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.
The Blue Jays have issued a press release to announce a series of roster moves: Right-hander Marcus Walden has been designated for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Munenori Kawasaki, who has been promoted to the Majors to take the 25-man roster spot of Maicer Izturis. Izturis, who is most likely out four to six months with a torn LCL, has been placed on the 15-day DL. Additionally, the club announced that right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who was designated for assignment last week, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo.
Walden, who turned 25 near the end of the 2013 season, began the year at Buffalo but pitched just four innings prior to today's news. The former ninth-round pick allowed six runs in those four frames but posted a strong 3.71 ERA in 162 1/3 innings at Double-A New Hampshire in 2013. Walden misses few bats but has solid command, as evidenced by career ratios of 5.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in his minor league career.
The 32-year-old Kawasaki appeared in 96 games for the Blue Jays last season, quickly winning over fans and teammates with his quirky personality and his sense of humor. On the field, he batted .229/.326/.308 with a homer and seven stolen bases while appearing at both middle infield positions.
Jeffress has seen MLB time in five seasons, but has never logged more than 15 1/3 innings in any one season. The former No. 16 overall pick (Brewers) has yet to harness his big arm, as his career 6.7 BB/9 tally in the bigs would indicate. He did put up outstanding results last year, as he yielded one earned run with a 12-to-5 K:BB ratio in 10 1/3 Major League innings in addition to registering a 1.39 mark in his 32 1/3 minor league innings (8.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9).
5:03pm: MLB.com's Corey Brock explains the reasoning behind announcing the contract as a six-year deal despite only adding five new years (Twitter link). Though Gyorko's 2014 salary remains unchanged, there is language in the deal which adds both insurance and benefits to Gyorko's 2014 contract.
3:48pm: The Padres have locked up one of their infielders for years to come, but it isn't the one whose extension status has grabbed the most headlines over the past couple of years; San Diego announced today a six-year extension for second baseman Jedd Gyorko that will keep the ACES client in San Diego through the 2019 season and contains a club option for the 2020 season.
Gyorko's deal appears to be a six-year extension in name only, as the reported breakdown of his contract doesn't include a change to his previously agreed upon 2014 salary. He will earn $2MM in 2015, $4MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017, $9MM in 2018 and $13MM in 2019 before the Padres have the option of retaining him for $13MM for 2020 or paying him a $1MM buyout. Gyorko's deal also reportedly contains escalators that pertain to the option year, meaning the value of that option could rise over the course of the deal.
"We are happy to sign Jedd and secure the rights to two free agent years," said general manager Josh Byrnes in the press release issued to announce the deal. "Jedd is a homegrown player in his fifth season with the Padres organization and has been a consistent performer every step of the way. He has shown us a real commitment to this organization and to the city of San Diego."
Gyorko, 25, had a solid rookie season in which he batted .249/.301/.444 with 23 homers in 525 plate appearances. That effort, which was more impressive than it would appear at first glance due to his pitcher-friendly home stadium, was enough to earn him a sixth-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
A natural third baseman, Gyorko has moved over to second base in San Diego due to the presence of Chase Headley at the hot corner for the Friars. Advanced defensive metrics both felt that he did an admirable job there, with The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved pegging him at -1 runs, while Ultimate Zone Rating estimated that he saved 1.8 runs per 150 games. That defensive flexibility is crucial for the Padres, who could lose Headley to free agency at season's end. Should that happen, Byrnes will have the freedom to pursue both second base and third base options to fill the void, knowing that Gyorko can handle whichever position is not filled by a potential new addition.
The Padres already controlled Gyorko through the 2018 season via the arbitration process, so the Padres have effectively secured an additional two years of control over Gyorko (though only one is guaranteed). His contract is the largest signed by a second baseman with between one and two years of service time, though not the largest deal ever for a player in that service class. Andrelton Simmons, Ryan Braun and Anthony Rizzo have topped that figure. Regardless, that is an impressive group of peers for the slugging infielder to join.
Byrnes isn't shy about pursuing extensions for his young players, though a few of them have gone awry due to injuries in recent years. As can be seen via MLBTR's Extension Tracker, the Padres have recently extended Cameron Maybin (five years, $25MM), Cory Luebke (four years, $12MM), Carlos Quentin (three years, $30MM), Nick Hundley (three years, $9MM), Huston Street (two years, $14MM), Will Venable (two years, $8.5MM) and Chris Denorfia (two years, $4.25MM).
ESPN's Buster Olney was the first to report the deal (via Twitter), with ESPN's Keith Law adding (via Twitter) that it was a six-year deal with a seventh-year option. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports added that the deal ran 2015-19 with a club option, and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported the $35MM guarantee and $13MM option value (Twitter links). ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted about the escalators, with Cotillo adding that they applied only to the option year. Jeff Passan of Yahoo sports reported the year-to-year breakdown (via Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The White Sox have signed right-hander Frank Francisco and assigned him to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, according to the Knights' official Twitter account. Francisco is a client of Praver/Shapiro.
