Roberto Hernandez Rumors

Added To The 40-Man Roster: Monday

With teams making decisions on the final piece of their Opening Day rosters, especially regarding Article XX(B) players, we’ll keep tabs on the day’s moves to add non-roster invitees to the 40-man.

Right-handed relievers, somewhat unsurprisingly, dominate today’s news in this arena:

  • Lefty specialist Joe Thatcher has been added to the Astros‘ 40-man roster, Rosenthal reports on Twitter. The Article XX(B) veteran will receive a $1MM salary and can add an additional $1.3MM through incentives. If he can return to form, Thatcher could be quite a nice addition to a Houston pen that was an area targeted heavily for upgrades this offseason.
  • Fellow non-roster invitee Roberto Hernandez will also make the club, the Astros have announced. As MLBTR originally reported, Hernandez will earn $2.65MM on the year. The 34-year-old joined the fold in Houston late in the spring, but provides a sturdy and versatile presence as the club seeks to take the next step this year.

Earlier Updates

  • The Twins have announced that righty Blaine Boyer is now a member of the team’s major league roster. Boyer’s deal will pay him $750K at the big league level and includes up to $100K in incentives tied to appearances, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. MLBTR’s Zach Links recently spoke with Boyer about his interesting professional journey.
  • Likewise, right-handed Carlos Villanueva has been added to the Cardinals‘ 40-man roster, the club announced. That means that the veteran swingman will be entitled to a $2MM salary this year with St. Louis. Villanueva, 31, has racked up 863 2/3 MLB innings in 76 starts and over 300 relief appearances. Though he had only a 4.64 ERA last year with the Cubs, Villanueva’s peripherals earned him strong marks from ERA estimators.
  • The Indians have informed righty Anthony Swarzak that he will make the pen, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. Though it does not appear he has been officially added to the 40-man, that will need to occur. The 29-year-old has a 4.48 career ERA in 439 2/3 frames at the major league level, most of them coming from the pen. Swarzak will take home a $900K salary and can earn up to $350K in incentives.
  • Similarly, the Cubs have told southpaw Phil Coke that he will be on the club, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Coke had exercised his opt-out clause on Friday when he was not added to the 40-man at that time, says Rosenthal. Now, it appears he will receive the $2.25MM (and up to $900K in bonuses) that his deal allows; indeed, the team has now announced that his contract was selected.

Quick Hits: Semien, DeShields, Astros

Infielder Marcus Semien isn’t surprised the White Sox traded him last winter, and the Bay Area native is happy to be with the Athletics, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. “We knew we had a lot of capable guys who could play at the big league level and that the White Sox needed some right-handed arms,” says Semien, who headed west in the Jeff Samardzija trade. “Those two, that went together and it just happened to be me and now I’m just excited to play and have an opportunity to play with anyone, especially being able to come home to Oakland.” Here’s more from around the league.

  • The Rangers are seriously considering keeping outfielder and Rule 5 pick Delino DeShields, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. DeShields is fast (like his father was), but the Rangers are convinced he can do more than just run. “The speed is obvious,” says GM Jon Daniels. “But to me there is more to it. I think his arm has played ‘up.’ I think there is strength in his swing, it’s short and through the ball.” With Nate Schierholtz out of the picture, the Rangers now have DeShields, Ryan Rua, Jake Smolinski and Carlos Peguero competing for three open outfield jobs.
  • Roberto Hernandez hasn’t outperformed Asher Wojciechowski in the competition to be the Astros‘ fifth starter, but Hernandez should get the job anyway because that’s the easiest way to keep depth in the organization, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Wojciechowski can easily just be sent to Triple-A. Hernandez is an Article XX(B) free agent, so the Astros either have to add him to their roster, release him or pay him a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the minors. If the Astros were to send Hernandez to Triple-A, they would also have to give him a June 1 opt-out date. (On Twitter, Drellich also suggests that, as a courtesy, teams generally do not send Article XX(B) players to the minors.) The Astros have plenty of depth at some positions, but not in their rotation, so the easiest path for now would be to place Hernandez in their rotation and make sure that both he and Wojciechowski stay in the organization.

Latest On Astros’ Roster Decisions

The Astros have listened to trade ideas regarding their surplus of position players, but are not actively looking to deal, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. There’s currently no way to get Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Jon Singleton, George Springer, Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick and Chris Carter in the lineup all at the same time, Drellich points out. But their depth gives them options in case players get hurt or struggle. In particular, Gattis and Rasmus have significant injury histories, while Singleton and Marisnick are unproven. The team could also platoon Gattis and Rasmus in left field. Here’s more from Drellich on the Astros.

