Minor Moves: Matt Tuiasosopo

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Orioles have released outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. Tuiasosopo, 26, had been shifted to minor league camp earlier in the month, and will now be permitted to pursue an opportunity with another club. Over 401 career turns at bat in the big leagues, Tuiasosopo has a .207/.290/.356 slash. He hit 13 home runs and slashed .240/.357/.379 in 487 Triple-A plate appearances last year.

Mets Nearing Extension With Juan Lagares

11:30am: Passan now reports the year-to-year breakdown of the contract will be as follows: $2.5MM in 2016, $4.5MM in 2017, $6.5MM in 2018 and $9MM in 2019. As he previously noted, the option is valued at $9.5MM with a $500K buyout.

10:37am: Lagares will be guaranteed $23MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The option is for $9.5MM and comes with a $500K buyout.

10:22am: The deal is done pending a physical, Bowden tweets.

10:10am: Lagares acknowledges that the deal is under negotiations but says he has not yet signed a contract, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News tweets.

9:17am: The Mets have agreed to terms on a four-year extension with center fielder Juan Lagares that includes a club option, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. The deal is expected to guarantee Lagares over $20MM, per Bowden. Lagares, 26, is represented by ACES.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at New York Mets

The deal will not start until 2016, Bowden tweets, meaning that New York has locked in salaries for all of Lagares’s arbitration years while picking up a club option over his first season of free agent eligibility. Lagares entered the offseason with 1.160 years of service, meaning he’d almost certainly have qualified for Super Two eligibility next year. All told, New York will stand to gain control over Lagares through his age-31 season.

Lagares established himself last year with an outstanding campaign in the field and solid effort at the plate. There is no doubt that his primary value comes with the glove: Lagares led all qualifying outfielders with 25.3 UZR/150, with Defensive Runs Saved and scouting reports concurring in his excellence.

Of course, Lagares had already showed that kind of capability in center. What last year did more than anything was show his capacity on the offensive side of the equation. Lagares slashed .281/.321/.382 over 452 plate appearances, an approximately league average line, while contributing four home runs and 13 stolen bases.

There may not be much upside left in the bat given his age, but the aggregate package has obvious appeal. Lagares was worth 4 fWAR and an even more impressive 5.5 rWAR last year, making him the type of well-above-average player that any team hopes to be able to lock in up the middle.

In terms of the payday, which is yet to be reported precisely, Lagares obviously had some reasonably anticipated caps on his earning capacity since his skillset is presently not valued highly in arbitration. The most obvious comp for this deal is the recent Adam Eaton extension — a five-year, $23.5MM pact (plus two club options) for a center fielder who had one less year of club control but who was on track to qualify for arbitration just three times. Eaton is also 26, and both players have missed some time due to injuries over the last few years. While they profile differently, and appear to have agreed to differently-structured deals, the overall value of the two players is arguably fairly similar.

Another way of looking at it, though, would be to compare this agreement to the Andrelton Simmons extension from last winter. Simmons, of course, is also an elite defender whose bat is slightly below average to average. The Braves cornerstone, then 24, got seven years and $58MM in exchange for his age-24 through age-31 seasons. With this deal, the Mets appear set to control Lagares through his age-31 season with a more modest annual guarantee and lower overall risk.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Phillies Outright Phillippe Aumont, Miguel Gonzalez

The Phillies have outrighted out-of-options righty Phillippe Aumont, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets. Philadelphia also announced that righty Miguel Gonzalez has been outrighted off of the 40-man.

Aumont is, of course, the last remaining piece of the 2009 Cliff Lee trade left in Philadelphia. His exposure to waivers obviously indicates that the club was prepared to lose him, and the fact that he went unclaimed reveals that the rest of the league has little interest in devoting a 40-man spot at this point. Certainly, the same holds for Gonzalez, who has disappointed thus far in Philly.

The pair of righties entered camp with plenty to prove but apparently failed to do so. Aumont, 26, limited the free passes in game action this spring while generating plenty of whiffs, but seemingly gave up a lot of hard contact, including three home runs in 8 2/3 innings. Gonzalez, 28, also could not keep opposing batters off of his pitches. Though he struck out seven and walked only one in 14 1/3 innings, Gonzalez was touched for 25 hits and five long balls in that stretch.



