Ryan Lavarnway Rumors

NL East Notes: Bethancourt, Lavarnway, Wright, Mets, Brown

Earlier this morning, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that the Braves would option struggling catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A Gwinnett (Twitter link). While the corresponding move was not reported at the time, Atlanta has since announced that it will select the contract of Ryan Lavarnway to take Bethancourt’s place. Bethancourt, 23, has batted just .208/.231/.297 in 2014 plate appearances this season. While his elite arm behind the plate would be enough to outweigh a reasonable amount of offensive struggles, that batting line translates to the seventh-worst wRC+ in all of baseball among players with 100 PAs. Via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, president of baseball ops John Hart likened the Bethancourt demotion to the 2014 demotions of Kolten Wong and Mike Moustakas. Each, like Bethancourt, was a former Top 100 prospect that had struggled in the Majors but has taken a step toward stardom since returning to the bigs. The Braves will hope that’s the outcome for Bethancourt, but in the meantime, they’ll hand his role to Lavarnway. The 27-year-old Lavarnway is a former Top 100 prospect himself, but he’s never replicated the promise he showed in a 2013 cup of coffee when he batted .299/.329/.429 in 84 PAs with Boston.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • Via the Record’s Matt Ehalt, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said today that a realistic target date for David Wright‘s return will be the All-Star break (Twitter link). The Mets captain has missed all but eight games this season, most of which has been due to a recent diagnosis of spinal stenosis. New York has been said to be looking to acquire a versatile bat that can play third base in the short-term and then move elsewhere once Wright is again healthy.
  • The Mets recently discussed a scenario in which Noah Syndergaard would switch to a relief role in an effort to aid what has been a fragile bullpen, report Mike Puma and Zach Braziller of the New York Post. In that scenario, Steven Matz would have been recalled to take Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation. However, the team has decided against that decision and will remain committed to using Syndergaard as a starter. The story does seem to lend further credence to recent reports that the Mets are itching to get Matz to the Majors. They’ve reportedly discussed Jon Niese and Dillon Gee with other teams, though neither has generated much interest.
  • While many Phillies fans have given up hope on Domonic Brown, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News feels the organization is doing the right thing by giving him a perhaps final shot at proving he’s been anything more than he has shown to this point. Brown, 27, has scarcely hit in the Majors, save for a blistering two-month stretch in 2013, but he still has more growth potential than alternative Phillies options such as Jeff Francoeur and Ben Revere. Brown explained to Murphy his offensive struggles in the minors this season — specifically feeling a lack of strength in his legs early on after returning from an Achilles injury. Brown’s production improved as the strength returned, and he’ll now get some opportunities to force his way into the lineup with regularity, manager Ryne Sandberg implied. Still, Brown is out of options after this season, so Murphy rightly points out that this could effectively be Brown’s last legitimate chance in Philadelphia.

Braves To Sign Ryan Lavarnway

The Braves have agreed to a minor league deal with catcher Ryan Lavarnway, Kevin McAlpin of the Braves Radio Network tweets. Lavarnway had elected free agency after being outrighted by the Orioles.

Lavarnway, 27, will join options such as the veteran Wil Nieves at Gwinnett. He could become an option at the major league level if young backstop Christian Bethancourt continues to struggle with Atlanta. Bethancourt has already lost playing time to A.J. Pierzynski, and the team may prefer to give him more regular playing time to re-discover his stroke.

Of course, Lavarnway himself is a former prospect who has yet to reach the lofty ceiling he once seemed to offer. At least on paper, Lavarnway has moved around quite a bit since the end of his tenure with the Red Sox last November, but he’s only appeared in action for the Orioles. In a sporadic 32 big league plate appearances this year, he slashed a meager .107/.219/.143.


