- At 69-85, the Padres have fared better than expected in the win-loss department this year (though their minus-182 run differential ranks last in the majors). In hopes of making more progress next season, they’ll look to the trade and free agent markets over the winter for “complementary” starting pitchers, help at shortstop and a veteran lineup stabilizer, according to Rosenthal.
Here are Thursday’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Padres announced that shortstop Dusty Coleman and right-hander Jose Valdez have cleared waivers after being designated for assignment earlier this week. Both players have subsequently been sent outright to Triple-A El Paso. Coleman, 30, saw his most extensive big league stint to date this season, appearing in 27 games for the Friars and hitting .227/.268/.455 with four homers in 71 plate appearances. He’s only appeared in two Major League seasons, though he’s a veteran of five Triple-A campaigns, where he’s compiled a .239/.296/.414 batting line. Valdez, 27, has seen limited Major League action in each of the past three seasons, though he’s struggled to a 5.72 ERA through 50 1/3 innings in that time. The hard-throwing Valdez has averaged better than a strikeout per inning in the minors but has also averaged more than five walks per inning in that time. Valdez owns a 3.43 ERA with 8.3 K/9 against 4.7 BB/9 through 133 2/3 Triple-A frames.
The Padres have announced an extension with lefty Clayton Richard, who had been slated to return to free agency. It’s a two-year deal with a $6MM guarantee and “minor” incentives, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports on Twitter.
Since signing a one-year, $1.75MM deal over the winter, the 34-year-old Richard has operated as a full-time starter for the first time since 2012. While he carries only a 4.82 ERA, some underlying metrics suggest he has deserved better. Richard has recorded 6.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 to go with a stellar 59.1% groundball rate. He has likely been at least a bit unfortunate to surrender a .348 batting average on balls put in play against him. And while Richard has been hurt by the long ball — he’s coughing up dingers on 19.7% of the flyballs hit against him — he has typically fared much better in that regard.
It’s uncertain whether Richard can sustain his promising showing, but he seems like a pretty reasonable pitcher to take a slight risk on. Richard’s two-seamer has averaged 90.7 mph, not far off his career average. And he has maintained last year’s surge in swinging-strike rate despite becoming a full-time starter; his 8.3% mark sits well above his 7.2% career level. Richard was quite productive while working mostly as a reliever in 2016 and certainly has shown an ability to succeed as a starter in the past; he posted sub-4.00 earned run averages for the Pads in that role in the 2010-12 seasons. Of course, Richard also has a history of shoulder problems that required surgical treatment.
For the Pads, locking up Richard now accounts for another rotation spot heading into the 2018 season. Youngsters Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet seem quite likely to remain in the MLB staff and Travis Wood could still be an option despite his struggles. But with Jhoulys Chacin heading back to free agency, the Pads were looking at filling at least two openings.
Even with today’s move, the team could still add two rotation pieces over the offseason. Last year’s pursuit of budget-friendly veterans could be reprised; really, the Friars did quite well with Richard, Chacin, and Trevor Cahill, even if Jered Weaver proved to be a miss.
Whether or not it’ll make sense for the Padres to keep Richard in the rotation throughout the life of the deal will have to be seen. But he could have plenty of function regardless. The veteran southpaw could always slide back into a long relief or situational lefty role if others ultimately prove to be better starting options.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Padres have designated infielder Dusty Coleman and right-handed reliever Jose Valdez for assignment, according to an official announcement from the organization. The contracts of catcher Rocky Gale and infielder Christian Villanueva have been selected in a related move. The Padres have also recalled RHP Tim Melville, along with outfielders Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe.
