Transactions Rumors

Rangers Release Phil Irwin

The Rangers announced that they have released right-hander Phil Irwin in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for infielder/outfielder Ryan Rua, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Round Rock. Rua will replace outfielder Jim Adduci, who has been placed on the 7-day concussion list, on the active roster.

Irwin, 27, made one appearance for the Rangers this season, making a spot start back in early July and allowed three earned runs in four innings of work. That performance was similar to the lone spot start he made with the Pirates in 2013. Those two outings combined make up the entirety of Irwin’s Major League experience, but he does have a respectable 4.15 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 104 career innings at the Triple-A level. He was on the disabled list with Round Rock prior to this transaction.

The 24-year-old Rua, a 17th-round pick of the Rangers back in the 2011 draft, has posted a combined .306/.378/.488 with 18 homers between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. He ranked 19th among Rangers prospects on the midseason Top 20 list compiled by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.


Yankees Designate Rich Hill For Assignment

The Yankees have designated left-hander Rich Hill for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for the recently acquired Josh Outman, the team announced via press release.

The 34-year-old Hill appeared in six games for the Yankees but faced just 10 batters. He allowed just two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the Bombers, but as Jack Curry of the YES Network explains (on Twitter), the Yankees feel that Outman is a superior option against left-handed pitcher due to his superior breaking ball.

With the exception of a minuscule sample size of nine plate appearances this season, Hill has handled lefties well himself over his career, yielding a .217/.339/.339 batting line. However, Hill has walked 14.8 percent of the lefties he’s faced in his career and whiffed 25.8 percent — numbers that are inferior to Outman’s respective 8.2 percent walk rate and 30.8 percent strikeout rate versus same-handed hitters.


Indians Sign Russell Branyan

The Indians announced (Twitter link) that they have signed veteran corner infielder Russell Branyan to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.

The former big league slugger has spent the 2014 season with los Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League and has slashed a robust .296/.423/.620 with 19 home runs in 272 plate appearances. However, he hasn’t been in affiliated ball since 2012 and last saw the Majors in 2011 when he split the season between the D’Backs and Angels. Branyan hit .197/.295/.370 with just five homers in 146 PA that year.

The Indians drafted Branyan back in the seventh round of the 1994 draft, and since that time they’ve now signed him three times and traded for him once as well. Branyan, now 38 years of age, has seen the Majors in parts of 14 different seasons between the Indians, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rays, Phillies, Cardinals and Angels. He’s a lifetime .232/.329/.485 hitter with 194 homers, including a career-high 31 back in 2009 with Seattle.



Tigers Designate Jose Ortega For Assignment

The Tigers have designated right-hander Jose Ortega for assignment to create 40-man roster space for right-hander Evan Reed, the Tigers announced (on Twitter).

The 25-year-old Ortega pitched just 1 1/3 innings in the Majors this season, yielding four runs despite not allowing a hit. Ortega walked four batters and hit another in this, his third brief stint with the Tigers. Over the past three seasons, the Venezuelan hurler has totaled 15 2/3 innings with Detroit, posting a 5.74 ERA and a 15-to-11 K/BB ratio.

Ortega’s Triple-A ERA is a slightly more encouraging 4.48 in 217 career innings at that level, though he’s battled control issues in the minors as well. He’s averaged a strong 8.8 K/9 in Triple-A, but he’s also averaged 6.1 walks per nine innings.


Yankees Acquire Josh Outman

The Indians announced that they have traded left-hander Josh Outman to the Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations (Twitter link).

Josh Outman

Outman, who had been pitching at Triple-A Columbus for the Indians, will report to the Yankees’ Major League roster. It’s unclear whether the Yankees claimed Outman off waivers or if they struck a deal with Cleveland after Outman had already cleared revocable waivers.

The 29-year-old Outman was acquired by the Indians this past offseason in a straight up swap for outfielder Drew Stubbs. While Stubbs has gone on to enjoy a strong season in Colorado, Outman saw his control decline with Cleveland, resulting in a demotion to the minor leagues. (The move did save the Indians $2.85MM, as Outman’s $1.25MM arbitration salary was significantly lower than the $4.1MM paid to Stubbs.) Though he posted a strong 3.28 ERA with 24 punchouts in 24 2/3 innings, Outman also walked 16 batters in that time, making for a career-worst 5.8 BB/9 rate.

What Outman has provided throughout his career is a strong option against left-handed batters. He held opposing lefties to a .180/.293/.380 batting line in 2014 and has limited them to a .188/.257/.287 triple-slash in 403 career plate appearances. Since his demotion, Outman had posted an inferior 4.41 ERA in 22 1/3 innings but had seen his command improve, walking just eight batters against 20 strikeouts in that time.

