Oakland Athletics Rumors

Oakland Athletics trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Quick Hits: Payrolls, DH, Suspensions, Trade Candidates

ESPN’s Jayson Stark examines the rising payrolls around the game, noting that even 10 years ago, just three teams has payrolls topping $100MM. This year, Stark points out, 22 clubs have $100MM+ payrolls. Stark spoke with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, Giants CEO Larry Baer and sports economics expert Andy Zimbalist about the change and its impact around the league. Dombrowski notes that the extra Wild Card added to each league has made teams more willing to spend, because more teams believe they can win, and he also discussed the impact of increased payrolls on roster construction around the league. Baer commented that the additional sources of revenue — namely, TV deals, I would presume — have made it easier for teams to sign players to long-term deals, because revenue is easier to project. Not that long ago, Baer notes, revenue was tied much more heavily to ticket sales, and signing a young player to an extension was riskier, because teams could only project revenue a few years out at a time.

A few more miscellaneous notes from around the league…

  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy provides a thorough, comprehensive explanation of his belief that it’s time for the National League to adopt the DH rule. Eddy notes that pitcher productivity is at an all-time low, relative to the production of non-pitchers — even as the production of non-pitchers declines in its own right. One NL assistant GM spoke to Eddy about the advantage that AL teams have not only in interleague games in AL stadiums, but in the ability to rest their best players while still giving them four at-bats. Eddy also argues that because improving their offensive prowess doesn’t accelerate their timeline to the Majors — no pitcher will be promoted because he’s a good hitter or withheld from the Majors to work on his swing — there is neither means nor incentive to improve their hitting skills. Eddy views the DH and the pitcher as “two sides of the same, hyper-specialized coin,” noting that a DH contributes solely to the offensive element of a game, whereas a pitcher functions as the key constituent of the defense. Interestingly, a 2013 poll of 18 MLB managers revealed that 12 of those managers were in favor of adding the DH to the NL, Eddy adds.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post looks at the recent suspensions of Mariners lefty David Rollins, Twins right-hander Ervin Santana, Mets closer Jenrry Mejia and Braves prospect Arodys Vizcaino for Stanozolol and investigates a possible connection. Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this week that the league conducts an investigation anytime that there are multiple suspensions for the same banned substance, though he has no reason to assume a connection at this point. Kilgore spoke with subject matter expert Dr. Charles Yesalis about the tests and was told, “There is no way, in my mind, this is one big coincidence.”
  • Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Adrian Beltre top a list of midseason trade candidates compiled by Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider subscription required/recommended). Kazmir’s inclusion is interesting, in that Bowden expects a trade to occur whether the A’s are contending or not, as he notes that the team won’t be able to afford to re-sign Kazmir. He speculates that Kazmir will be flipped, possibly for another Major League caliber starter to step into his spot, though as I pointed out in reviewing their offseason, the A’s already have a sizable reserve of rotation options from which to draw.

Offseason In Review: Oakland Athletics

After a heartbreaking exit from the AL Wild Card playoff, A’s GM Billy Beane and his staff architected another massive roster overhaul, acquiring both rental players and long-term assets in an effort to sustain the team’s recent stretch of playoff appearances.

Major League Signings

Trades and Claims

Extensions

  • None

Notable Minor League Signings

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

The Athletics’ second base situation was a black hole from an offensive standpoint in 2014, as Eric Sogard, Nick Punto, Alberto Callaspo and others combined to bat a mere .233/.297/.282 with one home run while playing second base. The addition of Zobrist, whose bat has been about 24 percent better than the league average over the past four seasons (124 OPS+), should be a massive boost to the team’s second base production. His excellent glove should provide equal or greater value than the Athletics’ group last season.

The next weakest spot in Oakland’s lineup, somewhat surprisingly, was designated hitter. The A’s received a combined batting line of just .215/.294/.343 from their designated hitters, so while many were surprised by the contract received by Billy Butler coming off a down season, he’ll still be an upgrade. That, of course, doesn’t necessarily justify the deal, and he’ll have to prove that he’s closer to the hitter he was from 2009-13 than the hitter he was in 2014. Entering his age-29 season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Butler can return to an OPS+ north of 120, though it’ll likely be driven more by OBP than by power. A repeat of his 29 homers from 2012 does seem unlikely.