  • If the Astros were to make a trade this Spring, it might involve a depth player like Alex Presley rather than one of the more regular players mentioned above. Robbie Grossman could beat out Presley for the last outfield spot. Presley is out of options, and there’s at least some possibility the Astros could lose him if they expose him to waivers. From this vantage point, the risk seems minimal, given that Presley didn’t hit well last year and is making above the league minimum (at $1MM). But given the depth he represents, that possibility is at least worth considering.
  • Hank Conger has struggled this spring, but he’s still penciled in as Castro’s backup at catcher.
  • Three players whose situations are unresolved are minor-league free agent pitchers Joe Thatcher, Roberto Hernandez and first baseman Dan Johnson, Drellich says. Thatcher and Hernandez are Article XX(B) free agents, so before Opening Day, the Astros must decide whether to add them to the active roster, release them, or pay them $100K retention bonuses (and give them June 1 opt-out date). Thatcher is likely to make the team as the Astros’ second bullpen lefty. Johnson, who is not an Article XX(B) free agent, also has an opt-out date, although not until after the start of the regular season.


AL West Notes: Hernandez, Andrus, Crisp, Athletics

Astros righty Roberto Hernandez has finally received his visa an is set to report to spring camp for a physical, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. Hernandez has a bit of catching up to do if he hopes to make the roster after inking a minor league deal earlier in the offseason.

Here are some notes from the AL West:

  • A rough 2014 season for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has left some looking askance at his eight-year, $120MM extension, which officially kicks in this season. As the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com), Andrus says that he is ready for a better campaign after reporting out of shape last year. “This year I took it a thousand times [more] seriously than I did the year before,” he said. “… That was an offseason that I hope never happens again. In spring training I wasn’t ready.” A turnaround from Andrus would go a long way toward restoring the once-promising trajectory of the Rangers, to say nothing of his own. It would also increase his appeal as a trade chip, though Texas no longer has quite the middle infield logjam it once did.
  • Coco Crisp is set to play left field this year for the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That shift, which was occasioned by a desire to protect the team’s investment in Crisp by reducing the toll on his body, will result in Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld platooning in center. In turn, that probably also puts an end to the notion that Oakland could look to acquire a second baseman and move Ben Zobrist to the outfield.
  • While it is hard to deny (and not entirely surprising) that the Athletics got less back for Jeff Samardzija than they gave to acquire him (along with Jason Hammel), the team feels good about the young players that it picked up from the White Sox, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes“Look, both of those deals are difficult,” said assistant GM David Forst. “You never like trading a guy like Addison [Russell], but Jeff and Jason filled a particular need for us at that time. Then to turn around and lose Jason and feel like trading Jeff is the best option is never an easy decision to make. Jeff is a guy who has his best years ahead of him still. He’s right at the age you want to get a pitcher. He knows his game. His stuff is without question. It was not an easy decision to make. It was part of the balancing act we are forced to make.”

Astros Sign Roberto Hernandez

2:45pm: The contract includes an opt-out five days prior to Opening Day, and the Major League side of the deal is worth $2.65MM, MLBTR has learned.

2:08pm: The Astros have signed righty Roberto Hernandez to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the team announced. Hernandez is represented by DPX Sports.

Hernandez, 34, posted a 4.10 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.04 HR/9, and 49.7% groundball rate for the Phillies and Dodgers last year.  He had signed a $4.5MM free agent deal with the Phillies last offseason.

A legitimate chance to make the Astros’ rotation likely weighed in Hernandez’s decision.  The agreement between the two sides comes after a one-year pact with Ryan Vogelsong fell through in January.  Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh are locks for the Astros’ rotation after breakout 2014 seasons, and veteran Scott Feldman has a spot secured as well.  According to an article from Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle from late January, Brett Oberholtzer is also penciled in.  According to Drellich, new acquisition Dan Straily might be the favorite for the fifth spot, with Brad Peacock not expected to be ready for Opening Day after offseason hip surgery.  Alex White, Asher Wojciechowski and Sam Deduno are other fifth starter candidates to watch, according to Drellich.


Free Agent Faceoff: Back Of Rotation Starters

With another quiet day turning into an even less eventful evening, I thought we’d spice things up with a look at a particularly interesting segment of the free agent market: innings-eating veteran starters.

Sure, I’m joking. Almost by definition, a back-of-the-rotation innings eater is not a very exciting pitcher. But, then again, perhaps there is something to the idea that this corner of the universe has more intrigue than it might seem at first glance.

