The game is afoot on the eve of the winter meetings, but more than just headline deals will play a role in shaping the coming season of major league baseball. We’ll use this post to track those minor moves from around the league today…
- The Brewers have signed righty Deolis Guerra to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com tweets. The 29-year-old Guerra didn’t appear in the majors at all in 2018 after inking a minors pact with the Rangers last offseason. He did perform well as a member of the Rangers’ Triple-A club, however, as he notched a 3.75 ERA, 10.77 K/9, 2.43 BB/9 and a 48.3 percent groundball rate in 59 1/3 innings. Prior to 2018, Guerra saw major league action in each season from 2015-17 and combined for 95 innings of 4.17 ERA pitching, with 7.11 K/9, 2.08 BB/9 and a 40.1 percent grounder mark, with the Pirates and Angels.
- Veteran lefty starter Tommy Milone signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners, per Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The former National, Athletic, Met, Brewer and Twin has pitched parts of every season in the majors since 2011, working to a career 46-37 record, 4.42 ERA across 130 starts. Milone, 32 by Opening Day, saw limited big league time last year, pitching to a 5.81 ERA in 26 1/3 innings in his second stint with the Washington Nationals. He projects as dependable veteran depth for a Mariners team that has undergone major reconstructive changes this offseason, including the trade of another lefty James Paxton. Obviously, Milone is not a replacement for Paxton, though the latter’s absence may play a part in creating the right environment for a veteran lefty like Milone to see some innings in the majors. He hasn’t been used much in relief throughout his career, though that would be another possible path to major league playing time for Milone. He has actually performed with admirable consistency (3.52 xFIP) for a fringy big-leaguer who relies so heavily on a fastball that dipped to 86.9 mph last season. With his best secondary offering being a changeup, control (2.23 BB/9) and a sound ability to generate soft contact (86% career exit velocity) has helped Milone hang around the major leagues. Check in on all of the Mariners minor league signings from the offseason thus far (via Twitter).
- The Cleveland Indians announced (via Twitter) the signing of lefty reliever Anthony Gose to a minor league contract. The converted outfielder has been transitioning to the mound over the last couple of seasons after spending parts of five with the Blue Jays and Tigers. Gose, 28, went 1-0 with a 1.37 ERA in a small-sample 7 games for the Down East Wood Ducks in High-A before moving up to the Rangers Double A affiliate in Frisco. Gose came out of the pen 21 times for the Rough Riders, working to a 6.52 ERA while struggling with his command (23 walks in 19 1/3 innings), though he also struck out almost a batter an inning while opposing hitters managed a .243 average against him. He has shown enough promise on the mound to keep the conversion effort going in Cleveland. There does not appear to be an invite to major league camp included in this deal.
- Right-hander Pierce Johnson has announced (via Twitter) a new deal to pitch for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. The exact terms of the deal are not yet known. Johnson became a minor league free agent in early November after pitching for the San Francisco Giants and their Triple A affiliate last year. The former first round pick of the Cubs has yet to see much of an opportunity in the majors, though he pitched well in the upper minors: 17 games, 3.57 ERA, 11.91 K/9, 3.97 BB/9 in Triple A last season. Pierce, 27, will be interesting to look for in coming offseasons, should he seek another opportunity to play in the majors. Recent expat Miles Mikolas enjoyed a productive return to the states in his age-29 season, while Merrill Kelly, 30, just received a nice payday after four years in Korea. A year or two in Japan would put Johnson on a similar timetable for a stateside return if he can put together a productive run with the Tigers.