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Outrighted: Bass, Mattheus, Walters, Morel

Several players were outrighted off of 40-man rosters today to clear space for players who needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft:

  • The Astros outrighted righty Anthony Bass, the club announced.  Bass, 27, has seen his ERA rise over each of the last four years, and he suffered in 2014 from a sudden inability to miss bats.
  • Right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus was outrighted by the Nationals, also per the club. Mattheus has elected free agency. Though he has been effective in long stretches at times in D.C., Mattheus never regained his place in the bullpen after breaking his hand last May. The 31-year-old, out-of-options righty should certainly find a club willing to give him a chance to earn a job out of camp.
  • The Mets announced that Jeff Walters has been removed from the 40-man. A 27-year-old right-hander, Walters has yet to see MLB action. He struggled mightily in 2014, his first attempt at Triple-A, and ultimately was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery.
  • The Pirates announced that infielder Brent Morel has been outrighted. Morel has seen relatively scant MLB time since a run with the White Sox in 2011. Last year, at Triple-A, he slashed .271/.335/.375 over 376 plate appearances.

Pirates Designate Ike Davis, Ramon Cabrera

The Pirates have designated first baseman Ike Davis and catcher Ramon Cabrera for assignment, the club announced.

Davis came over to Pittsburgh from the Mets after New York finally gave up on a player who was once thought to be a franchise cornerstone. Things started out well in his new home, but Davis ultimately ended up with a .235/.343/.378 slash and ten home runs over 397 plate appearances with the Bucs.

For a player who swatted 32 long balls in his age-25 season, that was obviously not what he hoped for. With Pedro Alvarez likely shifting across the diamond, there was no roster space for Davis.

Still just 27, Davis will undoubtedly get another look. But at a projected $4.4MM arbitration salary, it seems reasonably likely — though far from certain — that he will clear waivers and find his next home on the open market.

Cabrera, meanwhile, was brought into the fold on a waiver claim in August. He only had time to play 12 games in the Pittsburgh system. On the year, in total, Cabrera saw 480 plate appearances at Double-A and slashed .273/.325/.364.

Rays To Designate Jose Molina For Assignment

The Rays will designate catcher Jose Molina for assignment tonight, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Molina was set to make $2.75MM in 2015 — the second season of a two-year deal.

The 39-year-old Molina is known as one of the game’s best defensive catchers — a driving factor behind his two-year deal — but his offense dipped to a point in 2014 where the Rays likely felt that his glove’s benefit did not outweigh his bat. Molina batted just .178/.230/.187 in 247 plate appearances. Of his 40 hits, just two — a pair of doubles — went for extra bases. In his Offseason Outlook for the Rays, MLBTR’s Zach Links speculated that Molina’s lack of offense might lead to the Rays looking elsewhere at the catcher position.

Molina has thrown out 37 percent of base-stealers in his career and is known as an excellent pitch framer. That defensive prowess has helped him remain in the Majors for parts of 15 seasons despite the fact that he is a career .233/.282/.327 hitter in nearly 2800 plate appearances.

If Molina is out of the picture, the Rays will likely rely on Ryan Hanigan and rookie Curt Casali to split their catching duties, barring the acquisition of a catcher from outside the organization.

Diamondbacks Designate Mike Bolsinger, Charles Brewer

The D’backs have designated a pair of righties in Mike Bolsinger and Charles Brewer, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). The move was done in concert with the team’s 40-man additions today.

The 26-year-old Bolsinger threw 52 1/3 innings of 5.50 ERA ball at the MLB level last year, mostly as a starter. He managed a solid 8.3 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in that stretch, along with a 52.4% groundball rate, but was victimized by the long ball and the dreaded high BABIP/low strand rate combo. Across 193 2/3 career frames at the Triple-A level, Bolsinger has a 4.32 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9.

As for Brewer, also 26, his six innings of big league action last year are insufficient to say much about his future. He has amassed 399 2/3 innings at Triple-A, putting up a 5.29 ERA along the way. Brewer has struck out 6.9 and walked 2.5 batters per nine, but has also allowed 10.8 hits per nine in that stretch.

Mariners Claim Edgar Olmos

The Mariners have claimed lefty Edgar Olmos off waivers from the Marlins, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports on Twitter. The 24-year-old has moved to a relief role in recent seasons.

Olmos had a promising 2013, at least in terms of outcomes, that led to his first cup of coffee at the MLB level. But he saw his ERA rise to 4.06 in the upper minors last year, and Olmos did not earn a call-up. On the other hand, he did post a 3.5 BB/9 walk rate that was by far the best of his young career.

Pirates Claim Pedro Florimon

The Pirates have claimed infielder Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Nationals, Washington announced today.