Targeting top-end players is fairly straightforward, whereas figuring whether to pursue one or another back-end arm involves much more careful parsing to find value. The fact that most such pitchers sign for short-term deals means that clubs must be right on the player in the immediate term; there is no time to fix them for the future. And then there is the fact that the performance of these players matters a great deal; unlike a utility man or reliever, innings-eating arms are expected to occupy full-time roles. Racking up losses because your number 4 and 5 starters are not competitive is a great way to dig a hole in the standings.

The potential impact of this type of player is evidenced by the list of the best durable, veteran starters still available, several of whom played for contenders in 2014 and one of whom even pitched in the World Series. For better or worse, all of the players listed were allowed to throw at least 150 innings last year, creating plenty of opportunity to add or subtract value.

Kevin Correia: The results are not usually that exciting, but Correia has logged at least 100 innings in every season since 2007. He delivered an average of 178 innings of 4.19 ERA pitching over 2012-13 before suffering through a rough 2014.

Aaron Harang: Last year’s shining example of the importance of choosing your innings eaters carefully, Harang put up 204 1/3 frames with a 3.57 ERA. Sure, there’s a lot baked in there other than his pitching, but the bottom line is that Harang rated amongst the game’s fifty best starters in terms of preventing runs and among its 25 best in logging innings.

Roberto Hernandez: The results haven’t been there for Hernandez, and there is not much silver lining given that he has seen a steady decline in fastball velocity. But he is quite a steady groundball inducer, and showed enough that the Dodgers traded for him and gave him nine starts down the stretch.

Kyle Kendrick: At some point, 199 innings is 199 innings, and that’s what Kendrick delivered last season. He is also a fairly youthful 30 years of age, and is not far removed from producing serviceable results.

Ryan Vogelsong: Though his peripherals are somewhat less promising, Vogelsong has posted pretty darned useful bottom-line results in three of the past four seasons. And he had enough in the tank to run his fastball up to the mid-90s in the postseason.

Chris Young: ERA estimators view Young’s 3.65 earned run mark last year as a mirage, but then again he has always outperformed his peripherals. It had been quite some time since the towering righty had handled a full season in a rotation, but Seattle happily converted his 165 innings of work into a 12-9 record in 29 starts.

Before you vote on the player you think will be the best bet for 2015, you might want to check out these custom Fangraphs leaderboards for a sense of their recent statistical achievements: last yearlast three yearslast five years.


Dodgers, Phillies Complete Roberto Hernandez Trade

AUG. 28: The Phillies have announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Victor Arano as the second player in the Hernandez trade. The 19-year-old Arano ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 14 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason Top 20 list.

Arano totaled a 4.08 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 86 innings of work at Class-A Great Lakes this season, making 15 starts and eight relief appearances. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com praise Arano’s 90-91 mph fastball (which tops out at 94 mph) and slider, though they note that his changeup needs more work. Still, Arano is physically mature for a teenager and shows an advanced feel for pitching, per the MLB.com duo, who project him as a starter in the long term despite the fact that he’s presently had more success in the bullpen.

AUG. 16: The Phillies have announced that one of the two players they’re acquiring from the Dodgers is second baseman Jesmuel Valentin, a 2012 first-round pick from Puerto Rico who was hitting .282/.352/.433 for Class A Great Lakes as a 20-year-old. Heading into the season, Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 listed him as the Dodgers’ 22nd-best prospect, projecting him as a utility player. MLB.com ranked him at No. 13 in the Dodgers’ system and was somewhat more optimistic, suggesting he lacks power but could be the sort of hitter who typically bats second in a team’s batting order. He is the son of former big-league infielder Jose Valentin.

AUG. 7: The Phillies announce that they have traded Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers for two players to be named later or cash considerations.  The Phillies placed Hernandez, along with a number of other players, on revocable waivers on Saturday.
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The Phillies signed Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5MM deal last winter, and he posted a 3.87 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 121 innings for them, with a strong 52.0% ground ball rate. He has gotten good results recently, with a 2.18 ERA in three starts since the All-Star break. Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has played parts of nine seasons, also spending time with the Indians and Rays.

Hernandez’s role with the Dodgers is unclear. Obviously, they have a strong rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Josh Beckett has, however, struggled in three outings since returning from the disabled list with a hip injury, and Matt Gelb of the Inquirer tweets that Hernandez will start in Beckett’s place Friday.

