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).
  • Cesar Ramos got $750K from the Rays in his deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets
  • Sherman tweets that the Athletics' Craig Gentry will get $1.145MM on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
  • Jerry Blevins and the Nationals avoided arbitration, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. He will earn $1.675MM for the year, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Alejandro De Aza agreed to a $4.25MM deal with the White Sox, Sherman tweets.  Within the same tweet, Sherman says the Rays shook hands with Jose Lobaton on a $900K deal and James Russell agreed to a $1.775MM pact.
  • The White Sox and Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year, $4.175MM deal, Sherman tweets.
  • The Brewers avoided arbitration with Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco, Sherman tweets.  Estrada gets $3.325MM with $100K in innings pitched bonuses while Francisco gets $1.35MM.
  • Mike Dunn agreed to a $1.4MM deal with the Marlins, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (on Twitter). 
  • Pedro Alvarez will earn $4.25MM on his brand new deal with the Pirates, Sherman tweets.
  • The Nationals announced that they've struck an arb-avoiding deal with Wilson Ramos.  Ramos gets $2.095MM with the opportunity to get $105K more through plate appearance bonuses, per Sherman.
  • Alexi Ogando gets $2.625MM in 2014 from the Rangers, according to Sherman.
  • Mark Melancon will get $2.595MM after striking a deal with the Pirates, tweets Sherman.
  • Brandon Moss and the Athletics avoided arbitration with a $4.1MM pact, Sherman tweets.
  • The Red Sox and Jonathan Herrera avoided arbitration with a $1.3MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.
  • Brian Duensing has agreed to a $2MM deal with the Twins, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Berardino adds in a second tweet that Anthony Swarzak also avoided arb with a $935K deal. The swingman will earn a $25K bonus if he starts 10 games.
  • The Rangers and Neftali Feliz agreed to a $3MM deal with bonuses of $25K for 50/55 games finished, Sherman tweets.
  • Jake McGee will earn $1.45MM in his new deal with the Rays, Sherman tweets.
  • The Royals and Eric Hosmer have agreed to a one-year, $3.6MM deal, Sherman tweets.
  • Mike Carp gets $1.4MM in his deal with the Red Sox, according to Sherman (via Twitter).
  • Bobby Parnell agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM with the Mets that can increase by $50K if he appears in 60 games, Sherman tweets.
  • The Braves avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer with a $1.09MM deal, tweets Sherman.  Sherman adds that Andy Dirks and the Tigers have also avoided arbitration with a $1.625MM deal.  
  • Shawn Kelley and the Yankees dodged arbitration by agreeing to a $1.765MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.  Kelley, 29, has a career 3.77 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
  • The Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.275MM deal with Junichi Tazawa, according to Sherman (on Twitter).  Tazawa posted a 3.16 ERA in 2013 with 9.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
  • The Rockies avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs by agreeing to a $4.1MM deal for 2014, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).  With the signing of Stubbs, the Rockies have now taken care of all of their arbitration-eligible players.
  • Kyle Blanks has avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a one-year, $988K deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 
  • Sherman also reports (on Twitter) that the Giants have avoided arbitration with Gregor Blanco and Tony Abreu by agreeing to one-year deals that are worth $2.525MM and $745K, respectively.
  • The Cardinals and Peter Bourjos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract, tweets Sherman. Bourjos can earn another $150K based on plate appearances.
  • Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal, according to Sanchez's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Sanchez will earn $2.3MM.
  • Sherman reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays also avoided arbitration with Esmil Rogers by agreeing to a one-year, $1.85MM contract.
  • The Nationals announced that in addition to their two-year deal with Jordan Zimmermann, they've also signed Drew Storen to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Sherman tweets that he'll earn $3.45MM in 2014 with an additional $1MM of incentives in his contract for games finished.
  • The Rockies and righty Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.025MM contract, Sherman tweets.
  • The Blue Jays and lefty Brett Cecil have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.3MM pact, per Sherman (on Twitter).
  • Sherman tweets that the Rays and Matt Joyce agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have avoided arbitration with Alfredo Simon by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5MM contract (Twitter link).
  • Connolly also reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). Currently the front-runner to serve as Baltimore's closer in 2014, Hunter will earn $3MM after posting a 2.81 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings for the O's in 2013.
  • Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Troy Patton have avoided arbitration (Twitter link). Patton topped Swartz's $1.2MM salary projection by earning a raise to $1.275MM, Connolly adds in a second tweet.. Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of 2014 for amphetamine use.
  • The Twins and Trevor Plouffe have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract, Sherman tweets. Plouffe saw his power numbers drop as he batted .254/.309/.392 with 14 homers in a career-high 522 plate appearances in 2013 (he'd belted 24 homers in 465 PAs in 2012). He figures to open the season as Minnesota's everyday third baseman but could eventually have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
  • Jon Jay and the Cardinals have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25MM contract, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Jay batted .276/.351/.370 with the Cards in 2013 but struggled defensively (particularly in the playoffs) and will have center field competition in the form of offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos in 2014.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5875MM. Mayberry slashed .227/.286/.391 in 2013 and has a career .274/.321/.526 batting line against lefties. He came in just under Swartz's $1.7MM projection.
  • The Cubs and Luis Valbuena have also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact, tweets Sherman. Valbuena will earn $1.71MM after slashing .218/.331/.378 and setting a new career-best with 12 homers in 2013. He exceeded Swartz's projection by $210K.

Zach Links contributed to this post.



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.









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