Wei-Chung Wang Rumors

Minor Moves: Wang, Wilson, Ramirez, Crabbe

Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Brewers lefty Wei-Chung Wang cleared outright waivers and has been assigned to the club’s Class-A affiliate, the team announced. Milwaukee carried Wang all last year on its major league roster to keep him trough the Rule 5 process, but needed a 40-man spot when third baseman Matt Dominguez himself became a 40-man casualty of the Astros. Wang’s struggles at the High-A level (5.93 ERA in 60 2/3 innings) led the club to expose him to an outside claim.
  • Rays backstop Bobby Wilson has accepted an assignment with the club after being outrighted, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The veteran defensive stalwart played in 24 games for the big league club earlier this year, and figures to be a good bet to return at some point. He has never produced much at the plate, and this year was no different: Wilson has slashed just .145/.203/.145 in 59 plate appearances.
  • Right-hander J.C. Ramirez cleared outright waivers after being designated for assignment and has been outrighted to Triple-A Reno by the Diamondbacks, tweets Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. Removed from the roster to create a spot for Allen Webster, the 26-year-old Ramirez had worked to a 4.11 ERA with an 11-to-4 K/BB ratio out of the Arizona bullpen this season. This marked his second stint with the big league club and his first since 2013. In 39 1/3 career innings at the Major League level, Ramirez has a 6.18 ERA. He’s worked to a 3.82 ERA in 125 Triple-A innings.
  • The Diamondbacks also dealt righty Tim Crabbe to the White Sox for cash or a player to be named later, the club announced (via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, on Twitter). Crabbe, 27, has spent all of the past three years in the upper minors and has recently converted to relief pitching exclusively. He owns a 5.50 ERA over 34 1/3 innings this year at Triple-A, with 8.7 K/9 but a rough 6.0 BB/9.

NL Central Notes: Cards Investigation, Dominguez, Wang, Schwarber

Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters that it’s too soon to know how the league will handle today’s stunning news that the FBI is investigating the Cardinals for possible involvement in last year’s Astros computer system breach. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle was among those to report, Manfred declined to wade into the details of the matter and stressed that the federal government, not the league, was conducting the investigation. “To assume that the investigation is going to produce a particular result with respect to the Cardinals, let alone to jump to a word like cyber attack, we don’t know that those are the facts yet,” he said. “There is an ongoing investigation. We’ve been fully cooperative. Obviously any allegation like this, no matter how serious it turns out to be, is of great concern to us but it’s just too early to speculate on what the facts are going to turn out to be and what action, if any, is necessary.”

Here’s more from the NL Central:

  • Adding Matt Dominguez through a waiver claim gave the Brewers options at third base both now and in the future, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The 24-year-old has an impressive pedigree, of course, and certainly has some upside for a team that’s all but out of it in 2015. But there is a more immediate concern, too: Aramis Ramirez could be dealt this summer, notes Haudricourt, and he’ll need a replacement if moved. Of course, the club also is in need of a future replacement with the veteran set to retire, and a look at the controllable Dominguez certainly makes sense.
  • Of course, adding Dominguez meant that the Brewers had to expose lefty Wei-Chung Wang to waivers, which Haudricourt explains was a tough move to make. Milwaukee carried Wang on the active roster for all of 2014 just to take a shot on his future, but he was struggling badly this year at the Class A level. As Haudricourt explains, Wang is earning a relatively robust $300K salary (a larger salary cut from his 2014 MLB earnings was not permissible), which may be a deterrent — as is the fact that a claiming team would need to dedicate a 40-man spot (though Wang does have options).
  • Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber is expected to have a very short first taste of the big leagues, in large part because he is likely not ready to spend regular time in the field. But that’s probably also a good thing in the long term, given that Chicago continues to give Schwarber time behind the plate rather than giving up and choosing instead to acclimate him to the corner outfield. In fact, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the club is increasingly bullish on Schwarber’s chances at sticking as a backstop. “We’re more convinced now than ever that he’s going to catch and catch a long time in the big leagues,” said Epstein.

Brewers Claim Matt Dominguez, Designate Wei-Chung Wang

The Brewers announced that they have claimed third baseman Matt Dominguez off waivers from the Astros (Twitter links). To clear room on the 40-man roster, they’ve designated left-hander Wei-Chung Wang for assignment. Dominguez has been optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs by the Brewers.

The Astros designated Dominguez for assignment last week in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for the promotion of top prospect Carlos Correa. In doing so, Houston effectively pulled the plug on one player for whom they very recently had high hopes in order to give a chance to a new young player. Dominguez was never as highly regarded a prospect as Correa, of course, but he frequented Top 100 prospect lists from 2009-12 as a member of both the Astros and Marlins organizations.

It’s easy to forget that Dominguez, who has spent parts of the past four seasons in the Majors, is still just 25 years of age. The Marlins first brought him to the Majors at just 21 years old and eventually traded him to Houston in the deal that sent Carlos Lee to Miami. Dominguez made a late-season appearance in Houston in 2012 and served as the team’s everyday third baseman in 2013-14.

That first season with an everyday gig proved to be his best to date, as he batted .241/.286/.403 with 21 homers. Despite the questionable OBP skills, Dominguez offered power and solid defense at third base, per DRS, producing 2.2 rWAR in his age-23 campaign. That’s a solid year, especially when considering his inexperience, but he took a step back in 2014, hitting just .215/.256/.330. That was concerning enough for Houston to bring in Luis Valbuena and Jed Lowrie in the winter, leaving Dominguez at Triple-A, where he continued to struggle (.251/.289/.371).