Astros Designate Alex Presley For Assignment

The Astros have designated outfielder Alex Presley for assignment, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter. While the club would like to keep him, they may attempt to work out a trade, McTaggart tweets.

Presley saw 271 plate appearances with Houston last year after being claimed off waivers. He slashed just .244/.281/.346 with six home runs and five steals. Playing mostly in the corner outfield, Presley was unable to stay above the replacement line. His work at the plate showed more of the same this spring.

Presley should draw interest from teams looking for some versatility. He is out of options, of course, meaning that a team would have to give him an active roster spot in claiming him. Presley also comes with a $1MM salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility (as a Super Two).


Aaron Crow Likely Facing Tommy John Surgery

Marlins right-handed reliever Aaron Crow will likely need Tommy John surgery after an MRI revealed a ligament tear, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Miami added Crow in late November in a trade that cost the team lefty Brian Flynn.

Losing Crow would be a significant blow to the club’s bullpen, which had hoped to enjoy a return to form from the 28-year-old. After a three-year run in which he carried a 3.19 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9, with heavy groundball tendencies, Crow fell back last year to a 4.12 earned run mark while striking out just 5.2 and walking 3.7 batters per nine. He had put up more typical numbers this spring, however.

While Miami does have several options to step in for Crow, it is possible to imagine the team looking for an outside replacement. Whether that would mean picking up a veteran roster castaway or striking a deal, of course, remains to be seen.


Nationals Release Kevin Frandsen

The Nationals have released infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen, 32, had been signed to a $1MM deal to avoid arbitration early in the offseason.

It was about this time last year that the Nats originally added Frandsen, signing him quickly when the division-rival Phillies let him go. Frandsen earned plaudits for his presence in the clubhouse and willingness to contribute in any way possible, but he hit only .259/.299/.309 last year with just one home run in 236 turns at bat. With slightly negative marks from defensive metrics added in, he was a below-replacement level producer.

With Anthony Rendon still an injury question mark, it appears that the Nationals will open the year with some combination of Yunel Escobar, Danny Espinosa, Ian Stewart, and Dan Uggla playing at second and third, the slots that Frandsen was most likely to fit.


Padres Actively Taking Calls On Relievers

Even after trading lefty Alex Torres to the Mets yesterday, the Padres are in active trade talks regarding their bullpen, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter).

San Diego’s bullpen currently projects to be anchored by closer Joaquin Benoit, who is earning $8MM in the second season of a two-year, $15.5MM pact. His contract comes with an $8MM club option ($1.5MM buyout). Beyond Benoit, Kevin QuackenbushBrandon Maurer, Shawn Kelley, Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Frank Garces and Odrisamer Despaigne are all candidates for the bullpen, making for eight total relievers.

Of that group, Quackenbush, Vincent, Maurer and Garces are all relatively young and have several years of team control remaining, making them perhaps unlikelier to be dealt than their counterparts. (Then again, the same could have been said of Torres.) Despaigne seems likely to be the long man, though it wouldn’t be inconceivable for the Padres to find an alternative long relief option should he draw significant interest. Kelley was just acquired this offseason, so it seems unlikely that he’d be flipped again so close to the regular season. Thayer, earning $1.38MM after avoiding arbitration for the first time this winter at 34 years of age, might be the most logical trade candidate, but he was excellent in 2014 and has been a generally useful relief arm for the Friars over the past three seasons.

It’s unclear exactly how serious any talks regarding their relievers are, but the Friars do have options in the event that they part with one of their relievers. Robbie Erlin would seem capable of stepping into the bullpen, though he’s been optioned to Triple-A already this spring. Right-hander Jandel Gustave, a Rule 5 pick by the Royals (out of the Astros organization), was claimed by the Padres last week, and Lin tweeted earlier in the night that the team may be able to work out a trade with the Astros to keep him (he did characterize that scenario as “unlikely”). The Padres could also simply choose to hang onto the hard-throwing righty and use him in low-leverage situations, though it’s difficult for a team that plans to contend to justify using a roster spot in such a manner.

Of course, San Diego could potentially receive a different relief option back in a trade of one of their current ‘pen members. Flipping someone like Thayer or Vincent for a second lefty behind Garces could make some sense, as he’s currently slotted to be the only left-handed option for manager Bud Black following the Torres trade. (Non-roster invitee Chris Rearick could factor into the equation as well.)