Marcus  Semien

On the other side of the middle infield equation, the A’s found themselves with a hole to fill following the departure of Jed Lowrie via free agency. Rather than meet Lowrie’s open-market price (three years, $23MM with the Astros), the A’s made a move to acquire a potential long-term answer at the position by making Marcus Semien (pictured) the centerpiece of the Jeff Samardzija trade. Semien comes with some defensive question marks, but Lowrie has never been considered a premium defender, so perhaps the A’s feel that there may not be a significant defensive drop-off. If Semien struggles enough defensively, he can flip with Zobrist and play second base, and Zobrist’s status as a free agent next winter means that Semien could slide over to the keystone in the future once Zobrist leaves.

In that sense, 2015 will be a tryout of sorts for Semien as a shortstop. If he passes, then the heir apparent at second base might be prospect Joe Wendle, who was acquired from the Indians in the Brandon Moss trade. Most pundits felt the return was a bit light, but A’s assistant GM David Forst has explained that the team has had interest in Wendle for quite some time. Wendle opened the year at Triple-A (and is hitting quite well), so perhaps he can be ready for the Majors in 2016 if Semien proves capable at shortstop.

The bullpen lost one of baseball’s best setup men when Luke Gregerson signed in Houston, but Beane and his staff replaced Gregerson with one of the few relievers who can claim to be a definitive upgrade when they acquired Tyler Clippard. Though he’ll cost quite a bit at $8.3MM, Clippard’s ability to miss bats and experience in the ninth inning make him a natural candidate to step into the closer’s role early in the season while Sean Doolittle is recovering. It’s easy to envision his time in Oakland playing out much the same as Gregerson’s, however, as he’s set to hit the open market next winter and will likely command a sizable contract.

Financial limitations likely played a role in losing Gregerson as well as the trades of Samardzija and Moss, and they certainly played a role in the loss of Lester. The departure of Lester, Samardzija and Jason Hammel created plenty of openings in the rotation, but the A’s filled those spots via trade, as Jesse Hahn figures and Kendall Graveman have opened the season in the rotation. Hahn’s debut with the Padres was impressive, as he worked to a 3.07 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 50.3 percent ground-ball rate. Sabermetric estimators such as FIP (3.40), xFIP (3.59) and SIERA (3.73) feel that his control problems should’ve led to a higher ERA, but Hahn showed better command coming up through the Minors and could improve in that regard if he remains healthy this season.

In addition to Hahn and Graveman, the A’s added other options such as Sean Nolin and Chris Bassitt. However, they didn’t add an established arm, which serves as a nice transition into the next portion of this breakdown.

Questions Remaining

With Lester and Samardzija gone, Sonny Gray will be asked to step up into the spotlight as the ace the A’s hoped they were getting when they selected him 18th overall in the 2011 draft. Behind him will be the resurgent Scott Kazmir, Hahn, Drew Pomeranz and Graveman. There’s some undeniable upside in the group — Pomeranz was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, after all — but quite a bit of uncertainty. It’s not difficult to envision the Athletics’ end-of-season rotation looking quite a bit different than its present state. Jesse Chavez can again step into the rotation if needed, and Bassitt and Nolin (once Nolin is healthy) are also nice depth options to have. Both Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin (each recovering from Tommy John surgery) are likely to surface as options midseason.

It’s a deep group of pitchers, but there’s a lack of experience and many project more as back-end options than frontline starters or even mid-rotation options. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the A’s eventually trade from their bulk of MLB-caliber starting pitchers, as there simply isn’t room on the roster for all of them. While the oft-cited “you can never have too much pitching” caveat may seem applicable, Beane’s aggressive nature does seem to suggest that some of these arms could be wearing new uniforms by season’s end.

