Ryan Wheeler Rumors

Minor Moves: Tabata, Romak, Wheeler

We’ll track the day’s minor moves here:

  • The Pirates have outrighted outfielder Jose Tabata to Triple-A, per the International League transactions page. Recently designated for assignment, Tabata still has another year left on the extension he signed early in his career. It’s no surprise, then, that Tabata appears on the Triple-A Indianapolis roster (Twitter link), meaning that he’s accepted his assignment rather than sacrificing his remaining guaranteed money to become a free agent.
  • Pursuant to an upward mobility clause like the one we explained yesterday, the Diamondbacks have notified the rest of the league that infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak is available to any club that is willing to add him to its active roster, MLBTR has learned. The 29-year-old is obviously hoping for a chance at big league playing time, but has also asked the team to sell his contract to a Japanese or Korean club if an MLB job is not available. Despite a very strong recent track record at Triple-A, Romak has only received 23 big league plate appearances in his career (all coming last year with the Dodgers). Thus far in 2015, he’s slashed .299/.375/.541 with 13 home runs over 323 trips to the plate. Notably, Romak has also spent time at second base this season for the first time in his career, adding to his versatility after logging plenty of minor league innings in the corner outfield and at both first and third.
  • The Twins have released third baseman Ryan Wheeler, Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports on Twitter. Wheeler, who’ll soon turn 27, signed with Minnesota in May after being released by the Angels. He’s struggled ever since, putting up a .233/.243/.315 slash in 74 plate appearances at Triple-A. Wheeler received limited MLB playing time in each of the last three years with the Diamondbacks and Rockies. All said, he has put up a .233/.280/.335 slash in 225 turns at the plate.

Twins Sign Ryan Wheeler To Minor League Deal

The Twins have signed third baseman Ryan Wheeler to a minor league contract, according to the MLB.com Transactions page. Wheeler, a client of CAA Sports, will report to Triple-A Rochester. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins were the first to act when Wheeler’s agents notified teams that he’d been released by the Angels, and he was quick to accept the offer.

The 26-year-old Wheeler, a former fifth-round selection by the Diamondbacks (2009), frequented the club’s list of Top 30 prospects (per Baseball America) prior to being traded to the Rockies in exchange for lefty Matt Reynolds. Wheeler peaked at No. 8 on the D-Backs’ Top 30, and he ranked 10th on BA’s list of Top 30 Rockies prospects as recently as the 2012-13 offseason. That winter, BA noted that Wheeler was a work in progress at third and likely lacked the speed to play in the outfield. Their scouting report seemed to consider him a man without a true position, questioning if he’d have the power to man first base or the glove to handle the hot corner.

Wheeler has hit at every level of the minors, however. He’s a career .306/.363/.462 batter in the minors, and BA noted that he’s able to drive the ball well to the opposite field, though sometimes at the expense of drawing walks. Wheeler has received a big league look in each of the past three seasons, including 64 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2014. His strong track record in the minors has yet to carry over to the Majors, however, as he’s batted .233/.280/.335 in the bigs.

The Twins have Trevor Plouffe playing a strong overall third base in the Majors and the slugging Miguel Sano looming in the minors. Eduardo Escobar represents a nice utility option for the club, but the lefty swinging Wheeler could eventually emerge as a bench option for the Twins with a strong minor league showing.

Joining the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate figures to carry extra meaning for Wheeler, as his younger brother Jason (a former eighth-round pick by the Twins) is currently in the Rochester rotation.


