- Mets Acquire Eric O’Flaherty, Designate Alex Torres
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- Athletics Claim Danny Valencia
- Red Sox President Larry Lucchino To Be Replaced
- C.J. Wilson Likely Out For Season
- Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade
- Blue Jays Designate Danny Valencia, Ezequiel Carerra
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Ronald Belisario Rumors
The Red Sox have released reliever Ronald Belisario, the club’s Triple-A affiliate announced on Twitter. It has not been reported whether or not Belisario exercised an opt-out clause of some kind to precipitate the move.
Since joining the Boston organization in the middle of last month, Belisario has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits but permitting three walks to go with his two strikeouts. But the results have been there all year at the Triple-A level. Including his time in the Rays organization, Belisario has tossed 36 2/3 frames of 2.70 ERA baseball at the minors’ highest level.
Belisario was somewhat less productive in a brief stint with Tampa Bay earlier in the year, allowing seven earned runs in eight frames. More concerning, perhaps, is that he showed a marked decreased in velocity. After averaging better than 94 mph on his fastball for his career, Belisario showed a sub-92 mph offering with the Rays.
While he also struggled to keep runs off the board last year for the White Sox, and has not posted above-average run prevention numbers since 2012, Belisario continues to fare well in the eyes of ERA estimators. He carries a lifetime 3.26 SIERA and has never ended a MLB season with a mark of over 3.46 in that metric.
It stands to reason that another organization will give the veteran a shot, particularly with the trade market now complicated by the need to pass players through waivers.
Belisario signed a split contract with the Rays last winter and only appeared in six big league games with the team, posting a 7.88 ERA over eight relief innings. Belisario then elected free agency after being outrighted off Tampa’s roster. Given how Boston’s bullpen has struggled this year, there’s certainly opportunity for the 32-year-old to find regular work in the Sox relief corps.
Prior to the 2015 season, Belisario held a career 3.75 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.17 K/BB rate over 331 1/3 innings with the Dodgers and White Sox. He’s coming off a tough 5.56 ERA over 66 1/3 IP with Chicago in 2014, though advanced metrics indicate that Belisario was rather unlucky to post such an unsightly ERA. Belisario is a ground-ball specialist (60.9% career grounder rate), which should help him at hitter-friendly Fenway Park.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- Righty Ben Rowen has opted out of his contract with the Orioles and is now a free agent, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski reports (via Twitter). Rowen’s contract gave him the option of opting out if he wasn’t on the team’s MLB roster by July 1. Rowen has a 2.41 ERA, 24 strikeouts and six walks over 37 1/3 Triple-A relief innings this season, and he appeared eight big league games with Texas in 2014.
- Earlier this week, the Twins signed veteran righty Scott Atchison to a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page. Atchison his the open market last week when he was released by the Indians. Atchison posted a 6.86 ERA, 5.5 K/9 and a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 2/3 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen this season, though with strong numbers in 2011-14, it’s a no-risk signing by the Twins to see if Atchison can regain his form.
- Reliever Ronald Belisario, who was recently outrighted by the Rays, has cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Rays recently designated Belisario for assignment after he allowed seven runs in eight innings in a brief stint with the team covering two weeks in late June.
- The Mariners have outrighted outfielder Julio Morban, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. The move clears a spot on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which now stands at 39. Morban, 23, had a pair of strong seasons in 2012 at Class A+ High Desert and in 2013 at Double-A Jackson. He has struggled with injury throughout his career, however, and his performance has tailed off significantly in the past two seasons. He only recently returned from a two-month stay on the restricted list due to personal reasons.
- The Mariners have released righty Justin Germano and lefty Rafael Perez, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Both of them had out clauses. Germano confirms (via Twitter) that he will head to Korea to pitch with the KT Wiz. The 32-year-old was in the midst of a good season for Triple-A Tacoma, with a 2.83 ERA, 6.6 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 89 innings. The 33-year-old Perez had been on loan to Quintana Roo in the Mexican League and had not actually pitched in the Mariners system.
- The Rangers have traded outfielder Jake Skole to the Yankees for cash, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets. Skole, the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, was hitting .218/.313/.335 for Double-A Frisco, consistent with his walk-heavy but generally unimpressive offensive performances throughout the minor league career.