Valdez has thrown a combined 50 1/3 innings for the Tigers, Angels and Padres over the past three seasons, pitching to a 5.72 ERA. While that number may seem high, his 6.66 career FIP shows that he’s actually pitched even worse than that number indicates. He throws hard, averaging 96 MPH on his fastball and 86 MPH on his slider, but he gets hit hard as well; opponents have managed hard-hit balls against him in over 40% of their at-bats. That, combined with his 36% career ground ball rate and the fact that opposing hitters are able to pull the ball against him 41% of the time, has likely been the cause of a 4.00 HR/9 that’s done Valdez in. The 27 year-old right hander was originally signed as an international free agent by the Tigers in 2009.
Coleman, 30, was selected by the Athletics in the 28th round of the 2008 draft (844 overall). Though he garnered five official plate appearances with the Royals back in 2015, this season was his first extended stay in the majors. In 71 trips to the plate with the Padres, Coleman showed some power (4 HR, .227 ISO), but a crippling 46.5% strikeout rate held him back, leading him to a paltry .227 average and .268 OBP.
Gale is a light-hitting catcher who has only seen 17 innings behind the plate at the major-league level. He has spent his entire career in the Padres organization after being selected in the 24th round of the 2010 draft (724 overall). The 29 year-old hit .278/.325/.365 at Triple-A El Paso this season.
Villanueva was part of the 2012 trade between the Cubs and Rangers; he was sent from Texas along with Kyle Hendricks in exchange for Ryan Dempster. He missed the entire 2016 season after suffering a right fibular fracture during spring training, and was subsequently non-tendered that offseason. Since signing a minor-league deal with the Padres in the offseason, he has impressed with a .269/.369/.528 batting line at Triple-A. The 26 year-old third baseman will be getting his first taste of major-league action; he has spent eight years in the minor leagues after being signed as an international free agent by the Rangers in 2009.
Renfroe, a former top prospect, made his major-league debut last season. He burst onto the scene by clubbing four homers and two doubles in just 11 games, but struggled mightily with plate discipline this season (125 K’s against just 26 walks) before being demoted to Triple-A. After hitting over .500 over 61 PA in El Paso with almost as many walks as strikeouts, the Padres will hope he can sustain those skills with the MLB club.
Jankowski played 131 games with the Padres last season, but suffered a foot injury in April that has caused him to miss most of 2017. He’s known far more for his speed and defense in center field than he is for his bat. Both UZR and DRS have rated him well above average for in 148 career games in the majors, but he’s slugged just .305 across that time. Jankowski has been out since April with a foot injury.
Melville was claimed off waivers from the Twins back on August 26th. He’s spent time in the minors with five different organizations and has made three major league starts in his career, none of which lasted more than four innings. He does, however carry some pedigree. Though he fell to the fourth round in the 2008 draft, the Royals spent $1.25MM to sign him; well above slot. Melville has a big frame, standing at 6’5″ and weighing 210 pounds, so perhaps he can still reach the potential that Baseball Prospectus saw in him when he ranked #93 on their top prospects list back in 2012.
With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:
It isn’t official yet, but these
- Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
- Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
- Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
- Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
- Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.
Still In Limbo
- Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
- Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
- Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
- Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.
Kept By Other Means
- Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.
- Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
- Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
- Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
- Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
- Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
- Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
- Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
- Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
Red Sox utilityman Eduardo Nunez feels he has dodged a bullet with his right knee injury, as Evan Drellich of CSSNE.com reports on Twitter. Nunez sprained his posterior cruciate ligament, but he says he anticipates returning before the year is up. That said, he’ll understandably also take his time to ensure he makes it back to full health. While Boston hasn’t yet nailed down a postseason spot, it is in excellent position and (at this point, at least) doesn’t seem in need of rushing back an important player.
Here’s the latest on some other health issues from around the game:
- The Brewers are still waiting to learn more on the status of key righty Jimmy Nelson, as Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports on Twitter. He received a second opinion on his shoulder injury today, though the outcome isn’t yet known. Nelson is expected to miss the rest of the season regardless, but the precise course of treatment hasn’t been determined.
