Transactions Rumors

Pirates Acquire John Axford

The Pirates have officially acquired righty John Axford from the Indians, the clubs have announced. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the transaction (via Twitter). Axford, 31, joined Cleveland on a one-year, $4.5MM free agent contract after being non-tendered by the Cardinals.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians

Pittsburgh added the righty through a straight waiver claim , tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. That means the club will be on the hook for the approximately $1.1MM that he is still owed this year, though it will not need to part with any young talent to add the veteran arm.

On the year, Axford has posted a 3.92 ERA with 10.5 K/9 but a troubling 6.5 BB/9 over 43 2/3 innings. He does have a career-best 54.1% groundball rate, but advanced metrics have not been impressed on the whole (4.71 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 3.80 SIERA). Axford opened the season as the Cleveland closer, and picking up ten saves in the process, but lost the job with inconsistent performance. He has been much better of late, though saw his ERA jump 78 points in his last outing (August 8th) when he gave up four earned runs on three hits and an ill-timed home run.

Axford has now been dealt in August for the second time in as many seasons. Last year, the one-time Brewers closer moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis in late August. Though Axford has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, it seems rather likely that he will be a non-tender candidate once again. As with Ernesto Frieri, who was recently acquired and later outrighted by the Pirates, early-career save opportunities make it difficult to justify tendering contracts to non-elite bullpen arms.

For the Bucs, Axford represents another attempt to shore up a pen that has failed to match last year’s unit, which was third in baseball with a collective 2.89 ERA. In 2014, the Pittsburgh relief corps has put up a negative fWAR tally and combined to allow 3.52 earned per nine.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Minor Moves: Francoeur, Sexton, Figgins, Krill

Here are the minor moves of the day …

  • The Padres tweet that Jeff Francoeur has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A El Paso. Frenchy was designated for assignment earlier this week after struggling with the big league club, but the former NL Rookie of the Year candidate has performed quite well at the Triple-A level this season.
  • Former Padres farmhand Tim Sexton has inked a minor league deal with the Athletics, according to Midland RockHounds assistant GM of media relations Greg Bergman (h/t: Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse.com). Sexton, a 27-year-old right-hander, has a 5.90 ERA in 58 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season, and he has a lifetime 6.68 ERA at the Triple-A level. He’s been much better at Double-A, however, with a 4.40 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 188 1/3 innings at that level.
  • The Dodgers have requested unconditional released waivers on utilityman Chone Figgins, the club announced. The veteran was designated for assignment last Wednesday. He has reached base at an impressive .373 clip on the year, but has slugged only .267 over his 76 plate appearances.
  • The Giants have released outfielder Brett Krill, according to the PCL transactions page. Krill, 25, struggled at all levels this year, including his first attempt at Triple-A. His aggregate triple-slash on the season is .191/.260/.253 over 197 plate appearances. Krill has seen his offensive production decline steadily as he has moved up in the system over the last four years.

Angels Outright Caleb Clay

The Angels announced that right-hander Caleb Clay has cleared outright waivers and been removed from the 40-man roster (Twitter link). The Halos signed Clay away from the Korea Baseball Organization’s Hanwha Eagles back in June.

Clay, 26, was a supplemental-round draft pick (44th overall) by the Red Sox back in the 2006 draft. He struggled a great deal in Korea this season, pitching to an 8.32 ERA, but he seems to have righted the ship in eight starts for Anaheim’s Triple-A affiliate. In 52 1/3 innings at Salt Lake, he’s posted a 3.78 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. He has, however, been homer-prone in that time, serving up eight long balls in that relatively small sample size.



Cubs Request Release Waivers On Nate Schierholtz

AUG. 13: The Cubs have placed Schierholtz on release waivers, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. He will officially be a free agent when he clears on Friday.

AUG. 6: The Cubs have designated outfielder Nate Schierholtz for assignment, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. With the move, roster space was created for Kyuji Fujikawa‘s activation from the 60-day DL.

Schierholtz, a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, was playing on a $5MM salary this season in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Unless Chicago can find a taker for all or part of that figure, they’ll be on the hook for most (if not all) of the money left owing.

The veteran of eight MLB campaigns had struggled to a .192/.240/.300 slash through 341 plate appearances this year, after posting a strong .251/.301/.470 line in 503 trips to bat in 2013. He had actually turned in three straight seasons with above-average OPS marks before hitting a wall this year.


Pirates Designate Wirfin Obispo For Assignment

The Pirates announced that they have designated right-hander Wirfin Obispo for assignment in order to make room for catcher Ramon Cabrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Tigers earlier today. Cabrera will report to Double-A Altoona, according to a team release from the Pirates.

The Pirates claimed Obispo, 29, off waivers from the Braves back in June, and he’s pitched rather well for their Triple-A affiliate. In 25 2/3 innings with Indianapolis, Obispo has posted a 3.16 ERA with 8.4 K/9, though he’s posted a fairly high 4.6 BB/9 rate as well. He struggled to a 4.66 ERA with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate and has a 3.80 ERA on the season as a whole between the two clubs. Obispo has never reached the Major League level, but he’s turned in a combined 4.01 ERA over the past three seasons at Triple-A, averaging 9.1 strikeouts and 5.3 walks per nine innings pitched.