- Andy Oliver has opted out of his minor league deal with the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The 27-year-old Oliver has good stuff, particularly for a lefty, but has struggled with control problems throughout his career. He had a 3.86 ERA and 10.3 K/9 but with 7.7 BB/9 in 28 innings for Triple-A Durham. The Phillies took him in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but he elected free agency after they outrighted him in April.
- The Giants have signed outfielder Xavier Avery to a minor league deal, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets. The 25-year-old Avery opted out of his deal with the Tigers this week after hitting .305/.371/.393 for Triple-A Toledo. The Giants have assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento.
- The Orioles have signed Cuban first baseman Yaisel Mederos, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets. The 25-year-old Mederos hit .268/.343/.402 in parts of four seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He only hit 12 home runs in 531 plate appearances, although Kubatko notes that Mederos has power potential.
Tampa Bay recently decided to add the 32-year-old to its big league roster when he exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league deal. Since that time, Belisario has thrown eight innings for the club — including his appearance tonight — and allowed seven earned runs. He has compiled six strikeouts against four walks on the year.
Belisario was throwing rather well in Triple-A, sporting a 3.26 ERA with 5.3 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 30 1/3 frames. And he’s had success in the big leagues in the past. But clubs considering Belisario will surely note that his fastball velocity (in his few big league outings this year) was down about two miles per hour from recent seasons.
TODAY: The Rays have selected Belisario’s contract, Topkin tweets. That decision was likely made easier by the fact that the club burned through multiple arms in a tough game tonight. Indeed, to create roster space the club optioned C.J. Riefenhauser, who went 2 1/3 innings in the loss (after throwing in the two prior games).
YESTERDAY: Rays pitcher Ronald Belisario has triggered his opt-out clause, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). The provision affords the club until Wednesday to decide whether to promote the reliever, per the report.
As Topkin notes, the veteran righty has thrown well at Triple-A and seems a reasonable bet to receive a promotion. Acting as the closer at Triple-A Durham, Belisario has racked up 17 saves with a 3.26 ERA and 5.3 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 in 30 1/3 innings.
Belisario struggled last year with the White Sox, but has had success at times in prior years with the Dodgers. All said, he has thrown 331 1/3 big league innings, posting a 3.75 lifetime ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
John Hart had to be persuaded to take over the Braves GM job, but team president John Schuerholz is excited about the work Hart and likely successor John Coppolella have done so far, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “The combination of John Hart and John Coppolella has been dynamic, absolutely dynamic,” says Schuerholz. “The work those two have done, in tandem, has been sensational.” This offseason, Hart and Coppolella have traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis in an attempt to add young talent. The timing was right for the Braves to re-tool, Hart says. “The Nationals are in their perfect window right now. The Marlins are getting better. If you’re going to take, if you will, sort of a regroup year, this would be a good one.”
- When J.J. Hardy traded power to remain in the everyday lineup last season, he may have hurt his earning potential. Hardy is unsure if he would have re-signed with the Orioles had he not dealt with a painful back injury last season, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore inked Hardy to a three-year, $40MM extension during the playoffs last year. Hardy was aware of the trials suffered by Stephen Drew and former teammate Nelson Cruz in the previous offseason. Qualifying offers to both players left clubs wary about signing them. Hardy opted to forgo the experience entirely, although he also says he’s happy in Baltimore.
- Rays non-roster invitee Ronald Belisario injured himself climbing out of a pool earlier in the winter, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The reliever fractured his non-throwing shoulder prior to signing with the Rays a month ago. He didn’t have the injury checked out until he reported to camp. Belisario is on a split contract that would pay $1.5MM if he makes the team. Since he won’t be on the field for at least two weeks, his chances of breaking camp with the team look small. This injury probably explains why his deal with the Blue Jays fell through.
Former AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito is throwing for “select group” of teams on Tuesday, agent Scott Boras tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Zito, who sat out the 2014 season, is eyeing a return to the game and hopes to sign with a team before Spring Training. He last followed up a respectable 2012 season with a dismal 2013 campaign, pitching to a 5.74 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 133 1/3 innings for the Giants.
Here are a few more pitching notes from around the game:
- Ronald Belisario‘s contract with the Rays can max out at $1.8MM if he reaches all of his incentives, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Belisario inked a minor league pact with the Rays over the weekend just days after a similar deal with the Blue Jays fell through. The right-hander will compete for a spot in Tampa’s bullpen this spring.
