games), though the standard disclaimer about the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should be applied to those statistics.

Cubs Acquire John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny

4:50pm: The Pirates' return of Hart, Ascanio, and Harrison is confirmed by a press release from the Cubs.  Gorzelanny will head to Triple A Iowa.  The Pirates keep adding arms; I guess this means they like Hart more than Gorzelanny.

4:47pm: ESPN Chicago says the Cubs sent pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio to Pittsburgh for Grabow and Gorzelanny.  Ed Price, via Twitter, says the Cubs are also sending third baseman Josh Harrison

4:43pm: Finally a possible name as part of the package going to Pittsburgh.   Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, via Twitter, hears pitching prospect Jay Jackson may be in the deal.  Jackson, a starting pitcher, was a ninth-round pick last year and ranked ninth on Baseball America's list of Cubs prospects.

3:22pm: Via Twitter, Kovacevic says Grabow and Gorzelanny to the Cubs is almost or "just about" done, while Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times says they closed the deal for Grabow. ESPNChicago's Jon Greenberg says the Cubs are "in the process of finalizing" the deal for Grabow.  Heyman terms the deal for both hurlers as "very close."

Gorzelanny, who is from Evergreen Park, IL, has a 2.48 ERA in 15 Triple A starts this year.  He won 14 games in the bigs in '07, but was derailed by back, shoulder, and finger problems in '08.  We still don't know what the Pirates will get back in this deal, but it ought to be something decent.

2:56pm: Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Cubs and Pirates are discussing a deal that would send Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to Chicago. No deal is in place and other teams remain interested in Grabow. 

2:21pm: Heyman (via Twitter) thinks the Cubs are getting closer on Grabow, and could acquire another pitcher as well.

1:27pm: SI's Jon Heyman says the Cubs and Pirates are in "serious discussions" about Grabow.

11:58am: ESPN's Jayson Stark says the Cubs are "strictly mining the lefthanded reliever market" and not looking for a bat.  Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald concurs.

10:51am: Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports say the Cubs prefer Pittsburgh's John Grabow over Washington's Joe Beimel, and they continue to discuss the lefty reliever with the Pirates.  The FOX report suggests the Cubs will stay internal for their Reed Johnson replacement.

Grabow currently ranks as a Type A free agent in the wacky world of Elias, but for his team to have a chance at draft picks they'd have to offer him arbitration and risk paying him more than $2.3MM if he accepts.

9:02am: The Cubs are looking for a left-handed hitter who can play right field, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  While they're not optimistic about a deal, the plan would be to create a platoon with the disappointing Milton Bradley.  Wittenmyer says the Cubs have about $2-3MM of payroll room to work with.

Two players on the radar: Mark Teahen of the Royals and Jeremy Hermida of the Marlins.  The Royals are looking for a center fielder in return, however.  Teahen has $1.37MM left on his contract.  Hermida has $847K remaining.  Both players can be under team control through 2011.  Either player would still leave some wiggle room for the Cubs to acquire a left-handed reliever.