Wade LeBlanc Rumors
The Angels signed lefty Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, according to the team's director of communications Eric Kay. LeBlanc, 29, posted a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9, and 39.1% groundball rate for the Marlins and Astros this year in 55 innings.
LeBlanc joined the Marlins a year ago from the Padres in a swap for catcher John Baker. The Fish designated him for assignment in June, after which the Astros claimed him off waivers. The Astros designated him a few weeks later, ultimately outrighting him to Triple-A. He found his way back up, but was again designated and outrighted in August.
LeBlanc was drafted by the Padres in the second round in 2006 out of the University of Alabama. The soft-tosser once projected as a future number three starter, but will now serve as Triple-A depth for the Halos. He'll join Chris Volstad, signed by the Angels to a minor league deal last week.
We'll keep tabs on all of today's notable minor moves right here ...
- The Mets have signed Ricardo Cespedes, a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The 6-foot-2, 170 pound Cespedes received a bonus of $725K. A left-handed hitter, Cespedes is said to have a loose swing and a "gap-to-gap" approach, and is likely to begin his career in center field.
- The Astros have outrighted lefty Wade LeBlanc to Triple-A Oklahoma City, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. LeBlanc was designated for assignment on Tuesday after a rough beginning to his Astros tenure.
- With LeBlanc's outright assignment and Jeff Francoeur's release, the remaining players in DFA limbo are Edgmer Escalona of the Rockies, Billy Buckner of the Angels, Jason Bourgeois of the Rays and Edinson Volquez of the Padres. Check out MLBTR's DFA Tracker for the details of designated players.
The Astros announced that they have designated pitcher Wade LeBlanc for assignment. The move, coupled with catcher Carlos Corporan's placement on the seven-day concussion disabled list, will allow Triple-A right-hander David Martinez and Double-A catcher Max Stassi to join the big league squad.
LeBlanc, 29, had a rough time in four relief appearances for the Astros this season. For his career, LeBlanc owns a career 4.51 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in parts of six seasons with the Padres, Marlins, and Astros.
Today's minor moves...
- Right-hander Boof Bonser has been released by the Giants, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 31-year-old made his way back to the Giants organization in 2012. Bonser was selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2000 draft and traded to the Twins along with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano for A.J. Pierzynski in 2003. He ultimately made 60 starts for the Twins and slotted into their postseason rotation in 2006 after a solid rookie campaign.
- The Nationals have outrighted Double-A right-hander Ryan Perry from their 40-man roster, the team announced on Twitter. The move opens up a 40-man roster spot for Taylor Jordan, who will step into the rotation in lieu of the injured Dan Haren. Perry, a former first-round pick of the Tigers, has an unsightly 8.52 ERA in 43 1/3 innings between Triple-A and Double-A this season.
- The Astros announced yesterday they've outrighted pitchers Wade LeBlanc and Ross Seaton to the minors. LeBlanc, 28, had joined the organization from the Marlins in a waiver claim earlier this month. The soft-tossing southpaw has a 5.50 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9, and 38.3% groundball rate in 52 1/3 innings this year, including seven starts.
- Seaton, 23, was drafted out of high school in the third round in 2008 under previous Astros GM Ed Wade and signed to an above-slot deal. Seaton hasn't reached the Majors, but others chosen in that round before him include Craig Kimbrel, Danny Espinosa, and Vance Worley. Seaton was ranked by Baseball America as the Astros' third-best prospect after he was drafted, and even before this season was ranked 21st. Before this season, BA downgraded their assessment to say that Seaton "profiles as a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater." Having grown up in the Houston area, Seaton was excited to have been added to the Astros' 40-man roster in November, but he's lost that spot after 55 innings in 2013.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Francisley Bueno of the Royals, Carlos Marmol of the Cubs and Eric Thames of the Mariners.
The Astros have designated left-hander Wade LeBlanc for assignment, the team announced via press release. In a related move, Marwin Gonzalez has been optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Corresponding roster moves will be made tomorrow, according to the release.
LeBlanc was claimed off waivers by Houston earlier this month after the southpaw was designated for assignment by the Marlins. The 28-year-old appeared in just three games as an Astro, allowing four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings of work. For the 2013 season overall, LeBlanc has a 5.50 ERA, 1.78 K/BB and 5.5 K/9 over 52 1/3 IP, which includes seven starts with Miami.
The Astros claimed lefty Wade LeBlanc off waivers from the Marlins, tweets MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. He'll join the Astros in Kansas City tomorrow, at which point a corresponding active roster move will be made. The Astros already have an open spot on their 40-man roster. LeBlanc had been designated for assignment by the Marlins on Monday to open a roster spot for Edgar Olmos.
LeBlanc, 28, posted a 5.18 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.11 HR/9, and 39.3% groundball rate in 48 2/3 innings this year, including seven starts. The southpaw was drafted by the Padres in the second round in 2006 out of the University of Alabama. That round also produced notable big leaguers Trevor Cahill, Justin Masterson, Jon Jay, Brett Anderson, Chris Tillman, and Jeff Locke. The Padres traded LeBlanc to the Marlins in November 2011 for catcher John Baker.
Optimism toward LeBlanc may have reached its peak before the '08 season, when Baseball America ranked him fourth among Padres prospects (right after Mat Latos). At that point, BA marked LeBlanc as a "future No. 3 starter" with an excellent changeup but an unimpressive fastball. This year, among those with 40 innings pitched, LeBlanc's average fastball velocity of 86.0 miles per hour is the fifth-lowest in all of baseball.
