- The Athletics outrighted right-hander Josh Smith, as per a team announcement. Oakland just claimed Smith off waivers from the Reds earlier this month. The 29-year-old righty has 92 1/3 career big league innings under his belt, posting a 5.46 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 1.66 K/BB rate for the Reds over the last two seasons as both a starter and reliever.
We’ll use this post to keep track of the players being added to their teams’ respective 40-man rosters today, which is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. Players must be added to the big league roster within either four years (if they were 19 or older at the time of their original signing) or five years (if 18 or younger) of their signing year in order to be shielded from selection.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo took a look at some of the biggest names who face roster decisions, though most of those won’t be much in question. At the fringes, teams must also consider the major league readiness of the player, since that factors heavily into whether they’ll be taken and kept. Any drafting team, of course, must keep a player on its active MLB roster for the full season (with certain exceptions relating to the DL) in order for their control rights to vest. Adding a player to the 40-man too early can have its own risks, because it limits flexibility and could require a team to expose that player to waivers if a need arises. With 26-man rosters reportedly under consideration, the Rule 5 draft could be quite intriguing this year, and that may bleed into today’s decisions as well.
Below is a division-by-division rundown of the names that were added to each team’s 40-man roster (plus the various waiver claims that spawned from teams trying to outright players to protect Rule 5-eligible prospects). We won’t delve into each player’s background, but if you’re looking to a little more about the names that were added, I’d highly recommend this tremendous, in-depth examination of each team’s additions by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. If you want to see how the moves look in the context of a team’s roster, head over to Roster Resource for your club’s depth chart.
Onto the moves…
American League West
- Angels: Nate Smith (LHP), Keynan Middleton (RHP), Austin Adams (RHP) and Eduardo Paredes (RHP)
- Astros: None today
- Athletics: Paul Blackburn (RHP), Bobby Wahl (RHP), Franklin Barreto (SS), Yairo Munoz (INF) and Jaycob Brugman (OF)
- Mariners: Paul Fry (LHP), D.J. Peterson (1B/3B) and Thyago Vieira (RHP); Also acquired LHP James Pazos (link), 1B/OF Richie Shaffer and INF/OF Taylor Motter (link)
- Rangers: Ronald Guzman (1B); Also claimed RHP Tyler Wagner
American League Central
- Indians: Francisco Mejia (C); Also claimed LHPs Tim Cooney (link) and Edwin Escobar (link)
- Royals: Andrew Edwards (RHP), Jake Junis (RHP), Cam Gallagher (C), Samir Duenez (1B)
- Tigers: Sandy Baez (RHP)
- Twins: Felix Jorge (RHP), Fernando Romero (RHP), Zach Granite (OF), Daniel Palka (OF), Mitch Garver (C), Engelb Vielma (SS)
- White Sox: Brad Goldberg (RHP), Adam Engel (OF), Jacob May (OF)
American League East
- Blue Jays: Anthony Alford (OF), Ryan Borucki (LHP), Richard Urena (INF); Also claimed RHPs Dominic Leone (link) and Leonel Campos (link)
- Orioles: Joe Gunkel (RHP) and Jesus Liranzo (RHP)
- Rays: Chih-Wei Hu (RHP), Hunter Wood (RHP), Ryne Stanek (RHP), Austin Pruitt (RHP), Jaime Schultz (RHP), Willy Adames (INF), Daniel Robertson (INF) and Jose Alvarado (LHP)
- Red Sox: Kyle Martin (RHP) and Luis Ysla (LHP)
- Yankees: Miguel Andujar (INF), Dietrich Enns (LHP), Jorge Mateo (SS), Giovanny Gallegos (RHP), Ronald Herrera (RHP) and Yefrey Ramirez (RHP)
National League West
- Diamondbacks: Anthony Banda (LHP), Jimmie Sherfy (RHP), Dawel Lugo (SS), Jack Reinheimer (INF) and Ildemaro Vargas (2B)
- Dodgers: Chase De Jong (RHP), Jacob Rhame (RHP) and Kyle Farmer (C)
- Giants: Orlando Calixte (SS), Miguel Gomez (3B), Reyes Moronta (RHP), Dan Slania (RHP), Chase Johnson (RHP)
- Padres: Franchy Cordero (OF),Javier Guerra (SS), Walker Lockett (RHP), Jose Ruiz (C)
- Rockies: Yency Almonte (RHP), Shane Carle (RHP), Rayan Gonzalez (RHP), Zach Jemiola (RHP) and Sam Moll (LHP)
National League Central
- Brewers: Josh Hader (LHP), Taylor Williams (RHP), Lewis Brinson (OF), Ryan Cordell (OF) and Brett Phillips (OF); Also claimed 1B/OF Adam Walker
- Cardinals: Magneuris Sierra (OF), Eliezer Alvarez (INF), Edmundo Sosa (INF) and Rowan Wick (RHP)
- Cubs: Victor Caratini (C), Duane Underwood (RHP), Jacob Hannemann (OF) and Jack Leathersich (LHP); Also claimed LHP David Rollins
- Pirates: Clay Holmes (RHP)
- Reds: Barrett Astin (RHP), Keury Mella (RHP), Jackson Stephens (RHP), Nick Travieso (RHP), Aristides Aquino (OF), Phil Ervin (OF) and Jesse Winker (OF)
National League East
