The 23-year-old Gonzalez didn’t have a stirring performance in 2018, leading the Marlins to dump him from their 40-man roster. But he has drawn no shortage of interest from clubs that like the raw tools, with the Cards now following the Giants in being willing to commit a roster spot to get a first-person look.
The Giants announced that they’ve designated right-hander Merandy Gonzalez for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster will go to catcher Tom Murphy, whose previously reported waiver claim has now been formally announced by the team. San Francisco claimed Gonzalez off waivers from the Marlins back at the beginning of March.
Gonzalez, 23, made his MLB debut with the Marlins in 2018 having been previously acquired in the trade that sent AJ Ramos from Miami to the Mets. In his first 22 innings of MLB work, Gonzalez struggled to the tune of a 5.73 ERA as he allowed 31 hits with a 19-to-8 K/BB ratio. That debut came on the heels of a pedestrian season in Double-A, where he logged a 4.32 ERA over the life of 14 starts (73 innings) with unsightly averages of 5.8 strikeouts and 4.1 walks per nine innings pitched.
Gonzalez, who averaged 93.7 mph on his fastball in last season’s debut, made one scoreless appearance with a strikeout with the Giants before being optioned to Triple-A. The Giants will now have a week to trade him or try to pass him throughout outright waivers themselves, as the Marlins failed to do earlier in the month. If he does clear waivers this time around, he’d remain with the organization as a depth piece in the upper minors.
Per a team release, the Giants have claimed righty Merandy Gonzalez off outright waivers from Miami.
Gonzalez, 23, flashed electric stuff as a fast-rising arm in the Mets system before being shipped to Miami in a 2017 deadline deal for A.J. Ramos. The righty has worked primarily as a starter in a six-year minor-league career, but moved to the bullpen upon promotion to the big club last summer. In 22 IP for the Fish last season, Gonzalez posted a 7.77 K/9 against 3.27 BB/9 in a number of long-relief stints. His early-season work for AAA-New Orleans in the PCL was mostly uninspiring: the hurler struggled to miss bats, perpetuating a troubling trend from the previous season, and exhibited mostly-shaky command throughout.
FanGraphs, which rated Gonzalez 26th in its latest update of the Marlins system, lauds Gonzalez’s fastball/curveball mix, which both feature “nasty” natural movement, but note that his command lags well behind his control; the righty, it seems, isn’t very effective when facing a lineup for the second or third time.
If he sticks on the San Fran 40-man, Gonzalez could compete for the last spot in a deep Giant bullpen, especially if the club decides to dangle lefties Will Smith and Tony Watson as late-spring bait. Travis Bergen, Steven Okert, Fernando Abad, Pat Venditte, Trevor Gott, and Sam Coonrod comprise the bulk of the remaining hurlers in the mix, so perhaps Gonzalez’s status as a swingman could tilt in the odds in his favor.
The Braves don’t intend to take a long time deciding whether to bring up recent signee Jose Bautista, Michael Hoad of Sportsnet.ca writes. GM Alex Anthopoulos says that the club is “optimistic [Bautista is] going to have an opportunity to come up,” so it seems the expectation is that the former star will indeed get a shot. He’ll be looking for a return to form at the plate even as he makes a surprising return to third base after nearly a decade spent mostly in the outfield. But Anthopoulos did note that he hasn’t made any promises of a MLB promotion, so it seems that Bautista will at least have to show something to get a crack at boosting a Braves team that is off to a nice start.
Here are a few notes on some National League players who are already slated to move onto or off of a major league roster:
- The Padres have optioned righty Luis Perdomo, per a club announcement, with reliever Kirby Yates being activated from the DL to take his roster spot. Though he showed a good bit of promise last year, Perdomo has been tagged for 13 earned runs in 14 innings in his first four starts of the 2018 campaign. Though he has given up quite a lot of hard contact, the resulting .510 batting average on balls in play surely seems like an outlier. Beyond the performance considerations, the move helps the team manage a roster that has quite a few moving parts.
- Marlins pitching prospect Merandy Gonzalez is heading to the majors for the first time, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Skipper Don Mattingly says he’ll use his new hurler as a long relief option for the time being. Gonzalez is a starter by trade, and has some long-term hopes of working in a big-league rotation, but at the moment is appealing mostly because he offers the possibility of filling some innings and is already on the 40-man. Miami added Gonzalez in the trade that sent reliever A.J. Ramos to the Mets last summer.
- There’s nothing official yet, but Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweeted the “informed speculation” that outfielder Mac Williamson will join the Giants tomorrow. There are still some complications, but the 27-year-old has clearly played his way to a call-up. In fifty trips to the plate at Triple-A, he’s hitting a ridiculous .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs. Meanwhile, veteran Hunter Pence has managed only one extra-base hit, nine singles, and two walks in his 61 MLB plate appearances. It seems he will be headed to the DL with a thumb issue.
