Quick Hits: Saberhagen, Kubel, Transactions, Front Offices

Two-time Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen is looking to get back into Major League Baseball as either a pitching coach or bullpen coach, reports MLBTR’s Zach Links (on Twitter). The 50-year-old Saberhagen enjoyed an excellent 16-year career with the Royals, Mets, Red Sox and Rockies, pitching to a 167-117 record with a 3.34 ERA and 1,715 strikeouts against just 471 walks in 2,562 2/3 innings. He was the MVP of the 1985 World Series as a 21-year-old — the same season in which he captured his first Cy Young.

Here are some more miscellaneous notes from around the league…

  • Free agent Jason Kubel is currently coaching little league and isn’t looking to latch on with a Major League team at this time, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Kubel, who has earned $31MM in his career, returned to the Twins on a minor league deal this past season but hit .224/.313/.295  before being designated for assignment. The career .262/.330/.448 hitter belted a career-high 30 homers as recently as 2012 with the D’Backs, though he’s struggled in two seasons since.
  • In a lengthy and excellent piece, Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh looks back at the longest “transaction trees” of each Major League club. Lindbergh examined each member of each team’s 40-man roster and how they came to be a part of the organization, then determined which player’s origin could be traced the furthest. For example, did you know that Mark Trumbo‘s presence on the D’Backs can be traced all the way back to the team’s signing of Greg Aquino back in 1995? How about the fact that both Brian Duensing and Lester Oliveros came to be on the Twins as an indirect result of the team’s selection of Chuck Knoblauch in the 1989 draft? Lindbergh’s piece is a thoroughly enjoyable read for transaction lovers.
  • Craig Counsell has pulled himself out of the running for the Rays‘ managerial gig, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, enjoys his current front office role, he explained to McCalvy. Still, he did at least entertain the offer by taking part in a phone interview for the Rays position, McCalvy writes.
  • The Red Sox will promote Raquel Ferreria from senior director of minor league operations to vice president of baseball administration, reports WEEI.com’s Alex Speier. That promotion will make Ferreria, along with Kim Ng and Yankees SVP/assistant GM Jean Afterman, the third female to ascend to a position of VP or higher, Speier writes. Boston director of player development Ben Crockett describes Ferreria as “the glue that holds the farm system together.” Ferreria will continue to oversee minor league operations (individual affiliates, transactions, contracts) and will also be responsible for the Major League (non-payroll) budget and handling immigration and work visa issues, according to Speier. GM Ben Cherington spoke glowingly of Ferreria: “The best thing I can say is in the 16 years now, I can’t remember her making a mistake. I can’t.”

Pirates To Sign Radhames Liz To Major League Deal

The Pirates have signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a Major League contract, tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net was the first to report that he’d been signed to a big league deal, reporting it as a two-year, $3MM contract (Twitter link).

Some may remember the hard-throwing Liz from his days with the Orioles, with whom he pitched from 2007-09. Liz ranked as a Top 100 prospect per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, but he struggled greatly in those three seasons, pitching to a 7.50 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings. Following his time with Baltimore, the Dominican hurler spent a season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate before heading overseas to pitch in Korea.

Liz reinvented himself as a member of the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization, compiling a 3.51 ERA with 454 strikeouts against 240 walks in 518 2/3 innings over a three-year stint. Those numbers are no small feat in the hitter-friendly KBO, and Liz’s best season was his last in Korea — a 3.06 ERA with a league-leading 188 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings.

The righty returned to pro ball in North America in 2014, notching a 2.95 ERA in 61 innings with the Blue Jays’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. Liz was said to be mulling over multiple seven-figure offers to return to Japan or Korea, but the Pirates were able to convince him to stay, apparently with a two-year contract that comes with little financial risk.