- Braves: Max Fried (LHP), Lucas Sims (RHP), Johan Carmago (INF); Also claimed C Tuffy Gosewisch
- Marlins: Luis Castillo (RHP), Drew Steckenrider (RHP), Austin Nola (INF), J.T. Riddle (INF); Also claimed LHP Elvis Araujo
- Mets: Amed Rosario (SS), Wuilmer Becerra (OF), Chris Flexen (RHP), Marcos Molina (RHP), and Tomas Nido (C)
- Nationals: Austin Voth (RHP), Rafael Bautista (OF), Raudy Read (C), Matt Skole (1B/3B) and Jose Marmolejos (1B/OF)
- Phillies: Drew Anderson (RHP), Mark Appel (RHP), Ricardo Pinto (RHP), Nick Pivetta (RHP), Alberto Tirado (RHP), Ben Lively (RHP), Dylan Cozens (OF), Nick Williams (OF), Andrew Knapp (C), Elniery Garcia (LHP) and Jesmuel Valentin (2B)
- The Athletics are “actively listening to offers” for right-hander Sonny Gray, per Olney. Gray’s name has been a mainstay in trade rumors over the past year and a half, but with a $3.7MM salary projection for next season and Oakland looks more likely to move veteran pieces, there’s a better chance this winter that he’s moved than there has been in previous trade seasons. Of course, teams may be wary of Gray’s 5.69 ERA and time on the disabled list this past season, and the A’s aren’t likely to consider selling Gray at a discounted price, so agreeing on price with interested teams certainly presents some hurdles. Gray is still just 27 and is controlled for another three seasons.
Lew Wolff is stepping down as the managing partner of the Athletics and will sell the majority of his stake in the team to the remaining partners, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Wolff will be chariman emeritus moving forth, per Slusser, and majority owner John Fisher will assume his previous role as the team’s managing partner.
Furthermore, Slusser reports that Michael Crowley will no longer serve as the team’s president and will become a senior advisor to the ownership group. Dave Kaval, president of Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, will become the new team president in Oakland, according to Slusser.
“I want to thank Lew for his leadership over the last 11 years,” said Fisher in a press release formally announcing the ownership shakeup. “His initiative and love of the game of baseball brought my family to the A’s, and we would not be involved without him. Lew has given the organization all of his energy and experience for the last 11 years and I look forward to a new chapter in our working relationship and friendship. It is a privilege for me to steward the A’s at this important moment for the franchise.”
The exact ramifications that this transition will have on Oakland’s hunt for a new stadium remain to be seen, but Kaval briefly addressed the issue in a statement of his own: “Given my longstanding love of baseball and my experience building Avaya Stadium (the Earthquakes’ home stadium), I am enthusiastic to join the Athletics as the Club pursues a world-class ballpark in Oakland for the best fans in baseball.”
Though the Braves already added R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon this winter, it seems they aren’t quite done shopping for starters. They have joined the division-rival Nationals, and probably a sizable portion of the rest of baseball, in reaching out to the White Sox about lefty Chris Sale, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Atlanta is among the organizations “trying hardest” to pry Sale loose from Chicago, per the report, with some around the league believing that he could change hands this winter. Of course, yesterday’s report regarding the Nats also suggested that the South Siders have yet to engage in serious chatter as of yet, and the Braves are looking at a variety of options, so it’s a bit soon to dwell heavily on the Sale/Braves connection. Atlanta has also inquired with the Rays on Chris Archer and the Athletics on Sonny Gray, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman notes.
The Athletics have re-signed left-hander Felix Doubront, catcher/corner outfielder Matt McBride and right-handed reliever Aaron Kurcz to minor league contracts, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The 29-year-old Doubront missed the 2016 season due to April Tommy John surgery and told Slusser that the way in which Oakland handled his rehab played a big part in his decision to return. “I felt comfortable with Oakland and they took care of me, so I want to repay them on their investment and help them in the big leagues,” said Doubront to Slusser. Doubront pitched 52 2/3 innings with the A’s back in 2015 and limped to a 5.81 ERA, although his peripheral stats that season — 6.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 47.1 percent ground-ball rate, 4.45 FIP, 4.31 xFIP — indicated that he performed better than that onerous ERA would otherwise suggest. In 513 2/3 big league innings, Doubront has a 4.89 ERA.