Minor Moves: Lavarnway, Asencio, Beltre, Kobernus, Redmond, Quiala, Black

Here are Friday’s minor moves from around baseball…

  • Catcher Ryan Lavarnway has elected free agency rather than taking an outright assignment from the Orioles, the club announced. The 27-year-old received just 32 plate appearances with Baltimore, registering only three hits. He has yet to make good on his former promise, but should have no trouble finding another club interested in giving him a slot at Triple-A to get back on track.
  • The White Sox released Jairo Asencio, according to a tweet from its Triple-A affiliate. Asencio, 31, has tossed 55 2/3 big league innings in parts of four years, but has not appeared in the majors since 2013. He worked to a 5.03 ERA in 19 2/3 innings at Triple-A, but did rack up an impressive 28 strikeouts against just six walks.
  • Both outfielder Engel Beltre and utilityman Jeff Kobernus have signed minor league deals with the Giants, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Both have a smattering of big league experience, though neither has hit much in limited action. Beltre was a long-time Rangers farmhand, while Kobernus has only previously appeared professionally in the Nationals organization (though he did spend a spring with the Tigers as a Rule 5 pick before being returned).
  • The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Todd Redmond has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Buffalo. Redmond was designated for assignment a week ago and will have the option to reject the assignment in favor of free agency. He pitched well in more than 70 innings for the Jays in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but he’s struggled in 2015, yielding 11 runs in 8 1/3 innings of work thus far.
  • The Astros and Cuban right-hander Yoanis Quiala have agreed to terms on a minor league contract, reports Scout.com’s Max Wildstein. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros view Quiala as a starting pitcher, though he did work mostly in relief in his lone pro season in Cuba. The 22-year-old Quiala made 16 appearances (nine in relief, seven from the rotation) in the 2012-13 season in Cuba, totaling 52 2/3 innings with a 2.22 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald reported (Spanish link) back in November that Quiala had been granted free agency by Major League Baseball, adding that he can run his fastball up into the mid-90s. Given his age and limited experience, Quiala would be subject to international signing limitations. Because the Astros have already spent the vast majority of their 2014-15 budget, it seems unlikely that Quiala received a significant bonus; even $1MM would put Houston well over their allotted pool. Ben Badler of Baseball America ran down all of Houston’s significant expenditures in his April review of their international signings.
  • The KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization have signed first baseman Dan Black, who had been playing with the Triple-A affiliate for the White Sox, Han Lee of Global Sporting Integration reports (on Twitter). Black, 27, is a former 14th-round pick of the White Sox (2009) that was hitting an impressive .324/.457/.568 with six homers in 34 games for Triple-A Charlotte this season. He’ll be paid $300K, according to the Yonhap News Agency, and will be replacing former big league right-hander Andy Sisco on the Wiz’s roster. Sisco, who was recently released by the Wiz (according to the Yonhap), posted a 6.23 ERA with 42 strikeouts but 25 walks in 39 innings of work with the Wiz in what was his only KBO action to this point of his career.


Orioles Designate Ryan Lavarnway

The Orioles have designated backstop Ryan Lavarnway for assignment, the club announced. Baltimore has called up Steve Clevenger to take his place on the active roster.

Lavarnway, 27, bounced around the waiver wire this winter before settling with the O’s. He has received just 32 plate appearances, hitting safely just three times. Once a top-100 prospect, Lavarnway has failed to regain his former promise. Now, he’ll likely need to show real improvement in the minors — whether in the Orioles organization or elsewhere — before receiving another chance at MLB action.

Meanwhile, the Orioles will take another look at Clevenger, 29, who has put up excellent numbers at Triple-A this year (.352/.413/.451, 11 walks vs. 10 strikeouts). He offers a left-handed bat to pair with current starter Caleb Joseph as the club awaits Matt Wieters‘ return from injury.

With two years and 58 days of MLB service entering the year, Clevenger would reach a third year of service (and arbitration eligibility) if he stays in the bigs the rest of the way, but another demotion could well leave him shy of the mark. So long as he sticks on the big league roster for 86 days, the minimum required for Super Two status, he’ll likely be arb-eligible next year.


