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The Padres have sold the contract of Triple-A right-hander Anthony Carter to the Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports (via Twitter). The 28-year-old Carter appeared in just three games for Triple-A El Paso this season, allowing a pair of runs in three innings of work. The former 26th-round draft pick (White Sox) has punched out more than a batter per inning in his minor league career and owns a 4.93 ERA with a 2.51 K/BB ratio in 680 1/3 innings. In addition to the Sox and Padres, he spent the 2013 season — arguably his best year — with the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate. In Pawtucket, he posted a 3.47 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings. Here are the rest of today’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Padres have inked righty Billy Buckner to a minor league deal, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. Buckner, 30, has tossed 155 2/3 MLB innings in parts of five MLB seasons, splitting his appearances about evenly between starting and relieving. His lifetime ERA stands at 6.07, and he has averaged 6.4 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 with a 44.7% ground-ball rate.
- Two former big leaguers decided to hang up their spikes rather than continue on at the Triple-A level, according to the PCL transactions page. Joe Martinez of the Angels and Steve Edlefsen of the Dodgers both retired today. The right-handed relievers had both seen relatively minimal MLB action over their professional careers, and were off to rough starts in the season’s early going.
- The Reds have signed right-hander Elvin Ramirez, per Cincinnati’s official transactions page. The 26-year-old struggled in 61 innings with the Angels’ minor league affiliates last season but had a strong 2.13 ERA in 55 innings with the Double-A and Triple-A affiliates for the Mets in 2012. In 422 2/3 career innings in the minors, the Dominican native has a 4.02 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9.
- Right-hander Matt Hauser has signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, according to the team’s transactions page. A former seventh-round pick of the Twins (2010), Hauser enjoyed strong minor league numbers until posting a 5.09 ERA between Double-A and Class-A Advanced last year. The 25-year-old has a career 2.95 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
- The Royals have inked outfielder Cory Scammell to a minor league contract (also via the club’s transactions page). The 20-year-old Canadian was a 35th-round pick of the Mariners in the 2011 draft and spent two seasons with the team’s Rookie-level affiliate, slashing a solid .274/.349/.355 in 358 plate appearances.
How do teams take players from promise to big league production? Grantland's Jonah Keri takes a look at some different developmental approaches for players approaching MLB readiness, most of them from AL clubs. The Twins, for example, advance players based upon their readiness to fill a need at the MLB level, while the Rays pay close attention to service time in a bid to maximize the value of each player asset. Here's more from the American League:
- The Indians are still believed to be discussing an extension with second baseman Jason Kipnis, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With just two years and 69 days of service, Kipnis will not reach arbitration eligibility until next year (though he received a relatively sizeable $554,900 contract from Cleveland for the coming season). As Hoynes notes, there is an interesting comp in the Cardinals' recent six-year, $52MM extension of Matt Carpenter, an older player with less service (and, on the whole, a less impressive overall track record).
- Grady Sizemore is an increasingly plausible option not just to break camp with the Red Sox, but to beat out Jackie Bradley Jr. for the center field job, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. He has shown enough for the club (and, perhaps, Sizemore) to dare to dream, even if manager John Farrell is still preaching caution. But the skipper also joined those offering praise for Sizemore's performance thus far in camp. "The fact that Grady's having encouraging signs in spring training is not a bad thing for Jackie Bradley or for anybody," Farrell said. "It means we've got another good player. Grady gives us the potential to build another talented and deep roster."
- Though an achilles tear ended Mark Mulder's comeback bid this year with the Angels, the 36-year-old says that does not mean he is giving up entirely, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "Barring a setback, or me not being able to pitch with my ankle for some reason, I don't see why not," Mulder said. "My arm's still going to be the same next year."
Here are today's minor moves from around Major League Baseball …
- The Reds have released infielder Henry Rodriguez, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Rodriguez was designated and then outrighted in February. The 24-year-old has seen bit action at the MLB level in each of the last two seasons.
- The Phillies announced that they've outrighted right-hander Michael Stutes off the 40-man roster after he cleared waivers. Stutes, 27, posted a 4.58 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 17 2/3 innings for the Phils last season. He's posted a 4.01 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 85 1/3 career innings but struggled since a solid rookie campaign in 2011. Philadelphia's 40-man roster now stands at 39.
- The Angels have outrighted catcher John Hester and left-hander Robert Carson to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to the club's transactions page. The 30-year-old Hester got just one plate appearance in the Majors in 2013 after batting .212/.287/.329 in 95 PAs the previous season. Hester has a career batting line of .282/.346/.457 in nearly 1300 Triple-A PAs. Carson, 25, posted an 8.24 ERA in 19 2/3 innings with the Mets last season but has a 3.45 career ERA in 60 Triple-A innings. The Halos had claimed him off waivers in October.