The infield, aside from the remarkably consistent Zobrist, is rife with uncertainty. While Davis and Lawrie are former Top 100 prospects and Semien was highly regarded by the White Sox, none of the three has experienced consistent success in the Major Leagues. Lawrie has been plagued by injuries, although moving off the artificial turf in Toronto may aid his quest to stay healthy. Davis failed to win the first base job in Queens on multiple occasions before losing out to Lucas Duda, and the Pirates traded him for a middling return this winter. Semien has little big league experience, and some have written that he projects more as a utility option than an everyday player (to say nothing of the aforementioned questions as to whether or not he can handle shortstop, from a defensive standpoint). He has, however, hit well to open the season and was a highly productive Minor Leaguer throughout prior to his emergence at the game’s top level.

The outfield has a number of question marks as well, but the most significant is likely this: which Josh Reddick will show up in 2015? Reddick broke out with 32 homers and elite defense in 2012, but he struggled greatly in 2013 and into the All-Star break in 2014. However, in the season’s second half, Reddick was brilliant, batting .299/.337/.533. His .296 BABIP seems more or less sustainable, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain the surprisingly excellent 10 percent strikeout rate he showed in the second half.

Coco Crisp was set to move to left field, but his lack of durability has already been on display, as he’s out for up to two months following elbow surgery. Crisp has been an underrated contributor when on the field, but he’s averaged just 118 games per season since signing in Oakland. In the interim, the team has added Cody Ross, following his release from the D-Backs, and Rule 5 pick Mark Canha has been making the most of the extra at-bats he’s seen. The platoon of Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld in center field should be brilliant from a defensive standpoint, but the offensive contributions of the duo may not be much.

The departure of Derek Norris will seem significantly easier to stomach if Josh Phegley can hit left-handed pitching as well as he has throughout his time in the upper Minors, as nearly all of Norris’ damage came against lefties. With Jaso out of the picture, the A’s will be relying on a platoon of two largely unproven backstops in Phegley and Vogt.

Deal of Note

The Donaldson trade caught many off guard, particularly due to the fact that Athletics officials had bluntly criticized the notion of trading him earlier in the offseason. “That would be stupid,” one executive told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. And, just three weeks before the trade, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports received definitive indications that Oakland had no intention of parting with its star third baseman. The scenario serves as another reminder that we should never rule anything out entirely when it comes to the Athletics, as Beane is among the game’s most open-minded general managers.

While the trade did make Oakland a younger team simply by swapping Donaldson for Lawrie in this year’s lineup, Lawrie actually comes with one less year of control than Donaldson, despite being four years younger. However, as a Super Two player coming off a pair of MVP-caliber seasons, Donaldson will be considerably more expensive in arbitration.

The A’s clearly think highly of Lawrie, but shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto might be the key to the deal. He may have the highest ceiling of any player received by Oakland in that trade, and he gives the team a high-upside shortstop prospect to replenish its system after parting with Addison Russell in the Samardzija/Hammel trade. Barreto is just 19 and is likely three (or more) years away from the Majors, so the merit of his inclusion won’t be known for quite some time.

Graveman and Lawrie have already been factors for the A’s this year, and Nolin could very likely pitch for Oakland in 2015 as well. Together, Graveman and Nolin add to an incredibly deep stable of pitching from which to deal if further upgrades to the roster are necessary midseason. Both project as back-of-the-rotation arms according to most player evaluation outlets, and six controllable years of that type of commodity certainly has value, even if the upside is limited. And, if Oakland chooses to hold onto them, the team has a good track record with that type of pitcher. Their home park/emphasis on defense typically allows the A’s to get more out of pitchers than projections deem likely.

Overview

While I focused quite a bit on the uncertainties facing the A’s, there’s still little doubt in my mind that the pieces are here for this to be a contending team in 2015. Oakland should again have a good defensive club overall, and the team’s reliance on platoons is advantageous and outweighs a lack of star power in their lineup.

