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Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Twins have signed right-hander Brayan Villarreal to a split contract, ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reports (via Twitter). The deal contains an invitation to Minnesota’s Spring Training camp and Villarreal will earn $522K if he stays on the Twins’ Major League roster. Villarreal last pitched in the majors in 2013 and spent last season with the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.
- The Yankees signed infielder Nick Noonan to a minor league deal, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports (Twitter link). Noonan, taken 32nd overall by the Giants in the 2007 draft, has a .262/.316/.368 slash line over 3322 career PA in the minors, all in San Francisco’s farm system. He appeared in 62 games with the Giants in 2013.
- The Rangers signed outfielder Antoan Richardson and right-handers Anthony Bass and Ross Wolf to minor league deals with Spring Training invitations, the team announced (hat tip to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
- The Marlins are likely to sign free agent infielder Scott Sizemore, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Sizemore signed a minor league deal with the Yankees last winter and played in six games for the club before being released and re-signed over the summer. Due in part to a pair of major knee injuries, Sizemore has only appeared in eight Major League games over the last three seasons.
- The Brewers have released outfielder Jeremy Hermida so he can pursue an opportunity to play in Japan, the team announced. Hermida just signed a new minor league contract with Milwaukee in November. The former 11th overall pick (in the 2002 draft) and top prospect last played in the majors in 2012 as a member of the Padres.
Right-hander Ross Wolf has inked a minor league deal with the Rangers that includes a Spring Training invite, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. The 32-year-old had been a reliever for virtually all of his professional career, but has functioned in a swingman role over the last several seasons.
Wolf spent 2013 with the Rangers, accumulating the most extensive MLB action in his career. Over 47 2/3 frames, including three starts and 19 relief appearances, Wolf carried a 4.15 ERA with 4.0 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 to go with a strong 47.3% groundball rate. He has also had partial-season runs with the Athletics (2010) and Marlins (2007).
Last year, Wolf exercised an out clause in his deal with Texas to move to Korea. Over 85 1/3 frames with the KBO’s SK Wyverns, including 13 appearances as a starter, Wolf pitched to a 4.85 ERA. (That mark is actually above-average for the notoriously hitter-friendly league environment.)
The Rangers have announced that pitcher Ross Wolf has exercised an out clause in his minor-league deal, and he will now head to the Korean Baseball Organization to pitch for SK Wyverns. The Rangers outrighted Wolf in early November, and he re-signed a minor-league deal with the team.
Wolf pitched 47 2/3 innings with the Rangers in 2013, posting a 4.15 ERA with 4.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The 31-year-old last appeared in the big leagues in 2010, pitching a handful of outings with the Athletics. He also briefly appeared with the Marlins in 2007.
Here are today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league…
- The Orioles are placing lefty Chris Jones on their 40-man roster, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Jones, 25, posted a 2.67 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 70 2/3 innings for Triple-A Norfolk this year. The move will prevent them from losing him to minor-league free agency.
- Edgar Ibarra has been added to the Twins‘ 40-man roster, the team announced today. The 24-year-old Venezuelan left-hander posted a 1.93 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 60 2/3 innings of relief between Double-Aand Triple-A this season. By adding Ibarra to the 40-man roster, the Twins ensure that he cannot be selected in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
- The Twins have also re-signed Wilkin Ramirez, Dan Rohlfing, Aaron Thompson, Jermaine Mitchell, Lester Oliveros, Doug Bernier and James Beresford to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training, tweets MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. Ramirez and Bernier each saw time with the big league club in 2013, and Oliveros was one of two pitchers received from the Tigers in exchange for Delmon Young in 2011.
- The Red Sox announced that they have outrighted outfielder Quintin Berry and infielder Brandon Snyder off their 40-man roster. Both are now free agents after spending the majority of this past season at Triple-A. Snyder hit .261/.332/.454 with 10 homers in the minors, while Berry slashed just .191/.309/.257 with three homers and 30 steals in 34 tries at Triple-A.
- Right-hander Ross Wolf has re-signed with the Rangers on a minor league contract with an invitation to 2014 Spring Training, the team announced. The 31-year-old posted a 4.15 ERA in 22 appearances (three starts) for Texas in 2013, averaging 4.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 47 2/3 innings. Wolf had been outrighted off the 40-man roster and cleared waivers before re-signing.