For the Brewers, though, they have little in the way of MLB-ready replacement options following the 2015 season when Aramis Ramirez retires. While Dominguez is far from a sure thing to provide them with above-average production at the hot corner — hence the DFA — he gives Milwaukee an experienced option with a good deal of team control remaining. Dominguez is all but a lock to be controllable through the 2019 season, as he’d need 110 days of MLB service to be eligible for free agency following the 2018 season, and there are only 111 days of the season remaining after tonight’s games.

With Ramirez’s name popping up in trade rumors as of late, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Dominguez eventually received an audition at the Major League level in the current season. That could theoretically push him into Super Two status and make him arbitration eligible this offseason, but his lack of recent offensive production would probably result in a relatively modest salary — especially when juxtaposed with Ramirez’s current $14MM price tag.

The 23-year-old Wang was a Rule 5 pick by the Brewers in 2013, and the team carried him on the roster through the entire 2014 season to avoid losing him, so the decision to designate him and again risk losing him was likely a tough pill to swallow. The Taiwanese southpaw pitched just 17 1/3 innings last year and yielded 21 runs, but given the fact that he was selected from the Pirates’ Rookie-level affiliate, those struggles shouldn’t be a stunning outcome. This season at Class-A Advanced, Wang has posted a 5.93 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 60 2/3 innings.



NL Notes: Solarte, Wang, Papelbon

Yangervis Solarte has made a good impression on the Padres since arriving from New York in the Chase Headley trade, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. He’s versatile (playing second base, third base and outfield), and he’s hit .271/.347/.383 in 126 plate appearances so far, coming up with several big hits. That’s not bad at all for a solid defender playing in Petco Park. The Padres can move him around the diamond to accommodate their other players. “He’s shown he’s capable of holding down a major-league job,” says manager Bud Black. “What role that is, I think depends on the makeup of the other 12 position players.” Here are more notes from the NL.

  • It’s unclear what the Brewers will do with Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang, Caitlin Swieca of MLB.com writes. Milwaukee selected Wang from the Pirates last fall even though he hadn’t played above rookie ball. He predictably struggled out of the Brewers’ bullpen, but since hitting the DL with shoulder tightness in July, he’s transitioned back into starting while on a rehab assignment at the Class A level. It’s unclear whether the Brewers will recall him in September.
  • The Phillies have had trouble drumming up interest in closer Jonathan Papelbon even though he’s cleared waivers and the Phillies are willing to eat some of his salary, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Papelbon’s declining velocity might be a one problem, but as Rosenthal points out, he’s gotten good results despite it. His personality might be another issue, but GM Ruben Amaro insists Papelbon is well behaved, even though he’s opinionated.

Brewers Notes: Wang, K-Rod, Offseason

The injury-riddled Brewers may have suffered another knock today when Matt Garza was removed from today’s 9-3 loss to the Cardinals.  Garza suffered a bruised right thumb while batting in the top half of the fourth inning, and came out of the game after facing one batter in the bottom of the fourth.  With Ryan Braun, Jean Segura, Aramis Ramirez and now Garza all facing nagging injuries and the bullpen piling up appearances, some roster moves may be in order for the Crew, as you’ll read in this edition of Brewers Notes…

  • Rule 5 draft pick Wei-Chung Wang could be the odd man out if the club calls up a fresh bullpen arm, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.  Wang has a 15.00 ERA over six innings of work, and he made only his fourth appearance of the season in today’s game.  Manager Ron Roenicke hinted that his club wouldn’t put a player on the DL in order to call up a reliever, though that didn’t necessarily mean they were giving up on Wang.  The Brewers would have to offer Wang back to the Pirates for $25K if he isn’t on Milwaukee’s 25-man roster for the entire season.
  • Francisco Rodriguez always had a return to the Brewers on his mind when testing the free agent market last winter, the closer tells MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby.  “I had two or three offers before the Brewers, but I told my agent to wait and see what the Brewers decided to do,” Rodriguez said. “As soon as their offer came, I said, ‘I want to take it. It’s where I want to be.’ “
  • Despite today’s loss, the Brewers still have the best record in baseball at 20-8, and Grantland’s Jonah Keri examines how the club has rebounded from a poor 2013 thanks to better health and improvement in virtually all areas.  GM Doug Melvin cited the Brewers’ core of young talent getting a chance to play last season as a big reason why this year’s club has gotten off to such a strong start.

Brewers To Add Rule 5 Pick Wang To Opening Day Roster

The Brewers have informed Rule 5 choice Wei-Chung Wang that he will make the club's Opening Day roster, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter). The southpaw has impressed since being taken from the Pirates after his former club declined to protect him by adding him to its 40-man roster.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Wang can stick on the active roster for the duration of the season. The 21-year-old Taiwanese hurler has never thrown above the Rookie ball level, though he was fairly dominant there while working almost entirely as a starter. Wang posted a 3.23 ERA in 41 1/3 innings, with 8.0 K/9 against 0.8 BB/9 and a 0.866 WHIP. Thus far in the spring, Wang has a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings, with six strikeouts and no free passes — quite an impressive showing for a pitcher of his experience level.