As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…
- Heading onto the Blue Jays’ roster, per a club announcement, are righty Connor Greene, lefty Tom Pannone, first baseman Rowdy Tellez, and catchers Dan Jansen and Reese McGuire.
- The Rays have selected the contracts of righties Brent Honeywell, Diego Castillo, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose Mujica, lefty Ryan Yarbrough, first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers, and outfielder Justin Williams, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- The Diamondbacks placed lefty Jared Miller on the MLB roster, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports on Twitter.
- A list of six players is heading onto the Reds’ 40-man, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter): infielders Alex Blandino and Shed Long, outfielder Jose Siri, and righties Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes, and Zack Weiss.
- The Padres and Brewers have joined the teams announcing their additions. For San Diego, lefties Jose Castillo and Brad Wieck are heading to the 40-man. Milwaukee has selected shortstop Mauricio Dubon, catcher Jacob Nottingham, and righties Marcos Diplan and Freddy Peralta.
- The Marlins and Yankees just struck a trade relating to their 40-man maneuvering, and each announced their selections shortly thereafter. Miami is placing outfielder Braxton Lee on the MLB roster along with righties Merandy Gonzalez, Pablo Lopez, and James Needy. New York, meanwhile, will select righties Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, and Jonathan Loaisiga to the 40-man along with outfielder Billy McKinney and infielders Thairo Estrada and (last but not least) Gleyber Torres.
Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …
10:08pm: The Marlins have announced the trade.
10:02pm: The Mets are sending minor league right-hander Merandy Gonzalez and minor league outfielder Ricardo Cespedes to the Marlins to complete the trade, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).
9:48pm: In a surprising development, the Mets have struck a deal to acquire closer AJ Ramos from the Marlins, reports MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal (on Twitter). The Mets are sellers at this year’s deadline, but Ramos remains under control through the 2018 season, and the Mets have reportedly been intent on contending next season, so Ramos will help in that regard.
The Mets are likely to trade closer Addison Reed, an impending free agent, between now and Monday’s non-waiver deadline, so they stood to lose their top 2018 setup option either to free agency or trade. Ramos could actually close for the Mets until Jeurys Familia is healthy enough to return, then ultimately settle into a setup role. He’s earning $6.55MM in 2017 and will be eligible for arbitration once more this winter before hitting the open market after the 2018 season.
Ramos has a solid, if unspectacular 3.63 ERA through 39 2/3 innings this season, but he’s been a generally dominant option out of the Miami ’pen dating back to 2014. Over the past four seasons, Ramos has pitched to a combined 2.61 ERA with 10.6 BB/9, 4.7 BB/9 and a 40.6 percent ground-ball rate through 238 innings. His lack of control, of course, isn’t ideal for a late-inning reliever, but Ramos has consistently been able to strikeout between 10 and 11 batters per nine frames, which has helped to mitigate many of those free passes.
With Ramos in the fold for the 2018 campaign, next year’s Mets bullpen looks like it’ll be anchored by Familia, Ramos, Jerry Blevins and perhaps rookie right-hander Paul Sewald, who has averaged 11 K’s per nine innings himself through 41 innings in his first taste of big league action.
Gonzalez and Cespedes rank ninth and 22nd, respectively, on the Mets’ midseason top 30 prospects list over at MLB.com. Through a combined 106 innings between two Class-A levels, the 21-year-old Gonzalez has worked to a 1.78 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate. MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo write that his fastball sits around 93 mph but can reach 96-97 mph when needed, and the young righty also has an above-average curveball with an improving changeup. Gonzalez is listed at 6’0″ and 216 pounds, so he’s a bit short for a starter, though that frame is hardly any sort of clear indicator that he’s better suited for a relief role.
The 19-year-old Cespedes has been facing much older competition across short-season Class-A and full-season Class-A ball this year, but he hasn’t fared well at the plate against his more experienced opponents. Through 108 plate appearances — he’s spent a fair bit of time on the minor league DL — Cespedes has batted .255/.283/.294. Ugly numbers aside, Cespedes was inked for a fairly sizable $725K bonus out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old and draws praise from Callis and Mayo for his yet untapped tools.
MLB.com’s report notes that while he’ll need a lot to go right to reach his ceiling, the upside for Cespedes is a five-tool right fielder. He’s playing center field right now but has the arm for right along with bat speed, occasional pop and at least average speed. Cespedes will join fellow 19-year-old Brayan Hernandez, acquired in the Marlins’ David Phelps trade with Seattle, as a toolsy outfielder with plenty of upside that could be several years from the big leagues but gives the team plenty to dream on as he develops.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.