Joel Guzman Rumors

Minor Deals: Budde, Lerew, Guzman, Jimenez

A roundup of today's minor transactions, with any new signings added to the top of the page throughout the day….

  • The Blue Jays signed catcher Ryan Budde to a minor league deal, tweets's Jerry Crasnick. Budde, who has some history with new Toronto manager John Farrell, has seen limited major league playing time in each of the last four seasons with the Angels.
  • Softbank, a Japanese club, acquired Anthony Lerew and signed him to a one-year deal, according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. Lerew had signed with the Athletics earlier this offseason.
  • Other players to sign with Japanese teams, Newman reports, include Joel Guzman with Chunichi and Kelvin Jimenez with Rakuten. Guzman was a former top prospect in the Dodgers system; Baseball America ranked him as baseball's fifth-best prospect prior to the 2005 season. Jimenez, meanwhile, last pitched in the majors in 2008 with St. Louis.
  • The Indians have signed former Yomiuri Giants pitcher Toru Murata to a minor league deal. According to Newman, "Murat is a former first-round draft pick who never reached the top level in NPB. At 25 he should still have some upside left." A year ago, Murata earned a roster spot in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars game.

Odds & Ends: Beltre, Crawford, Mets, Konerko

Links for Tuesday night, as free agents Adam Dunn and Dave Bush celebrate birthdays…

Odds & Ends: Nationals, Hudson, Brewers, Guzman

Thursday night linkage..

Joel Guzman Clears Waivers

FRIDAY: No takers for Guzman; he cleared waivers.

TUESDAY: According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays designated Joel Guzman for assignment today.  Guzman was once very highly regarded – Baseball America ranked him as the 5th best prospect in the game in ’05 and 26th in ’06.

The Dodgers signed Guzman as a 16 year-old for $2.25MM in ’01.  He played shortstop and received the team’s minor league player of the year honor in ’04.  He was moved to left field to start ’06, and Ned Colletti traded him to Tampa Bay in July for Julio Lugo.  The Rays had him play first and third, and let him dabble at second.  Guzman, 23 now, posted a .248/.276/.438 line in Triple A.  He’s never shown an ability to draw walks, and his much-heralded power hasn’t shown up.

Guzman’s tale exemplifies the uncertainty of prospects; BA had him above Scott Kazmir, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Chad Billingsley, and Carlos Quentin in ’05.

Baldelli’s Hamstrings May Open Door For Lofton

With Rocco Baldelli appearing only twice in spring games this year, the Rays may consider reviving talks with free agent outfielder Kenny Lofton. Tampa Bay’s right field and fourth outfielder depth is light enough that they’ve begun to look at infielders Joel Guzman and Ben Zobrist at left and right field, respectively.

Ray’s manager Joe Maddon won’t even guess when Baldelli will return to full-time play. Baldelli is nursing sore hamstrings this spring. He’s expected to play right field, if he can run, and will split time with Cliff Floyd and Jonny Gomes at DH.

Given Floyd’s fragility, the Rays will be taking quite a chance if they depend on that combination.  Floyd has appeared in 150 games once in the last ten years. Baldelli appeared in 150 games in his rookie year but hasn’t in the three years since.

By Big Mike Glab

D’Rays Come Up Big With Joel Guzman

Given his insistence on playing shortstop after this season, it seems apparent that Julio Lugo truly is a rental player for the Dodgers.  Lugo will certainly add more to the 2006 Dodgers than Joel Guzman could have, so the move is somewhat defensible for Ned Colletti.  Still, the Devil Rays won big by getting the 21 year-old.

Tampa Bay surrenders two months of Lugo for six years of young Guzman.  Entering the 2005 season, Guzman was a 20 year-old shortstop compared to Alfonso Soriano by Baseball Prospectus.  He ranked 7th overall on their top 50 prospects list.  Even then he was a little big for the middle infield.

Before the ’06 season the Dodgers decided to move Guzman to left field.  He still managed to garner the 14th ranking on BP’s Top 50 list.  After surprisingly contending for a job with the Dodgers out of spring training, the team wisely decided to give him some seasoning at Triple A.  He was doing an OK job in Las Vegas when Jeff Kent injured his wrist in June.  Grady Little decided to bat the kid cleanup in his first start for L.A. 

With Kent and Chad Billingsley pushing for his roster spot, Guzman was sent back to Triple A a few weeks later.  Cashman Field in Las Vegas inflates offense significantly, but Guzman has only slugged .443 there this season.  His plate discipline is definitely a work in progress.  The Devil Rays can afford to give him some time in Triple A to get comfortable in his position (not sure where he’ll play, but one article indicates first base).

The D-Rays now find themselves even more loaded with premium young talent (though Guzman may fit right in with the attitude problems prevalent on the Triple A Durham club).  What’s more, the team should have the third overall pick in next June’s draft if the current standings hold up.

Julio Lugo Traded To Dodgers

Word comes via ESPN that the Dodgers have acquired Julio Lugo for Joel Guzman and Sergio Pedroza.

I definitely didn’t see this one coming.  Jeff Kent should begin swinging a bat right around now after hitting the DL with an oblique strain on July 18th.  The Lugo acquisition gives the Dodgers excellent depth in their infield.  Former second base fill-ins Willy Aybar and Cesar Izturis have been sent out in other, solid deals.  Once Kent is 100% and ready to play Wilson Betemit becomes an excellent bench player for the rest of the year.  He’d still remain the second baseman of the future.