For the Phillies, the move marks their first trade of a veteran since their very quiet trade deadline. It may have helped them that Hernandez’s contract was a relatively easy one to trade. The Phillies are currently 51-63 and in last place in the NL East.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark first tweeted that the Phillies would get two “lower-level minor leaguers,” and MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweeted that the Phillies would select them from a group of players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers Not Done Pursuing Pitching Help

The Dodgers swung a trade with the Phillies yesterday and acquired right-hander Roberto Hernandez due to concerns over the health of Josh Beckett, but GM Ned Colletti told reports, including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, that he hopes to make at least one more move. “There’s another pitcher out there we’re trying to get,” Colletti said.

Colletti said that the Dodgers would like to add a swingman to replace Paul Maholm, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, and added that the club is also looking at back-of-the-rotation arms and late-inning relievers. Referring to the Hernandez trade, Colletti candidly admitted that the trade talks accelerated quickly, as he hoped to swing a deal before news of Beckett’s injury broke. “Ruben [Amaro Jr.] could hold me up for even more,” he stated.

A number of back-end arms that I mentioned in last month’s look at the trade market for starting pitchers could likely be had for very little return from the Dodgers, including Kyle Kendrick, Kevin Correia and Colby Lewis. Bartolo Colon could represent a potentially more expensive but still effective option, assuming he clears waivers (which is highly likely). MLBTR’s Jeff Todd examined the trade market for right-handed relievers and left-handed relievers, and while some of them have since been dealt (as have some from the list of starters), many of those names could come into play as well.


Quick Hits: Preller, Lester, Hernandez, Manny

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Onto tonight’s links from around the league!

  • New Padres GM A.J. Preller is impressed with the rotation that he’s inheriting in his new post, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Preller’s new team boasts a rotation fronted by Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Jesse Hahn, and Brock wonders if the team will make a second run at extending Cashner with a new GM in place. Of his new club, Preller said to Padres fans: “I want Padres fans to understand that it’s not going to be smooth sailing from Day 1, But I can promise you we’re going to have the hungriest, hard-working group of employees in the game.”
  • A theoretical return to the Red Sox for Jon Lester could follow the same path as Mike Lowell‘s return following the 2007 season, writes WEEI’s Rob Bradford. Lowell spoke with Bradford at length about his decision to reject a four-year, $48MM offer from the Phillies in favor of a three-year, $38MM offer to return to Boston. Lowell feels that Lester might not feel the need to take something like $150MM over seven years, but he adds that the Red Sox can’t simply offer a four-year deal if the rest of the market is willing to offer five or more years.
  • Uncertainty surrounding Josh Beckett‘s health for the remainder of the season and an unwillingness to part with their top three prospects led to the Dodgers‘ acquisition of Roberto Hernandez earlier today, writes Tim Brow n of Yahoo Sports. Brown feels the decision to hang onto Corey Seager, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias was defensible and notes that a team source told him that Beckett could need season-ending surgery.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that the team felt it made sense to flip Hernandez, as they had no plans to make a qualifying offer following the season (Twitter link). While that’s hardly a surprise, the philosophy behind the move could be applied to other current Phillies such as Kyle Kendrick, although that’s just my own speculation.
  • Cubs prospects Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara both offer high praise for Triple-A player/coach Manny Ramirez and the help they received on their swing mechanics from the former MVP candidate, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times“He helped my approach to right-center, [following] his routine every day, going to the cage, the way he works,” said Baez. “He’s always got a bat in his hand doing something, either swinging the bat or just hitting in the cage. He talked to a lot of the guys. A lot of people learned from him.” In his most recent chat with readers, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote that he was a believer in Ramirez’s positive influence on Baez.

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Monday

Now that we’re beyond the July 31st trade deadline, players must pass through revocable trade waivers in order to be dealt to another team.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd broke down the August trade rules and what it means when you see several major names placed on waivers over the next few weeks.

Here are today’s notable players who have reportedly been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Also going on revocable waivers today were Jason Hammel of the Athletics and Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, Rosenthal tweets. As Rosenthal notes, it seems likely that clubs will claim Miley, but that he will be pulled back by Arizona. As for Hammel, a deal still seems rather unlikely since Oakland dealt away some important rotation depth in Tommy Milone.
  • Hitting the wire today from the Phillies were Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Carlos Ruiz, Rosenthal tweets. They will be on waivers until Wednesday.
  • The Phillies placed Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick on revocable waivers, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  The moves all took place on Saturday, so since the waiver period lasts 47 hours, we could know by today if any of the players were claimed.  I’d expect Bastardo and Burnett to be claimed given that both drew significant interest before the July 31st deadline, and there is virtually no chance any team would claim Howard and risk being stuck with the roughly $68MM remaining on his contract.