The A’s placed a good deal of faith in young hitters like Lawrie, Semien and, to a lesser extent, Davis, with a hope that the untapped potential of those hitters will come to the surface and back a deep pitching staff. If Oakland struggles or identifies an area of weakness in its lineup, the team will likely have to deal from that starting pitching depth in order to repair the deficiency, because the team’s farm system lacks quality, MLB-ready hitting prospects.

General manager Billy Beane’s reputation as unpredictable and unorthodox is well-deserved, but he and his staff routinely manage to maximize the value of their assets in order to put together contending ballclubs on a tight budget. The 2015 Athletics may not have a lot of brand-name star power up and down their roster, but that’s commonplace for the boys in green and gold, and it’d be a surprise if they weren’t firmly in the mix for a playoff spot come September.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Possible Qualifying Offer Players Who Could Be Dealt

Next year’s free agent market contains plenty of players who could receive qualifying offers — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Heyward, and others. Here’s a look at potential qualifying offer recipients who have the best chance of being traded this season, thus preventing them from receiving that designation.

At issue, of course, is draft pick compensation and forfeiture. A team extending a qualifying offer to a player receives a draft pick in return if the player signs elsewhere. The signing team also gives up a draft pick. But a player who has been traded in the season before he becomes a free agent can’t be extended a qualifying offer and thus isn’t attached to draft picks. That can be an important consideration for teams shopping for free agents, as we’ve seen in recent years in the cases of Kyle Lohse, Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, whose markets have all shrunk in part because of the qualifying offer.

Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Reds. The Reds are off to a 4-0 start but still aren’t that likely to contend, which means that Cueto and Leake could hit the free agent market this summer. Trading Cueto, in particular, would be a great way for the Reds to add to their collection of young talent. Leake might be somewhat trickier to trade, since the Reds’ return might not be worth that much more than the draft pick and negotiating leverage they would forgo by dealing him.

Ben Zobrist and Scott Kazmir, Athletics. Billy Beane’s trade for Zobrist this offseason was a somewhat surprising one to begin with. The Athletics could easily contend, but if they don’t, Beane seems unlikely to sit still, and finding a new home for Zobrist wouldn’t be difficult given his versatility. Kazmir is another possibility — if he performs at his 2014 levels, he could receive a qualifying offer if the A’s contend or be traded if they don’t.

Alex Gordon, Royals. The Royals haven’t discussed an extension with Gordon, who would undoubtedly be an attractive trade target if the Royals were to fall out of contention in the AL Central. They’re currently 4-0, however, and there’s still the matter of Gordon’s $12.5MM option. Exercising it would likely not be an optimal financial decision from Gordon’s perspective, but he’s expressed interest in doing so before. If he were to make clear to the Royals that he planned to do so, he almost certainly wouldn’t be a trade candidate.

Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, Padres. San Diego gambled heavily this offseason on the Padres’ ability to win in 2015. If they don’t, A.J. Preller doesn’t seem like the sort of GM to hang onto two key players who are due to become free agents. One possibility if the Padres were to trade Kennedy or especially Upton would be to acquire big-league talent in return, much like the Red Sox did when they dealt Jon Lester last summer. That would enable the Padres to re-tool for 2016, when they’ll still control most of the players they acquired over the winter.

Yovani Gallardo, Rangers. The Brewers exercised what was effectively a $12.4MM 2015 option ($13MM minus a $600K buyout) before trading Gallardo to Texas. His market value likely is somewhere near the value of a qualifying offer, and extending him one wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Rangers if he performs well this season. They could easily trade him rather than doing that, although that might be somewhat difficult given all the higher-impact starters who might be available and the value that would disappear if the ability to extend Gallardo a qualifying offer were to vanish.

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox. The new-look White Sox are 0-4, and GM Rick Hahn has said he will be “nimble” in turning his attention to the future if the organization’s moves to contend this summer don’t work out. That might mean Samardzija could be traded for the third time in a year. He would likely command significant value on the trade market.

