The Indians announced Wednesday that they’ve designated right-hander Nick Goody for assignment and selected the contracts of outfielder Daniel Johnson, right-hander Triston McKenzie and left-hander Scott Moss.
More to come.
The Pirates set their roster in advance of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft tonight, selecting the contracts of right-handers Blake Cederlind and Cody Ponce as well as infielders Ke’Bryan Hayes, Will Craig and Oneil Cruz. In a corresponding series of moves, the Pirates have designated lefty Williams Jerez and right-handers Dario Agrazal, Montana DuRapau and Luis Escobar for assignment.
Of the four players designated for assignment, Agrazal had the largest workload with the Pirates in 2019, pitching 73 1/3 innings but struggling to a 4.91 ERA, 5.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 39.9 percent grounder rate. Each of the other three posted an ERA north of 7.00, though Escobar and Jerez each threw fewer than six innings. The 27-year-old DuRapau, meanwhile, enjoyed an outstanding season in Triple-A but allowed 18 runs in 17 1/3 innings at the MLB level.
More to come.
The Brewers and Indians announced a minor trade Wednesday, with Cleveland sending minor league infielder Mark Mathias to Milwaukee in exchange for minor league catcher Andres Melendez. Milwaukee has selected the contract of Mathias.
Mathias, 25, needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. The Indians apparently preferred not to commit that 40-man spot to Mathias, prompting today’s swap with the Brewers, who’ll now pick up some new infield depth. The 2015 third-rounder hit .269/.355/.442 with a dozen home runs, 31 doubles, two triples and 13 stolen bases at Triple-A this past season. Mathias is primarily a second baseman and third baseman, but he’s also logged 203 innings at shortstop since being drafted.
Milwaukee signed the now-18-year-old Melendez out of Venezuela back in 2017. He played 36 games with the Brewers’ Rookie-level Arizona affiliate in 2019, hitting .250/.340/.352 with a 30 percent caught-stealing rate behind the plate. Despite being years from the Majors, Melendez was ranked 16th among Brewers farmhands by Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen on their midsesason update of the team’s prospect rankings.
The Cardinals announced Wednesday that they’ve designated right-hander Dominic Leone for assignment. St. Louis also selected the contracts of righty Jake Woodford, infielder Elehuris Montero and right-hander Alvaro Seijas.
Leone’s two seasons with the Cardinals didn’t pan out as the organization hoped when acquiring him from Toronto; in 64 2/3 innings as a Cardinal, he pitched to an ugly 5.15 ERA. Leone did manage to punch out 10 hitters per nine innings pitched, but he struggled with walks (4.2 BB/9), home runs (1.7 HR/9) and, in 2019, stranding baserunners (68.2 percent).
The 28-year-old Leone had been eligible for arbitration and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to be in line for a $1.6MM salary in 2020. Already a non-tender candidate, he was instead cut loose a couple weeks ahead of the early-December tender deadline. The Cardinals will have a week to trade him, release him or pass him through outright waivers. Anecdotally, both players the Cardinals acquired from the Blue Jays prior to the 2018 season in exchange for Randal Grichuk have been designated for assignment in the past hour, as the Royals just designated Conner Greene minutes ago. (Kansas City claimed him from St. Louis last November.)
Both Montero (No. 4) and Woodford (No. 13) rank inside the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects in the most recent rankings at MLB.com. Montero, 21, struggled through a miserable season in Double-A but is regarded as a strong-armed third baseman with plus raw power. Given the pitcher-friendly nature of Double-A in 2019 and Montero’s young age relative to the competition he faced in that setting, the Cards were undeterred by his struggles.
Woodford, meanwhile, posted passable numbers in a deadly Triple-A setting for pitchers, working to a 4.14 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and a 36.2 percent grounder rate in 26 starts (151 2/3 innings). He’ll give the Cards some rotation depth for the upcoming season.
The 21-year-old Seijas hasn’t pitched above Class-A Advanced, although as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out (via Twitter), the team’s unexpected loss of righty Luis Perdomo a few seasons ago may have contributed to aggressively protecting Seijas despite the fact that he’s a ways from MLB readiness.
The Royals announced that they’ve designated outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, catcher Nick Dini and right-handers Conner Greene and Arnaldo Hernandez for assignment in advance of tonight’s deadline to set 40-man rosters prior to December’s Rule 5 Draft. Those four roster spots will go to left-hander Foster Griffin, right-hander Carlos Hernandez, shortstop Jeison Guzman and outfielder Nick Heath, each of whom has had his contract formally selected, per the team. Kansas City’s 40-man roster is full.
