Travis Buck Rumors
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. ... Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.
Here are Wednesday's minor moves...
- Right-hander Chris Volstad and catcher Brayan Pena have rejected their outright assignments and elected free agency, the Royals announced (on Twitter). Both players were designated for assignment last week.
- The Rangers have signed Collin Balester to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 26-year-old right-hander allowed 14 runs in 18 innings for the Tigers this year while pitching to a 3.64 ERA in 47 Triple-A innings.
- The Rangers have also signed Yangervis Solarte to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training according to Morosi. The 25-year-old infielder hit .288/.340/.405 with 11 homers in 568 plate appearances for Texas' Triple-A affiliate this season.
- The Padres have signed Travis Buck to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, report Baseball America's Matt Eddy (on Twitter). Buck, 29, hit .216/.284/.311 in 81 plate appearances for the Astros this year.
- The Padres also re-signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez and right-hander Daniel Stange to minor league deals with invites to camp, according to Eddy. The 26-year-old Rodriguez went 1-for-5 with a homer for San Diego this year, his big league debut.
A total of 28 players -- all with big league time under their belts -- recently elected free agency after finishing the year in Triple-A. Here is the full list, courtesy of the International League and Pacific Coast League transaction pages...
- Infielders: Brian Bixler (Astros), Sean Burroughs (Twins), Blake DeWitt (Cubs), Alberto Gonzalez (Rangers), Angel Sanchez (Astros), Nate Spears (Red Sox), Drew Sutton (Pirates)
- Outfielders: Travis Buck (Astros), Ryan Langerhans (Angels), Mitch Maier (Royals), Darnell McDonald (Yankees), Jai Miller (Orioles), Trent Oeltjen (Dodgers), Jason Pridie (Phillies), Mike Wilson (Mariners)
- Right-handed Pitchers: Roman Colon (Royals), Mike Ekstrom (Rockies), Jack Egbert (Mets), Ryota Igarashi (Yankees), Evan Meek (Pirates), Scott Richmond (Blue Jays), Kip Wells (Padres), Randy Wells (Cubs), Dan Wheeler (Indians)
- Left-handed Pitchers: Alex Hinshaw (Cubs), Cesar Jimenez (Mariners), Zach Kroenke (Diamondbacks), Garrett Olson (Mets)
We'll track the latest outright assignments right here...
- The Astros outrighted Travis Buck to Triple-A Oklahoma City, according to the team's website. Houston designated Buck for assignment two days ago to create roster space for infielder Scott Moore. Buck, 28, had been sidelined since late May because of a heel injury. He has a .216/.284/.311 batting line in 81 plate appearances this year.
The Astros have designated outfielder Travis Buck for assignment, the club announced via press release.
Buck, 28, was a reserve player and occasional starter this season, his first in the Astros' organization, although he had been on the disabled list since late May due to a heel injury. The left-handed hitter owns a .216/.284/.311 line in 81 plate appearances in 2012 and .243/.316/.399 line for his career.
Formerly a well-regarded prospect with the Athletics, Buck's best performance to date came as a rookie with Oakland in 2007, when he hit .288/.377/.474 in 334 plate appearances, though he's battled injuries and ineffectiveness since then. Buck spent 2011 in the Indians organization.
Buck was DFA'd to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for infielder Scott Moore, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Astros signed outfielder Travis Buck, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The 27-year-old appeared in 50 games for the Indians in 2011 before electing free agency at the end of the season.
Buck played all three outfield positions for Cleveland, hitting .228/.275/.342 in 160 plate appearances. In five seasons with the Indians and Athletics, Buck has a .246/.320/.408 line, so he could provide useful depth for the Astros, who are thin in the outfield after trading Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn this past summer.
A total of 22 players that finished the year in Triple-A elected free agency after the end of the regular season according to the transaction pages of the Pacific Coast and International Leagues. All but one of those 22 players (Matt Carson, formerly of the Rays) played in the big leagues this season. Here's the full list:
Dusty Brown (Pirates), Travis Buck (Indians), Armando Galarraga (D'Backs), Jay Gibbons (Dodgers), Edgar Gonzalez (Rockies), Steve Holm (Twins), Wil Ledezma (Blue Jays), Andy LaRoche (Athletics), Felipe Lopez (Brewers), Lastings Milledge (White Sox), Pat Misch (Mets), Pat Neshek (Padres), Mike O'Connor (Mets), Matt Palmer (Angels), Felix Pie (Orioles), Brad Snyder (Cubs), Brett Tomko (Rangers), Wyatt Toregas (Pirates), P.J. Walters (Blue Jays), Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Reggie Willits (Angels).
A few items of note regarding MiLB comings and goings ...
- Indians outfielder Travis Buck has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus, according to the Indians (via Twitter). Buck was outrighted yesterday. It's been a relatively disappointing big league career thus far for Buck, who was once a fairly well-regarded prospect with the A's but has battled a slew of injuries. He signed a minor league deal with the Tribe in December and was DFA'd upon the acquisition of Kosuke Fukudome.
- The Blue Jays have called up infielder Brett Lawrie, one of their top prospects, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Lawrie, a native of British Columbia, was acquired in the deal that sent Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee last offseason. If his stay in the big leagues is permanent, Lawrie will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2014 season, and he projects to hit free agency after 2017, per Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
- Similarly, the Mariners will promote recently acquired outfield prospect Trayvon Robinson from Triple-A Tacoma, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). Robinson, too, is a touted prospect, and his arbitration clock projects similarly to Lawrie's, barring further time spent in the minors. The M's landed Robinson from the Dodgers in the three-way deal that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox prior to the deadline.
- The Orioles have signed outfielder Johnny Ruettiger, an eighth-round draft pick out of Arizona State, for $160K, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter). Ruettiger is the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player whose career was chronicled in the popular movie Rudy. Callis notes that Johnny has good speed and a line-drive bat, and, naturally, "grittiness."
- The Phillies have signed former first-round pick Chris Lubanski and assigned him to Double-A Reading, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). The Royals made Lubanski the No. 5 overall pick in 2003, but the left-handed-hitting left fielder has yet to reach the Majors. He's posted a line of .280/.346/.474 in parts of eight minor league seasons.
The latest players to get outrighted to the minors...
- The Indians announced that they outrighted outfielder Travis Buck to Triple-A. He has three days to accept or decline the assignment.
- The Giants outrighted Bill Hall to the minor leagues and he accepted the assignment, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). The Giants designated Hall for assignment last week to create roster space for Carlos Beltran.
- The Braves outrighted Diory Hernandez to Triple-A yesterday, according to MLB.com's transactions page. Atlanta designated the infielder for assignment five days ago to create 40-man roster space for Jose Constanza.
Buck, 27, hit .228/.275/.342 in 160 plate appearances for the Indians, playing both outfield corners. Buck had signed a minor league deal with the Tribe in December.