Transactions Rumors

Cardinals Designate Rafael Ortega, Audry Perez

The Cardinals have designated outfielder Rafael Ortega and catcher Audry Perez for assignment, the team announced via its Twitter feed.  In corresponding moves, outfielder Tommy Pham, right-hander Sam Tuivailala and infielder Greg Garcia have been called up.

Ortega was claimed off waivers by the Rangers in January and he has a .669 OPS over 441 combined PA at the rookie league, Double-A and Triple-A levels this season.  The left-handed hitting outfielder has a .289/.353/.403 slash line and 175 steals over 2536 minor league PA in the Colorado and St. Louis farm systems since 2008, plus a two-game cup of coffee with the Rockies in 2012.

Perez has a similarly limited Major League resume, appearing in three games with the Cards over the last two seasons.  The 25-year-old backstop has a .270/.293/.413 slash line over 1738 minor league PA, all in the Cardinals’ system.

Ortega and Perez are the latest duo from the same organization to enter “DFA Limbo,” as they join Chris Dwyer and Blake Wood (Royals), Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni (Blue Jays), Michael Kohn and Ryan Wheeler (Angels) as unresolved cases on the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.


Angels Designate Ryan Wheeler For Assignment

The Angels have designated corner infielder Ryan Wheeler for assignment, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link).  The move created a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Jairo Diaz, whose contract was purchased by the Halos in corresponding move.

A fifth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft, Wheeler was dealt to the Rockies in exchange for southpaw Matt Reynolds in November 2012 and then was claimed off waivers by the Angels last month.  Wheeler has a .233/.280/.335 slash line and three homers in 225 career PA with Arizona and Colorado and hit well for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, slashing .326/.373/.402 in 102 PA at Salt Lake.

Wheeler joins fellow Angel Michael Kohn in “DFA Limbo,” and the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker tells us that four other players (the Royals’ Blake Wood and Chris Dwyer and the Blue Jays’ Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni) are also awaiting resolution.


Pirates Release Ernesto Frieri

The Pirates have released right-hander Ernesto Frieri, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports.  Frieri had been designated for assignment and then outrighted to Triple-A by the Bucs in August.

The release puts an exclamation point on a nightmare season for Frieri, who posted a 7.34 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.43 K/BB rate over 41 2/3 innings with the Pirates and Angels.  He hurt himself with the long ball by allowing 11 homers this season, though the advanced metrics suggest that Frieri’s 7.34 ERA involved some poor luck — ERA predictors such as xFIP (3.69) and SIERA (2.97) indicate that Frieri was victimized by a .330 BABIP and a very low 60.9% strand rate.

The Angels removed Frieri from his closer’s job and then traded him to the Bucs for Jason Grilli in a swap of struggling ninth-inning men.  While Grilli has thrived in Los Angeles, Frieri couldn’t get on track in Pittsburgh and saw him get demoted to the minors.  The righty posted a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts and four walks in seven innings at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Frieri was a dominant bullpen force with the Padres and Angels from 2009-12, posting a 2.32 ERA in 162 2/3 IP in that stretch and earning 23 saves after he came to Anaheim in May 2012.  While his ERA jumped to 3.80 in 2013, his 37 saves and prior performance earned him a $3.8MM contract for 2014 in his first year of arbitration eligibility.  (Frieri is still controllable through 2016.)  His rough season all but guaranteed that he would be non-tendered by the Bucs this winter, though Frieri’s past success will very likely earn him a look from a few interested clubs.



Minor Moves: Martinez, McGuiness, Abreu, Rodriguez

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

Earlier updates:

  • The Mets will add outfielder Bobby Abreu to their 40-man roster tomorrow when his contract is officially purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The move fills the remaining spot on the team’s 40-man roster. This will be the 40-year-old’s second stint with the Mets this year as he was designated for assignment in August after posting a .238/.331/.336 line in 142 plate appearances. Ten days later, he inked a minor league deal to remain with the organization. 
  • The Rangers have announced they have purchased the contract of infielder Guilder Rodriguez from Double-A Frisco. To make room on the 40-man roster, the club placed Yu Darvish on the 60-day disabled list. Rodriguez holds the distinction for playing the most minor league games of any current player (1,095) without MLB experience. The 31-year-old, profiled by Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest, has a slash of .260/.340/.290 in 384 plate appearances for Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock this season while playing all four infield positions, as well as both corner outfield spots.  
  • There are currently five players residing in DFA limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: Michael Kohn (Angels), Chris Dwyer and Blake Wood (Royals), and Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni (Blue Jays).

Minor Moves: Bernadina, Cruz

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The Dodgers selected the contract of outfielder Roger Bernadina, reports Pedro Moura of the OC Register (via Twitter). The move was necessitated by an illness to Yasiel Puig, who will receive an IV for fluids. The Dodgers have moved Josh Beckett to the 60 day disabled list to facilitate the move. Bernadina was preparing to play in Europe when the move was announced. The 30-year-old hit .153/.286/.203 in 71 plate appearances for the Reds earlier this season.
  • The Astros have announced that they’ve acquired Jared Cruz from Atlanta as the player to be named in the July trade that sent Andrew Robinson to the Braves. The 19-year-old Cruz played first base, second base and shortstop in the Gulf Coast League this year, hitting .182/.267/.212 in 79 plate appearances. The 26-year-old Robinson finished the season pitching out of the bullpen for Double-A Mississippi.

