Transactions Rumors

MLB transactions of all kinds, delivered to you before the player even finds out.

Mariners, Rays Swap Erasmo Ramirez For Mike Montgomery

The Mariners announced that they have traded right-hander Erasmo Ramirez to the Rays in exchange for left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Ramirez, 24, enjoyed an excellent rookie season with the Mariners in 2012 when he worked to a 3.36 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 40.4 percent ground-ball rate in 59 innings, making eight starts and eight relief appearances. While stats like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all pegged him for a slightly higher mark — in the 3.55 to 3.75 range — it was a promising debut for a player that had ranked as the organization’s No. 13 prospect (per Baseball America) in the previous offseason.

However, Ramirez has fallen on hard times since that impressive debut; over the past two seasons, he’s recorded just a 5.12 ERA that unfortunately lines up nearly exactly with his 5.11 FIP. Ramirez’s strikeout and ground-ball rates have remained similar, but he’s seen his control take a step back, averaging 3.7 walks per nine innings in that time while becoming increasingly homer-prone.

Ramirez was out of Minor League options, meaning he would have been required to clear waivers before the Mariners could send him outright to Triple-A. The Rays then appear likely to keep him on the 25-man roster and hope for better results from Ramirez at the back of an injury-plagued rotation. In addition to Matt Moore, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rays will also open the season without Drew Smyly at full strength. Alex Cobb and Alex Colome have both been slowed by injuries this spring as well, which has led to a well-known search for rotation depth in Tampa.

Montgomery, who turns 26 in July, was once one of the crown jewels of a vaunted Royals farm system, but his career stalled upon reaching the Triple-A level. Montgomery posted ERAs of 5.32 and 6.07 in his first two years reaching that level, and he’s struggled at lower levels since. All told, he has a 4.98 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in parts of four seasons at Triple-A.

The Rays acquired Montgomery from the Royals in the James Shields/Wil Myers blockbuster in hopes of revitalizing his career. However, while his numbers improved a bit — 4.29 ERA in 25 starts at Triple-A last year — he’s yet to show the promise that made him the No. 36 overall pick in the 2008 draft and one of the game’s top prospects from 2010-12. In their last scouting report on him, following the 2012 season, BA wrote that Montgomery began experimenting with a lower arm slot that caused his velocity to dip from the 92-93 mph range to the 88-90 mph range, adding that left-handed hitters were too comfortable against him. Montgomery is a reclamation project for the Mariners, but although he’s on the 40-man roster, he, unlike Ramirez, has an option remaining and can therefore hope to rediscover himself in the Minors in 2015.


Article XX(B) Free Agent Updates: Tuesday

Per the latest iteration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with six years of service time who finished the 2014 season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL but signed Minor League deals over the offseason are entitled to a $100K retention bonus if their new team wishes to assign them to the Minor Leagues. Otherwise, they must be added to the MLB roster or Major League disabled list. Players who do receive the retention bonus are also given June 1 opt-out dates in their Minor League pacts.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd ran down a list of this year’s Article XX(B) free agents earlier in the month, and we’re now arriving at the juncture of Spring Training where decisions must be made on these players — the deadline will come at 11am CT tomorrow. Many such players have already been released or granted their release today (some will re-sign with the teams that released them, as Chris Perez did in Milwaukee), but here are updates on players who were paid this bonus or learned that they’ve made their respective teams…

  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that utility man Kelly Johnson has made the Braves‘ 25-man roster. Johnson inked a Minor League pact that included a yet-unreported base salary. His versatility, the organization’s familiarity with him and the fact that the 32-year-old slashed a hefty .273/.396/.523 with a pair of homers in 54 plate appearances this spring likely all factored into the decision.
  • The Nationals will pay left-hander Rich Hill the $100K retention bonus, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The 35-year-old yielded a pair of runs in 7 1/3 innings this spring and will give the Nats some left-handed relief depth. Of course, the Nats also just traded away some lefty relief by dealing out-of-options southpaw Jerry Blevins and his $2.4MM salary to the Mets.

