Reyes returned to the big leagues this year for the Halos, but faced just one batter. That went well, at least: he recorded the out and managed to line himself up for a win in the process. Over his 150 innings at Triple-A, Reyes put up a 4.32 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9.
Cunningham is a 26-year-old switch-hitter who saw his first real taste of big league action this past season. Over 93 plate appearances, the former second-round pick slashed just .221/.280/.267.
As poorly as he fared with the bat in that short sample, though, Cunningham impressed advanced defensive metrics. Playing mostly in left field, UZR rated him at +18.4 runs-per-150 innings and he racked up six Defensive Runs Saved.
Cunningham was Atlanta’s 23rd-rated prospect coming into the year in the estimation of Baseball America. He has spent most of his time in center field during his minor league career, but BA said — and the metrics suggest — that Cunningham is a plus defender in left. Offensively, he is known as a contact hitter with good speed. But Cunningham hit just .261/.325/.337 in 375 Triple-A plate appearances last year.
The Cubs have reached agreement with Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports on Twitter. He’ll receive the $3MM bonus that he was reportedly seeking.
Martinez, 20, had been said to be in agreement with the Giants earlier in the week. The $2.5MM deal was said to be complete pending only a physical, with San Francisco GM Bobby Evans acknowledging it to the press. But things fell apart, apparently for financial reasons, as Sanchez reported that that the youngster was looking for a $3MM bonus.
Chicago swooped in to meet that asking price, adding him to an already-loaded class of international signings. The Cubs, like the Giants had previously committed to spending well past their overall pool allocation, meaning that they were already set to face a two-year ban on $300K+ signings. Adding Martinez did nothing to impact that, though the club will pay a 100% overage tax on his bonus.
We’ve heard some varying opinions on Martinez’s outlook over the last several months, but all agree that he is a legitimate prospect with a good hit tool and excellent speed. The questions are about his power potential and ability to handle center field in the long run. Read more on the BHSC client from Sanchez and Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required and recommended).
Several players with significant big league service time have elected free agency since the conclusion of the regular season. Per baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, players with more than three years of Major League service time that have been outrighted off a 40-man roster have the right to elect free agency at season’s end.
This list — not to be confused with our full list of 2015-16 free agents (which has been updated to include these names) — represents some of the players that would’ve been arbitration eligible following the season and were regular or fairly regular contributors recently but now find themselves on the open market after being outrighted…
- Dillon Gee: The right-hander opened the season in the Mets’ rotation, and the possibility of trading him loomed large in Spring Training and early in the regular season. Instead, Gee was designated for assignment after eight appearances (seven starts) and a 5.90 ERA this season. Of course, Gee’s FIP and xFIP marks were mostly in line with his career numbers, and he was plagued by factors like a .355 BABIP and a fluky 63 percent strand rate. Gee would eventually clear waivers and be outrighted, due in large part to his $5.3MM salary. His struggles continued, to some extent, in Triple-A, where he logged a 4.58 ERA in 88 1/3 innings, though that performance comes with the caveat that the Pacific Coast League is an incredibly hitter-friendly environment. Gee has less than five years of Major League service, so any team signing him this winter could control him for two seasons. He’s a nice bounceback candidate for a team in need of help at the back of its rotation.
- Dale Thayer: The elder statesman of the players listed here, the 34-year-old Thayer was designated and outrighted earlier this season when the Padres signed Bud Norris. Thayer worked to a reasonable 4.06 ERA in 37 2/3 innings this season, but his 6.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 rates were significant departures from his previous seasons, perhaps a portent for less desirable results. However, Thayer was an effective member of the San Diego ‘pen from 2012-14, notching a 3.02 ERA, 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 with eight saves — he briefly served as closer whilst Huston Street was injured in 2012 — across 188 innings. Thayer, too, has four-plus years of service and would be controllable for two seasons upon signing.
- Conor Gillaspie: The White Sox’ regular third baseman from 2013 through the first half of 2015, Gillaspie looked the part of at least a serviceable platoon option at the hot corner until a dismal start to the most recent season. Designated for assignment by the Sox then acquired by the Angels, Gillaspie would again be designated in Anaheim and eventually outrighted. He hit just .228/.269/.359 this season between the two clubs, but he managed a solid, if unspectacular .265/.322/.404 line from 2013-14 in Chicago. Those numbers are almost identical to his lifetime .266/.325/.410 line versus right-handed pitching, suggesting that the 28-year-old can help a big league roster in a platoon capacity. At 28 years old, he has three-plus years of service and would be controllable for three seasons.