Florimon, 28 next month, is a switch-hitting shortstop with a questionable bat and outstanding glove. He saw the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop for a last-place Twins club in 2013 and batted .221/.281/.330, hitting a somewhat surprising nine homers and swiping 15 bases. That offense certainly isn’t much to look at, but combined with his glove, he generated 1.8 rWAR and 1.3 fWAR. Defensive Runs Saved pegs Florimon as 21 runs above average over the course of 1700 big league innings at short.

Rockies Designate Juan Nicasio

The Rockies have designated righty Juan Nicasio for assignment, the club announced. Projected to earn $2.4MM through arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, the 28-year-old proved too costly a gamble for new Colorado GM Jeff Bridich.

Nicasio should draw interest around the league given his big arm, even if it has never quite all come together for him. Odds are he will clear waivers, as that price tag is substantial for a player who owns a career 4.85 ERA.

Of course, Nicasio’s future role remains a question mark. He had started in all 55 of his MLB appearances heading into this year, but transitioned to the bullpen after a rough early going. He proved better in that capacity, posting stronger overall run prevention (3.48 ERA  vs. 5.92 ERA as a starter) and better metrics across the board.

Angels Designate Michael Roth, Jackson Williams

The Angels have designated left-hander Michael Roth and catcher Jackson Williams to free 40-man space, the club announced.

Roth, 24, has seen Major League time with the Halos in each of the past two seasons, although the former ninth round pick has yet to replicate his minor league success in the Majors. Roth pitched to an 8.76 ERA in 12 1/3 innings this season and has a 7.79 mark in a total of 32 1/3 big league innings. However, his numbers at Double-A this year were a significant improvement, as he posted a 2.62 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 140 2/3 innings as a starter. This marks the second time the Angels have designated Roth, although the pitcher himself seems to be in good spirits about the move based on this tweet.

Williams, 28, was claimed off waivers from the Rockies less than a month ago. Selected 43rd overall by the Giants in 2007, the former Sooner is a .235/.307/.361 hitter in five seasons at the Triple-A level and made his big league debut with the Rox in 2014. Williams twice ranked among the Giants’ top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America, placing 18th and 16th, respectively, following the 2007 and 2008 campaigns. BA listed him as the best defensive catcher in San Francisco’s system on three separate occasions, most recently before the 2011 season.

White Sox Claim Onelki Garcia, Designate Ronald Belisario, Outright Jared Mitchell

The White Sox have designated reliever Ronald Belisario for assignment, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. The club also claimed lefty Onelki Garcia from the Dodgers and outrighted outfielder Jared Mitchell, per the Tribune’s Colleen Kane (Twitter links).

Garcia is an intriguing pick-up for Chicago. The 25-year-old has only limited big league experience, but has already racked up over a year of service time due to injury. But he has one solid season under his belt in the upper minors, back in 2012, and his live arm was intriguing enough that Baseball America rated him the Dodgers’ ninth-best prospect heading into 2014 in spite of his having undergone an elbow procedure. As BA wrote, the Cuban has a big fastball and good curve with plenty of upside if he can improve his control and add polish.

Belisario, 31, spent some time as Chicago’s closer in his first season with the Pale Hose, but he struggled overall. The former Dodger pitched to a 5.56 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 66 1/3 innings. However, Belisario’s FIP and SIERA feel that he was markedly better than his ERA. Indeed, much of those struggles seem to have come from a fluke 57.7 percent strand rate — significantly lower than his career mark of 70 percent. Belisario was also plagued by a .339 BABIP despite having posted a .288 mark for his career in that department. There were some positives to his game this past season, including an average fastball velocity of 93.9 mph and a strong 59.3 percent ground-ball rate. Nonetheless, Chicago apparently wasn’t comfortable with his projected arbitration salary of $3.9MM.

Mitchell, 26, was the Sox’ No. 1 pick back in 2009 (23rd overall) and ranked among the game’s Top 100 prospects according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus that offseason. However, the LSU product has yet to show the offense one would hope for from a first-round outfielder, as he’s batted just .219/.341/.348 in parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level.

Tigers Claim Josh Zeid, Designate Ezequiel Carrera

The Tigers have claimed reliever Josh Zeid off waivers from the Astros, the club announced. Detroit designated outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for assignment to create roster space.

Zeid is a 27-year-old righty who has made over twenty appearances in each of the last two years for Houston. After a solid, if unspectacular 2013, he hit a wall last year with a 6.97 ERA and 6.33 FIP in 20 2/3 innings. While Zeid’s K:BB numbers (7.8 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine) were not problematic, he allowed 13.1 hits per nine and surrendered a troubling 27.3% HR/FB rate. On the positive side, both his xFIP (3.87) and SIERA (3.64) marks were within range of league average.

Carrera, also 27, swings from the left side and has seen scattered MLB action over the last several years. All told, he owns a .253/.305/.340 line through 478 total MLB plate appearances. It would seem that his usefulness in Detroit was undermined by the addition of Anthony Gose.