- In other Rangers news, left-hander Travis Blackley was also outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency. In 50 1/3 innings between the Rangers and Astros, compiling a 4.83 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.
- The Padres announced that they have outrighted left-hander Tommy Layne to Triple-A Tucson. Layne, 29, pitched 8 2/3 innings of 2.08 ERA ball for the Padres in his second big league stint this season. He has a 4.50 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 704 career minor league innings between the Padres and Diamondbacks, who traded him to San Diego for cash considerations in the 2011-12 offseason. Layne was designated for assignment along with fellow lefty Colt Hynes to make roster space for Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland as they returned from the 60-day DL. Hynes has since been acquired by the Indians.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Today's minor signings..
- The Marlins signed third baseman Russ Mitchell to a minor league contract, according to CBSSports.com's transactions page. The 27-year-old hit .283/.372/.503 in 93 games for the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate last season but was designated for assignment in February. Mitchell saw time in 40 games for Los Angeles in 2010 and '11.
- The Rangers have signed right-hander Ross Wolf and will assign him to their Double-A affiliate, accoridng to Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com (via Twitter). Wolf appeared in eleven games for the A's in 2010 but hasn't appeared in the majors since. The 31-year-old was cut loose by the Orioles earlier this week.
Keeping track of the day's minor moves…
- The Red Sox signed catcher Mike Rivera, according to the Long Island Ducks' official website. Rivera had been playing with the independent team after being released by the Brewers during Spring Training. The 35-year-old catcher has 605 plate appearances over nine Major League seasons, mostly with Milwaukee.
- The Rangers released Justin Miller, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest tweets. The right-hander has a partial tear of his right UCL.
- The Orioles released right-hander Ross Wolf, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli tweets. Wolf, 29, posted a 4.76 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 73 2/3 innings of relief for Houston's top affiliate last year.
- The Phillies released Joe Thurston, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Thurston signed with the Phillies last month after the Astros released him late in Spring Training. The 32-year-old has a .226/.305/.323 line in 384 MLB plate appearances with the Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals and Marlins. He has appeared in one MLB game since 2009.
Houston GM Ed Wade discussed some offseason plans with Dan Duqette and Kevin Kennedy on MLB Network Radio. Here are a few of the major topics…
- "We need to figure out a way to improve offensively," Wade said. He noted that the Astros are looking for a left-handed hitter and may either look internally or wait until later in the offseason to find left-handed bats "that fit our profile both from a performance and an economic standpoint."
- The "primary external focus" is to find better-hitting middle infielders, though Wade said he was happy with Jeff Keppinger's play last season.
- Wade is pleased with Houston's 2011 rotation but "everybody’s always looking for the starting pitcher. We’d love to be able to replicate the Brett Myers experience of last year where you get the guy in a one-year deal and he finds his groove the way that Brett did for us."
In other Astros news, Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports the club extended spring training invites to eight players, three of whom weren't with Houston last season. One is Casey Fien, whose acquisition was reported yesterday, and the other two newcomers are right-handers Ross Wolf and Fernando Rodriguez. Wolf posted a 4.26 ERA in 11 appearances with Oakland last season after coming over from the Orioles in the Jake Fox trade last June. Rodriguez has pitched in the Angels system since 2003, and has just one major league appearance to his credit.
The A’s signed Hermida to a minor league deal in September, after he spent most of the season in the Red Sox organization. The 26-year-old posted an overall line of .216/.268/.351 in 239 plate appearances this year. Five offseasons ago, Baseball America ranked him fourth among all prospects, but Hermida has yet to be an impact player for a full major league season. He posted an .870 OPS in 123 games for the 2007 Marlins, but has struggled to match that level of production since.
The A’s acquired Wolf from the Orioles for Jake Fox in June. Wolf turns 28 next week and is coming off a season in which he threw just 12.2 major league innings. The righty posted a 4.26 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 this year. In the minor leagues, Wolf posted a 2.62 ERA with twice as many strikeouts as walks, so he appears to have some value as an organizational arm.