The Yankees are currently relying on David Huff and Rich Hill as the left-handed options in their bullpen, and Outman will provide manager Joe Girardi with another lefty to use if neither of those arms is removed from the roster in order to clear space. Outman is slated to finish the year with less than five years of Major League service time, meaning that the Yankees could control him through the 2016 campaign via arbitration if they wish.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers, Phillies Complete Roberto Hernandez Trade

AUG. 28: The Phillies have announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Victor Arano as the second player in the Hernandez trade. The 19-year-old Arano ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 14 prospect on MLB.com’s midseason Top 20 list.

Arano totaled a 4.08 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 86 innings of work at Class-A Great Lakes this season, making 15 starts and eight relief appearances. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com praise Arano’s 90-91 mph fastball (which tops out at 94 mph) and slider, though they note that his changeup needs more work. Still, Arano is physically mature for a teenager and shows an advanced feel for pitching, per the MLB.com duo, who project him as a starter in the long term despite the fact that he’s presently had more success in the bullpen.

AUG. 16: The Phillies have announced that one of the two players they’re acquiring from the Dodgers is second baseman Jesmuel Valentin, a 2012 first-round pick from Puerto Rico who was hitting .282/.352/.433 for Class A Great Lakes as a 20-year-old. Heading into the season, Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 listed him as the Dodgers’ 22nd-best prospect, projecting him as a utility player. MLB.com ranked him at No. 13 in the Dodgers’ system and was somewhat more optimistic, suggesting he lacks power but could be the sort of hitter who typically bats second in a team’s batting order. He is the son of former big-league infielder Jose Valentin.

AUG. 7: The Phillies announce that they have traded Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers for two players to be named later or cash considerations.  The Phillies placed Hernandez, along with a number of other players, on revocable waivers on Saturday.
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The Phillies signed Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5MM deal last winter, and he posted a 3.87 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 121 innings for them, with a strong 52.0% ground ball rate. He has gotten good results recently, with a 2.18 ERA in three starts since the All-Star break. Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has played parts of nine seasons, also spending time with the Indians and Rays.

Hernandez’s role with the Dodgers is unclear. Obviously, they have a strong rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Josh Beckett has, however, struggled in three outings since returning from the disabled list with a hip injury, and Matt Gelb of the Inquirer tweets that Hernandez will start in Beckett’s place Friday.

For the Phillies, the move marks their first trade of a veteran since their very quiet trade deadline. It may have helped them that Hernandez’s contract was a relatively easy one to trade. The Phillies are currently 51-63 and in last place in the NL East.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark first tweeted that the Phillies would get two “lower-level minor leaguers,” and MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweeted that the Phillies would select them from a group of players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Diamondbacks Claim Nolan Reimold From Blue Jays

The Diamondbacks announced, via press release, that they have claimed outfielder Nolan Reimold off waivers from the Blue Jays. CompletePhillyCoverage.com writer Seamus Doyle, who is Reimold’s cousin, first tweeted the claim.

The 30-year-old Reimold, a long-time member of the Orioles, was designated for assignment by Baltimore in early July after spending the entire season prior to that point on the disabled list. The Blue Jays claimed him in hopes of receiving an offensive boost with Edwin Encarnacion on the shelf, but Reimold struggled in his time with Toronto, slashing just .212/.283/.404.

Reimold has undergone two neck surgeries in addition to ankle operation in an injury-plagued career, and he’s also spent time on the DL with calf and hamstring injuries in the past two seasons. He owns a career .250/.324/.437 batting line, however, which translates to an OPS+ of 103, indicating that he’s been about three percent better than a league-average hitter when healthy.

Reimold can be controlled through the 2015 season via arbitration and earned just $1.03MM in 2014, so the D’Backs likely view him as a contributor next season as well.


Wade LeBlanc Accepts Outright Assignment

Here are today’s minor moves…

  • Angels left-hander Wade LeBlanc has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Salt Lake, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Fletcher assumes that LeBlanc will be back with the club in September when rosters expand, though as he notes, LeBlanc is of course no longer on the 40-man roster. Anaheim designated LeBlanc for assignment earlier this week after he struggled in a spot start following Garrett Richards‘ season-ending injury.

Royals Claim Jayson Nix From Pirates

The Royals have claimed infielder Jayson Nix off waivers from the Pirates, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Nix was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday.

Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.

Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.


Minor Moves: Brignac, Aceves, Joseph

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Phillies infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment with the club rather than electing free agency, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. The 28-year-old Brignac, once a top prospect, has hit .222/.300/.346 in 91 plate appearances this year for Philadelphia.
  • The Yankees have released righty Alfredo Aceves from their Triple-A affiliate, the club announced. The seven-year MLB veteran had struggled to a 6.52 ERA in 19 1/3 frames with the big club this year, but had been more effective in his 28 1/3 minor league frames (3.49 ERA). Aceves generally posted strong results up through 2011, even if his peripherals did not quite support them, but has not been a productive big leaguer since.
  • Also being cut loose by the Yankees is Corban Joseph. The 25-year-old infielder has seen only a cup of coffee at the MLB level, but owns a .260/.343/.424 slash over 855 career Triple-A plate appearances.