Vin Mazzaro Rumors

Minor Moves: Ciriaco, Mazzaro, Bixler, Accardo

The day's minor moves:

  • The Royals have assigned infielder Pedro Ciriaco to Triple-A after he cleared outright waivers, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Ciriaco, 28, will have to wait in the minors for another big league opportunity to open with Kansas City's middle infield. The club just called up Johnny Giavotella to fill in for injured second baseman Omar Infante, who is expected to return to action soon without a DL trip.
  • Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro has accepted an outright assignment from the team to Triple-A, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune (via Twitter). That is a good result for a Pittsburgh club that had expected to lose the 27-year-old righty, who was an effective piece for them last year.
  • Utility man Brian Bixler has been released by the Phillies, according to the International League transactions page. Bixler, 31, had been playing with the Phils' Triple-A affiliate. He last appeared in the bigs in 2012 with the Astros.
  • The independent ball Atlantic League has made two notable additions today, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). Right-hander Jeremy Accardo, an eight-year MLB veteran, has inked with the Long Island Ducks. And shortly after being released by the Red Sox, 29-year-old outfielder Scott Cousins has joined the Camden Riversharks.
  • The Dodgers have outrighted Mike Baxter, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. The outfielder was designated for assignment to create 40-man space for another DFA'd player in Colt Hynes. Baxter, 29, struggled at the MLB level last year, but had a strong 2012 campaign (.263/.365/.413 in 211 plate appearances).
  • With this move, only four players are left in DFA limbo: Seth Rosin (Rangers, Rule 5), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), Hector Noesi (Mariners), and Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays). As always, you can track DFA situations past and present using MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

Olney On Mazzaro, Drew, Morales, Huntington, Perkins

ESPN.com's Buster Olney touched on a number of interesting topics today in his Insider blog and podcast. Among them:

  • One reason that Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro may have cleared waivers is simply that he stood to be paid nearly twice the league minimum salary. "Once you go to spring training, you’ve spent almost all the money you’re going to spend," a general manager told Olney. "There aren’t many teams with a lot of extra money lying around." 
  • That same fact has a bearing on the situations of compensation free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. Olney polled executives around the league, finding that none were willing to pay either player at the qualifying offer rate of $14.1MM. The highest figure he heard was $10MM to $12MM AAV for Drew and a $8MM to $10MM rate for Morales on a multi-year deal, with most respondents landing well shy of those amounts. There were many other concerns raised as well, ranging from those players' injury histories to questions about their commitment to a new team (e.g., would they play through a late-season injury?) and worry about "the layoff and need for a modified spring training."
  • Turning to the podcast, Olney spoke with Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who said that the team left its playoff run determined to return with focus. Instead, Huntington said that his concern entering the spring was how to keep positive energy flowing after the front office was criticized for its quiet offseason. Huntington said that the team wanted to do more, but that there "wasn't the right move out there" and he felt the organization needed to continue to "stretch when it's appropriate, stay disciplined when it's appropriate." Looking ahead, the GM said that, "if need be we can go outside because of the depth of our player development system."
  • Huntington also discussed his team's well-publicized use of defensive shifts, saying that it is all about "maximizing our chances to put balls in play and turn them into outs" and indicating that much of the work is in shading out of the standard alignment. The approach for each situation is developed through what he calls a "multi-tiered process" within the organization. 
  • Olney also chatted with newly extended Twins closer Glen Perkins, who is under team control through 2018. Perkins said that he made clear to his agent as far back as his first extension that he was happy to take a deal and stay in town rather than "pric[ing] myself out" of the organization. The lefty says that maximizing money is not the most important thing, and saw value in the possibility of a World Series run with his hometown club while providing for his family's future when he had the chance. He kicked things off by suggesting a new deal to his agent, with a deal coming together quickly thereafter. 
  • Asked for his opinion on the idea of players accepting so-called team-friendly deals, Perkins said that the chances of upside are met (and often exceeded) by the possibility of "blowing your arm out." It becomes somewhat easier to take on risk as a player's earnings rise throughout their career, Perkins noted, but looking for "a little more" is tough when "you're always one pitch away." His ultimate advice to players is hard to disagree with: "get yours while you can."

