Transactions Rumors

Marlins Designate Arquimedes Caminero

The Marlins have designated righty Arquimedes Caminero for assignment, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Caminero, 27, has been in the Miami organization since the then-Florida Marlins signed him out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005.

Caminero has had some ups and downs in only two brief MLB stints. In 2013, he worked to a 2.77 ERA over 13 frames, but last year he was torched for eight earned runs in just 6 2/3 innings.

Caminero has had no trouble missing bats at all levels, averaging 11.0 K/9 over nine minor league campaigns and whiffing better than a batter an inning in the bigs. He has struggled somewhat with the free pass (4.5 BB/9 in the minors), but his mid-90s fastball will surely draw some interest from other organizations.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Wednesday

Here are the day’s lower-cost arbitration settlements:

  • The Mets have avoided arbitration with righty Jenrry Mejia for $2.595MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. After opening as a starter last year, Mejia took over closing duties for New York and held onto the role for much of the year. The 25-year-old racked up 28 saves at an opportune time — entering his Super Two year — which led to a $3.1MM projection from MLBTR/Matt Swartz. While Mejia did not reach that mark, he did come in just above the midpoint between the sides’ filing figures and has set himself up nicely for future earnings.

Minor Moves: Jeremy Horst

We’ll keep tabs on minor moves around the league here:

  • The Dodgers have inked lefty Jeremy Horst to a minor league deal, his agency ONYX Sports Management tweeted yesterday (h/t to SB Nation’s Eric Stephen). Horst, 29, had an outstanding 2012 (1.15 ERA, 2.39 FIP in 31 1/3 innings) but struggled in 2013 for the Phillies. Last year, he tossed 63 1/3 innings of 3.98 ERA ball for the Phils’ top affiliate. Horst has held opposing lefties to a .241/.336/.352 line in the big leagues, but has been hit hard (.792 OPS) by righties.


Angels Avoid Arbitration With David Freese

The Angels have avoided arbitration with third baseman David Freese, Mike Perchick of WAPT tweets. Freese will earn $6.425MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports on Twitter.

That settlement amount represents the exact mid-point between the player and team filing points. Freese, a client of CAA Sports, ultimately lands just $125K over the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. His signing leaves the Halos with two players — Matt Joyce and Garrett Richards — with open arbitration cases.

The 31-year-old will enter his second season in Los Angeles coming off of a mixed 2014 campaign. On the one hand, he posted a career-worst .704 OPS (.260/.321/.383) and scored middling-to-poor defensive ratings. On the other hand, that roughly league-average offensive output landed a reasonable sight above replacement level for the hot corner, and Freese’s total worth came out to 1.3 rWAR and 2.1 fWAR.


Braves Designate Jose Constanza For Assignment

The Braves have designated outfielder Jose Constanza for assignment, the club announced. His roster spot will go to Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano, whose signing was also announced today after being reported last month.

Constanza, 31, has seen only 240 plate appearances at the big league level over the last four seasons, compiling a .273/.316/.323 slash. He has spent quite some time at the Triple-A level, logging 2,073 trips to the plate and a .303/.358/.352 batting line and 122 stolen bases over the last five years.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Constanza exceeded expectations with a nice .724 OPS run in 119 turns at bat back in 2011. But he was and remains more of a reserve or organizational depth piece, with his speed and ability to play center his two main calling cards.


White Sox Sign Gordon Beckham, Designate Dayan Viciedo For Assignment

The White Sox announced that they have signed infielder Gordon Beckham to a one-year, $2MM contract and designated outfielder Dayan Viciedo for assignment in order to clear a space on the 40-man roster. Earlier today, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that a reunion between the Sox and Beckham was a possibility.

Chicago is of course more familiar with Beckham than any other club, having formerly drafted him eighth overall and watched him on their big league roster from 2009 through this past August, when he was traded to the Angels. Beckham never lived up to a strong rookie season and batted a fairly pedestrian .241/.300/.361 from 2010-14. However, the Sox were known to be looking for a utility infielder that can handle left-handed pitching, and Beckham will presumably fill that role with the team.