Pittsburgh is known for revitalizing pitchers under coordinator Jim Benedict and pitching coach Ray Searage. The team has worked wonders with the likes of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli, Vance Worley and Edinson Volquez in recent seasons. Liz will be the next reclamation project, it seems. He averaged nearly 94 mph on his heater back in his Orioles days and has what one scout from the Dominican Republic described to Stark as “power stuff” and a “vicious curve.”


Padres, Braves Emerging As Yasmany Tomas Favorites

Yesterday, the Braves reportedly became a late entrant in the Yasmany Tomas sweepstakes, while other reports indicated that the Phillies may be backing off due to growing concerns over his glove and conditioning. Tomas is reportedly a bit restless and becoming anxious to sign, though those close to him are urging him to express patience.

That sums up the majority of yesterday’s Tomas rumors, and we’ll keep track of Friday’s rumors pertaining to the 24-year-old Cuban slugger in this post…

  • Not only are the Braves in the mix for Tomas, writes MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, they’re emerging as one of the two favorites alongside the Padres. Top officials from Atlanta and San Diego will meet with Tomas in the Dominican Republic this weekend, Sanchez hears. However, the signing process may not wrap up soon and could extend into the Winter Meetings, as Sanchez writes that his camp is considering attending the event, which will be held in the Padres’ home city of San Diego. Sanchez notes that Tomas is still believed to be seeking five to seven years with an average annual value of $15MM+, but his camp has begun to warm to the idea of a Yoenis Cespedes-like shorter term deal at a higher AAV, which would allow him to hit free agency sooner than the oft-mentioned five- to seven-year contract.


Mitch Moreland, Michael Saunders Change Agencies

Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland has changed agencies and is now represented by Bob Garber of RMG Baseball, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports (on Twitter). Additionally, Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders has joined Meister Sports Management, according to a tweet from agent Brandon Meister.

Moreland, 29, is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he batted .246/.297/.347 with a pair of homers in 184 plate appearances. Moreland underwent season-ending ankle surgery in June, adding his name to a long list of Rangers players that sustained a season-ending injury this year. Formerly represented by BBI Sports Group, he’s a career .252/.316/.430 hitter that has fared considerably better against righties (.777 OPS) than righties (.636 OPS) in his career. Moreland earned $2.65MM last offseason in his first bout with arbitration and will be eligible twice more before he can become a free agent.

Saunders, who turned 28 on Wednesday, has seen his name pop up in trade rumors recently, in part due to some comments made by Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon. Former agent Michael McCann expressed displeasure on his client’s behalf, feeling that the comments called into question Saunders’ work ethic and offseason preparation. Though the Mariners have tried to smooth things over, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that he was likely to be shopped at the GM Meetings last week. Saunders has battled injuries but posted a nice .248/.320/.423 while playing in the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field over the past three seasons. He, too, is arbitration eligible twice more before reaching free agency.

Moreland will join the agency of former Astros ace Roy Oswalt, who has since signed on to work alongside Garber at RMG (as Buster Olney reported at the time of Oswalt’s official retirement). RMG also represents C.J. Wilson, J.D. Martinez and Tyler Chatwood, among others. Saunders, meanwhile, will join an agency that represents big leaguers Sergio Romo, Pat Neshek, Ben Revere and Casey McGehee, among others.

Both changes are reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains info on more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. If you notice any errors or omissions within the database, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.


Dodgers Acquire Joel Peralta

The Dodgers announced that they have acquired right-hander Joel Peralta and lefty Adam Liberatore from the Rays in exchange for right-handers Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris.

Joel Peralta

Peralta, 39 in March, has been a workhorse out of the Rays’ bullpen for the past four seasons, averaging 74 appearances and 67 innings per season while posting a 3.58 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 269 1/3 innings. Peralta is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, with a ground-ball rate just north of 31 percent in his career, but the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium should mitigate some of that concern.

