FRIDAY: The White Sox, Brewers and Cardinals are three of the teams interested in Jeffress, TSN's Scott MacArthur reports. Conversely, MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links) hears from a source that that the Cards aren't in the hunt but Jeffress' "decision [is] almost made" about his new club. At least 15 clubs called about Jeffress once he became available, Cotillo notes.
THURSDAY: Blue Jays right-hander Jeremy Jeffress has rejected an outright assignment and elected free agency, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Additionally, Jeffress is expected to sign with a new club within 24 to 48 hours, according to Passan.
A former Top 100 prospect (per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus), Jeffress was selected 16th overall by the Brewers back in the 2006 draft. Jeffress has a 4.47 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 52 1/3 career Major League innings. However, he's also walked 38 batters in that time, illustrating the control issues that have followed him throughout his professional career. Jeffress has a 4.10 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 454 minor league innings.
Despite his control issues, it's not surprising that a new deal for Jeffress already appears to be close. He's still just 26 years of age, has fanned more than a batter per inning since being drafted, and in his Major League career he's posted a 53.6 percent ground-ball rate and averaged 95.9 mph on his fastball. Jeffress has a tantilizing skill set for teams in need of bullpen help, should he overcome some of his command problems.
The Diamondbacks have outrighted Alex Sanabia off their 40-man roster, according to their MLB.com transactions page. The right-hander was outrighted to Triple-A Reno, where he has been pitching all season and has thus far compiled a 9.49 ERA in three starts (12 1/3 IP) for the Aces.
Sanabia, 25, made 10 starts for the Marlins in 2013 but spent most of the season on the DL with a groin injury. Arizona claimed the righty off waivers from Miami in October. Sanabia has a 4.15 ERA, a 5.6 K/9 and a 1.95 K/BB rate over 138 2/3 career innings with the Marlins from 2010-13, appearing as a starter in 24 of his 28 Major League appearances.
Here are the day's minor transactions:
- The Rangers have released minor league southpaw Rafael Perez, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The 31-year-old was a valuable member of the Indians' bullpen from 2007-12 (with the exception of a disappointing '09 campaign) but hasn't pitched in the bigs since that time due to shoulder surgery. Perez put up solid numbers with the Twins' and Red Sox' minor league affiliates last season and had yielded three runs with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year.
- The Phillies have signed outfielder Adam Loewen to a minor league deal, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Loewen, 30, was once rated as high as the 13th overall prospect in the game by Baseball America -- as a pitcher. He transitioned to the field since having his career derailed by elbow issues, and last year posted a .267/.359/.435 line in 496 plate appearances, most of them coming at the Double-A level. But Loewen will return to the hill with Philadelphia, according to a tweet from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
- Righty Matt Neil has agreed to a minor league contract with the Rays, also via the MLB transactions page. The 27-year-old had spent his first three years in the Marlins organization. Last year, splitting time between starting and relieving at both upper-minor levels, Neil threw to a 3.70 ERA in 109 1/3 frames.
- As MLBTR's DFA Tracker shows, White Sox reliever Donnie Veal has just joined Lucas Harrell (Astros) and Sam Fuld (Athletics) in DFA limbo.
Here are the day's minor moves:
- The Giants have released veteran pitcher Dontrelle Willis, according to the International League transactions page. Willis, 32, has not seen MLB time since 2011, but had several outstanding seasons early in his career with the Marlins. He had thrown just 2/3 of an inning in two appearances for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate, though he uncorked three wild pitches in that span. More importantly, Willis reportedly suffered what appeared to be a serious arm injury during his outing Sunday.
- As reflected on the MLBTR DFA Tracker, two fairly interesting players -- Lucas Harrell (Astros) and Sam Fuld (Athletics) -- remain in DFA limbo.
WEDNESDAY: McCutchen has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. As McCutchen has been outrighted previously, he will have the option of electing free agency.
MONDAY: The Rangers have designated right-hander Daniel McCutchen for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for fellow righty Colby Lewis, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake announced (on Twitter).
The 31-year-old McCutchen tossed 2 1/3 innings for the Rangers, allowing a pair of earned runs on four hits (one homer) and a pair of walks without a strikeout. McCutchen, who is of no relation to last year's National League MVP, has a career 4.81 ERA with 4.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 191 Major League innings between the Pirates and Rangers. The former 13th round pick has a sound minor league track record, with a 3.75 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 441 frames.
Lewis, 34, will be on the hill tonight for the Rangers after a lengthy rehab process from multiple injuries. The longtime Ranger underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon in July 2012 and looked to be on the mend in 2013 before a hip injury led to surgery and sidelined him for the entirety of that season. He last appeared on a Major League mound in 2012 and had pitched to a solid 3.93 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 506 1/3 innings with the Rangers since returning to the big leagues from Japan in 2010.