The White Sox and Viciedo had already agreed to a one-year, $4.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, however that salary is not fully guaranteed. This situation is the same in which Emilio Bonifacio found himself with the Royals last winter, when he was designated after agreeing to a salary. (Coincidentally, Bonifacio had a solid season and signed a $4MM contract to join the White Sox this offseason.) The White Sox are able to cut Viciedo for roughly one sixth of his agreed upon salary at this point, meaning they’ll be on the hook for roughly $733K of that $4.4MM sum, should he ultimately be released. Of course, a team could claim the entirety of Viciedo’s $4.4MM salary on waivers (which seems unlikely) or trade for him, with Chicago kicking in some cash as well.

Viciedo, 26 in March, has never provided much in the way of defensive value and saw his offense slip to a .231/.281/.405 triple-slash in 2014 — his worst full season of production to date. I was a bit surprised to see that the team tendered him a contract, but the Sox likely did so with the intent of flipping him to a club that was still enticed by his right-handed power. However, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets, the Sox tried unsuccessfully to trade Viciedo all offseason. Now, with Melky Cabrera in the fold in left field, Avisail Garcia expected to man right field and Jose Abreu/Adam LaRoche sharing time at first base and DH, there wasn’t a good fit on the roster for Viciedo.

Beckham will join Bonifacio as an option at second base, though he’s also capable of serving as a platoon partner for Conor Gillaspie at third base, shielding Gillaspie from his weakness against southpaws. Should Beckham finally tap into the potential that made him the eighth pick in the 2008 draft, he’d be able to fill in at second base on an everyday basis, with Bonifacio shifting into the role of a super utility player.


Mariners To Sign John Baker To Minor League Deal

The Mariners and veteran catcher John Baker have agreed to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).

The 34-year-old Baker, a client of CAA’s Joe Urbon, spent last season with the Cubs and picked up 208 plate appearances despite struggling tremendously at the plate. Baker batted just .192/.273/.231 with Chicago, continuing a decline from what were a pair of solid offensive seasons in his first two years in the Majors. Baker batted .281/.364/.423 with 14 homers in 656 PAs from 2008-09 — his first two seasons of Major League action. However, since that time, he’s batted .209/.291/.249 without a homer in 572 PAs.

Baker is a career .272/.360/.408 hitter in the minor leagues, though, and his addition was likely made for depth purposes. That said, he’ll surely have a chance to compete with Jesus Sucre and John Hicks to determine who will open the season as the backup to former No. 3 overall pick Mike Zunino.


Nationals To Sign Casey Janssen

11:40pm: Svrluga adds that Janssen will earn $3.5MM in 2015, and the buyout on his mutual option is valued at $1.5MM (Twitter link).

10:48am: Janssen’s mutual option is valued at $7MM, reports Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post (Twitter link).

9:41am: The Nationals and right-hander Casey Janssen have agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option that will guarantee him a total of $5MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Janssen is represented by ACES.

Casey Janssen

The 33-year-old Janssen was one of the best remaining options on the relief market and has spent the bulk of the past three seasons serving as Toronto’s closer. His stats took a tumble in 2014, though some of that decline may have been attributable to a violent case of food poisoning. Janssen reportedly lost eight pounds in a single day as a result of that episode, and he likely rushed back to the mound too soon; Janssen spent two days on an IV to rehydrate his body and the next day began a stretch of five appearances in eight days.

Overall, he posted a 6.26 ERA in the second half that caused his overall mark on the season to balloon to 3.94. Janssen showed his typically excellent command in 2014, walking just 1.4 hitters per nine innings, but his strikeout rate curiously dipped, even during his healthy first half. Janssen averaged just 5.5 K/9 in 2014 — a decline of three strikeouts per nine when compared to his previous four seasons of work.