The veteran Peralta gives the Dodgers a much-needed bullpen upgrade at a very reasonable financial cost. He’s due just $2.5MM in 2015 and has club options for 2016 and 2017 at the same rate — neither of which has a buyout attached. There’s an obvious connection between the Dodgers and Peralta, as former Rays GM Andrew Friedman recently jumped ship to become the president of baseball operations with Los Angeles. Friedman no doubt thinks highly of both Peralta and Liberatore.

Peralta struggled, to some extent, in 2014, posting a 4.41 ERA — his worst mark since an ugly 2009 season with the Rockies. However, he still managed to strike out 10.5 hitters per nine innings and showed the best control he has displayed in recent years, walking just 2.1 batters per nine. Peralta’s typically low BABIP spiked to .307 this past season and he allowed homers at a slightly higher clip than usual; those factors are the likely reasoning behind his increased ERA. However, metrics such as FIP (3.40) and SIERA (2.54) feel that Peralta was much better than his earned run average would indicate.

The 27-year-old Liberatore was lights out in Triple-A this past season, notching a 1.66 ERA with 11.9 K/9 against just 2.1 BB/9 in 65 innings of relief work. He was highly effective against both right- and left-handed hitters, holding each to an OPS south of .500.

Dominguez, 24, has received a brief taste of Major League action in each of the past two seasons with L.A., allowing 10 runs in 14 2/3 innings with a 12-to-6 K/BB ratio. He’s shown a propensity for strikeouts in the minors, however, averaging 10 punchouts per nine innings for his career. Dominguez struggled in the lower levels but has posted a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 Double-A innings and a 2.61 ERA in 41 1/1 Triple-A innings. Baseball America ranked him 11th among Dodgers prospects last offseason, calling him a “pure power arm” whose fastball sits 97-100 mph and can touch 102. However, BA noted his erratic command and a 50-game suspension for PED use on his minor league track record in their scouting report. MLB.com ranked him 13th among Dodgers prospects midseason, also praising his fastball but noting that his slider is better known for its velocity than its bite at this time.

The Dodgers selected Harris, 20, in the 17th round of the 2013 draft, and he posted nice strikeout numbers in Class A this season. Harris pitched to a 4.45 ERA as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League, whiffing 92 hitters against 28 walks in 87 innings of work. Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets that he’s heard good things about the velocity of both pitchers acquired by the Rays in this deal, with Dominguez having been clocked as high as 103 mph and Harris sitting in the mid 90s as a starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Players Added To The 40-Man Roster

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.

Earlier Updates

  • 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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Rays Designate Michael Kohn, Cole Figueroa For Assignment

The Rays have designated right-hander Michael Kohn and infielder Cole Figueroa for assignment, the team announced.

Kohn, 28, was signed to a Major League deal by the Rays earlier this offseason after being outrighted by the Angels. The South Carolina native has shown the ability to miss bats at the Major League level, striking out 107 hitters in 110 1/3 innings, but he’s also battled with control issues, walking 73 hitters in that time. The Rays were impressed enough with Kohn to give him that Major League deal, but if he once again clears outright waivers, he’ll be able to elect free agency in search of a new contract.

Figueroa, 27, was originally acquired by the Rays in the Jason Bartlett trade back in 2010. He picked up 49 plate appearances with the Rays this year — his first big league action — but hit just .233/.286/.326 in that small sample. Figueroa is a career .285/.359/.378 hitter in nearly 1200 Triple-A plate appearances and has extensive experience at shortstop, second base and third base.


Yasmany Tomas Rumors: Thursday

Here’s the latest on Yasmany Tomas, the 23-year-old Cuban slugger who is among the exciting international players demanding attention:

  • Tomas is growing tired of the “dog-and-pony show” and wants to sign as soon as he can but he is being urged by others to show patience, sources tell Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The Phillies, Royals and Padres have shown the most interest in landing him, though the D’Backs and Mariners “lurk as possibilities,” and Atlanta is also in the mix. The Giants have seen Tomas four times, Passan adds.