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Orioles. Davis and Wieters are worth watching, although it’s somewhat unlikely that they’re valuable enough to receive qualifying offers and that they become trade candidates. Davis had a down season in 2014, while Wieters continues to struggle with health problems (and there’s currently no timetable for his return from an elbow injury). If Davis and Wieters are productive and healthy, the Orioles could well contend, and thus it’s unlikely they’ll be traded. If they aren’t, they might not be qualifying offer candidates.



Minor Moves: Luis Merejo, James Harris

Here are the latest minor moves from around the game, all via Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter):

  • The Braves have released lefty Luis Merejo, who has been out for quite some time after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 20-year-old international signee had “shown promise” in his debut in the Gulf Coast League back in 2012, says Eddy, and indeed he struck out 11.6 and walked just 2.0 batters per nine in his first 41 professional innings.
  • Outfielder James Harris, who had been released by the Rays, was signed by the Athletics. One of Tampa’s multiple sandwich picks back in 2011, Harris has slashed a meager .215/.291/.305 in 898 turns at bat in his career in the lower minors. He is still just 21 years of age, however.

California Notes: Ross, A’s, Padres, Shortstops

The Giants and Padres engaged in an extreme pitchers’ duel on Thursday night, needing a full 12 innings to decide a 1-0 Giants victory.  Pinch-hitter Justin Maxwell‘s RBI single in the top of the 12th proved to be the difference in a game that saw both clubs combine for only 13 total hits.  Here’s some more news from teams from the Golden State…

  • Newly-acquired Athletics outfielder Cody Ross told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jane Lee) that A’s were one of multiple teams who got in touch with him almost immediately after the Diamondbacks released the veteran over the weekend.  Ross saw Oakland as an ideal fit since he wants to play for a contender, and he now sees his release as a positive after he initially felt “blindsided,” “upset” and “bitter” about being let go so suddenly by the D’Backs.
  • Ross also noted that the Giants were one of the teams who had a “little bit” of interest in signing him, and The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea confirms that this was the case, but the team didn’t have an available roster spot.  Ross, of course, played for the Giants from August 2010 through the 2011 season and played a big role in the club’s 2010 World Series title with an MVP performance in the NLCS.
  • With the Padres looking for shortstop help, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron sees the Brewers’ Jean Segura as a realistic trade target.  Cameron speculates that a deal of Segura for Odrisamer Despaigne, Brandon Maurer and one of Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes could give both teams an overall roster upgrade.  Beyond Segura, Cameron doesn’t see the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Elvis Andrus, Starlin Castro or Jose Ramirez as plausible San Diego trade targets for a variety of reasons.
  • For the 20th straight season, the Padres have signed Matt LaChappa to a minor league contract, a move that gives the southpaw a regular income and access to health insurance, USA Today’s Ted Berg reports.  Steve Bischeff of the Orange County Register first wrote about LaChappa in 2005, detailing the second-round pick in the 1993 draft suffered a heart attack while warming up before a minor league game in 1996.  A virus around his heart led to a second attack and LaChappa is now confined to a wheelchair, but the Padres have continually renewed his minor league deal every year since the incident.
  • In news from earlier today, the Dodgers acquired Ryan Webb in a trade with the Orioles, while the A’s lost Alex Hassan to the Rangers on a waiver claim.

Rangers Claim Alex Hassan From Athletics

The Rangers have claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from the division-rival Athletics, Texas EVP of communications John Blake tweets. To make room on the 40-man roster, left-hander Matt Harrison has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

The 27-year-old Hassan has grown accustomed to changing uniforms over the past year, to say the least. Originally with the Red Sox, he was designated for assignment in November and claimed by the A’s, only to be designated and claimed by the Orioles just days later. Hassan believed he was Baltimore-bound until late February, when the Orioles designated him to make room for Everth Cabrera, and the A’s re-claimed him on waivers. Hassan again found himself on waivers after losing his 40-man spot to the recently signed Cody Ross, and he’ll hope to stick with a Rangers organization that is thin on quality outfield options at the moment.