Brad Johnson contributed to this post.


Minor Moves: Almonte, Patton, Martinez, Clemens

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball, with the newest transactions at the top of the page…

  • The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Zoilo Almonte, according to the International League transactions page. Almonte, 25, has collected just 36 plate appearances in the big leagues this season, spending most of the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’s hit .261/.311/.437 in 454 plate appearances. The Yankees designated him for assignment earlier this week.
  • The Padres outrighted left-hander Troy Patton to Triple-A El Paso, the team reports.  Patton was designated for assignment on Tuesday.  He posted a 5.14 ERA in 14 combined innings with the Orioles and Padres this season, but since coming to San Diego in May in exchange for Todd Hundley, Patton has a 2.45 ERA, eight strikeouts and just one walk over 7 1/3 relief innings.
  • The Astros outrighted right-handers Paul Clemens and David Martinez off their 40-man roster, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports (Twitter link).  The two were designated for assignment on Tuesday.  Clemens has a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 relief innings for Houston this season, while Martinez allowed four in seven innings of work for the Astros.
  • The Phillies have purchased the contract of right-hander Sean O’Sullivan, the team announced.  Lefty Mario Hollands was moved to the 60-day DL in a corresponding roster move.  O’Sullivan signed a minor league deal with Philadelphia last winter and has twice been outrighted off the club’s roster this season, while posting a 6.94 ERA over 11 2/3 IP in two starts with the Phillies.

Royals Release Bruce Chen

The Royals have released left-hander Bruce Chen, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link).  Chen, 37, was designated for assignment by the team last week.

The veteran had a 7.45 ERA over 48 1/3 innings with the Royals this season, making seven starts and six relief appearances.  ERA predictors aren’t usually friendly to a low-strikeout, contact pitcher such as Chen, though his current FIP (4.57), xFIP (4.64) and SIERA (4.43) indicate that he has been rather unlucky to produce that 7.45 total this season.

Chen re-signed with the Royals last winter, inking a one-year, $3.25MM deal with a $5.5MM mutual option for 2015 (with a $1MM buyout).  He has pitched for 10 different teams over his 16-year career and it’s possible he could turn his total up to 11 if a club is on the lookout for an experienced southpaw as bullpen depth down the stretch.  Chen is only a year removed from a 2013 season that saw him post a 3.27 ERA over 121 innings for Kansas City.

Nine players remain in “DFA Limbo,” and you can follow their status with the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.


Angels Exercise 2015 Option On Jerry Dipoto

The Angels exercised their 2015 option to retain general manager Jerry Dipoto, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports.  The decision was made around the All-Star break, though Dipoto didn’t want to publicize it.  The Halos also hold an option on Dipoto for 2016, though no decision has yet been made on that year.  Financial terms of Dipoto’s contract aren’t known.

Since becoming the Angels’ GM on October 29, 2011, Dipoto’s tenure has been marked by several major free agent signings (Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton) and trades (acquiring Zack Greinke, Jason Vargas, Huston Street, David Freese) yet the team didn’t reach the postseason in either of Dipoto’s first two seasons.  Between this lack of success and rumors of discord between Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia, there was speculation that Dipoto (or Scioscia) could be replaced last offseason.

Now, with the Angels owning the best record in baseball and looking like World Series contenders, it seems as if Dipoto could remain in Anaheim for a while.  It’s fair to speculate that a deep playoff run will likely get Dipoto that 2016 option or even an extension.

Dipoto, 46, enjoyed an eight-year career as a reliever with the Indians, Mets and Rockies before transitioning to scouting and front office work with the Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks.  He served as Arizona’s interim GM for the last half of the 2010 season after Josh Byrnes was fired.


International Notes: Leyva, Mena

Here’s some news from the international player market…

  • The Orioles have signed Cuban right-hander Lazaro Leyva to a contract with a $725K bonus, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  Leyva didn’t rate a mention in the top-30 international prospect lists released by Baseball America or MLB.com prior to July 2, and there’s little information publicly known about Leyva, both scouting-wise and even in regards to his basic biography.  It’s no surprise that MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets the deal will be official once Levya passes a physical and has his age confirmed.
  • Right-hander David Mena has left Cuba and is looking to establish residency in a South American country, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports (via Twitter).  Mena, 21, would be subject to international signing pool guidelines if and when he becomes eligible to join an MLB team.

Indians Claim J.B. Shuck

The Indians have claimed outfielder J.B. Shuck off waivers from the Angels, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter link).  Cleveland will send money back to Los Angeles to complete the deal.

The move is a homecoming for Shuck, who was born in Westerville, Ohio and went to Ohio State.  The Halos designated Shuck for assignment three days ago, and now he joins a Tribe roster that is already pretty deep in left-handed hitting outfielders.  Still, Shuck has experience at all three outfield positions and could be a longer-term option for Cleveland since he’s controlled through the 2018 season.  Shuck has a .272/.316/.344 slash line over 658 career PA with the Angels and Astros.

With Shuck’s situation resolved, check out the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker to follow which players are still in “DFA limbo.”