McBride, 31, was a second-rounder with the Indians back in 2006 but went to Colorado in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and ultimately landed in Oakland last year after signing a minor league deal. He’s a lifetime .310/.350/.517 hitter in parts of seven minor league seasons but has hit just .201/.228/.299 in 202 MLB plate appearances. McBride has nearly 2500 innings in the outfield corners and more than 1800 innings as a first baseman in his minor league career.
Kurcz, 26, split the 2016 season between Oakland’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, logging a combined 3.03 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings. Kurcz has yet to pitch in the Majors but does own an impressive 3.01 ERA over the duration of his time in the minor leagues, where he’s also averaged 10.6 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 in 329 1/3 innings.
The Mariners’ acquisition of utilityman Danny Valencia from the Athletics in exchange for right-hander Paul Blackburn is likely to end the Seattle tenures of two free agents – first baseman Dae-ho Lee and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez – general manager Jerry Dipoto revealed Saturday (via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune).
“There’s very little likelihood that both (Valencia and Lee) will fit on the same roster,” Dipoto said. “I (also) don’t think we have to go out and focus on getting a right-handed-hitting outfielder just to have one.”
Valencia expects his role with the Mariners will be “to play first base, probably some right field,” which would make both Lee and Gutierrez superfluous to the club. All three are right-handed hitters, and barring more moves, Valencia is a strong candidate to complement lefty-swingers Dan Vogelbach at first base (previously Lee’s role with now-free agent Adam Lind) and Seth Smith in the outfield (fomerly Gutierrez’s job). Valencia seems likely to see most of his action at first, as Dipoto said Saturday that August acquisition Ben Gamel is slated to start in one outfield corner and Nelson Cruz and Guillermo Heredia will join Valencia in platooning with Smith. However, given that it’s so early in the offseason, Dipoto unsurprisingly isn’t ruling out further acquisitions.
“If we see a good fit, or the ability to go acquire a player who makes us better, we’re not going to hesitate. Valencia’s flexibility allows that,” he commented.
[Related: Updated Seattle Mariners Depth Chart]
The 32-year-old Valencia has hit well in each of the past two seasons, most recently posting a .287/.346/.446 line in 517 plate appearances with Oakland in 2016. He also logged substantial playing time at three positions (third base, first base and right field), giving him a bit of defensive versatility. He graded poorly at third, though, and got in a clubhouse altercation with Billy Butler that resulted in Butler heading to the 7-day concussion DL.
Butler was released soon after, and although the Athletics said Butler’s release was unrelated to the clubhouse fight, it seemed by season’s end that the A’s were looking to move on from Valencia. Youngster Ryon Healy received the bulk of the Athletics’ available playing time down the stretch at third base. It already looked possible the A’s could look outfield help this winter, and now it looks even more likely that they will.
Valencia has one more year of club control remaining before he’s eligible for free agency, and we project he’ll make $5.3MM next season. The Mariners obviously have a good third baseman in Kyle Seager, but Valencia could be a factor at first base and/or in the outfield. At first, his right-handed bat might pair well with that of lefty Dan Vogelbach.
The 22-year-old Blackburn, who arrived with Vogelbach in the Mike Montgomery deal in July, ranked as the Mariners’ 18th-best prospect, according to MLB.com. The Cubs made him the 56th overall pick in the draft in 2012. He throws sinkers in the low 90s and has what MLB.com describes as solid secondary stuff and a good feel for pitching, so perhaps he could profile as a back-of-the-rotation type in the big leagues. He produced a 3.27 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 143 Double-A innings in 2016.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- There’s still quite a lot to be sorted out for the Athletics this winter, and we don’t have a ton to go on in assessing the organization’s direction. But there are a pair of pieces worth looking into for fans looking for the sense of those who follow the team most closely. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle takes stock of the free agent outfield options, citing reunions with Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss as unlikely. But the organization may look to take a shot on KBO star Eric Thames, she says, while Carlos Gomez and perhaps even Austin Jackson representing possibilities in center. Meanwhile, with some chatter surrounding key veterans Sonny Grey, Steven Vogt, and Sean Doolittle, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com examines the possibility of one or more significant swaps. He suggests that Doolittle, an affordable but oft-injured power lefty, could be the most likely of that trio to change hands.
While the Athletics aren’t exactly shopping any of Sonny Gray, Stephen Vogt or Sean Doolittle, they’re open-minded to trade scenarios involving the three due to the fact that they recognize the unlikeliness of competing in the next year’s AL West with this current group, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Per Rosenthal, Oakland will look to build around younger arms like Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, though he also notes the difficulty that presents itself when entertaining offers on Gray. Trading the 2015 Cy Young candidate when his value is at all-time low is quite problematic, as teams will be looking to buy low on the still-just-27-year-old Gray, while the A’s rightly would place a higher premium on him. Both Gray and Vogt are controllable for three more years via arbitration, while Doolittle is guaranteed a mere $6.95MM over the next two seasons and has two club options at $6MM and $6.5MM beyond that.