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Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- A number of additional minor league signings have been reported on the MLB.com transactions page. Among the more notable moves: The Reds added first baseman Josh Satin along with second baseman Ivan De Jesus. Righty Logan Kensing and shortstop Juan Diaz have agreed to terms with the White Sox. And five catchers are off the board: Griff Erickson (Padres), Koyie Hill (Phillies), Sebastian Valle and Miguel Perez (Pirates), and Guillermo Quiroz (Giants).
- Other signings, via MLB.com: righty Caleb Clay and outfielder Nick Buss (Diamondbacks); lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller (Athletics); third baseman Jefry Marte (Tigers); righty Daniel Turpen, third baseman Heiker Meneses, and shortstop Argenis Diaz (Twins); righty Bryce Stowell and first baseman Allan Dykstra (Rays); first baseman Travis Mattair and righties Justin Jackson, Jairo Heredia, and Jake Brigham (Braves); outfielder Javier Herrera (Giants); righty Leuris Gomez (Rockies); righty Michael Lee (Blue Jays); third baseman Jonathan Galvez (Yankees); righty Paul Clemens (Phillies).
- The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
- The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
- The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
- Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.
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Midnight EST is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com lists the notable prospects who are newly Rule 5 eligible. Of course, the decision whether or not to protect a player has as much to do with roster flexibility and his expected ability to stick on a big league roster for a full season as it does the player’s overall prospect value.
We’ll keep tabs on the day’s 40-man additions here, and you can also check Baseball America’s running updates, which includes breakdowns of the players added.
- The Rays have yet to announce their full list of roster moves, but Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper tweets that second baseman Ryan Brett will be added to the 40-man.
- Following their trade with the Dodgers, the Rays announced that they have added Brett (as Cooper tweeted), right-hander Matt Andriese, left-hander Grayson Garvin, outfielder Mikie Mahtook and catcher Justin O’Conner to the 40-man roster.
- The Dodgers announced that lefty Adam Liberatore, acquired in the trade with the Rays, has been added to the 40-man roster.
- The Astros have made one final 40-man roster move, announcing the addition of right-hander Michael Feliz. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper was among those to express surprise that Feliz had not previously been added to the roster, with some executives telling him they’d be shocked if Feliz wasn’t the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 Draft (Twitter link).
- The Rangers announced that they’ve added righties Luke Jackson and Jerad Eickhoff, infielder Hanser Alberto and catcher Jorge Alfaro to the 40-man roster.
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The Orioles have claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from the Athletics, Baltimore announced.
After missing out on a chance to add the 26-year-old a few days ago, when he was claimed by the A’s from the Red Sox, the Orioles apparently jumped when he was again exposed to waivers. Hassan has a lengthy track record at Triple-A, where he has established himself as a reliable on-base threat. His career line over 1,082 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors is .282/.387/.411.
Here are the latest minor moves from around the game:
- The Marlins have agreed to a minor league deal with infielder Reid Brignac, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Brignac, a former top prospect, hit .222/.300/.346 in 91 PA for the Phillies this season and is a lifetime .222/.266/.314 hitter in 905 PA. The 28-year-old has experience at shortstop, second base, third base and has made brief cameos in the outfield.
- Utility infielder Doug Bernier has re-signed with the Twins, per Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The 34-year-old has seen minimal big league time with Minnesota over the last two years, and has put up strong numbers for the team’s Triple-A affiliate.
- The switch-pitching Pat Venditte has inked a minor league deal to join the Athletics, per a tweet from his agent, Marc Kligman. While it is tempting to write him off as a novelty, Venditte owns a career 3.25 ERA against Triple-A competition and a 3.09 mark at the Double-A level, with solid K:BB numbers to boot.
- The Orioles have re-signed infielder Michael Almanzar and lefty Chris Jones while adding utility option Derrik Gibson as well, all on minor league pacts, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Almanzar, 23, bounced between the O’s and Red Sox last year, being taken in the Rule 5 draft, returned to Boston, and then dealt back to Baltimore.
- Baltimore went on to announce those signings and a series of others, including southpaws Frank Gailey and Ronan Pacheco and righties Tim Gustafson, Kenn Kasparek, and Mikey O’Brien. None of those hurlers has reached the MLB level yet in their careers.