Vin Mazzaro Clears Outright Waivers

Pirates right-hander Vin Mazzaro has cleared outright waivers and has three days to accept his assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis or reject the assignment in favor of free agency, the team announced (via Twitter).

That the 27-year-old Mazzaro would clear waivers seems highly surprising given his strong 2013 campaign. Mazzaro posted a 2.81 ERA with 5.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 52.2 percent ground-ball rate. His ERA, BB/9 rate and ground-ball rate were all career bests, and he also averaged a career-high 93.1 mph on his fastball in 73 2/3 innings as a key member of a strong Pirates bullpen.

That promising season from Mazzaro came along with just a $950K salary on a one-year deal agreed to this offseason in his first year of arbitration eligibility, meaning any team to acquire or claim him would have had control of Mazzaro for three seasons.



Pirates Designate Vin Mazzaro For Assignment

The PIrates have designated reliever Vin Mazzaro for assignment, reports Travis Sawchik of the PIttsburgh Tribune (via Twitter). A 40-man roster spot was needed for first baseman Travis Ishikawa.

Mazzaro lost out on a spot in a deep Bucs bullpen despite posting a 2.81 ERA in 71 2/3 innings last year. It appears that fellow out-of-options relievers Bryan Morris, Stolmy Pimentel, and Jeanmar Gomez will fill out the back of the Pittsburgh relief corps. 


Pirates Shopping Jose Tabata

With Spring Training's end drawing closer, the Pirates are shopping right fielder Jose Tabata and also willing to listen to offers on out-of-options reliever Vin Mazzaro, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter links).

Tabata, still just 25 years of age, is owed $11.75MM over the next three seasons and has a trio of club options on his deal ranging from $6.5MM to $8.5MM. Tabata will earn $3MM in 2014, $4MM in 2015, $4.5MM in 2016 and has a $250K buyout on his $6.5MM option for 2017.

Coming off a poor 2012 performance, he reversed his fortunes in 2013 by slashing a solid .282/.342/.429, but Tabata already runs far less often than he did in his first two seasons (three steals in 2013 versus 35 in his first two campaigns) and hasn't seen much power develop. Beyond that, he's been injury prone, having spent a combined 77 games on the shelf between his 2011 and 2013 DL stints. Tabata plays a fine left field but is miscast as a center fielder and doesn't have a prototypical right fielder's arm.

Tabata's time as a starter with the organization is likely running out anyhow, a top prospect Gregory Polanco is nearly ready for the bigs. The 22-year-old ranks as baseball's No. 10 prospect according to Baseball America and is ranked 13th and 24th by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, respectively. Though he's already been optioned to Triple-A to open the season, Polanco is coming off a 2013 campaign in which he batted .285/.356/.434 with 12 homers and 38 stolen bases and could be with the Pirates as soon as this summer. Alongside, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, he could help give the Pirates one of the game's most exciting young outfields.

Mazzaro, 27, enjoyed a breakout campaign in his first season with Pittsburgh last year. The former A's hurler was dealt to the Royals in a trade for David DeJesus but entered 2013 with a career 5.22 ERA in 286 innings. The Pirates acquired him cheaply from Kansas City and were rewarded with 73 2/3 innings of a 2.81 ERA with 5.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a career-best 52.2 percent ground-ball rate.

Pittsburgh has a wealth of options in the bullpen, highlighted by All-Star closer Jason Grilli but also featuring Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson and Tony Watson. Biertempfel notes that Mazzaro appears to be the odd man out, and the team is therefore willing to move him, but his phrasing doesn't seem to be as strong regarding Mazzaro as it is in expressing Tabata's availability. Last night, ESPN's Buster Olney speculated that the Pirates, who lost catcher Chris Stewart for an extended period of time, could match up with the Yankees in a trade; New York could use some additional stability in the bullpen, while Pittsburgh could add some depth behind the plate and seek a better defensive backup than Tony Sanchez.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


Pirates Acquire Vin Mazzaro, Clint Robinson

The Pirates announced that they acquired right-hander Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson from the Royals for minor league pitchers Luis Rico and Luis Santos. The Pirates designated Yamaico Navarro and Matt Hague for assignment in a related move.