Earlier Updates

  • Padres catcher Wil Nieves has received a $100K retention bonus, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nieves is still in the running for the team’s backup catching slot, Lin adds. Tim Federowicz was slated to be the team’s backup, but knee surgery has sidelined him for the next several months. The team must make a final call by this Sunday.
  • The D-Backs and catcher Gerald Laird and agreed to a five-day extension that will allow him to remain in big league camp, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (on Twitter). Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic adds some clarity, noting that Laird still received the $100K retention bonus but will have the opportunity to fight for a roster spot (Twitter link). The five days will give the Snakes a bit more time to determine whether or not they want to take the veteran Laird north with them to open the season.
  • The Blue Jays have paid the $100K retention bonus to both Johan Santana and Munenori Kawasaki, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Both players were on Minor League deals, but Santana didn’t get into a game with the big league club as he continued to rehab from injury. Kawasaki hit .333/.481/.571 in 27 plate appearances but didn’t make the big league roster. He’ll head to Triple-A and wait for a call to the Majors in an organization with which he is quite familiar and where he is quite popular among the coaches and his teammates.
  • Right-handers Brad Penny and Jesse Crain both received retention bonuses from the White Sox, Passan also reports (on Twitter). The duo will remain in the Minors in the hopes of a spot opening with the big league club. Penny struggled to a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings this spring, though little can be gleaned from such a small sample, and he did issue only four walks along the way. Crain, like his former Twins teammate Santana in Toronto, didn’t pitch in a big league game as he continued to rehab from injuries that cost him the entire 2014 season in Houston.
  • Both Geovany Soto and Matt Albers, on the other hand, have made the White Sox‘ roster and will be added to the 40-man, Passan reports in the aforementioned tweet. Presumably, Soto will be in the mix for everyday at-bats behind the plate following a strong spring performance. Albers will slot into the bullpen and bring an experienced arm to serve as a right-handed setup option. Soto’s base salary is an unknown, wheres Albers stands to reportedly receive a $1.5MM base for making the club.

Giants Designate Gary Brown For Assignment, Add Justin Maxwell To Roster

The Giants have designated outfielder Gary Brown for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for fellow outfielder Justin Maxwell, who has been informed that he made the team, per Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links).

Maxwell, 31, entered the day with a .316/.361/.526 batting line and went 4-for-4. After a pair of solid seasons at the plate in 2012-13, Maxwell received just 45 plate appearances with the 2014 Royals and struggled to a .150/.222/.175 line. Capable of playing all three outfield spots, Maxwell has batted .230/.344/.407 against left-handed pitching throughout his career. Maxwell grew up a Giants fans, Schulman notes, so today’s news is likely particularly exciting for him.

Designating Brown for assignment was likely tough for the Giants, as he’s a former first-round pick and top 100 prospect whose career has yet to take off as many expected. Brown surfaced in the Majors for the first time in 2014, collecting three hits in seven at-bats. A center fielder, Brown has batted .277/.342/.415 in parts of five Minor League seasons.



Braves Outright Zoilo Almonte

Outfielder Zoilo Almonte has cleared waivers and been outrighted by the Braves, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (via Twitter). Atlanta had signed the 25-year-old to a Major League contract this winter despite a very limited big league track record. By outrighting Almonte, they’ve cleared a spot on their 40-man roster.

The former Yankee hit just .245/.283/.265 in 53 plate appearances in his bid for a spot on the Braves’ 2015 roster. Instead, he can head to Triple-A Gwinnett and hope for another opportunity to join the roster at some point this season or elect free agency and seek an opportunity with another club, as he has previously been outrighted in his career.

Almonte has a solid track record at the Triple-A level, where he owns a .275/.333/.431 batting line in 747 plate appearances. It seems that Jonny Gomes will be ticketed for the bulk of the left field at-bats early in the season while Eric Young Jr. figures to man center field while Melvin Upton Jr. rehabs from injury.