- Diamondbacks righty Randall Delgado is indeed dealing with a flexor strain, Jack Magruder of Fan Rag tweets. That initial diagnosis has now been confirmed; while that seemingly takes some worst-case scenarios out of play, he’s already slated to miss the remainder of the year. Delgado had thrown 62 2/3 frames of 3.59 ERA ball, posting 8.6 K/9 and an uncharacteristically low 2.0 BB/9, before going down. That should set him up for a decent raise on his $1.775MM salary for his final year of arbitration, though the price will still likely be low enough for Arizona to pick up the tab unless there’s real concern he won’t bounce back.
- The Rangers announced that they’ve activated righty Keone Kela from the DL. The 24-year-old has been dealing with a shoulder injury, but could represent a nice boon to the club’s relief corps if he can get back in the swing of things late this year. Kela had pitched to a 2.36 ERA over 34 1/3 innings before hitting the DL.
- Padres righty Carter Capps has been diagnosed with a blood clot, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports (Twitter links). He’s heading to the 60-day DL, ending his season and allowing the club to select the contract of Cory Mazzoni. The broader outlook for Capps isn’t clear. San Diego will have to decide whether to tender him a contract this winter. He hasn’t been all that inspiring thus far since returning from Tommy John surgery, allowing nine earned runs with a 7:2 K/BB ratio in 12 1/3 innings while averaging just 93.2 mph with his fastball (over five mph off of his most recent readings from 2015). That said, Capps will likely command only around $1MM; the club could at least take him into camp and cut bait before that full amount is guaranteed if he can’t turn the corner.
- Recent Rays draft pick Drew Rasmussen has undergone his second Tommy John procedure, Danny Moran of the Oregonian reports on Twitter. Rasmussen, an Oregon State hurler, went to Tampa Bay with the 31st overall pick in this summer’s draft but did not sign with the team. The Rays evidently found some reason to be concerned with the medicals from the talented youngster, who had returned from his first TJ procedure only months before the draft.
With the offseason looming, it’s easy to focus on the top free agents this winter will have to offer. We at MLBTR reinforce that line of thinking with monthly Free Agent Power Rankings that profile the top names slated to hit the open market and ranking them in terms of earning power.
Settling for a one-year contract isn’t an ideal route for most free agents, but that doesn’t mean that those (relative) bargain pickups can’t bring significant on-field impact to the teams with which they sign. While none of the players on this list received all that much fanfare when signing, they’ve all provided some notable benefit to the teams that made these commitments:
- Kurt Suzuki, $1.5MM, Braves: Suzuki languished in free agency for several months as players like Jason Castro, Matt Wieters and Welington Castillo all generated more attention from teams and fans. However, it might be Suzuki that has provided the most bang for buck on last winter’s catching market. The 33-year-old has had a surprising career year in Atlanta, hitting .266/.344/.507 with 15 homers to date. Some have been quick to suggest that Atlanta’s new homer-happy stadium has benefited Suzuki, and while that may be true to an extent, he’s hit for more power on the road than at home. He’s put himself in position for a possible two-year deal this winter, but if he has to settle for one yet again, it should come at a higher rate.
- Adam Lind, $1.5MM, Nationals: An awful 2016 season and an overcrowded market for corner bats created some questions about whether Lind would have to settle for a minor league contract late last winter. He ultimately secured a guaranteed deal, but it came with just a $1MM base and a $500K buyout of a mutual option. For that meager commitment, he’s given the Nats 267 plate appearances with a .297/.352/.490 slash to go along with 11 homers. Like Suzuki, that might not land him a starting role, but it could land him multiple years as a complementary bench piece.
- Chris Iannetta, $1.5MM, Diamondbacks: Iannetta has not only rediscovered his power stroke in 2017 — he’s made it better than ever. The 34-year-old’s .249 ISO is a career best, and he’s slugged 14 homers. While that’s still four shy of his career-best with the 2008 Rockies, Iannetta’s 14 big flies this year have come in just 272 PAs, whereas he needed 407 to reach 18 back in ’08. He’s also bounced back from a down year in the framing department and been above average in that regard, per Baseball Prospectus.