Mazzaro and Robinson had been designated for assignment on November 20th. Mazzaro, 26, posted a 5.73 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 44 innings with the Royals this past season. Robinson made his MLB debut in 2012, but spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he posted a .292/.393/.452 batting line in 570 plate appearances.

Rico, a 19-year-old left-hander, has a 5.29 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9 in 20 appearances as a professional. Santos, a 21-year-old right-hander, has a 2.51 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 24 minor league appearances.

Navarro, 25, appeared in 29 games for the Pirates this past season, posting a .160/.232/.220 batting line as a utility player. Hague, 27, appeared in 30 games for the Pirates, posting a .229/.270/.257 batting line in 74 plate appearances and playing first base.


Royals Designate Seven For Assignment

The Royals announced that they designated seven players for assignment to create 40-man roster space for players who would otherwise have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The Royals designated right-handers Vin Mazzaro and Chris Volstad, left-hander Ryan Verdugo, catcher Brayan Pena, infielder Clint Robinson and outfielder Derrick Robinson for assignment.

The Royals, who are also designating catcher Adam Moore for assignment, now have a full 40-man roster. They selected the contracts of left-handers Chris DwyerDonnie JosephJohn LambJustin Marks and Mike Montgomery, and right-hander J.C. Gutierrez in related moves.

The move could amount to an early non-tender for two players. Pena was on track for a salary in the $1.1MM range as a third time arbitration eligible player. Meanwhile, Volstad projected to earn $3MM as a second time eligible player.


AL Central Links: Mazzaro, Tigers, Everett

Links from the AL Central as Royals prospect Mike Moustakas makes Alden Gonzalez's list of top young standouts at MLB.com

  • The Royals optioned Vin Mazzaro to Triple-A and returned Louis Coleman, Luis Mendoza and Zach MinerIrving Falu and Lance Zawadzki to minor league camp, according to the team. Mazzaro should join the Royals in the middle of April when the club needs another starter.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that the organization has never been stronger during his nine-year tenure in the Motor City. “We have now a nice blend of young players at the big-league level, veteran players and some guys in the prime of their career,” Dombrowski said. “And they’re backed up by some guys behind them that are prospects that are talented."
  • Adam Everett told Jordan Bastian and Tom Singer of MLB.com that he would have been ready to contemplate retirement if he hadn't made the Indians' Opening Day roster.

A’s Acquire DeJesus For Mazzaro, Marks

The A’s acquired David DeJesus from the Royals for right-hander Vin Mazzaro and left-hander Justin Marks, the teams announced today. Royals GM Dayton Moore says Mazzaro will join the team’s rotation and Marks will start the season at high Class A Wilmington. 

Mazzaro, 24, posted a 4.27 ERA in 122 1/3 innings for the A's this year with 5.8 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. He became expendable when Oakland won the bidding for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma earlier in the week. If the A's reach a deal with Iwakuma, he'll join Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden in the team's rotation.

DeJesus batted .318/.384/.443 in 394 plate appearances this year, but he missed the final two months of the season because he required surgery on his right thumb. The 30-year-old, who has spent all of his eight-year career with the Royals, has experience in left, center and right. He joins Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney, Conor Jackson and Jack Cust in a crowded Oakland outfield that could clear up if Jackson and Cust are traded or non-tendered.

Marks, 22, posted a 4.87 ERA as a starter in the lower minors in 2010. The 2009 third rounder posted 9.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 as he picked up his first significant experience as a pro.

DeJesus will earn $6MM in 2011 and qualify for free agency after the season. Mazzaro may qualify for arbitration as a Super Two next winter, but he cheap for now and won't hit free agency until after the 2015 campaign.