Earlier Updates

  • The Padres are still in on Tomas up to around the $70MM level, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs hears (Twitter link).
  • The Braves are set for a private workout and should be considered part of the sweepstakes, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. As Heyman noted earlier today, Tomas has a visa and could be in attendance at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported recently that several dark horses could be in the race, and Atlanta would certainly qualify.
  • The Phillies are increasingly concerned with the defensive part of the equation on Tomas, reports MLB.com’s Paul Hagen. The club is “backing off” somewhat, despite generally being viewed as the front-runner to land him. Philly sees Tomas more as a DH, per Hagen, but could be more intrigued if his asking price begins to creep down.
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com echoes those thoughts (Twitter links). He says the team believes in Tomas’s bat, but is worried about both his defense and conditioning and is not interested in guaranteeing him nine figures.
  • For his part, Ben Badler of Baseball America sees the Giants and Phillies as the most likely landing spot for Tomas. A rival executive tells ESPN.com’s Jayston Stark (Twitter link) that he believes the Phils remain the easy favorite, with Stark noting that the bidding on Tomas has been making “furious progress.”

Padres Join Sox, Giants In Serious Pursuit Of Sandoval

Yesterday was an active one for Pablo Sandoval chatter, and today is shaping up in like fashion. As his market continues to develop, we’ll keep tabs on the latest here:

  • There’s very little separation between the current offers of the Giants, Red Sox and Padres, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. All three teams are in the five-year, $90-95MM range, while the Blue Jays, Cafardo hears, are wavering

Earlier Updates

  • The Padres have joined the Red Sox and Giants as one of the most aggressive teams on Sandoval, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. While the White Sox and Blue Jays have interest they’re not believed to be as aggressive as the other three clubs. Heyman refers to the Padres as a “shocking” entrant in the race for a free agent of this caliber, and indeed, few pegged San Diego as a serious suitor for the Panda heading into the offseason.
  • The Blue Jays do not have an offer out to Sandoval or anyone else, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). Neither does the team have plans to make any offers in the next 24 hours, he said. Prior reports have suggested that Toronto was lining up a bid for Sandoval.
  • The Red Sox have not yet made Sandoval an offer, his brother and agent Michael Sandoval tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link).
  • The Giants feel they are very much in the hunt for Sandoval’s services, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports“We’ve got every indication that we’re right in the middle of it,” said assistant GM Bobby Evans, who went on to say that he believes “the interest is sincere” and that he thinks the player’s affinity for his long-time club could play some role. Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, has requested that San Francisco submit its best offer, according to Evans.
  • Evans also said in a radio appearance on KNBR today that he expects Sandoval to sign fairly quickly, possibly before Thanksgiving. (Via Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News, on Twitter.) “I sense Pablo really edging towards trying to wrap this up,” said Evans.

Yankees Sell Zelous Wheeler’s Contract To Rakuten Golden Eagles

10:25pm: The Yankees received $350K for the rights to Wheeler, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).

6:31pm: The Yankees have sold the contractual rights of infielder Zelous Wheeler to the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, thereby freeing a spot on their 40-man roster, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).

Wheeler, 28 in January, made his big league debut with the Yankees this season and batted .193/.230/.298 with a pair of homers in 62 trips to the plate. The former Brewers prospect was a 19th-round draft pick in 2007 and has a solid track record in Triple-A, having posted a .277/.352/.434 batting line in 817 plate appearances. The move likely affords Wheeler the opportunity to earn a significantly larger payday in Japan than he would have in the U.S., and the Yankees will receive a small amount of financial compensation, making it an appealing proposition for all parties involved.


Rangers Designate Jim Adduci For Assignment

10:20pm: Adduci is likely to be sold to a Korean or Japanese club, a Major League source tells MLBTR.

10:15pm: The Rangers announced that they have designated first baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci for assignment.

