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Brewers Outright Jose De La Torre

The Brewers have outrighted righty Jose De La Torre to Triple-A, reports Tom Haudricourt of the MIlwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). With the move, Milwaukee now has one free spot on its 40-man roster.

De La Torre was claimed off of waivers from the Red Sox back in September. The 28-year-old was solid in Triple-A last year, posting a 2.75 ERA in 52 1/3 innings with 10.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9. In his first taste of MLB action, however, De La Torre struggled in just 11 1/3 innings of work, allowing 6.35 earned runs per nine frames. Though he showed he could generate strikeouts of big league hitters (11.9 K/9), his walk rate (7.9 BB/9) left much to be desired.


Livan Hernandez To Officially Retire

Though it was largely a foregone conclusion at this point, longtime starting pitcher Livan Hernandez will file his official retirement papers tomorrow, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. As he continues to discuss his future with the Nationals in a non-playing capacity, Hernandez said that he had been waiting for "the right time" to make his final decision.

Now 39 years old, the Cuban-born righty saw action in 17 different MLB seasons, starting with the Marlins and ending with the Brewers. In between, he spent time with seven other clubs, including seven seasons with the Expos/Nationals. Hernandez's best stretch came in 2003-05, straddling the move from Montreal to D.C. Over those three seasons, Livo threw 734 2/3 innings of 3.60 ERA ball, leading the bigs in innings pitched in each season.

Throwing one of the slowest fastballs in the game towards the end of his career, Hernandez nevertheless logged outs with a variety of crafty offspeed offerings. He finished his MLB career with a 4.44 ERA in 3,189 innings. 


Cardinals Sign Aledmys Diaz

WEDNESDAY: Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel tweets the breakdown of Diaz's contract: he receives a $2MM signing bonus before earning $500K in 2014, $1.5MM in 2015 and $2MM in 2016-17.

MONDAY: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (via Twitter) that Diaz's deal was worth just $8MM — a significant departure from his initial goals.

SUNDAY, 4:20pm: The contract is worth less than $20MM, tweets FOXSports' Jon Paul Morosi.

12:35pm: The Cardinals have signed Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz, USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets that it's a four-year deal. Diaz will report to spring training tomorrow. Diaz is represented by Jaime Torres.

"We have been following Aledmys for quite some time," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said in a statement. "His signing marks a significant benchmark for the Cardinals in the international arena, and we are excited to have reached this agreement."

Terms of the deal are unclear, but there has been some speculation that Diaz could receive a deal slightly larger than those signed by fellow Cuban infielders Erisbel Arruebarrena and Alexander Guerrero of the Dodgers. Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel suggests Diaz could get $5MM-7MM per season.

McDaniel also suggests Diaz should hit well for average, but with below-average power. He reportedly isn't a strong defensive shortstop, but he could be better at second base. Whether Diaz can play shortstop regularly may not be a huge issue for the Cardinals anyway, at least not in the short term, since they signed Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53MM deal this offseason. The Cardinals currently have Kolten Wong penciled in as their starter at second base, with Matt Carpenter (who signed a six-year, $52MM extension only yesterday) at third and Mark Ellis as a key infield backup.

Diaz worked out for the Cardinals last month and, per a tweet from MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the Cubs this past Wednesday. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets the Padres made a run at the 23-year-old, who had also been connected to the Giants, Blue Jays, Yankees, Phillies, Mariners, Braves and Athletics. Besides the Cardinals, Diaz had received offers from five other clubs, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



Braves Sign Ervin Santana

Having seen their rotation come into question due to a host of injuries, the Braves made what would have been a relatively shocking move just one week ago; Atlanta announced this morning that they have signed right-hander Ervin Santana to a one-year deal that is reportedly worth $14.1MM — the exact amount of the qualifying offer he rejected back in November.

Santana-Ervin

It's been a rocky offseason for Santana to say the least. Coming off one of the finest seasons of his career, the 31-year-old entered free agency with his eyes on a large multi-year contract, but like fellow free agents Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez, found that teams preferred to wait out the Masahiro Tanaka signing before turning to that trio of top MLB free agents.

Jimenez and Santana, in particular, found suitors difficult to come by due to the compensatory draft picks attached to their names after rejecting qualifying offers. When Jimenez eventually struck a four-year deal worth $50MM (the same amount Garza was guaranteed), Santana was left as the odd man out on the free agent market. He held out for his four-year deal shortly but ultimately set a new course and targeted a one-year deal with an eye toward signing as quickly as possible. That new goal came with the news that he was splitting from agent Bean Stringfellow of Proformance. However, Santana (and Jose Bautista) stuck with agent Jay Alou, who resigned from Proformance shortly after the news.