The Blue Jays and Tigers are two teams that are oft-cited as searching for bullpen help, though recent reports have indicated that the Twins, too, are on the hunt for relief upgrades. The Marlins were known to be looking at relief options late in the offseason, and the Dodgers have incurred multiple bullpen setbacks as well this spring. Suffice it to say, if the Padres are willing to deal from what should be a sound bullpen, they’ll likely have no shortage of interested parties with which to exchange ideas.


Blue Jays Notes: Travis, Pompey, Bullpen, Santiago

The Blue Jays set the majority of their 25-man roster today, and there were plenty of interesting decisions to break down. A look at some of the outcomes…

  • Two key spots on the lineup will be manned by promising young prospects, as Dalton Pompey was named the center fielder (as was widely expected) and Devon Travis was named the starting second baseman. As MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes, the two prospects have been friends since 2013 — before Travis was even acquired from the Tigers in exchange for Anthony Gose this offseason. One of the first calls Travis received upon being traded to Toronto was from Pompey, with whom he had maintained contact after meeting at the 2013 MidWest All-Star Game. Travis emotionally called today the “best day of [his] life,” adding that it was “incredible” to know he’d be a part of a Major League roster.
  • Pompey and Travis will be just two of six rookies on the roster, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported today that 20-year-olds Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna have made the team and will pitch out of the bullpen. Both hard-throwing righties impressed scouts this spring, as they combined for 20 innings (10 each) of one-run ball with 18 strikeouts against just three walks (all from Osuna). Rookies Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez will be in the rotation with Marcus Stroman out for the season.
  • The Blue Jays released veteran infielder Ramon Santiago earlier today, as the 35-year-old had broken his collarbone earlier in the spring. However, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes tweets (in Spanish) that the Jays may yet re-sign him to a new Minor League deal. Doing so would allow the Jays to keep Santiago and allow him to rehab in the organization while avoiding having to pay the former Article XX(B) free agent a $100K retention bonus.

Mariners, Rays Swap Erasmo Ramirez For Mike Montgomery

The Mariners announced that they have traded right-hander Erasmo Ramirez to the Rays in exchange for left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Ramirez, 24, enjoyed an excellent rookie season with the Mariners in 2012 when he worked to a 3.36 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 40.4 percent ground-ball rate in 59 innings, making eight starts and eight relief appearances. While stats like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all pegged him for a slightly higher mark — in the 3.55 to 3.75 range — it was a promising debut for a player that had ranked as the organization’s No. 13 prospect (per Baseball America) in the previous offseason.

However, Ramirez has fallen on hard times since that impressive debut; over the past two seasons, he’s recorded just a 5.12 ERA that unfortunately lines up nearly exactly with his 5.11 FIP. Ramirez’s strikeout and ground-ball rates have remained similar, but he’s seen his control take a step back, averaging 3.7 walks per nine innings in that time while becoming increasingly homer-prone.

Ramirez was out of Minor League options, meaning he would have been required to clear waivers before the Mariners could send him outright to Triple-A. The Rays then appear likely to keep him on the 25-man roster and hope for better results from Ramirez at the back of an injury-plagued rotation. In addition to Matt Moore, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rays will also open the season without Drew Smyly at full strength. Alex Cobb and Alex Colome have both been slowed by injuries this spring as well, which has led to a well-known search for rotation depth in Tampa.

Montgomery, who turns 26 in July, was once one of the crown jewels of a vaunted Royals farm system, but his career stalled upon reaching the Triple-A level. Montgomery posted ERAs of 5.32 and 6.07 in his first two years reaching that level, and he’s struggled at lower levels since. All told, he has a 4.98 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in parts of four seasons at Triple-A.

The Rays acquired Montgomery from the Royals in the James Shields/Wil Myers blockbuster in hopes of revitalizing his career. However, while his numbers improved a bit — 4.29 ERA in 25 starts at Triple-A last year — he’s yet to show the promise that made him the No. 36 overall pick in the 2008 draft and one of the game’s top prospects from 2010-12. In their last scouting report on him, following the 2012 season, BA wrote that Montgomery began experimenting with a lower arm slot that caused his velocity to dip from the 92-93 mph range to the 88-90 mph range, adding that left-handed hitters were too comfortable against him. Montgomery is a reclamation project for the Mariners, but although he’s on the 40-man roster, he, unlike Ramirez, has an option remaining and can therefore hope to rediscover himself in the Minors in 2015.