- The Twins are open to adding some relief help, according to previous reports, but Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the team isn’t showing interest in righty David Aardsma at this time. The former Mariners closer, who enjoyed a strong season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014, will audition for clubs next Monday.
- Speaking of the Twins‘ bullpen, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger did his best to sort out the many candidates in his latest Twins Inbox column. In addition to his take on who is most likely to comprise Minnesota’s relief corps in 2015, Bollinger notes that offseason signee Tim Stauffer will get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation, despite the fact that most believed he was signed as a bullpen addition.
The Rays have signed free agent reliever Ronald Belisario to a minor league deal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Belisario was recently tied to the Blue Jays, although their reported deal fell through yesterday. Per Topkin (also Twitter), the Rays have been in contact with Belisario for awhile. He will compete for one of two open spots in the bullpen.
The 32-year-old reliever was designated for assignment by the White Sox earlier in the offseason. He was one of several temporary closers for Chicago, although he struggled in the role. Before being cut loose by the White Sox, Belisario was in line to earn $3.9MM via arbitration, according to MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.
While he posted an unsightly 5.56 ERA last season, advanced stats painted a sunnier picture (3.54 FIP, 3.22 SIERA). The righty is a ground ball specialist with a career rate above 60 percent. Belisario dealt with a high .339 BABIP and low 57.5% strand rate last season, which contributed to his ugly ERA.
It’s possible that Tampa offered a better opportunity than Toronto for Belisario. As Topkin points out, the Rays have two open spots in the bullpen. Tropicana field is also substantially more pitcher friendly than the Rogers Centre.
JAN. 30: The deal between Belisario and the Blue Jays has fallen through, reports Mike Wilner of Sportsnet (on Twitter). The two sides were very close to a deal before it fell apart. Belisario remains a free agent.
JAN. 29: The Blue Jays added some depth to their bullpen mix today, agreeing to a minor league contract with right-hander Ronald Belisario. Toronto has long been said to be looking at bullpen upgrades, with reports last night suggesting that the team was looking hard at the free agent market. Though Belisario’s spot isn’t guaranteed, the McNamara Sports Group client will compete for a job in Spring Training and will reportedly earn $1.7MM if he makes the team.
Belisario, 32, was designated for assignment back in November by the White Sox to make way for the claim of Onelki Garcia. He was one of several players to slot in at closer last year in Chicago, but failed to grab hold of the job. Belisario was ultimately charged with an unsightly 5.56 ERA on the year.
Though the bottom-line results weren’t pretty, Belisario’s peripherals are decidedly better. With 6.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and a stellar 59.3% groundball rate, Belisario drew marks from ERA estimators in the low-to-mid three range. His ballooned run tallies may well have been the result of a very low 57.7% strand rate and a somewhat bloated .339 BABIP.
Belisario had been projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM in arbitration before losing his roster spot in advance of the non-tender deadline. Toronto saw former closer Casey Janssen lured away with a total $5MM guarantee, though the club is said to have about that much in remaining payroll space.
While he awaits clearance from the government, Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada is putting on showcases for interested teams. The Yankees have already put the 19-year-old through the paces, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. In addition to New York and the previously-reported Giants, Moncada has worked out for the Brewers, Rangers, Red Sox, and Padres, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Meanwhile, the Dodgers, Rays, Cubs, and Phillies have shown interest. For their part, the Twins will not seek a private workout because they believe the bidding will go too high, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
Here are some more free agent notes:
- Fellow Cuban second bagger Hector Olivera will begin a two-day open showcase in the Dominican Republic tomorrow, Badler reports on Twitter. Olivera figures to be more of an immediate contributor than the younger Moncada.
- Clubs interested in righty Ronald Belisario, as with Burke Badenhop, include the Blue Jays and Nationals, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 32-year-old has run up solid innings totals over each of the last three years, but has seen his ERA steadily move north during that stretch. On the other hand, ERA estimators have viewed him as a solidly average performer in each of those seasons, with a low strand rate likely causing most of his troubles in 2014.
- The Yankees, Blue Jays, and Padres are three of the approximately six teams pursuing lefty Johan Santana, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. An upcoming Venezuelan league start could have some bearing on where the one-time ace ends up.
- Another prominent lefty is plotting his comeback as well. Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), Barry Zito still plans to return to baseball after a year off and will put on a showcase this spring. The 36-year-old last threw in 2013, working to a career-worst 5.74 ERA over 133 1/3 innings.
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