Texas has seen its rotation devastated by injuries to Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and an early ailment to Yu Darvish (he's since returned), so a healthy Lewis could be a much-needed shot in the arm as they look to prevent the A's from a third consecutive AL West Division Championship.
The Athletics have claimed righty Marcus Walden off waivers from the Blue Jays and optioned him to Triple-A, the club announced. Walden was designated yesterday, and presumably hit the waiver wire immediately.
Walden, 25, has worked mostly as a starter in the minors, but had been throwing in relief at Triple-A to start the 2014 campaign. At Double-A last year, he worked to a 3.71 ERA in 162 1/3 innings, with 4.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9.
Toronto paid the cost of losing Walden's rights after some odd roster maneuvering. The club opened the year with Jeremy Jeffress on the active roster and then designated him with the intention of calling up Chad Jenkins to take his place. Jenkins was initially announced as being recalled, but that was not possible because he had not yet been on optional assignment for ten days. Walden took Jenkins's place, but that meant that he had to be exposed to waivers when a 40-man spot was needed.
The Mets have outrighted left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A Las Vegas and purchased the contract of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, tweets MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. Lannan will have the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets that Matsuzaka will work out of the bullpen for now.
Lannan, 29, appeared in five games for the Mets this season, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in four innings of work. Of those seven hits, three cleared the fence for a home run. The veteran has never pitched outside of the NL East, but he's donned the uniform of three teams in that division: the Mets, the Phillies and the Nationals. After posting a 4.01 ERA in 783 2/3 innings with the Nationals from 2007-12, Lannan has struggled. With Philadelphia and New York, he's managed a combined 5.86 ERA with a 40-to-29 K:BB ratio in 78 1/3 frames.
Matsuzaka spent some time with the Mets in 2013 after signing a minor league deal midway through the season. He started slow but fared well down the stretch, yielding just four earned runs over his final 26 1/3 innings while striking out 21 and walking nine. Matsuzaka then signed another minor league deal with the Mets this winter. He's allowed two runs and punched out 12 hitters in 12 Triple-A innings this season. Matsuzaka's minor league deal calls for a $1.5MM base salary in the Major Leagues, and he also received a $100K retention bonus at the end of Spring Training after he did not make the Opening Day roster.
The Astros will designate pitcher Lucas Harrell for assignment, reports Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). With Scott Feldman set to return from bereavement leave on Thursday, Houston apparently decided to remove the out-of-options righty from the active roster.
It has been quite a fall from grace for the 28-year-old, who this time last year was being named as a solid trade target for contenders. Indeed, in 2012, he threw to a 3.76 ERA in 193 2/3 innings, with a 57.2% ground ball rate and 6.5 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. But last year was a struggle, as Harrell managed only a 5.86 ERA in 153 2/3 innings, and both struck out and walked 5.2 batters per nine. He has had a rough start to the current season as well.
With less than three years of service on his clock, Harrell will come with future control, which is certainly attractive. One major issue, however, is the fact that he is out of options, meaning that any club that trades for or claims him would need to let him work out his issues at the MLB level.
Here are the day's minor moves:
- The Rangers have inked outfielder Scott Cousins to a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Cousins, 29, had just joined the independent Camden Riversharks after being released by the Red Sox. He has seen limited MLB action in four seasons, and sports a .179/.230/.285 line in only 193 plate appearances.
- The MLBTR DFA Tracker shows two players in DFA limbo: Daniel McCutchen (Rangers) and Sam Fuld (Athletics).
TUESDAY: Blanton has been released by the Athletics, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
SUNDAY, 9:57pm: Fletcher now clarifies that Blanton has left the Athletics' Triple-A team, but it's unclear whether he's actually retiring.
8:56pm: Longtime starting pitcher Joe Blanton has retired, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. Fletcher notes that the Angels are still on the hook for the remainder of Blanton's $7.5MM salary for 2014, plus a $1MM buyout for 2015, even though Blanton has started two games for the Athletics' Triple-A team in Sacramento this year. The Angels released Blanton in March.
The Athletics drafted Blanton out of the University of Kentucky with the 24th pick in the first round in 2002, making him the second selection in their "Moneyball" draft class, after Nick Swisher. Blanton made his big-league debut in 2004, then became a regular in the A's rotation in 2005. After several years eating innings in Oakland, Blanton headed to Philadelphia for Josh Outman and two other prospects in 2008. Blanton pitched in the World Series for the Phillies in both 2008 and 2009, and the Phils signed Blanton to a three-year extension prior to the 2010 season. He stuck with the Phillies until 2012 before they traded him to the Dodgers for the stretch run that year.
Blanton then signed an ill-fated two-year, $15MM deal with the Angels, struggling while posting a 6.04 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 132 2/3 innings last season. Blanton, 33, finishes his career with a 4.51 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 1,567 1/3 innings.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.