Transactions Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Saturday

Here are the latest players to avoid arbitration:

  • The Tigers and reliever Al Alburquerque have agreed to a one-year, $1.725MM deal, reports Mike Perchick of WAPT Sports. Additionally, Alburquerque will earn $12.5K if he makes 75 appearances, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (via Twitter). The Tigers filed at $1.375MM while Alburquerque asked for $2.05MM. The reported deal is just north of the $1.712MM midpoint. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected a $1.7MM payout. A Super Two player, this was Alburquerque’s second spin through arbitration. The 28-year-old is club controlled for two more seasons after posting a 2.51 ERA, 9.89 K/9, and 3.30 BB/9 in 57.1 innings in 2014.
  • Lefty reliever Brian Duensing and the Twins have agreed to terms for one year and $2.7MM, Phil Ervin of FOX Sports North tweets. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected that Duensing would make $2.5MM in his last year of arbitration eligibility. Via MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, Duensing’s camp proposed a $3.1MM salary and the Twins countered with $2.4MM, so $2.7MM is near the midpoint but a bit closer to the Twins’ side. Duensing is the last of the Twins’ six arbitration-eligible players to agree to terms. He posted a 3.31 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings last season.

Giants Re-Sign Brandon Hicks

Infielder Brandon Hicks has been assigned to Triple-A Sacramento, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page, so it seems the Giants have re-signed him to a minor-league deal. Hicks is represented by Relativity Baseball.

Hicks, 29, collected a career-high 242 big-league plate appearances last season and hit .162/.280/.319 while playing mostly second base. The Giants ultimately replaced him with Joe Panik and outrighted Hicks to Triple-A in July. He became a free agent after the season. Hicks has logged significant Triple-A time in each of the past five seasons, and he hit .244/.350/.506 in his last stint with Sacramento in 2012, when it was an Athletics affiliate. He’ll likely provide infield depth for the Giants in 2015.


Minor Moves: Quintero, Bowker

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball:

  • The Red Sox have signed catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor-league deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy writes. Quintero spent last season in the Mariners system, batting .290/.311/.425 for Triple-A Tacoma and picking up a few plate appearances at the big-league level to appear in the Majors for the 12th straight season. The 35-year-old has a long history as a big-league backup, although it might be tough for him to find playing time in Boston, with Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart all on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.
  • The Giants have signed 1B/OF John Bowker, Eddy writes. The 31-year-old Bowker spent most of the past three seasons in Japan, hitting .248/.291/.411 in 230 plate appearances with Rakuten in 2014. Bowker was the Giants’ third-round pick in 2004, and he played parts of three seasons in San Francisco before being traded to the Pirates and then the Phillies.


Minor Moves: Jurrjens, Rodriguez, Ohlendorf, Rowen, Beltre, Carpenter

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Righty Jair Jurrjens has agreed to return to the Rockies on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. The 28-year-old righty has never regained the form he showed early in his career with the Braves. Last year, he was hit hard in two big league starts and worked to a 4.54 ERA over 81 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Reds and Rockies organizations.
  • The Orioles sent cash to the Braves in exchange for lefty Daniel Rodriguez. Baltimore had tried to nab Rodriguez out of Mexico several years ago, says Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The 30-year-old came to Atlanta from Saltillo before the 2012 campaign and went straight to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has generally struggled while working as a starter. The team is likely interested in taking a look at Rodriguez out of the pen, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Rangers have signed righty Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, the club announced. Ohlendorf had a quality 60 1/3 inning run with the Nationals in 2013, working to a 3.28 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. That earned him a $1.25MM arbitration deal, but injury derailed his entire 2014 campaign.
  • Two former Rangers ballplayers are among the recent moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter). The Dodgers have signed righty Ben Rowen, a 26-year-old righty who cracked the Rangers’ pen last year and who has had solid results in the upper minors. And the White Sox signed center fielder Engel Beltre, a defense-first player who has struggled to produce offensively and missed most of last year with a fractured tibia.
  • Also via Eddy, the Braves have inked former Angels reliever David Carpenter — not to be confused with the other right-handed reliever by the same team that Atlanta just traded. Carpenter has struggled in limited MLB exposure, but last year put up a 2.17 ERA over 62 1/3 innings, with 8.3 K/9 against 6.4 BB/9, despite pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.