- Michael Olmsted, who was released by the Brewers just yesterday, has agreed to terms on a minor league deal with the Red Sox and will be in minor league camp with the team upon completion of a physical, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter links). The 26-year-old struggled with command and posted a 5.82 ERA in his first taste of Triple-A last season but has a 3.02 career ERA in the minors as a whole to go along with a gaudy 11.1 K/9 rate and a serviceable 3.7 BB/9 rate.
The Angels have released left-hander Mark Mulder, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Mulder's comeback attempt was cut short by a freak injury in which he ruptured his Achilles tendon during agility drills.
The former All-Star signed a minor league deal with the Angels in January that would have allowed him to earn as much as $6MM in incentives. Mulder was a workhorse from 2001 to 2005 for the Athletics and Cardinals, averaging 211 innings per season with a 3.65 ERA. However, shoulder issues limited him to just 106 innings from 2006 to 2008, his last year in the big leagues. He had worked as an analyst with ESPN since 2011.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Here are some minor moves from around the league…
- The Angels have signed righty Joe Martinez to a minor league pact, per the club's official transactions page. The 31-year-old Martinez made a pair of appearances for the Indians last season, allowing one run in five innings. He has a 5.82 ERA in 55 2/3 career innings between the Giants, D'Backs, Pirates and Indians and a 4.75 ERA in 548 Triple-A innings.
- Right-hander Brandon Erbe has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, according to the team's transactions page. Erbe, 26, ranked as the game's No. 27 prospect heading into the 2007 season, per Baseball Prospectus, but 2010 shoulder surgery has stalled his once-promising career. The former third-round pick has thrown just 45 minor league innings over the past three seasons as he's battled back from a torn labrum.
- The Blue Jays signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted this weekend. The 30-year-old was once among the game's Top 100 prospects, per BA, but hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. Liz has spent the past three seasons pitching for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization and led the league in strikeouts last season with 188. However, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported (via Twitter) that he'll begin the season rehabbing a knee injury. Liz had a 7.50 ERA in 110 1/3 Major League innings with the Orioles from 2007-09.
- Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo tweets that the club has released right-hander Michael Olmsted. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with manager Ron Roenicke about the decision to release the 6'6", 282-pound right-hander. Roenicke said they simply wanted to give Olmsted a chance to get an opportunity elsewhere rather than releasing him later in the spring. Olmsted posted a 5.88 ERA in 59 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Brew Crew last season, but the 26-year-old has an excellent 3.02 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in his minor league career.
The Angels have outrighted catcher John Hester and lefty Robert Carson, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The moves create two openings on the Angels' 40-man roster, which DiGiovanna points out will likely be needed for non-roster invitees who make the Angels' roster out of camp.
Hester, 30, has a career .216/.294/.351 line in 232 career big-league plate appearances. He appeared in just one game with the Angels in 2013, spending most of the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. Carson, 25, pitched 19 2/3 innings out of the Mets' bullpen in 2013, posting an 8.24 ERA with 3.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. He fared better in 44 1/3 innings at Triple-A Las Vegas, with a 4.06 ERA there. The Angels claimed him from the Mets in October.
We already know that the 2013-14 free agent market has featured incredible spending levels, but what does that mean for how teams value a win (above replacement)? Dave Cameron of Fangraphs breaks down the cost of a projected win for each player that signed a major league deal. The results show that teams have spent at levels that, depending upon what discount rate and precise methodology is employed, value an expected win at between $5MM and $7MM. In a follow-up piece, Cameron observes that, at least for players who are expected to be regular contributors, the spending shows a non-linear escalation of the price of a win (i.e., teams are paying a premium to lock up high-WAR players). Then again, says Cameron, one team — the Yankees — bid on all and signed most of the top (3+-win) players who were on the market, which could have skewed the results. Be sure to read both pieces for all the details on this fascinating topic.
Here are more notes from around the league:
- The Yankees' rash of spending may have pushed him to the periphery of the team's roster, but Ichiro Suzuki is not changing his approach, writes Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger. "Whatever my role is here — whether I'm a starter or not — my preparation never changes," said Ichiro. "Every day I'm going to do the exact same thing regardless of what my role will be. … If I was the type of player who changes the way I prepare myself, I wouldn't be the player I have been."