Bonifacio, 26, was the team’s primary right fielder in 2017 and gave fans some cause for optimism, hitting .255/.320/.432 with 17 homers, 15 doubles and a triple in that rookie campaign. He’s since been tagged with an 80-game PED suspension, however, and has generally struggled to produce at the plate. Over his past 291 plate appearances in the Majors, Bonifacio hit .234/.317/.371. For a defensively limited corner outfielder who is out of minor league options, that lack of output was no longer sufficient enough to keep his place on the roster.
Greene, also 26, was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals late last November — nearly a year ago to the day. The once-well-regarded prospect struggled to a 5.13 ERA in 112 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, though, averaging 4.3 walks per nine innings pitched along the way. His control issues expanded beyond walks, as he plunked nine batters and threw a whopping 21 wild pitches.
Dini made his MLB debut at the age of 26 this past season but hit just .196/.270/.357 in 64 plate appearances with Kansas City. He’s a lifetime .288/.347/.437 in five minor league seasons who hit .296/.370/.565 in last year’s supercharged Triple-A environment.
Arnaldo Hernandez, 23, tossed 23 sharp innings in Double-A but was hammered for a 6.39 ERA with a dismal 65-41 K/BB ratio and 24 homers allowed in just 105 1/3 Triple-A innings.
Griffin, 24, was a first-round pick in 2014 and has gone unselected in prior Rule 5 Drafts. He didn’t post particularly appealing Triple-A numbers in ’19 (5.23 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9) but notch a 49.2 percent grounder rate. He’s also impressed in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, tossing 23 1/3 innings of 2.31 ERA ball with a hearty 31-to-6 K/BB ratio.
Hernandez, 22, posted a 3.50 ERA with a 43-to-9 K/BB ratio in 35 innings with the Royals’ Class-A affiliate. Guzman didn’t hit much in A-ball and isn’t considered among the organization’s top prospects, but the Royals are bullish enough to protect him from being selected. Heath didn’t have much power, but he’s a prototypical Royals player, as evidenced by his 60 steals between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019.
The Athletics announced Wednesday that they’ve designated right-hander Jharel Cotton for assignment and selected the contract of right-hander Daulton Jefferies from Double-A Midland. Oakland’s 40-man roster remains full.
Cotton, 27, joined the A’s alongside righties Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes in the 2016 trade that sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to the Dodgers. At the time, he was considered a fairly well-regarded pitching prospect and a potential long-term rotation piece, but things haven’t panned out that way. While Cotton impressed with a 2.15 ERA in 29 1/3 innings with the A’s in 2016 following that trade, he was unable to replicate that over a larger sample in 2017.
That 2017 season saw Cotton limp to a 5.58 ERA in 129 innings, due largely to an alarming 2.0 HR/9 mark. He missed the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, and his 2019 comeback season was shortened by a hamstring issue that eventually required surgical repair. At this point, it’s been more than two years since Cotton has thrown an inning in a Major League game.
Jefferies, 24, was a Competitive Balance selection (No. 37 overall) by the A’s back in 2016. He split the 2019 season between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, where he worked to a combined 3.42 ERA with an otherworldly 93-to-9 K/BB ratio in 79 innings (10.6 K/9, 1.0 BB/9). Jefferies barely pitched from 2016-18 thanks to a shoulder injury during his junior year at Cal Berkeley and Tommy John surgery in 2017. But the 2019 campaign was a resounding comeback year that has moved him firmly into the ranks of the Athletics’ most promising young arms.
The Mets announced that they’ve designated righty Drew Gagnon for assignment. His DFA opened a spot on the 40-man roster, allowing the Mets to select the contracts of shortstop Andres Gimenez, right-hander Jordan Humphreys, catcher Ali Sanchez and left-hander Thomas Szapucki. All four players are now protected from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
Of the players added to the 40-man, Gimenez has generated the most prospect fanfare. Entering the 2019 season, he was ranked among the game’s top 50 prospects, but a poor showing in Double-A Binghamton has caused his stock to slip a bit. In 479 plate appearances, Gimenez hit just .250/.309/.387 with nine home runs. And while he stole 28 bases, he was also caught 16 times, underscoring a need to improve his efficiency. MLB.com still ranks him at the back end of the game’s top 100 prospects, but he’ll be in the hunt for a rebound season in 2020.
Gagnon was bombed in brief MLB action last year, falling victim to the leaguewide home run surge even more than most of his fellow pitchers (11 long balls in 23 2/3 innings). But he did show an 11.8% swinging-strike rate in the bigs, and over 88 2/3 innings in 15 starts in the hitter-friendly Triple-A International League, he worked to a 2.33 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
Reports out of South Korea this week suggested that Gagnon was working toward a deal with a KBO club. However, a source tells MLBTR that not only was Gagnon not moving toward a deal in Korea — he hasn’t even engaged in any conversations with Korean clubs about a potential deal. The Mets will have a week to trade Gagnon, attempt to pass him through outright waivers or place him on release waivers.