The 34-year-old Francisco spent the past two seasons with the Mets after signing a two-year, $12MM contract that proved to be a regrettable move for New York. Over the life of the deal, Francisco pitched just 48 2/3 innings of 5.36 ERA ball, averaging 9.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He missed nearly all of the 2013 season with elbow issues.
The White Sox will hope that Francisco can get back to the form he showed with the Rangers and Blue Jays from 2009-11 when he posted a 3.71 ERA 10.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 36 percent ground-ball rate that led to a 3.41 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. During that time, opponents batted just .236/.299/.382 against Francisco, who racked up 44 saves between the two teams.
Chicago manager Robin Ventura named Matt Lindstrom his closer to open the season, much to the surprise of many pundits that had pegged Nate Jones as Addison Reed's replacement. However, Jones is on the disabled list now, and Lindstrom hasn't inspired much confidence with his new role, so the added bullpen depth makes sense for GM Rick Hahn.
Here are today's minor moves from around baseball.
- The Dodgers have released infielder Brendan Harris, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Harris made 117 plate appearances for the Angels in 2013, posting a line of .206/.252/.355. It had been his first appearance to the Majors since 2010. Previously, he had played for the Cubs, Expos/Nationals, Reds, Rays, and Twins.
- The Mets have announced that they've traded catcher Blake Forsythe to the Athletics for future considerations. Forsythe, 24, hit .192/.271/.362 for Double-A Binghamton in 2013. He was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Tennessee.
April 13: The Blue Jays were not able to trade Jeffress, and have placed him on waivers, Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca tweets.
April 4: The Blue Jays announced that they have designated reliever Jeremy Jeffress for assignment, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. In a corresponding move, the team recalled righty Marcus Walden to take his roster spot, the club announced.
Jeffress, 26, gave up three hits and a run tonight in what could have been his last appearance for Toronto. He has seen MLB time in five seasons, but has never logged more than 15 1/3 innings in any one season. Jeffress has yet to harness his big arm, as his career 6.7 BB/9 tally in the bigs would indicate. He did put up outstanding results last year, as he put up a 0.87 ERA in 10 1/3 big league frames (10.5 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9) and a 1.39 mark in his 32 1/3 minor league innings (8.4 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9).
We'll round up tonight's minor moves here:
- Jeff Clement has retired, The Des Moines Register reports. Originally drafted third overall in 2005 by the Mariners, Clement never caught on in the majors, and ends his career with a .218/.277/.371 Major League line. His last big league appearance came in 2012 with the Pirates. Now a father of four, the 30-year-old tells The Register that he plans to return to school.
- The Orioles have signed Steven Hensley, who was released by the Rockies in March, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. The 27-year-old has never appeared in the majors. He worked almost entirely out of the bullpen for upper-level affiliates of the Rockies and Mariners last season, compiling a 4.24 ERA.
- The Dodgers have signed lefty Erick Threets, who was pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks, according to Eddy. Last we heard, Threets was looking for a job in Asia.
- The Marlins have inked infielder Rich Poythress, who was released by the Mariners in March, per Eddy. Poythress, who has yet to reach the majors, was sent to Double-A.
- The A's have signed second baseman Colin Walsh, who was let go by the Cardinals last month, Eddy reports. The 24-year-old reached Double-A for the Cardinals last season.
- Dontrelle Willis was added to the active roster of the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants' Triple-A club, according to a tweet from the team. D-Train struggled in 21 innings with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in 2013, posting a 6.43 ERA.
- The Nationals have selected the contract of starter Blake Treinen, the International League transactions page shows. Treinen was pitching at Triple-A, and has never appeared in the majors. The right-hander came over in last winter's three-team trade with the Mariners and A's. He's been used almost exclusively as a starter in recent years in the minors, where he owns a 3.73 ERA. Baseball America ranked him as the Nats' 23rd-best prospect this year, but wrote that most evaluators expect him to end up in middle relief.
- The Nats have inked right-hander Paolo Espino, formerly of the Cubs organization, according to Eddy. The right-hander, who works as a swingman, has yet to reach the majors but has significant Triple-A experience.
The Athletics have designated Sam Fuld for assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The move clears space on the team's active roster for another strong defensive outfielder, Craig Gentry, who returns from the disabled list.
Fuld, 32, appeared in just seven games for the A's, hitting .200/.273/.433 in 33 plate appearances. He has a career .233/.312/.334 line in 841 career plate appearances, most of them with the Rays and Cubs. He signed with Oakland as a minor-league free agent in February, then made the team out of spring training when Gentry was unavailable.
Lincoln, 28, has a career 4.74 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 222 1/3 innings in the big leagues. He came up as a starter with the Pirates, then briefly established himself as a reliever in Pittsburgh before heading to Toronto for Travis Snider. The Blue Jays shipped him to Philadelphia in December for catcher Erik Kratz and minor-leaguer Rob Rasmussen. Lincoln pitched just two outings for the Phillies, allowing three runs in a two-inning stint against the Brewers April 8.