- Outfielder Andy Dirks of the Tigers will undergo back surgery and is expected to be out of action for three months, reports the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Dirks had been expected to be the left-handed-hitting side of a left field platoon with Rajai Davis. GM Dave Dombrowski indicated that the club hopes to rely on its internal options — including Davis, the switch-hitting Steve Lombardozzi, and left-handed swinging Don Kelly — to fill the void, James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. "We think we have some good candidates," said Dombrowski, "but we'll just have to wait and see. I don't want to proclaim that to be 100 percent, but we do have some people that we feel have the chance to play a bigger role for us."
- After coming over as the key piece in the Mark Trumbo deal, 22-year-old lefty Tyler Skaggs is a key to a high-priced Angels club, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. "He's very important to our season, very important to our future," said GM Jerry Dipoto. "Tyler, being that he's the youngest and least-experienced of our starters, it's an important spring for him to take that next step and establish himself at the major league level."
Let's take a look in at the American League West:
- After being acquired at the trade deadline last year for Michael Morse, outfielder Xavier Avery of the Mariners has the attention of new manager Lloyd McClendon, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns. The speedy 24-year-old is very much in contention to join Seattle's outfield mix, said McClendon, who gushed that Avery "has a couple tools that are game-changing."
- Another recently traded player, David Freese of the Angels, is all but assured a regular spot with his new club. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recently reported, for Halos' GM Jerry Dipoto, getting Freese was in part about taking advantage of his former club's good work. "The Cardinals are in a pretty unique position of depth, like the Braves in the '90's," he explained. "That made Freese an expendable piece for them. Any time a player is traded, it doesn't mean it's a pending disaster for the other team." Dipoto said that the club is not expecting Freese to be "a gaudy, 30-home run third baseman," explaining that the team "understand[s] what we're getting."
- The most irreplaceable player in the game, without question, is Angels center fielder Mike Trout. In an ESPN Insider piece, Dave Cameron argues that Trout should decline to accept an extension of the type rumored (giving up three or four years of free agency with a total $140MM to $170MM guarantee). As Cameron argues, Trout has done enough already that he'll earn a huge arbitration salary even if he suffers unexpected performance decline or takes a serious injury. With his downside protected in all but the most dramatic of scenarios, and the Angels' roster profile not inspiring much future confidence, Cameron says that the rewards are worth the risk of Trout waiting to sign a new deal.
Between Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Super Bowl champ Russell Wilson and former NBA star Tracy McGrady, MLB has an excellent opportunity to generate more interest in baseball among young African-Americans, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Winston closes for Florida State University's baseball team, while Wilson will be in Rangers camp this week after being picked in the Rule Five draft in December. McGrady, of course, is trying to catch on with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters as a pitcher. MLB should handle the situation differently than it did Michael Jordan's foray into professional baseball two decades ago, which was viewed with hostility by many in the game at the time, Sherman says. Here are more late-night links from around the majors:
- The Pirates' ability to "fix" Edinson Volquez is likely to have a big impact on their playoff hopes, David Golebiewski of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says.
- Braves outfielder B.J. Upton sought help from no one during his lost 2013 season, The Associated Press reports.
- Despite 2014 being a must-win season for Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes that the executive didn't set out this offseason to acquire veterans who could provide a short-term band-aid for the club. "That's not in my DNA," he said. "The best representation of the job you do over time is what you leave behind." Dipoto also feels that the club has "a lot of veteran players in that 29 to 31 zone. That is when you win."
- Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria are competing for the Rangers' closer job, but the former hasn't impressed early in camp, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. "Feliz was not sharp in his intrasquad game and I’m told his mechanics are still kind of out of whack," Grant notes.
A long-term agreement between Mike Trout and the Angels would carry upside and risk for both player and club, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. Agent Paul Cohen, whose clients include Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki, tells DiGiovanna he's generally in favor of such deals. "Our view is you never turn down your first fortune, especially if you can keep your free agent years intact at age 29 or 30," Cohen comments. However, Scott Boras chimes in to argue that such deals often benefit teams. Boras discloses that the Indians attempted to extend his client Shin-Soo Choo with a deal in the $27MM-$42MM range. Choo, of course, waited and cashed in this offseason with a seven-year, $130MM free agent deal with the Rangers. Here are more notes from around the majors:
- Continuing our extension theme, the Red Sox and Jon Lester's representatives have had at least two conversations about a long-term deal, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweets.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman's suggestion earlier this week that the Orioles' 2012 success was a fluke has rankled some in Baltimore, but the club has largely been quiet on the matter, writes Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun.
- Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press Sports says there are parallels to be drawn between Dave Dombrowski's administration of the Tigers and John Schuerholz's tenure running the Braves.