Athletics Avoid Arbitration With Fernando Abad

The Athletics have avoided arbitration with lefty Fernando Abad, MLBTR has learned. He will earn $1,087,500 for the coming season, his first of arbitration eligibility, and can also achieve award bonuses in the deal. Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com tweeted previously that his understanding was that Abad had a deal in place with Oakland.

Abad, 29, had filed at $1.225MM with the A’s countering at $850K, meaning that he bested the midpoint by about $50K. The contract value also represents a bump up over the MLBTR/Matt Swartz projection of a $900K payday. Abad is represented by Praver/Shapiro Sports Management.

Abad followed up on a strong 2013 campaign with an even better effort last year, posting a career-low 1.57 ERA over a career-high 57 1/3 frames. The Dominican native backed his run prevention with 8.0 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. While a .211 BABIP and 88.6% strand rate undoubtedly contributed to his miserly earned run totals, ERA estimators viewed Abad as a solidly above-average performer.

As one might expect, Abad was especially excellent against same-handed hitters, striking out 35% of opposing lefties. While his swing-and-miss numbers weren’t as impressive against right-handers, Abad did hold them to a .157/.217/.257 line that was even more anemic than lefties managed against him.

Oakland added the southpaw last year when he lost his 40-man spot with the Nationals in advance of the Rule 5 draft. With left-handed closer Sean Doolittle slated to miss the beginning of the season with rotator cuff issues, Abad’s importance to the Athletics’ pen is certainly heightened.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Earlier today, the Twins avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.55MM. We’ll keep track of the remainder of today’s smaller moves to avoid arb here in this post (with all projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)…

  • First baseman Mitch Moreland has reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with the Rangers, the club announced in a press release. Moreland will earn $2.95MM with the chance at $25K in bonuses, Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports on Twitter. Moreland filed at $3.35MM and the team countered at $2.75MM, with the 29-year-old landing just below the midpoint but just above his $2.8MM projection. After struggling to a .246/.297/.347 slash in just 184 plate appearances and missing significant time to ankle surgery, Moreland and his employer will hope for better things in 2015.
  • The Astros and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal that will pay the Octagon client a salary of $1.0625MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Gonzalez, who filed for $1.4MM and received a $900K counter-offer from the team, settled for somewhat less than the $1.15MM midpoint between the figures, though he did still top his $1MM projection by about $60K. The former Rule 5 pick enjoyed his best season as a big leaguer in 2014, batting .277/.327/.400 with six homers, although defensive metrics were split on his work at short. Ultimate Zone Rating pegged him at four runs below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thought he was four runs above average. With Gonzalez’s case settled, the Astros are done with their arbitration class this offseason.
  • The A’s have avoided arbitration with infielder Eric Sogard by agreeing to a one-year, $1.075MM contract, tweets Heyman. Sogard filed at $1.425MM, while the A’s countered at $900K, as can be seen  Sogard, 28, batted .223/.298/.268 with a homer and 11 steals in 329 plate appearances last season. Known more for his glove than his bat, Sogard played his usual brand of excellent second base defense for 721 innings, and he also filled in at shortstop a bit, chipping in 108 innings there. The Octagon client will receive $75K more than his $1MM projected salary. Oakland still has some work to do in arbitration, as the team has yet to reach an agreement with right-handers Tyler Clippard and Jarrod Parker as well as lefty Fernando Abad.

Note that you can monitor the arb situations of each team/player using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.


Cubs Claim Gonzalez Germen From Rangers

The Cubs announced that they have claimed righty Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Rangers. Germen had only just been acquired by Texas, after previously being dealt from the Mets to the Yankees following a DFA.

Needless to say, the 27-year-old has covered some ground this offseason in rather a short period time. (He was first designated by the Mets in mid-December.) But the wide interest in his services bodes well for his prospects at receiving another big league opportunity.

Germen saw regular time in the Mets bullpen in each of the last two seasons, compiling a 4.31 ERA in 54 calls from the pen. He delivers an average fastball of 92.9 mph and generates a good number of whiffs (8.9 K/9), but has less-than-perfect control (4.2 BB/9) and does not generate many ground balls (36.8%).