Minor Moves: Beck, Constanza, Pineiro, Nelson

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The White Sox have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chris Beck to be the 26th man for the second game of their doubleheader today. Beck, 24, has made his way through the minors with few strikeouts but strong control, posting 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 since the White Sox drafted him in the second round in 2012. This season, he had a 4.78 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 26 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.
  • The Reds have signed outfielder Jose Constanza to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The 31-year-old Constanza collected 240 plate appearances with the Braves from 2011 through 2014, batting .273/.316/.323. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves released him last month.
  • The Blue Jays have signed veteran starter Joel Pineiro to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Double-A New Hampshire, Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner tweets. Pineiro, 36, last pitched in the big leagues with the Angels in 2011. He pitched briefly in the Cubs and Angels systems in a comeback bid last season, then pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico.
  • The Brewers will sign infielder Chris Nelson to a minor-league deal, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). The Phillies recently released Nelson from their minor-league deal with him. The five-year veteran played briefly with the Padres in 2014. The former first-round pick has a career line of .265/.311/.388, with many of his at-bats coming in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
  • The Padres have outrighted catcher Wil Nieves to Triple-A El Paso, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Padres designated Nieves for assignment earlier this week to make room for top prospect Austin Hedges. It’s unclear whether Nieves will accept his outright assignment or opt for free agency. Nieves appeared in just six games for the Padres this year.
  • The Cubs have outrighted righty Anthony Varvaro, also according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Cubs recently claimed Varvaro from the Red Sox and then designated him for assignment on Wednesday. He did not appear in a game for them. He pitched in nine games for Boston earlier this season.
  • The Athletics have released outfielder Alex Hassan, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. That news might actually come as a relief to Hassan, who had been claimed five times in the past seven months. The A’s designated Hassan for assignment yesterday.
  • The Angels have released corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, via the Pacific Coast League transactions page. They had claimed the 26-year-old from the Rockies last August. Wheeler, who played briefly in the big leagues in 2012, 2013 and 2014, was hitting .291/.304/.418 for Triple-A Salt Lake, although he has a track record of hitting for better power at the Triple-A level.
  • The Rays have announced that they’ve placed Alex Cobb, who’s having Tommy John surgery, on the 60-day DL and selected the contract of 23-year-old righty Andrew Bellatti. Bellatti had struck out 20 batters in 21 1/3 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, posting a 2.11 ERA, pitching as a starter even though he had spent most of the previous three seasons working in relief. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explains, it’s been a strange path to the Majors for Bellatti, a 2009 draft pick who spent a few months in jail for vehicular manslaughter following a 2010 car accident.


Outrighted: Ryan Wheeler, Blake Wood, Chris Dwyer

Here are the day’s minor moves …

  • The Angels have outrighted corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Wheeler, 26, was designated on Monday. He has a career .310/.354/.471 slash over three seasons at the Triple-A level, but has yet to find success in limited MLB action.
  • Royals pitchers Blake Wood and Chris Dwyer have cleared outright waivers and accepted their assignments to Triple-A, the club announced on Twitter. The 29-year-old Wood has seen action in parts of four MLB seasons, including 119 1/3 relief innings with the Royals over 2010-11, while Dwyer has enjoyed only a brief cup of coffee last year with K.C.

Angels Designate Ryan Wheeler For Assignment

The Angels have designated corner infielder Ryan Wheeler for assignment, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link).  The move created a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Jairo Diaz, whose contract was purchased by the Halos in corresponding move.

A fifth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft, Wheeler was dealt to the Rockies in exchange for southpaw Matt Reynolds in November 2012 and then was claimed off waivers by the Angels last month.  Wheeler has a .233/.280/.335 slash line and three homers in 225 career PA with Arizona and Colorado and hit well for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, slashing .326/.373/.402 in 102 PA at Salt Lake.

Wheeler joins fellow Angel Michael Kohn in “DFA Limbo,” and the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker tells us that four other players (the Royals’ Blake Wood and Chris Dwyer and the Blue Jays’ Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni) are also awaiting resolution.


Angels Claim Ryan Wheeler From Rockies

The Angels have claimed first baseman/third baseman Ryan Wheeler off waivers from the Rockies, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com reports on Twitter.

Wheeler, 26, has seen limited MLB action in each of the last three years. His cumulative line, over 225 plate appearances, stands at .223/.280/.335. Though he’s put up big numbers in the upper minors in years past, Wheeler is slashing just .243/.293/.343 despite playing half his games in hitter-friendly Colorado Springs.