Yankees Designate Chris Leroux For Assignment

The Yankees have designated righty Chris Leroux for assignment, the club announced via press release. His roster spot will go to Michael Pineda, who was activated from the 60-day DL for today’s start.

This is the third time in DFA limbo on the year for Leroux, who most recently was designated and then outrighted just over two weeks ago. Despite all that activity, he has made only two appearances with New York on the year. The 30-year-old has been knocked around in the two innings he has tossed, surrendering seven hits and five earned runs while striking out three and walking two. A veteran of parts of six MLB seasons, Leroux has fared better in the minors thus far in 2014 (4.01 ERA in 49 1/3 innings).


Pirates Claim Ramon Cabrera

The Pirates have claimed catcher Ramon Cabrera off waivers from the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Cabrera was placed on waivers after being designated for assignment to create 40-man space for the promotion of spot starter Buck Farmer, Beck adds.

The 24-year-old backstop came to Detroit from Pittsburgh in a winter swap for starter Andy Oliver. Now he’ll head back to the organization that signed him out of Venezuela. For the Tigers, the loss of a young player like Cabrera represents one of the somewhat under-appreciated downsides to being surprised with the need to add a player to the 40-man.

The Pirates should have a good handle on the player they are getting back, since he spent five years in their system. Cabrera was rated Detroit’s 27th-best prospect coming into the year by Baseball America, with the publication calling him a high-contact, low-power, low-speed offensive player who is still below average behind the dish. According to BA, his upside is to produce along the lines of Josh Thole. Over 431 plate appearances at the Double-A level this year, Cabrera owns a .277/.329/.358 triple-slash.


Blue Jays Claim Colt Hynes

The Blue Jays have claimed lefty Colt Hynes off waivers from the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. Hynes, 29, was designated for assignment on Sunday to clear roster space for Kevin Correia.

Hynes has spent the entire season to date at Triple-A, working to a 4.08 ERA across 53 innings of relief, with 7.8 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9. He has limited MLB experience, with just 22 appearances to his credit last year with the Padres. Unsurprisingly, Hynes was much better against same-handed hitters, though the actual split (.602 OPS by lefties; 1.260 OPS by righties) is rather dramatic.


Blue Jays Designate Brad Mills For Assignment

The Blue Jays designated lefty Brad Mills for assignment after last night’s game, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reported on Twitter. Mills, 29, joined Toronto via waiver claim and has already been outrighted once by the club.

Though he provided three decent starts for the Athletics earlier in the year, Mills has been hit hard in his two appearances for the Jays. For Toronto, he’s allowed 13 earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings, striking out five but walking four. Mills has found much more success at the Triple-A level this year, where he carries a 1.81 ERA with 9.0 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 over 89 1/3 frames, working mostly as a starter.


Minor Moves: Hill, O’Sullivan, Sale, Daley, Gimenez, Thomas

Here are today’s minor moves …

  • The Tigers inked right-hander Shawn Hill to a minor league deal today, as James Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports on Twitter. Hill, 33, has seen mostly scattered MLB action since taking 28 starts for the Nationals over the 2007-08 seasons. He has a 4.87 ERA through 105 1/3 innings (4.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9) in the upper minors this year with the White Sox and Blue Jays organizations.
  • The Phillies have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. The righty accepted a previous outright assignment earlier this year, but will once again have the right to elect free agency instead.
  • Rays prospect Josh Sale has been hit with a 50-game suspension for recreational drug use, MLB announced today. This is hardly the first brush with trouble for the 23-year-old former first-round pick, who came into the 2013 season rated Tampa’s 24th-best prospect by Baseball America. After a previous drug-related suspension, Sale missed all of last year when the team banned him for inappropriate conduct. He had slashed .238/.313/.344 over 361 plate appearances on the year at the High-A level.
  • After reporting earlier today that Matt Daley has accepted an outright assignment from the Yankees, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Daley has actually been optioned by the club. The righty still occupies a 40-man spot.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez has accepted an outright assignment from the Rangers rather than electing free agency, tweets John Blake, the club’s executive VP of communications. The 31-year-old was designated for assignment five days ago, and apparently has not found a better opportunity with another organization.
  • The Phillies have released outfielder Clete Thomas, Cotillo tweets. The 30-year-old has seen 794 MLB plate appearances in parts of four seasons, but had not been elevated by Philadelphia this season. Over 226 minor league plate appearances, he carries a .247/.345/.335 slash.

Earlier Updates

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has posted his weekly look at minor league transactions from around the league from the past seven days. We’ll highlight a couple of the (relatively) notable names that were missed in the past week:

  • Eddy reports that the Cardinals have released southpaw Pedro Feliciano from his minor league deal. The 37-year-old, once an excellent setup man with the Mets, pitched to a 5.57 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 21 frames with Triple-A Memphis this season.
  • The Reds have released left-hander Scott Maine, Eddy reports. The former Cub was inked to a minor league deal in June after pitching well for the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, but he posted a 6.10 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with the Reds organization.
  • The Athletics have released first baseman/third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, tweets Eddy. Vollmuth, a third-rounder as recently as 2011, batted just .207/.278/.341 this season at Class A Beloit. The 24-year-old has yet to move above the Class-A Advanced level and a has a .702 OPS in his pro career.