- The Angels have inked left-hander Atahualpa Severino to a minor league pact, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Mike DiGiovanna. Severino, 30, spent last year at Triple-A for the Braves. He has yet to make it back to the bigs since a brief cameo with the Nationals back in 2011.
- Right-hander John Ely has agreed to a minor league deal with the Brewers, according to the team’s player development Twitter account. The 28-year-old saw sporadic playing time with the Dodgers over the 2010-12 time frame, missed virtually all of 2013, and re-emerged as a reliever last year in the Red Sox organization. He threw to a 3.04 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.
TODAY: The A’s have announced the signing of Butler to a three-year deal.
YESTERDAY: The Athletics have agreed to a three-year, $30MM deal with free agent DH Billy Butler, as first reported via Twitter by Robert Murray. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that the deal is finalized.
While the contract is a surprise in many respects, its terms were predicted precisely this morning by MLBTR’s Steve Adams. As Adams explained in his profile of the designated hitter, a rough 2014 season reduced his value but certainly could not detract entirely from his solid track record and young age.
Indeed, Butler is signing on for his age-29 through age-31 seasons, making him a good bit younger than the average free agent. And he brings excellent durability to the table, with a DL-free track record over the past six seasons.
Given those factors, and Butler’s ultimate price tag, it is perhaps surprising that his former club — the Royals — was not able to find a taker for his $12.5MM option before declining it and setting him onto the open market. Olney tweets that K.C. was only interested in a one-year pact, though apparently the rest of the market saw things differently. Of course this is not the first and will not be the last time that a short-fused option or qualifying offer decision turns out to be (arguably) somewhat short-sighted.
Something will have to give for the A’s, whose roster is already chock full of players who occupy various value niches for the team. Oakland recently added Kyle Blanks to serve as a right-handed power option. And Craig Gentry functions as a right-handed platoon/bench bat capable of playing the corner outfield. It would certainly seem all but impossible for the team to keep each of those players, add Butler, and maintain two left-handed hitting outfield pieces (Josh Reddick and Sam Fuld) on top of three catching/first base/DH options (Derek Norris, John Jaso, and Stephen Vogt) to go with Brandon Moss and a utility infielder on the active roster.
Of course, Butler’s utility to the Athletics would increase significantly if he were capable of manning first base. It is worth noting that he has generally been successful enough against same-handed pitching over his career, posting a 108 wRC+ against righties while mashing lefties to the tune of a 142 wRC+ mark.
Though the O.co Coliseum would not appear to be the kind of park that might lead to a big jump in the long ball category, Butler probably has more in his bat than the mere nine he produced last year. And his low strikeout and high contact numbers probably bode well for the future, the key perhaps will be whether he can create enough solid contact to drive up a .310 BABIP and 6.9% HR/FB from 2014, each of which fell well below his career numbers.
9:24pm: A three-year deal is “quite close,” per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale tweets that the sides are set to embark upon a three-year pact along the lines of that rumored to be agreed upon per Robert Murray (via Twitter) earlier this evening.
7:59pm: The Athletics are in “serious talks” with free agent designated hitter Billy Butler, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). As Rosenthal notes, he is confirming a report from Cover Those Bases (Twitter link).
MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently predicted a three-year, $30MM deal for the bat-only Butler, who is coming off a sub-optimal walk year but does hit the market at just 28 years of age. My personal take was that Butler would end up settling for a one-year deal since he is such an inflexible player, though the chatter to date seems to indicate that he will have little difficulty getting a multi-year guarantee.
It is unclear, of course, what the A’s interest means. On the one hand, the club would seem unlikely to commit a significant amount of cash over multiple years, given its traditional reliance on a mix-and-match DH spot. On the other, it would appear that Butler is not wanting for suitors.
Hassan, 26, made his big league debut with the Red Sox this year, collecting nine plate appearances and picking up his first big league hit — a single. The former 20th-round draft pick had a solid season at Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .287/.378/.426 with eight home runs this season. Those numbers line up well with the .282/.387/.411 batting line that Hassan has compiled over the course of parts of four seasons at that level.
Right-handers Esmerling Vasquez and Miguel Mejia have signed with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, MLBTR has learned. The 31-year-old Vasquez last appeared in the Majors with the Twins in 2012. He has a lifetime 4.86 ERA in 168 2/3 MLB innings. Mejia, meanwhile, has spent the past two seasons pitching in Taiwan’s top professional league and was with the Lamigo Monkeys last season.