Santana posted a 3.24 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a career-best 46.2 percent ground-ball rate in 211 innings for the Royals last year — his lone season with Kansas City. Royals GM Dayton Moore acquired him from the Angels last offseason in what amounted to a salary dump after Santana posted an ERA north of 5.00 in 2012 and was rewarded for his faith in a bounce-back campaign. Santana now has a sub-4.00 ERA in three of his past four seasons and has seen his ability to produce ground-balls steadily increase since 2011.

The Braves didn't look like a team that needed a great deal of pitching after a 2013 season in which their starters finished sixth in the Majors with a combined 3.51 ERA, tied for sixth with a 3.58 FIP and also tied for sixth with a 3.65 xFIP. However, the team saw Tim Hudson depart via free agency and sign with the Giants, and more recently, they've been beset by injuries in their rotation. Kris Medlen left his Sunday start and is believed to have ligament damage in his right elbow that could require surgery. Brandon Beachy is experiencing tightness in his biceps after undergoing a pair of elbow surgeries (one of which was Tommy John) in the past two years, and Mike Minor could miss a couple of weeks to open the season after urinary tract surgery this offseason.

By making this signing, the Braves are sacrificing their No. 26 overall selection in the draft, though that loss is lessened somewhat by the fact that they will have the No. 32 overall pick after losing Brian McCann to the Yankees as a free agent. The signing also means that Royals will now gain the No. 28 selection in the 2014 draft, as Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweeted over the weekend. That will give Kansas City four of the first 58 picks in this year's draft.

Santana also drew heavy interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles (even after the Jimenez signing) and the Twins late in his free agency. Minnesota even offered a three-year deal believed to be worth $30-33MM, but Santana held firm to his desire for a one-year deal, believing himself capable of posting a big season and re-entering the free agent market next offseason. Santana, of course, could find himself in the same situation next year, but the value of next year's qualifying offer could be north of $15MM. As such, he's likely to earn at least $29MM over the next two seasons anyway, meaning Minnesota's offer is just $1-4MM greater over one more year.

Beyond that, the Braves have a tight payroll and had to make a clear exception to sign Santana this season; they may not be able to afford the risk of extending a qualifying offer, even after a solid season. Finally, another strong year would give Santana back-to-back seasons of well above-average performance and four seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA in five tries. That could be enough to persuade teams that were wary of his rough 2012 and/or the medical reports on his elbow to show interest.

MLB.com's Mark Bowman first tweeted that the two sides were nearing completion on a deal, and David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted that the Braves would announce the signing of Santana this morning. Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes confirmed that it was a one-year pact (Spanish Twitter link). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Santana's salary (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Astros Release Brett Wallace

The Astros have released corner infielder and former top prospect Brett Wallace, according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

To call Wallace a well-traveled first-round draft pick would be an understatement. Originally selected 13th overall by the Cardinals in the 2008 draft, he was traded to the A's for a half season of Matt Holliday a year later in 2009. Oakland held onto Wallace for just five months, however, as he was flipped to the Blue Jays in exchange for then-top-prospect Michael Taylor. Seven months later, Toronto turned around and traded him to the Astros in a one-for-one swap that sent Anthony Gose to the Blue Jays.

Now looking for his fifth organization since being selected 13th overall less than six years ago, Wallace is coming off a season in which he batted just .221/.284/.431 with 13 homers in 285 plate apperances for the Astros. Wallace has never hit much in 1077 PAs at the big league level, but he's crushed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .308/.375/.500 triple-slash in more than 1600 PAs.


Minor Moves: Rodriguez, Stutes, Hester, Carson, Olmsted

Here are today's minor moves from around Major League Baseball …

Earlier Moves

  • The Phillies announced that they've outrighted right-hander Michael Stutes off the 40-man roster after he cleared waivers. Stutes, 27, posted a 4.58 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 17 2/3 innings for the Phils last season. He's posted a 4.01 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 85 1/3 career innings but struggled since a solid rookie campaign in 2011. Philadelphia's 40-man roster now stands at 39.
  • The Angels have outrighted catcher John Hester and left-hander Robert Carson to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to the club's transactions page. The 30-year-old Hester got just one plate appearance in the Majors in 2013 after batting .212/.287/.329 in 95 PAs the previous season. Hester has a career batting line of .282/.346/.457 in nearly 1300 Triple-A PAs. Carson, 25, posted an 8.24 ERA in 19 2/3 innings with the Mets last season but has a 3.45 career ERA in 60 Triple-A innings. The Halos had claimed him off waivers in October.
  • Michael Olmsted, who was released by the Brewers just yesterday, has agreed to terms on a minor league deal with the Red Sox and will be in minor league camp with the team upon completion of a physical, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter links). The 26-year-old struggled with command and posted a 5.82 ERA in his first taste of Triple-A last season but has a 3.02 career ERA in the minors as a whole to go along with a gaudy 11.1 K/9 rate and a serviceable 3.7 BB/9 rate.