The Marlins will designate left-hander Wade LeBlanc for assignment tomorrow and will recall left-hander Edgar Olmos from Double-A Jacksonville, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. In a separate tweet, Frisaro reports Casey Kotchman will be activated from the 60-day disabled list tomorrow, so LeBlanc's assignment will keep the Marlins roster at 39 because Olmos is currently on the 40-man.
LeBlanc, today's winning pitcher as the Marlins swept the Mets, has appeared in 13 games (seven starts) for the Marlins this year and has compiled a 5.18 ERA with rates of 5.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 11.7 H/9 in 48 2/3 innings. For his career, the 28-year-old has a 4.49 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9.
Olmos, the Marlins' third-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft, has pitched parts of the last two seasons in Double-A and has been very effective with a line of 1.00 ERA, 6.6 K/9, and 5.2 BB/9 in 28 games (45 innings). This year, the 23-year-old has posted similarly solid numbers: 1.27 ERA, 6.4 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9 in 19 games covering 28 1/3 innings.
Baker, 31 in January, was mentioned as a non-tender candidate by Tim Dierkes last week. Our projections have the backstop earning $800K as a first time arbitration-eligible player in 2012. Baker had just two singles and two walks in 16 plate appearances this past season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the lefty swinger hit .273/.358/.406 with 14 homers in 744 plate appearances from 2008-2010. He's thrown out just 34 of 175 attempted base stealers as a big leaguer (19.4%).
The 27-year-old LeBlanc has made 52 starts (and two relief appearances) for the Padres over the last four seasons, pitching to a 4.54 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. He's an extreme fly ball pitcher, getting a ground ball just 34.7% of the time in his career. That works well in Petco Park, but it remains to be seen how the Marlins' new stadium will play. He owns a 4.64 ERA in 376 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
Nick Hundley has battled injuries over the last three seasons, so Baker gives San Diego some depth behind the plate as well as a potential platoon partner. The Marlins were looking to add a lefty pitcher to their staff, reportedly inquiring on Gio Gonzalez, but LeBlanc also fits the bill. MLB.com's Corey Brock confirms that LeBlanc has minor league options remaining (Twitter link).
Wade Davis signed a multiyear extension with the Rays last week, though he's just one season into his MLB career. The deal is not without risk for Davis, since he could pitch like Ubaldo Jimenez and become a bargain for Tampa Bay, or for the Rays since Davis could get hurt, depriving them of a pitcher they need.
Here's a list of pitchers who could sign deals like the four-year, $12.6MM contract Tampa Bay completed with Davis. Like the Rays righty, these pitchers are on track to hit arbitration after 2012 and free agency after 2015 unless otherwise noted (age in parentheses):
- Mat Latos, Padres (23) - Latos was flat-out phenomenal last year and would be positioned to ask for more than Davis obtained with his record deal. The skill is there, so if the Padres believe in his health (he's now on the DL) and maturity, Latos would be an extension candidate.
- Wade LeBlanc, Padres (26) - LeBlanc, now in the minor leagues, is older than Latos and without the same front-of-the-rotation potential. His numbers, though comparable to the ones Davis has, don't scream 'lock me up,' so a deal seems unlikely.
- Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (23) - The Rockies were aggressive with extensions this offseason, locking up Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and others. Chacin, who struck out a batter per inning in 2010, wouldn't cost nearly as much as his more experienced teammates.
- Mike Leake, Reds (23) - If one organization was as extension happy as the Rockies this offseason it was the Reds. Leake struggled down the stretch last year and just barely made Cincinnati's rotation. They'll likely let the 2009 first rounder prove himself before committing eight figures to him.
- Jon Niese, Mets (24) - Niese has comparable numbers to Davis, with slightly more strikeouts per inning (7.4 K/9) and a higher ERA (4.33).
- Brian Matusz, Orioles (24) - Matusz compares to Davis statistically, but he could establish himself as a front-of-the-rotation starter with a breakout 2011 season, so he may be reluctant to lock himself in to pre-set salaries.
- Mitch Talbot, Indians (27) - Talbot has poor walk (4.3 BB/9) and strikeout (5.0 K/9) numbers so far in his career, so he doesn't seem like a likely extension candidate. The Indians did extend Fausto Carmona, who doesn't get many strikeouts, but they may prefer to let Talbot prove himself further before committing to him.
- Brett Cecil, Blue Jays (24) and Madison Bumgarner, Giants (21) both impressed in 2010. They're possible super two players, which means they may go to arbitration four times, once more than the starters above. If either Cecil or Bumgarner signed an extension, it wouldn't be completely parallel to the Davis deal.
It's possible that none of these pitchers will sign extensions, since long-term contracts for starters with fewer than two years of service time are uncommon. Some players don't mind going year to year in anticipation of big arbitration paydays and many teams prefer not to commit eight-figure deals to relatively unproven pitchers.
But some small market clubs, like the Athletics, Indians and Rays, have successfully completed a number of multiyear contracts for emerging pitchers. Teams looking to spend now and save later could take note and approach their best sophomore arms about long-term deals.
The Yankees, who heard this week that Andy Pettitte will retire, have considered exploring trades for other left-handers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, Wade LeBlanc, Clayton Richard and Gio Gonzalez are among the possible targets some Yankees people have "kicked around."
The Yankees will, in all likelihood, wait and hope for better things from A.J. Burnett instead of pursuing another arm, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney. The Yankees could pursue Joe Blanton via trade or make a play for free agent Kevin Millwood, but the club seems likely to let Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova battle for rotation spots. With prospects Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos on the radar, the Bronx Bombers aren't desperate for pitching, even without Pettitte.
Yankees fans may be frustrated that the front office did not sign Cliff Lee or retain Pettitte, but their club is still strong. As one American League East executive tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “People would love to have their problems. On paper they are still about as good as you want to see."