Article XX(B) Free Agent Updates: Tuesday

Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…

  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
  • The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.

Earlier Updates

  • Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
  • The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
  • The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
  • Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
  • Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.

Royals Notes: Hochevar, Morales, Flynn, Madson, Blanton

The Royals are facing a slew of roster decisions as the regular season draws near, and Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star provided updates on several players today. Let’s take a look (all links to his Twitter account)…

  • Luke Hochevar, who inked a two-year, $10MM contract this offseason, will begin the year on the disabled list. Manager Ned Yost told McCullough and other reporters that he hopes to have Hochevar ready to go by May. Adding a healthy Hochevar to the already exceptional trio of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera would give the Royals one of the most dominant bullpens in recent memory.
  • Though he hasn’t been given official word of making the roster, there’s a “high probability” that Franklin Morales will be on the roster. Morales chances of making the team likely increased when Tim Collins went down with a torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery.
  • Another lefty, Brian Flynn, has been one of the best relievers in camp this spring but has created a dilemma due to the fact that he has options remaining. Adding Flynn to the roster could mean risking the loss of out-of-options righty Louis Coleman or non-roster invitee Ryan Madson.
  • Madson has a “gentleman’s opt-out” at the end of camp that allows him to field MLB offers from other clubs if he is optioned at the end of camp, and while he’s expressed a willingness to pitch at Omaha, he will understandably take a big league offer if presented with one.
  • Veteran right-hander Joe Blanton has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Omaha. Blanton allowed three runs on 13 hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings this spring as he hopes to make a comeback at the Major League level. He’ll serve as a depth piece at Omaha, and one would think that a good performance there would position him as one of the first lines of defense should the Royals lose a member of their big league rotation.

NL West Notes: Gutierrez, Ethier, Dodgers, Padres

Giants right-hander Juan Gutierrez has elected not to exercise the April 1 opt-out clause in his contract, MLBTR has learned (Twitter links). Gutierrez has been slowed this spring by shoulder inflammation but is healthy now and touched 93 mph the last time he threw. Gutierrez has another opt-out in his contract for June 1 and will, in the meantime, hope to find an opportunity with the big league club. The 31-year-old Gutierrez logged 63 2/3 innings in the Giants’ bullpen last year, posting a 3.96 ERA with 6.2 K/9, a career-best 2.3 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate, averaging a strong 93.5 mph on his fastball.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Andre Ethier was hit on the elbow by a pitch from Carlos Rodon today, but x-rays came back negative, writes ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Mark Saxon. Additionally, he notes that contractual issues surrounding Ethier won’t keep the Dodgers from going with Joc Pederson in center field. Saxon also says that the Dodgers won’t keep Pederson in the Minors to delay his free agency, although his situation is different than that of Kris Bryant, whose demotion to the Minors has caused quite a stir; Pederson already has 28 days of Major League service and would need to spend nearly six weeks in the Minors at this point to give L.A. an extra year of control. Manager Don Mattingly has hinted that Pederson will get the nod, though nothing has been officially announced yet, Saxon adds. “Joc’s kind of checked off all the boxes,” said Mattingly.
  • The Padres gave veteran catcher Wil Nieves a $100K retention bonus rather than adding him to the big league roster or releasing him, but he’s not a lock to be their backup catcher, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. While it may be difficult to find a definitive upgrade outside the organization this close to the regular season, a source tells Lin that the search could go right down to the wire before Sunday’s deadline to set the 25-man roster. An out of options player such as Austin Romine of the Yankees would make some degree of sense, and the Orioles have quite a few experienced catchers, including Steve Clevenger and Ryan Lavarnway. Those names, however, are merely my own speculation.

Giants Designate Gary Brown For Assignment, Add Justin Maxwell To Roster

The Giants have designated outfielder Gary Brown for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for fellow outfielder Justin Maxwell, who has been informed that he made the team, per Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links).