More minor moves from around the league…
- First baseman Brandon Allen has re-signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted yesterday. The 28-year-old Allen, once considered a Top 100 prospect, hit .266/.368/.434 with the Mets at the Triple-A level last season.
- The Brewers announced today that they’ve acquired outfielder Kyle Wren — the son of former Braves GM Frank Wren — from Atlanta in exchange for righty Zach Quintana. (W.G. Ramirez was the first to report Quintana’s trade earlier this week, on Twitter.) The 23-year-old Wren hit .290/.350/.360 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season, while Quintana struggled to a 5.70 ERA in 85 1/3 innings with Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate. He was a third-round pick by the Brewers as recently as 2012, however.
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has several minor league deals to report (All Twitter links). The Athletics have inked catcher Carson Blair and lefty Rudy Owens; the Marlins have signed righty Ryan Reid, lefty Pat Urckfitz and center fielder Kenny Wilson; and the Braves have signed right-hander Victor Mateo and lefty Francisco Rondon.
3:40pm: MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes hears that three of the four teams set to meet with Tomas would have been seen as “very unlikely” suitors, suggesting they’re of the dark horse variety (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the Padres are no longer seen as a fit for Tomas.
Hall of Fame reporter Peter Gammons hears that Giants special assistant Felipe Alou is pushing the team to sign Tomas as a third baseman (Twitter link). Gammons also hears that the Phillies would likely have to clear some money in order to add Tomas.
Additionally, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Oakland has scouted and discussed Tomas, though they wouldn’t be involved at the rumored $100MM price tag. She speculates that if Tomas were open to a shorter-term deal that allowed him to hit free agency faster, Oakland would be in play.
3:26pm: Alou is still expected to meet with four MLB GMs in the Dominican in the next two days, he tells Arangure (Twitter link).
2:05pm: Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas is scheduled to fly to the United States tomorrow to meet with his agent, Jay Alou Jr., Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports reports on Twitter. A deal appears imminent, per Arangure, and could come as soon as this weekend.
Tomas, 24 tomorrow, has drawn significant interest around the league from clubs intrigued by the possibility of fielding his power bat through his prime years, a rare opportunity in the current market. There have been varying reports as to Tomas’s timeline for signing, with some suggesting that he is moving quickly with a small group of frontrunners and others indicating that a wide-open battle for his services is just beginning.
Argangure’s report does not give any indication of the team with which Tomas could be nearing a deal. Needless to say, Tomas ‘s ultimate destination will have an important bearing on the rest of the free agent market.
The Astros are one of roughly 12 teams who have checked in with free agent righty Jason Hammel, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports. While Hammel makes sense for a lot of teams as a less-expensive option behind some of the pricier names on the pitching market, he seems like a particularly solid fit for an Astros team that is looking to upgrade its rotation without expending a lot of payroll. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd, in his Free Agent Profile of Hammel, predicted the right-hander would receive a three-year, $30MM deal this winter — exactly what Houston spent to sign Scott Feldman last offseason.
Here’s some more from around the AL West…
- Also from Drellich, Jose Veras‘ Barry Praver says his client is interested in returning to the Astros next season.
- The Athletics have called about free agent shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Shortstop is an area of need for Oakland this winter with incumbent Jed Lowrie also a free agent.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reports (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that the team could consider trading from its shortstop depth. “Its an area of strength for us. We’ve talked about the possibility for a while. We just have to decide if now is the time to make a move there,” Daniels said. Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two biggest names yet a deal involving either player wouldn’t be likely until Spring Training, when Profar can show that he’s healthy after shoulder injuries sidelined him for all of the 2014 season. Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees were “intrigued” by Andrus. Prospects Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto could also be trade chips, either in small deals or as parts of larger trade packages.
- Two sources tell Evan Grant that Colby Lewis will likely re-sign with the Rangers. Daniels said that if he “had to guess, I think it gets done,” though noted that Lewis has “never been healthy and a true free agent before. This is the first real chance he’s had to find out his true value.”
- Kevin Jepsen could be a trade candidate if the Angels wanted to deal from their right-handed relief surplus, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez opines. Jepsen has two more years of control left as a Super Two player, and his rising price tag could make him expendable for the Halos, Gonzalez speculates.