Angels Release Mark Mulder

The Angels have released left-hander Mark Mulder, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Mulder's comeback attempt was cut short by a freak injury in which he ruptured his Achilles tendon during agility drills.

The former All-Star signed a minor league deal with the Angels in January that would have allowed him to earn as much as $6MM in incentives. Mulder was a workhorse from 2001 to 2005 for the Athletics and Cardinals, averaging 211 innings per season with a 3.65 ERA. However, shoulder issues limited him to just 106 innings from 2006 to 2008, his last year in the big leagues. He had worked as an analyst with ESPN since 2011.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Diamondbacks Outright Santos Rodriguez

The Diamondbacks have outrighted left-handed reliever Santos Rodriguez to Triple-A Reno, the club announced via press release. The move opens roster space for Oliver Perez, whose signing was announced by the club earlier today.

Arizona had claimed Rodriguez back in January from the White Sox. He was a mainstay on Baseball America's list of Chicago's top 30 prospects from 2009-13. Last year, Rodriguez was stellar at the Double-A level, posting a 2.35 ERA (with 25 strikeouts against 14 walks) in 23 innings. He struggled at Triple-A, however, putting up a lackluster 7.30 mark with 36 strikeouts and 27 walks in 24 2/3 frames.


Minor Moves: Martinez, Erbe, Liz, Olmsted

Here are some minor moves from around the league…

  • The Angels have signed righty Joe Martinez to a minor league pact, per the club's official transactions page. The 31-year-old Martinez made a pair of appearances for the Indians last season, allowing one run in five innings. He has a 5.82 ERA in 55 2/3 career innings between the Giants, D'Backs, Pirates and Indians and a 4.75 ERA in 548 Triple-A innings. 
  • Right-hander Brandon Erbe has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, according to the team's transactions page. Erbe, 26, ranked as the game's No. 27 prospect heading into the 2007 season, per Baseball Prospectus, but 2010 shoulder surgery has stalled his once-promising career. The former third-round pick has thrown just 45 minor league innings over the past three seasons as he's battled back from a torn labrum. 
  • The Blue Jays signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted this weekend. The 30-year-old was once among the game's Top 100 prospects, per BA, but hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. Liz has spent the past three seasons pitching for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization and led the league in strikeouts last season with 188. However, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported (via Twitter) that he'll begin the season rehabbing a knee injury. Liz had a 7.50 ERA in 110 1/3 Major League innings with the Orioles from 2007-09.
  • Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo tweets that the club has released right-hander Michael Olmsted. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with manager Ron Roenicke about the decision to release the 6'6", 282-pound right-hander. Roenicke said they simply wanted to give Olmsted a chance to get an opportunity elsewhere rather than releasing him later in the spring. Olmsted posted a 5.88 ERA in 59 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Brew Crew last season, but the 26-year-old has an excellent 3.02 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in his minor league career.

Braves Acquire Zach Stewart

The Braves have acquired right-hander Zach Stewart from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations, according to the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan (on Twitter).

Stewart spent 2013, his age-26 season, with Chicago's Triple-A affiliate, posting a 4.25 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 167 1/3 innings of work. Originally a third-round pick by the Reds in 2008, the Texas Tech product has found himself included in trades for a number of high-profile players over the past six years. The Reds dealt him to Toronto along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke in 2008 to acquire Scott Rolen. He was then part of the three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson to the Cardinals in 2011, and he was acquired by the White Sox to the Red Sox in June 2012's Kevin Youkilis deal. Chicago picked him back up on waivers last offseason.

Stewart has 103 Major League innings under his belt, but he's posted a 6.82 ERA in that time. He's whiffed just 5.6 hitters per nine innings, but has also averaged just 1.9 walks per nine to go along with a strong 50 percent ground-ball rate in the bigs. Both xFIP and SIERA feel his ERA to date should be just a shade under 4.00 rather than at its current level.

Atlanta's acquisition of Stewart isn't entirely surprising; the team looks to be adding depth with Kris Medlen's health status up in the air (he'll undergo an MRI on his right forearm today) along with the possibility that Mike Minor could miss a start or two in April. Of course, Atlanta has in-house options such as Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and David Hale that would presumably be in line for big league starts before Stewart, who is most likely ticketed for Triple-A. Stewart was not on Chicago's 40-man roster.