Giants Re-Sign Ryan Vogelsong

While it looked for awhile that he’d be pitching elsewhere, right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will officially be returning to San Francisco in 2015. The Giants announced on Friday that they have re-signed Vogelsong to a one-year deal, which reportedly guarantees him $4MM and provides him the opportunity to earn more via performance bonuses.

Ryan Vogelsong

The 37-year-old Vogelsong, a client of agent Dave Meier, was originally drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of the 1998 draft and ultimately traded to the Pirates in the 2001 Jason Schmidt trade. Vogelsong struggled through parts of five seasons with Pittsburgh before eventually landing in Japan for three seasons. He came back to the States in 2010 but failed to latch on with either the Phillies or Angels on a pair of minor league deals. San Francisco brought him back that offseason, and Vogelsong’s emergence and All-Star nod in 2011 was one of the better stories of that season.

Including his 2011 breakout, Vogelsong has tallied 657 2/3 innings of 3.74 ERA ball with 7.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over the past four seasons. He missed much of the 2013 campaign after being hit by a pitch on the hand and fracturing his finger, which required surgery. Vogelsong struggled to a 5.73 ERA that season but has otherwise been a reliable source of innings for manager Bruce Bochy’s rotation since establishing himself in 2011.

Where he fits onto the 2015 roster is a bit more complicated, however. The Giants expect Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum to comprise their rotation, and though Hudson and Cain are both recovering from surgery, the team has said that each is expected to be ready come Opening Day. Vogelsong could theoretically fill a swingman role, but Yusmeiro Petit excelled in that role in 2014, even setting a Major League record for most consecutive batters retired (46). It’s possible that one of the Giants’ mending starters may not be ready for Opening Day, but Vogelsong doesn’t appear to have a long-term rotation spot in place, barring an injury to a current starter or a shift of the struggling Lincecum to the bullpen.

Vogelsong looked at one point to be heading to the Astros, with reports even placing him in Houston earlier this week, but that deal did not come to fruition. He also drew interest from the Phillies and Rockies before returning to a more familiar setting.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported (on Twitter) that an agreement had been reached. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, who originally reported that a reunion between the two sides was likely, reported the $4MM guarantee (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Braves Claim Eury Perez From Yankees

The Braves announced that they have claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees. The speedy Perez was designated for assignment by the Yankees in order to clear a spot on the roster for Stephen Drew.

The Yankees claimed Perez off waivers from the Nationals in late September, and the 24-year-old went 2-for-10 with a pair of singles in a brief cameo with the Bombers late in the season. Perez has just 23 big league plate appearances and a .174/.174/.174 batting line to show for it, but he possesses a well-regarded glove and blistering speed in center field. In 844 PAs at the Triple-A level, he’s a career .310/.354/.411 hitter with eight homers and 63 steals (in 79 attempts). Perez will provide the Braves with some outfield depth and a center field alternative should B.J. Upton‘s prolonged struggles continue in 2015.


Twins, Jordan Schafer Avoid Arbitration

The Twins announced that they have avoided arbitration with outfielder Jordan Schafer by agreeing to a one-year, $1.55MM contract. A look at MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows that Schafer and his representatives at Relativity Baseball had filed at $1.7MM, while the team countered with a $1.4MM offer. His $1.55MM settlement is the exact midpoint of those two figures and just $50K north of the $1.5MM projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

The 28-year-old Schafer impressed the Twins following an August waiver claim and earned himself a spot on the 2015 roster. In 147 plate appearances with Minnesota, the former top prospect batted .285/.345/.362 with 15 stolen bases in 20 tries. Overall, Schafer batted .238/.310/.305 with 30 steals in in 240 PAs between the Twins and Braves.

Though he’s never drawn particularly strong defensive marks for his work in center field, Schafer has been average or slightly better in the outfield corners and can handle center field if needed (he has a lifetime UZR/150 of -5.4 in center).

Schafer’s most likely role in 2015 appears to be that of a fourth outfielder, but he will compete for a starting job with another former top prospect that has struggled to establish himself in the Majors: Aaron Hicks. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger wrote two weeks ago that the center field job in Minneapolis will be “up for grabs” in Spring Training, as Danny Santana, who filled in at the position in a strong rookie season, will return to his natural position of shortstop in 2015.