- Vinnie Pestano: The Angels designated and outrighted the former Cleveland setup ace struggled through 11 2/3 innings in the Majors this year. Pestano, who lost his grip on regular setup work in 2014, posted a 5.40 ERA with 13 strikeouts but eight walks (two intentional) in the Majors this season. However, he was a dominant setup man in Cleveland from 2011-12 and has posted serviceable big league numbers and strong Triple-A marks since. With a lifetime 1.97 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in his Triple-A career, a reasonable amount of big league success and two years of team control remaining, Pestano could be a nice buy-low candidate for teams seeking low-cost bullpen help
- Hector Noesi: Last season, Noesi stepped into the White Sox rotation and soaked up 166 innings with a 4.39 ERA. The 2015 campaign didn’t go as smoothly, however, as his 6.89 ERA in 32 2/3 innings ultimately served as reason for a DFA and an outright assignment. Noesi will turn 29 in January and has three years of team control remaining for any team that feels it can get him back to the fourth/fifth starter he looked like for much of the 2014 season.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Phillies announced that they’ve outrighted seven players from the 40-man roster. Right-hander Justin De Fratus, catcher Erik Kratz, infielder Chase d’Arnaud, outfielder Jordan Danks and lefties Adam Loewen and Ken Roberts were all outrighted off the roster. Additionally, right-hander Jonathan Pettibone was activated from the 60-day DL and outrighted. The 27-year-old De Fratus has been a regular member of the Philadelphia bullpen for the past three seasons but struggled to a 5.51 ERA in 80 innings this season. Pettibone, 25, tossed 100 1/3 solid innings for the Phils in 2013 but has struggled to recover from shoulder surgery. He threw just three innings last year and didn’t pitch in the Majors in 2015.
- The Angels announced today that infielder Grant Green has cleared outright waivers and will be assigned to Triple-A. Green, 28, was designated for assignment just before the end of the regular season. He was once a prized young player, and continues to perform in the upper minors, but has slashed just .249/.283/.335 over an even 300 career plate appearances. Notably, the move does not necessarily mean that Los Angeles will be able to stash Green in the minors. Now that he’s off of the 40-man, he’ll be eligible for minor league free agency.
The White Sox have outrighted catcher Adrian Nieto off the club’s 40-man roster, per a club announcement (h/t to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com, on Twitter). After also losing Junior Guerra via waiver claim, the team has three open 40-man slots.
Nieto, 25, was taken from the Nationals in the pre-2014 Rule 5 draft. The White Sox carried him all year, even as he slashed .236/.296/.340 over 118 plate appearances. That earned the team permanent rights over the Cuban native.
Known as a defensively-gifted backstop who would need work at the plate, Nieto did not take much of a step forward in 2015. Optioned to Double-A to start the year, he put up a .207/.344/.316 slash line with five home runs over 315 plate appearances. Nieto did carry a strong 16.5% walk rate, but was retired 24.4% of the time via strikeout as well.
The Brewers have claimed righty Junior Guerra off waivers from the White Sox, per a club announcement (hat tip to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on Twitter). To create roster space, Milwaukee has designated catcher Nevin Ashley for assignment.
Today’s waiver claim marks the team’s first acquisition under the leadership of GM David Stearns. It’s not an obviously significant move at first glance, but it is interesting.
Guerra, 30, returned to a big league organization for the first time since 2008. In the interim, he played independent ball and threw in the Venezuelan winter league. Despite never before appearing above the High-A level, Guerra jumped into the upper minors and earned his first MLB call-up in Chicago.
Though he only tossed four big league innings, he averaged 94.1 mph with his fastball. Guerra obviously showed enough in the minors to draw Milwaukee’s attention. Over 83 1/3 frames — most of them at the Triple-A level, and including 11 starts — he pitched to a 3.13 ERA with 11.3 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.
As for Ashley, the 31-year-old also made his MLB debut this year, registering two base hits in limited action. He earned that brief promotion with a solid year at Triple-A, putting up a productive .306/.374/.442 batting line over 381 plate appearances. That represents the sixth season in which Ashley has seen time at the highest level of the minors, where he’s slashed .259/.339/.391 over 1,161 turns at bat.
1:58pm: The deal also includes a $2MM option for 2017, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
12:20pm: The Marlins have announced the re-signing of outfielder Ichiro Suzuki today, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro first reported on Twitter. The John Boggs client will receive a $2MM guarantee, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
A reunion had largely been expected, and it seems that the sides chose to accomplish that by reaching agreement before the likely future Hall-of-Famer hit the open market. It’s not uncommon to see late-career veterans reach extension agreements of this kind when a mutually agreeable situation is at hand.
The club will probably look to give the 41-year-old somewhat less action in 2016 than he did this past season. With Giancarlo Stanton injured and Marcell Ozuna spending time in the minors, Ichiro ended up taking 438 plate appearances and playing in all but nine of the team’s games. That greater-than-anticipated usage did, however, allow the Japanese great to rack up some additional hits, leaving him just 65 shy of the 3,000-hit mark at season’s end.
Miami obviously likes Ichiro’s presence, and his milestone pursuit is not without its appeal. And he still rates as at least a league-average defender and baserunner. But things did not go so well on the offensive side of the equation, as he slashed an anemic .229/.282/.279 on the year for 2015.