- Jhoulys Chacin and Clayton Richard, $1.75MM each, Padres: The Friars signed four starters for $3MM or less last winter — Jered Weaver and Trevor Cahill being the others — and have received a combined 345 innings out of this pair. Chacin’s run-prevention (4.06 ERA) and strikeout rate (7.44 K/9) have been better, while Richard has 13 more innings (179 total), superior control (2.6 BB/9) and superior ground-ball tendencies (59.1 percent). Neither is going to be mistaken for much more than a back-of-the-rotation stabilizer, but both have done enough to garner larger commitments on the upcoming open market.
- Brian Duensing, $2MM, Cubs: I doubt I was alone in being surprised to see Duensing, 34, land a Major League deal last winter on the heels of a lackluster season in the Orioles organization. Duensing, though, has quietly been outstanding for the Cubs. In 54 2/3 innings, he’s logged a career-high 9.05 K/9 rate with 2.30 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.63 ERA. He’s held lefties in check reasonably well, but the first time in his career he’s also striking out right-handed batters at a lofty rate. In fact, the .211/.276/.317 that righties have posted against him is actually weaker than the .256/.300/.388 slash to which he’s limited left-handed bats.
- Matt Belisle, $2.05MM, Twins: Belisle’s inclusion is arguable; he’s posted a pedestrian 4.36 ERA with 8.55 K/9, 3.69 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate. Those numbers are largely skewed by a putrid month of May, however. Since June 3, Belisle has a 2.25 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning and improved control and ground-ball tendencies — all while stepping into higher and higher leverage roles. He’s now serving as the Twins’ closer and has a 1.54 ERA with a 29-to-5 K/BB ratio since July 1. He’ll be 38 next season, so the earning power here isn’t sky-high, but he’s probably earned a raise, barring a late collapse.
- Logan Morrison, $2.5MM, Rays: Few players have benefited more from one-year, “pillow” contracts in recent memory than Morrison, who has parlayed his $2.5MM deal into a .248/.355/.529 batting line and a 36-homer season campaign to date. Morrison only just turned 30 years old, so he’ll have age on his side this winter as well. A three- or four-year deal seems plausible for Morrison even with the diminished recent market for corner bats.
- Alex Avila, $2.5MM, Tigers: Avila hasn’t been as excellent with the Cubs as he was with the Tigers, but he’s still among the league leaders in hard contact and exit velocity — both of which have beautifully complemented his always-terrific walk rate (15.9 percent in 2016). With 14 homers under his belt and a batting line that grades out roughly 25 percent better than the league average, per context-neutral metrics like OPS+ (124) and wRC+ (127), Avila could vie for a multi-year deal and/or a starting job this offseason.
- Joe Smith, $3MM, Blue Jays: Smith’s K/9 has nearly doubled, from 6.92 in 2016 to 11.86 in 2017, and he’s posted a dramatically improved 1.82 BB/9 this year as well. Smith has also served up just three homers in 49 1/3 innings of work, and his 3.10 ERA, while solid, is actually representative of some poor fortune in the estimation of fielding-independent metrics (1.97 FIP, 2.35 xFIP, 2.34 SIERA). He’ll be 34 next year but should top that $3MM mark and could net the second multi-year free-agent deal of his career.
- Andrew Cashner, $10MM, Rangers: MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently took a more in-depth look at Cashner, noting that his strong 3.19 ERA isn’t backed up by his K/BB numbers. Cashner’s complete lack of missed bats — he has the lowest swinging-strike rate and second-lowest K/9 rate of qualified MLB starters — is going to limit his earning power. But, he’s undeniably been better than he was in 2016, his velocity is comparable to last season and he’s limited hard contact quite well. A multi-year deal is certainly a possibility this offseason.