Maxwell, 31, entered the day with a .316/.361/.526 batting line and went 4-for-4. After a pair of solid seasons at the plate in 2012-13, Maxwell received just 45 plate appearances with the 2014 Royals and struggled to a .150/.222/.175 line. Capable of playing all three outfield spots, Maxwell has batted .230/.344/.407 against left-handed pitching throughout his career. Maxwell grew up a Giants fans, Schulman notes, so today’s news is likely particularly exciting for him.

Designating Brown for assignment was likely tough for the Giants, as he’s a former first-round pick and top 100 prospect whose career has yet to take off as many expected. Brown surfaced in the Majors for the first time in 2014, collecting three hits in seven at-bats. A center fielder, Brown has batted .277/.342/.415 in parts of five Minor League seasons.


AL West Notes: Nix, Astros, Mariners, Rangers

In a revealing piece for Sports Illustrated, Stephanie Apstein spoke with 2014 fifth-round pick Jacob Nix, who was selected by the Astros and agreed to a $1.5MM bonus before having the offer pulled following complications with top pick Brady Aiken‘s physical. As most readers remember, the team reached a verbal agreement with Nix before finalizing Aiken’s deal, and once Aiken’s physical revealed troubles with his UCL, his offer had to be reduced. When Aiken didn’t agree to terms, the money for his slot was lost, and the team could no longer fit Nix’s bonus into its draft pool without incurring maximum future penalties. (Aiken, of course, recently underwent Tommy John surgery.) Nix discussed the waiting at length with Apstein, stating, “I’ve never been that kind of guy. I’ve always been out doing something.” Nix waited two weeks after departing Houston before the team contacted him, and he then waited another week to hear if his signing would come together. He was offered a revised $616K offer about an hour before the deadline, Apstein reports, but Nix passed and has since enrolled at IMG Academy in hopes of boosting his stock. It seems to have worked, as ESPN’s Keith Law noted in February that Nix is already showing first-round potential after adding 25 pounds of muscle and flashing average or better changeups and curveballs at times, complementing his solid velocity. Nix is looking forward to his pro career, though he won’t consent to being re-drafted by the Astros. “I hear nothing but good things about 29 teams,” Nix told Apstein. “I just want to get in and start my career.”

More on Nix, the Astros and the AL West…

  • Team officials have indicated to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that the Astros‘ currently reported 2015 draft pool and the amount they spent in 2014 aren’t accurate (Twitter links). It seems, Drellich continues, that someone after the 10th round got more than the allotted $100K in last year’s draft. All rounds following the 10th have a $100K slot, and additional spending over that mark counts against a team’s bonus pool. Drellich notes that this makes it impossible to know what the maximum amount Houston could have offered either Aiken or Nix truly was.
  • As much or more than any other team, the Mariners receive a huge portion of their value and income from their television arrangements, as Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explains. A close bottom-line focus over recent years did not deliver a winner, but did leave the team in position to ramp up its spending. Now, certainly, Seattle enters the 2015 season with postseason expectations.
  • The Mariners could use a modified six-man rotation, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. By slotting in Roenis Elias liberally throughout the year, the club might hope to limit the wear and tear on its five top starters over the course of the regular season.
  • That sort of flexibility figures to play an even more prominent role for the Rangers this year, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explains. Texas may not quite reach the level of impermanence it did last year, when it used a league-record 64 players at the big league level, but the club figures to rely heavily on option years to shuttle players back and forth between the bigs and the upper minors.

Braves Outright Zoilo Almonte

Outfielder Zoilo Almonte has cleared waivers and been outrighted by the Braves, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (via Twitter). Atlanta had signed the 25-year-old to a Major League contract this winter despite a very limited big league track record. By outrighting Almonte, they’ve cleared a spot on their 40-man roster.

The former Yankee hit just .245/.283/.265 in 53 plate appearances in his bid for a spot on the Braves’ 2015 roster. Instead, he can head to Triple-A Gwinnett and hope for another opportunity to join the roster at some point this season or elect free agency and seek an opportunity with another club, as he has previously been outrighted in his career.

Almonte has a solid track record at the Triple-A level, where he owns a .275/.333/.431 batting line in 747 plate appearances. It seems that Jonny Gomes will be ticketed for the bulk of the left field at-bats early in the season while Eric Young Jr. figures to man center field while Melvin Upton Jr. rehabs from injury.