A rocky 2014 notwithstanding, Janssen’s work dating back to the 2011 season is nothing short of outstanding when judged as a whole. In that time, he’s worked to a 2.77 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate. He saved 83 games for Toronto in that stretch and should give Nationals manager Matt Williams an experienced safety net for closer Drew Storen. However, Storen posted a sensational 1.12 ERA in 2014 and took over the ninth inning late in the season after Rafael Soriano struggled. His ERA and the fact that he closed out the year with a stretch of 20 innings without allowing an earned run likely still makes Storen the favorite for saves in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Minor Moves: Morris, Stewart, Herrmann

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • First baseman Hunter Morris has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, the Brewers announced this week. Morris was at one point considered to be the Brewers’ first baseman of the future, and he posted an impressive .303/.357/.563 batting line at Double-A in 2012. However, he’s slipped to a .260/.315/.453 line in two seasons at Triple-A and missed time with a fractured forearm this season. Morris will play the coming season at age 26.
  • The Angels have signed right-hander Zach Stewart to a minor league deal with no invite to Spring Training, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Stewart, 28, once looked to be a fairly promising prospect but has registered just a 6.82 ERA in 103 innings with the Blue Jays, White Sox and Red Sox. The former Reds third-rounder has a lifetime 4.15 ERA in 364 2/3 Triple-A innings.
  • The Angels announced the signing of righty Frank Herrmann to a minor league deal with a spring invite, via Twitter. The 30-year-old last worked in the bigs back in 2012, and owns a 4.26 ERA with 5.4 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 over 120 1/3 career frames. After Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2013, Herrmann struggled last year in 29 2/3 Triple-A frames with the Indians, the only organization he had previously played for.

Orioles Acquire Travis Snider

8:23pm: Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link), that the player to be named later will be “similar” to Tarpley. It seems worth noting, then, that Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported earlier tonight that fellow Class-A left-hander Steven Brault was a possible name that could exchange hands.

7:32pm: It’s been a quiet offseason for the Orioles in terms of outfield additions, but the team announced today that it has struck a deal to acquire Travis Snider from the Pirates in exchange for Class-A left-hander Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later.

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Snider, who turns 27 next week, represents the first outfield addition to an Orioles club that has already lost both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz this offseason (though the team did also re-sign Delmon Young). Where he fits into the overall picture for the Orioles is a bit less clear, as the team already has a pair of left-handed hitting corner outfielders in Alejandro De Aza and David Lough. However, Lough doesn’t have the same offensive ceiling as Snider and may be considered more of a fourth outfield option for the Orioles follwing this trade.

Snider, formerly a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball per both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, has not lived up to that billing nor his lofty draft status (14th overall in 2006), but he enjoyed a strong season at the plate in 2014 with Pittsburgh. After a slow start, Snider recovered to slash .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers in 359 plate appearances. Specifically, Snider was excellent after the All-Star break, hitting .288/.356/.524 in 188 plate appearances.

The Pirates and Snider have already agreed to a $2.1MM salary for 2015, thereby avoiding arbitration. Snider will be arb-eligible again next winter for the final time before hitting the free agent market in the 2016-17 offseason.

As for the Orioles, they’ll acquire a 21-year-old former third-round pick (98th overall in 2013) in the form of Tarpley. The Arizona native spent 2014 with short-season Class-A Aberdeen, working to a 3.68 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 66 innings of work (12 starts, one relief appearance). Tarpley recently ranked 14th on MLB.com’s list of Top 20 Orioles prospects and last winter ranked 21st on Baseball America’s list of Top 30 Orioles prospects. BA noted that Tarpley has the stuff to start, with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 96 at times in addition to a curveball and changeup. He previously had a slider in his arsenal as well, though the Orioles opted to scrap that pitch so he could focus on his change, per BA. MLB.com praised him as an arm with upside, touting not only solid curveball and a changeup that shows potential, but also his pitchability and size.

Even more recently, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Tarpley ninth among Orioles’ prospects, noting that one scout labeled his curveball as a 70 (on the 20-80 scale), but Tarpley is inconsistent due to both inconsistent mechanics and some maturity/makeup issues, though he looks to be coming around on that front.

Beyond that, however, are the implications for the Pirates’ 2015 roster. With Snider out of the picture, a path is likely cleared for top prospect Gregory Polanco to receive everyday at-bats in right field. Polanco got off to a blistering start in 2014 but quickly cooled and eventually lost time to Snider in the second half. The Pirates will surely hope that Polanco’s 2015 batting line will more closely resemble his .328/.390/.504 batting line from Triple-A than his .235/.307/.343 Major League triple-slash.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports then reported that an agreement had been reached, and Tarpley was headed to Pittsburgh (Twitter link). Connolly added (on Twitter) that a PTBNL would be in the deal as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.