Orioles Designate Ryan Webb, Select Ryan Lavarnway

The Orioles have designated righty Ryan Webb for assignment, the club announced. His roster spot will go to catcher Ryan Lavarnway, whose contract was selected by Baltimore.

Webb, 29, had already been passed through outright waivers, so the move was more a formality than anything. He is owed $2.75MM this year under the two-year deal he signed last offseason. Baltimore will remain on the hook for that, less whatever league minimum salary Webb is able to collect if and when he hits an active roster. In 49 1/3 innings last year, the reliever threw to a 3.83 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 48.7 percent ground-ball rate.

As for Lavarnway, the move had likewise been expected. He lost his 40-man status earlier in the offseason but nevertheless proved worthy of an Opening Day roster spot. The former Red Sox prospect may or may not figure in the club’s plans for the course of the year depending upon his performance, that of Caleb Joseph, and the timeline for Matt Wieters to return.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day have been officially submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today’s additions:

  • The Orioles will purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. The 25-man roster that the Orioles announced today included Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher, but not Lavarnway, who they had reassigned to the minors.
  • The Padres have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Wil Nieves. With Tim Federowicz out with a knee injury, Nieves will back up Derek Norris. As we noted when Nieves signed, his big-league salary will be $850K.
  • Ryan Madson has made the Royals‘ Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Madson caps his comeback from multiple elbow injuries and his first appearance for Kansas City will be his first in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Nationals have announced on Twitter that second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Reed Johnson have made their Opening Day roster.
  • The Braves announced they have officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eric Young, Jr. and Kelly Johnson, left-hander Eric Stults, and right-hander Cody Martin. The Braves cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and outfielder Dian Toscano on the restricted list.
  • One name missing from the Braves‘ roster is Pedro Ciriaco, who was reported yesterday to have made the club. This is likely a procedural move, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links), because the Braves placed Josh Outman on the 25-man roster instead of releasing him after the left-hander complained of shoulder tenderness. The move will also buy the Braves some time to look for an upgrade over Ciriaco, tweets Bowman.
  • The Phillies have announced outfielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Andres Blanco have made the team. Francoeur is just one of four outfielders on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so he could see time as Grady Sizemore‘s platoon partner in right field. The Phillies are now at their 40-man limit.
  • The Marlins have selected the contract of utility player Don Kelly, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Kelly earned his spot with solid Spring Training line of .270/.357/.324 in 42 plate appearances. Frisaro reports the 35-year-old will backup both the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as serving as the team’s emergency third catcher.

Minor Moves: Bard, Berry, Hand, Pastornicky

Here’s a roundup of minor moves from late this week.