Nov. 20: In addition to the Mets, Chirinos has also received interest from the Astros, the Reds and the Rangers, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets. A deal with either Texas-based club would of course represent a reunion scenario, whereas the Reds would be the veteran backstop’s fourth MLB club (and third in the past eight seasons). Both the Astros and Rangers are thin in terms of MLB catching depth. The Reds have Tucker Barnhart signed through 2021 (plus a 2022 option) and Curt Casali on hand as a backup, though there’s certainly room for an upgrade — particularly an offensive upgrade — in Cincinnati.
Nov. 19: The Mets have reached out to veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos in the early stages of the offseason, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. They’ve also been in contact with well-traveled backup catcher Drew Butera.
New York already has one well-paid catcher on the roster in Wilson Ramos, who is owed $10.75MM through the end of the 2020 season (including a $1.5MM buyout on a $10MM club option for the 2021 season). General manger Brodie Van Wagenen has previously indicated he’s in the market for a backup catcher, but Chirinos profiles as more as a starter than a reserve. The 35-year-old hit .238/.347/.443 with 17 homers, 22 doubles and a triple in 114 games (437 plate appearances) with the Astros in 2019 and logged 113 games with the Rangers in 2018.
Barring a move involving Ramos, it could be hard to entice the 35-year-old Chirinos to sign on for what would surely be reduced playing time, and he’ll likely command interest from other clubs looking to feature him in a larger role than the Mets can offer. Plus, if the Mets are interested in him as a backup — even one who plays a bit more than a traditional second catcher — it seems unlikely that they’d offer more than last year’s $5.75MM salary. New York’s interest isn’t necessarily a surprise, though, given Chirinos’ quality results in 2019 and, to a lesser extent, the fact that he and newly hired skipper Carlos Beltran were brief teammates with the Rangers in 2016.
Chirinos performed well on the whole in Houston and caught every single inning thrown by Justin Verlander in 2019, so there’s certainly reason for the Astros, who have minimal catching depth, to pursue a reunion. The Braves, Brewers, Reds, Angels, Pirates and Rockies are among the many teams that could look at adding some help behind the plate this winter, too, so there should be interest elsewhere.
As for Butera, he’s a candidate to receive a minor league deal and an invite to Spring Training either from the Mets or another club. The 36-year-old wouldn’t be a clear upgrade over currently projected backup Tomas Nido, as Butera has batted just .203/.268/.301 in 408 plate appearances between the Royals and Rockies dating back to the 2017 season. Butera doesn’t have a strong statistical profile in terms of his glovework, either, though he carries a reputation as a backup who works well with pitchers.
Veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra has reached an agreement to sign a contract with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, the Giants announced Wednesday (hat tip: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, on Twitter). The Giants have announced the move in a press release on their official web site. It’s a $2MM deal that includes a $3MM vesting option for 2021, per Jose Rivera of ESPN Deportes (via Twitter).
The 32-year-old Parra, a client of Octagon, won a World Series ring with the Nationals and will now head overseas for the next chapter of his career. He signed a minor league contract with San Francisco last offseason but ultimately landed with the Nats after being cut loose by MLB’s Giants.
Though he hit just .198/.278/.267 in 97 plate appearances during his abbreviated run with San Francisco, Parra found second life after latching on with the Nationals. In addition to posting a much-improved .250/.300/.447 batting line in 204 plate appearances with the eventual World Series champions, Parra won the hearts of Nationals fans when adopting “Baby Shark” as his walkup theme. That children’s song/internet phenomenon became something of an anthem and a rally cry at Nationals Park, serving as a memorable subplot in a storybook season for the entire organization.
Parra has played in parts of 11 Major League seasons — mostly with the Diamondbacks — and is a career .276/.323/.404 hitter with 88 home runs, 264 doubles, 42 triples and 96 stolen bases. He’s a two-time National League Gold Glove Award winner and, in addition to his time with Arizona, San Francisco and Washington, has also played for the Brewers, Orioles and Rockies at the MLB level.
Twenty-one new charges have been filed against Pirates left-hander Felipe Vazquez, Rich Cholodofsky and Renatta Signorini of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. Vazquez is currently being in Westmoreland County Prison on previously filed charges of sexual statutory assault of a minor. He was denied bail at a preliminary hearing Tuesday after the prosecution argued that Vazquez is a “significant flight risk.” The new charges, brought to light today, allege possession of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of a minor.
The timeline for an eventual ruling and potential sentencing aren’t immediately clear, though the mounting number of disturbing charges against the former All-Star pitcher make it difficult to envision him ever returning to a big league mound. Depending on the findings of the court, Vazquez could face anything from extended jail time to deportation. He’s currently on administrative leave under Major League Baseball’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.