Royals Release Rafael Furcal

The Royals have released infielder Rafael Furcal, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. Furcal was only recently brought into camp on a minor league deal and had been working through a hamstring injury.

The 37-year-old saw only minimal action last year with Miami and has generally been unable to stay healthy since going down with a UCL tear late in 2012. He had been a consistent and reliable presence in the middle infield to that point.

It is unclear whether Furcal will seek another opportunity. Over his productive career, Furcal has slashed .281/.346/.402 in 7,237 plate appearances with 113 home runs and 314 steals. He has been worth more than thirty wins above replacement in total.


Brewers Re-Sign Chris Perez

The Brewers have re-signed righty Chris Perez to a minor league deal, the club announced. Milwaukee had released Perez on Sunday.

Perez, a former closer with the Indians, seemingly took some time to look around for a big league opportunity before deciding to return. At least one team, the Twins, was approached but declined the chance to add him, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

In spite of his solid results this spring, Perez was passed over for an Opening Day roster spot with Milwaukee. Of course, the 29-year-old has struggled to keep runs off the board in each of the last two seasons, with both results and advanced metrics painting a less-than-promising picture.


Dodgers Release Dustin McGowan, Will Pay Mike Adams Roster Bonus

The Dodgers have released righty Dustin McGowan, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Additionally, the Dodgers will pay Mike Adams a $100K roster bonus by starting him off in Triple-A, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports on Twitter.

McGowan had been in camp on a big league deal that guaranteed him a league minimum salary and came with a $1MM Opening Day roster bonus. The 33-year-old had strong results last year when working from the pen for the Blue Jays. Though he struggled as a starter, he held opposing hitters to a .215/.284/.405 line and posting a 3.35 ERA in 43 relief innings. But McGowan was not sharp this spring, allowing six earned runs in eight frames.

Adams, of course, has an excellent performance record but comes with shoulder questions. The veteran was knocked around somewhat this spring, but proved late last year that he can still miss bats and get outs at the big league level.


Mariners Release Chavez, Release And Re-Sign Gutierrez, Saunders

The Mariners have made a host of moves involving veteran non-roster invitees, per a team announcement. Seattle has released outfielders Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez along with lefty Joe Saunders, with the latter two players re-signing on new minor league deals.

Chavez, 37, exercised an opt-out clause in his deal to reach the open market. He has spent the last two seasons with the Mariners, combining for 537 plate appearances with a .271/.303/.347 slash.

The 32-year-old Gutierrez, meanwhile, sat out all of 2014 and has seen only five plate appearances in Cactus League action this spring. He has been a productive player at times, though certainly will need to prove his health and productivity if he is to re-establish himself in the big leagues.

Meanwhile, Saunders will figure to provide a depth option for the Mariners’ pitching staff. The lefty has had difficult results in each of the last two seasons, but has a long track record of durability.


Dodgers Acquire Elliot Johnson From Rangers

The Dodgers have acquired infielder Elliot Johnson from the Rangers, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Texas will receive cash considerations in the deal.

Johnson, 31, provides a shortstop-capable utility option to plug into the Los Angeles depth chart, though it is hard to imagine he will crack the active roster to start the season with so many infield options already in place. In parts of five seasons at the major league level, Johnson carries a .215/.269/.316 slash over 826 plate appearances but has contributed 46 stolen bases.


Orioles Acquire Audry Perez From Rockies

The Orioles have acquired catcher Audry Perez from the Rockies in exchange for cash, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. Perez is the third minor league backstop dealt away by Colorado this year.

The 26-year-old has played just three games in the big leagues, but had a solid year at Triple-A last season (.292/.298/.419) with the Cardinals. Perez has not done much with limited plate appearances in big league camp with Colorado, where he signed as a minor league free agent. He will provide some additional depth to a Baltimore organization that is still waiting to see how its major league catching situation sorts itself out over the season.