The 29-year-old Adduci has picked up 148 plate appearances with Texas over the past two seasons, batting a combined .189/.259/.242. His Triple-A batting line — .281/.352/.397 in 1157 plate appearances — is a significant improvement over those marks. Originally a 42nd-round draft pick of the Marlins, Adduci has also spent time in that organization as well as with the Cubs from 2007-12.


Angels Designate Alfredo Marte For Assignment

The Angels announced that they’ve designated outfielder Alfredo Marte for assignment to clear a roster spot for the newly acquired Dan Robertson.

The 25-year-old Marte was selected off waivers from the Diamondbacks last month after posting a strong .319/.407/.519 batting line at the Triple-A level this past season. He’s picked up a combined 162 plate appearances between the 2013-14 seasons with the D’Backs but managed just a .174/.236/.282 batting line in that time.


Angels Acquire Dan Robertson From Rangers

The Rangers announced that they have traded outfielder Dan Robertson to the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

The 28-year-old Robertson appeared in 70 games for an injury-riddled Rangers team in 2014, slashing .271/.333/.333 and playing all three outfield spots. Robertson had spent his entire career with the Padres prior to being acquired by the Rangers in exchange for cash back in April. He’s a .294/.371/.396 hitter in 278 career games at the Triple-A level.


Minor Moves: Duran, Fuentes, Bartsch, Gimenez

Here are the day’s minor signings from around the league:

  • The Mariners have acquired minor league right-hander Sam Gaviglio from the Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Ty Kelly, the teams announced. Gaviglio, 24, had a 4.28 ERA with 8.3 K/0 and 3.0 BB/9 in 136 2/3 innings at Double-A this season. He made 25 appearances, with 24 being starts. Kelly, 26, hit .263/.381/.412 with 15 homers and 11 steals at Triple-A. The former Orioles draftee has a lifetime .280/.402/.409 batting line in 841 PA at that level.

Earlier Updates

  • Left-hander Omar Duran has agreed to a minor league deal with the Tigers that includes a Spring Training invitation, MLBTR has learned. Duran, 24, had spent his entire career in the Athletics organization, never moving above the Double-A level. But he was consistently productive last year after matching his double-digit strikeout marks with manageable walk totals.
  • The Royals announced that they have acquired outfielder Reymond Fuentes from the Padres in exchange for left-hander Kyle Bartsch (Twitter link). Fuentes, 23, was one of the four players San Diego received from the Red Sox in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez. The 23-year-old former first-rounder batted .294/.363/.416 with five homers and went 25-for-28 in stolen base attempts between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. Bartsch, also 23, spent this season at Class-A Advanced Wilmington where he notched a 2.29 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 55 innings of relief, showing effectiveness against both lefties and righties.
  • The Rangers have added catcher Chris Gimenez and righty David Martinez to minor league deals with invitations to camp, the club announced. Gimenez, 31, bounced around quite a bit last year and ultimately managed a .241/.313/.328 line over 128 plate appearances at the big league level — the sixth year in a row that he spent at least some time on an active roster. Martinez, 27, has just 18 1/3 big league frames to his credit and had spent his whole career with the Astros. He has worked in a swingman capacity in the upper minors in recent seasons.

Padres Designate Boyer, Asencio For Assignment

The Padres announced that they have designated right-hander Blaine Boyer and outfielder Yeison Asencio for assignment.

Boyer, 33, returned to the Majors for the first time since 2011 this past season and pitched relatively well out of the San Diego ‘pen. The well-traveled veteran tallied a 3.57 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 42.5 percent ground-ball rate in 40 1/3 innings for manager Bud Black. Boyer has over five years of service time and projected to earn $1MM in arbitration (per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz), and the Padres instead opted to use that roster spot to protect themselves heading into the Rule 5 Draft.

Asencio, who turned 25 last Friday, batted a combined .291/.330/.433 with 15 homers and eight steals in 572 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. Baseball America ranked him 24th among Padres farmhands in each of the past two offseasons, more recently noting that he’s a bad ball hitter with an aggressive approach and a very strong arm in right field.