  • The Cubs have signed free agent pitcher Daniel Bard to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, tweets Mike Perchick of WAPT Sports. The former Red Sox relief ace last appeared in the majors during the 2013 season when he tossed just one inning. After three solid campaigns to begin his career, the wheels fell off in 2012 with a 6.22 ERA, 5.76 K/9, and 6.52 BB/9 in 59 and one-third innings.
  • The Red Sox have signed free agent outfielder Quintin Berry to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, tweets Mike Perchick of WAPT Sports. The 30-year-old outfielder has seen infrequent action since making his major league debut with the Tigers in 2012. That year, he hit .258/.330/.354 in 330 plate appearances with 21 steals. He’s since served short stints with the Red Sox and Orioles as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.
  • Free agent righty Donovan Hand tweets that he has agreed to a deal with the Reds. The deal would presumably be of the minor league variety. Hand, 28, spent his eighth season in the Brewers organization in 2014 as a swingman for Triple-A Nashville, posting a 5.20 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Hand had the same role in the big leagues in 2013, posting a 3.69 ERA and 2.8 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings but with just 4.9 K/9.
  • The Braves have outrighted infielder Tyler Pastornicky, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. The Braves designated Pastornicky for assignment last week after he hit .290/.330/.347 in 189 plate appearances last year for Triple-A Gwinnett. The 25-year-old has appeared in parts of three seasons in the Majors, most notably hitting .243/.287/.325 in 188 plate appearances in 2012.
  • The Athletics have outrighted infielder Andy Parrino, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets. The A’s designated Parrino for assignment in the wake of the Ben Zobrist deal last weekend. The 29-year-old hit .274/.352/.384 at the Triple-A level in 2014.
  • The Mariners have outrighted lefty Anthony Fernandez, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Fernandez, 24, has never pitched in the big leagues and missed most of last season due to injury, making just five starts for Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners designated him for assignment Thursday.
  • The Orioles have outrighted catcher Ryan Lavarnway, according to MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Lavarnway, 27, was claimed three times in the past six weeks (by the Dodgers, Cubs and Orioles) before finally making it through waivers. He hit .283/.389/.370 in 257 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket in the Red Sox system in 2014.
  • The Blue Jays have outrighted righty Cory Burns, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The Jays designated Burns for assignment earlier this week when they claimed Matt West. Burns, 27, pitched well in relief at Double-A and Triple-A in the Rays organization early in the season, but struggled after being claimed by the Rangers in June. The Blue Jays then claimed him in late September.
  • The Rays have signed lefty Everett Teaford, the Ballengee Group announces (via Twitter). The contract will presumably be a minor-league deal. Teaford appeared in parts of three seasons with the Royals from 2011 through 2013, but pitched for the LG Twins in the offense-heavy KBO in 2014, posting a 5.24 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 99 2/3 innings.

Quick Hits: Haren, Lavarnway, A’s

The Marlins still hope that Dan Haren will report to spring training, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The righty, who was acquired from the Dodgers earlier in the offseason, has told the club he prefers to play for a west coast team. Of the available options, the Padres and Giants are considered the most likely to acquire him. However, the Marlins could use a veteran like Haren, and they’re unlikely to spend $100MM on a free agent alternative like James Shields. When MLBTR readers were polled last week, nearly 11% thought he would pitch for the Marlins next season.


Orioles Designate Ryan Lavarnway

The Orioles have designated catcher Ryan Lavarnway for assignment, the club announced. The move was made to create 40-man roster space for Delmon Young, whose signing was made official. Baltimore seemed destined to move a backstop after signing J.P. Arencibia to a minor league deal.

Needless to say, it has been quite a ride for Lavarnway this offseason. After seven years in the Red Sox organization, he has been claimed (in order) by the Dodgers, Cubs, and Orioles. Now, he’ll look to hook on with a fifth club — if, that is, one of the teams that has previously grabbed him is not able to create roster space.

The silver lining here for Lavarnway, 27, is that there are still plenty of clubs that have interest. He does not have a stellar defensive reputation, and has failed to maintain the big power numbers that put him on the map earlier in his minor league career. But Lavarnway has proven able to reach base consistently in the upper minors and comes with a prospect pedigree.


Latest On Colby Rasmus, Orioles

Yesterday, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi noted that the Orioles have continued to talk with free agent outfield Colby Rasmus. Today, MASNsports’ Roch Kubatko explains the scope of the Orioles’ interest.

The Orioles think that Rasmus could accept a one-year deal in the $5MM-$8MM range, much like the one-year, $8MM deal to which they signed Nelson Cruz last offseason. Such a one-year deal would give Rasmus the opportunity to improve his reputation and then sign a bigger contract next offseason, just as Cruz did this winter. The Orioles don’t “covet Rasmus greatly,” according to a source of Kubatko’s, but would be interested if they got a good deal. Buck Showalter would likely want to speak to Rasmus before the Orioles signed him, just as he did with Cruz and Delmon Young, who both came with perceived character issues.

Kubatko also notes that the Orioles have interest in signing another catcher despite the recent addition of Ryan Lavarnway, who can also play first base and isn’t a lock to make the team anyway. The O’s could also have interest in first baseman and outfielder Chris Parmelee, who recently became a free agent after being outrighted by the Twins.