- Carlos Gomez, $11.5MM, Rangers: Gomez’s production hasn’t reached the star levels it did in 2013-14, but he’s been a better performer at the plate this season. A spike in his OBP (from .298 to .337) is due largely to a massive increase in the number of pitches by which he’s been hit, which is less encouraging than if he’d upped his walk rate considerably. However, Gomez has also shown quite a bit more power in 2017 than he had in recent seasons (.208 ISO in ’17 vs. .153 in ’15-16 combined), and Defensive Runs Saved feels he’s improved in center field as well. Gomez won’t see the massive payday he looked to be on pace for after 2014, but he’s still young enough to notch a multi-year deal this winter.
Notable exceptions: Neither Welington Castillo nor Greg Holland is included on this list, though both have provided good value to their new teams (Castillo in particular). While their contracts are often referred to as one-year deals with a player option, that type of contract is no more a one-year deal than Jason Heyward’s eight-year, $184MM deal with a third-year opt-out is a three-year deal. Both players were guaranteed the possibility to be under contract for two years, and those agreements are considered two-year deals for the purposes of this list.
Jerry Blevins has also given the Mets terrific value on his one-year, $6.5MM deal, but the club option attached to that deal is a veritable lock to be exercised, so he’s unlikely to hit the free-agent market again following the season.
Veteran righty Craig Stammen is interested in returning to the Padres next season, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “I really like it in San Diego,” says Stammen, who signed with the Padres last winter after missing most of the previous two seasons to injury. “They showed me quite a bit of loyalty at the beginning of the season when I was struggling. They could’ve gotten rid of me really quick. But they stuck with me, they gave me a chance. (Manager Andy Green has) been great with me, allowed me to work back this year and get put in different situations.” The 33-year-old Stammen allowed 11 runs in 11 2/3 innings in April but has quietly been terrific since then, with a 2.14 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 63 innings since. He’s eligible for free agency this winter and should attract serious interest on the open market — assuming, that is, that he doesn’t re-up with the Padres. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The progress of Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin, both rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, gives the Padres another pair of arms to add to next spring’s rotation battle, writes MLB.com’s A.J. Cassavell. Both pitchers joined the team in September (though not the active roster, to be clear) as they continue their rehab process. Erlin is facing live hitters and is throwing every fifth day, alternating between bullpen sessions and live batting practice. Rea, meanwhile, is up to five bullpen sessions and will keep throwing into mid-October before a six-week break. They’ll join any offseason additions as well as injured rotation hopefuls such as Matt Strahm, Christian Friedrich and Jarred Cosart in vying for starting jobs with the Friars next March.
We’ll use this post to track the day’s minor moves:
- The Mariners have outrighted utilityman Shawn O’Malley to Triple-A, per a club announcement. He had previously been designated for assignment. As Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune notes on Twitter, that’s more or less a formality at this stage of the year, as O’Malley will be able to enter the open market at year’s end as a minor-league free agent. Of course, he’ll still be on hand if a need arises over the next three weeks. O’Malley, 29, has not appeared in the majors this year but did see 89 games of action for Seattle in 2016. The former fifth-round draft pick hit just .229/.299/.319 in his 232 plate appearances last year, though, and then missed a big chunk of time earlier this season owing to an appendectomy and shoulder problems. O’Malley has hit just .205/.250/282 in twenty games of action at Triple-A in the current campaign.
- Also outrighted, per the Padres, was righty Kevin Quackenbush. He had entered the season on track to qualify for arbitration at season’s end, but only appeared in twenty contests while struggling to a 7.86 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9. Quackenbush is still just 28 and has had far more productive stints in the majors in the recent past. He also managed a 3.90 ERA in his 27 2/3 Triple-A frames. While his outlook with the Pads remains cloudy, then, he could receive a shot at earning a bullpen spot — in San Diego or elsewhere — in Spring Training next year.