That Hassan is so often claimed isn’t necessarily a surprise when considering the production he’s provided at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. The former 20th-round pick is a career .282/.387/.411 hitter in 1082 Triple-A plate appearances, and he’s never posted an OBP lower than .377 in a full Minor League season. Hassan has played both corner outfield spots and first base a fair amount, giving him some versatility to go along with that high-OBP approach and his history of strong batting averages. All told, Hassan has walked in nearly 14 percent of his Minor League plate appearances while striking out at a relatively low rate of 17.9 percent in the Minors.


Athletics Designate Alex Hassan

The Athletics have designated outfielder Alex Hassan for assignment, the club announced. Oakland cleared roster space for the just-signed Cody Ross with this move and an optional assignment for Billy Burns.

Hassan, 27, has only minimal time in the big leagues. But he has slashed .282/.378/.426 in four seasons at the Triple-A level, suggesting that he possesses a high-OBP, relatively low-power bat that could be useful in a reserve role in the bigs.

Hassan bounced around quite a bit over the offseason. In fact, he was claimed by the A’s on two separate occasions, which also means this is the second time he has been designated by the team in the last few months.


Athletics To Sign Cody Ross

The Athletics will sign outfielder Cody Ross once he officially clears release waivers tomorrow, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Oakland will be responsible for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum in terms of Ross’ salary, while the D-Backs, who released him this weekend, will be on the hook for the remainder of his $8.5MM salary and $1MM option buyout.

Cody Ross

Last night, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s were on the hunt for veteran outfielders in the wake of surgery that will sideline Coco Crisp for up to two months, and Oakland clearly acted quickly upon that interest, reaching an agreement with Ross’ agents at Relativity Baseball.

Ross, 34, signed a three-year, $26MM contract with the D-Backs in the 2012-13 offseason that proved to be a bust, due largely to injuries. A .267/.326/.481 batting line and 22 homers with the 2012 Red Sox earned him that sizable deal, but Ross batted just .268/.322/.378 in 177 games (570 plate appearances) over the past two years in Arizona. Calf injuries and hip surgery limited his ability to stay on the field, and the presence of A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, Mark Trumbo and Yasmany Tomas in the D-Backs organization left Ross without a spot on the roster.

Oakland figures to deploy Ross primarily in left field, as a platoon of Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld will handle center field, and Josh Reddick will be the primary right fielder once he is activated from the disabled list. Speedster Billy Burns and Rule 5 pick Mark Canha seem to be the likeliest candidates to be squeezed out of playing time, but the A’s regularly rotate a mix of players throughout various positions on the diamond, with many players serving in more of a part-time role than in true full-time capacities.

Ross is particularly effective against left-handed pitching, having authored a .294/.360/.557 batting line when holding the platoon advantage over the duration of his 11-year Major League career. From a defensive standpoint, he’s experienced at all three positions, but he hasn’t seen significant time in center field since 2010. He’s graded out as a plus corner outfielder in his career, per Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, though his marks in the eyes of those metrics have been skewed by the aforementioned injuries to his lower half in recent years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Athletics Looking At Veteran Outfielders

The Athletics are looking outside the organization for outfield options to fill in while Coco Crisp is down, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Crisp is not expected to be out longer than two months to start the year, making a significant acquisition seem somewhat unlikely. Recent roster casualties may offer some value in the interim at no cost other than a league-minimum roster spot.

Among the possibilities, per Slusser, are Cody Ross, who was just released by the Diamondbacks, and recently-designated Padres-turned-Braves veteran Carlos Quentin. Both of those players would appear to be bat-first options — Ross struggled defensively last year after returning from hip surgery while Quentin has always been regarded as a poor defender — but the club has several good gloves in the mix already.

Of course, Ross and Quentin also face significant questions beyond their limitations in the field (and would not otherwise be freely available). The pair owned matching offensive production last year (75 OPS+) that hardly inspires confidence, though of course their longer-term track records show much greater ability at the plate if their bodies are still willing.


Minor Moves: Tomas, Oliver, Brignac, Zito

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
  • Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
  • Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
  • Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
  • The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
  • The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
  • The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
  • The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
  • The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.

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