That represents a drop off from an already-downward trend, as Ichiro has been consistently below average with the bat since the start of 2011. He was at least serviceable in 2014, earning him a one-year deal with a $2MM base guarantee and a variety of incentives. The Fish will hope that he can return to that level of offensive production (87 wRC+), though that could be the best-case scenario at this point.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
OCTOBER 6: Haren has confirmed that he will, in fact, hang up his spikes, as ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports.
It is likely that the righty has already thrown his last pitch, though he said he would remain prepared in the event that the Cubs need him for the post-season. As Rogers notes, that seems unlikely barring an injury situation.
“If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it,” Haren stated. “It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.”
Even if he doesn’t get a playoff call, the veteran ended his career on a good note. Though he scuffled early upon his move to Chicago, Haren allowed just eight earned runs in 32 2/3 over his final six starts. All said, he tallied 187 1/3 innings of 3.60 ERA pitching on the year, making for a productive final campaign.
AUGUST 2: Newly-acquired Cubs righty Dan Haren is leaning towards ending his career once this season is over, Haren told reporters including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. Upon being dealt to Chicago, Haren tweeted that he would wearing jersey #50 as a Cub, which was his number when he first broke into the big leagues “and it’ll probably be my last.”
Expanding on that tweet, Haren left himself a bit of wiggle room but “I would say right now the chances are this will probably be it. I don’t want to say this is it and pull a Brett Favre. That’s why I said ‘probably’ [on Twitter]. At least I leave myself a little way out. Chances are this is it. After the season, I’ll relax and see where I’m at. I definitely want to make a push to get to where this team wants to go.”
The decision isn’t a surprise, given that Haren considered retiring last offseason after being traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins. Haren has spoke openly about the difficulty of being away from his wife and children and his home in southern California, so it may be that an offer from a team in that region may be the only thing that changes Haren’s mind about retirement.
If this is indeed it for Haren, he’ll go out with an impressive 13-year stint in the majors that saw him make three All-Star teams and earn just under $81.5MM. Haren, who turns 35 in September, posted a 3.77 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 4.07 K/BB rate from 2003-2014 with the Cardinals, A’s, Diamondbacks, Angels, Nationals and Dodgers. He’s still pitching effectively this year (a 3.42 ERA in 129 innings for Miami), which is why the Cubs pursued him at the deadline to bolster the back end of their rotation.
11:59pm: The Angels have officially announced the hiring of Eppler, who receives a four-year contract to become the team’s GM. Eppler will report directly to owner Arte Moreno and, according to the team’s release, will “oversee all aspects of the club’s baseball operations.”
7:12pm: The Angels will announce tomorrow that Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler will be their next GM, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Eppler will replace Jerry Dipoto, who resigned in July.
The Angels were, of course, eliminated from playoff contention today, so they won’t be playing the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday that the possibility of an Angels/Yankees matchup might be one reason the Angels were waiting to officially hire a top Yankees executive.
The Angels had been connected to a number of other candidates, including Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes (who had reportedly been the other top candidate), Red Sox assistant GM (and now GM) Mike Hazen, Blue Jays assistant Tony La Cava, Indians VP of player personnel Ross Atkins, Rangers assistant Thad Levine, Mariners farm director Chris Gwynn, and internal candidates Hal Morris, Matt Klentak and Scott Servais. Several reports, however, had previously named Eppler as the front-runner.
Eppler worked as a scout in the Rockies organization before being hired by the Yankees in 2004. In 2005, the Yankees promoted him to director of pro scouting, and he became assistant GM following the 2011 season. He had long been considered a future GM, and he interviewed for the Angels job in 2011 before it was ultimately awarded to Dipoto. Last year he interviewed for the Padres GM position, and he was also a potential candidate for the Diamondbacks job that went to Dave Stewart, although he declined to formally interview for that position. Eppler is a native of San Diego.
Eppler, 40, is generally regarded as likely to be statistically savvy, although he also has a scouting background, and it’s difficult to tell how a GM might make decisions until he or she actually becomes a GM. “He checks all the boxes,” Brian Cashman said of Eppler last year. “He’s got the analytics side checked off, he’s got the administrative side checked off and he’s got the scouting side checked off. He’s got the leadership side checked off because he’s a great communicator.”
Eppler will inherit a situation in Los Angeles that is in some ways envious and some ways not. Tension between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia led to Dipoto’s departure, and the fact that Scioscia remained while Dipoto left suggests that Eppler will have to find a way to work with Scioscia, regardless of any differences that might arise. Owner Arte Moreno has a reputation for being heavily involved with baseball decisions. Also, the Angels don’t have a particularly strong farm system.
On the other hand, he Angels won 85 games this season and have a relatively strong talent base led by one of the one or two best players in baseball in Mike Trout. That’s a rare starting point for an incoming GM. Eppler will also have access to a big budget, as Moreno has rarely been shy about spending on top-tier free agents.