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November 5, 2012

Transaction Analysis

C-Notes By the Layers for Big Papi

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed DH-L David Ortiz to a two-year deal worth $26 million. [11/2]

Boston avoided giving Ortiz multiple years last offseason, coaxing Ortiz into a one-year deal instead. The big guy responded with the best True Average of his career, even after attempting to play through a late-season injury. Still, you can’t help but wonder what non-performance factors went into the decision to re-sign Ortiz.

The Red Sox have taken public-relations hit after hit over these past 18 months. Opening another by allowing Ortiz to sign with the Rangers or Yankees would serve as a self-inflicted wound. Besides, there is no benefit to stripping down completely, not with the hypersensitive Boston media market. There is a risk in giving 36-year-old a multi-year deal, but re-signing Ortiz was a necessity in a sense.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired INF-R Mike Aviles and C/1B/3B-R Yan Gomes from the Blue Jays for RHP Esmil Rogers. [11/3]

Cleveland is Aviles’ third organization since the season ended. He’s such a good fit for its roster that he should stick. The Indians figure to use Lonnie Chisenhall or Jack Hannahan at third base most days. Neither has shown much ability to hit left-handed pitching, which is one of the areas where Aviles shines. Look for Terry Francona to maximize production from the hot corner by using a Chisenhall/Hannahan-Aviles platoon.

The inclusion of Gomes is harder to figure out. His impressive minor-league numbers are the product of an offensive-friendly environment. Gomes does not profile well in the majors, and big-league pitchers took advantage of his long swing during his cup of coffee. Even if Gomes fails to provide value, the Indians still managed to turn 44 appearances from Rogers, whom they acquired in June for $150,000, into a platoon starter.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal worth $3 million with incentives that could make the deal worth more than $5 million. [11/3]

Colon will miss the beginning of the season due to his ongoing 50-game suspension. Nonetheless, the A’s liked what they saw from Colon during his 24 starts last season. His all-fastballs, all-strikes approach to pitching is refreshing and entertaining, and you know you’re going to get solid results provided he stays on the active roster. Had Colon missed the end of the season because of an injury and not a suspension he may have received a better raise. As it is, the A’s are seemingly getting solid value.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed LHP Oliver Perez to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with $600,000 in incentives. [11/3]
Signed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma to a two-year deal worth $14 million with a club option for 2015 worth $7 million. [11/2]

Perez and Iwakuma were two of the success stories on the 2012 Mariners, and so Jack Zduriencik has brought them both back for 2013 and beyond.

Returning velocity allowed Perez to retire batters of both hands during his 33 appearances. More encouraging than the added oomph was a growth in strike-throwing ability. He threw strikes with 68 percent of his pitches, according to Baseball-Reference. Compare that to Perez’s 59 percent rate from 2008-2010 and it’s easy to see why the Mariners are cautiously optimistic about his chances of becoming a genuine relief asset.

Iwakuma, meanwhile, started the season in the bullpen. He moved into the rotation in July, and posted a 2.65 ERA over 16 starts. Don’t expect the shiny ERA to stick. Though Iwakuma helps himself by avoiding walks, he does have the tendency to yield the long ball. Seattle is paying Iwakuma like a middle-of-the-rotation starter, and a fair bit more than the $1.5 million he received last season.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Esmil Rogers from the Indians for INF-R Mike Aviles and C/1B/3B-R Yan Gomes. [11/3]

The Blue Jays like to acquire relievers. Rogers happens to be an interesting one. His fastball can get into the mid-to-upper-90s and his breaking balls are capable wipeout offerings. There were murmurs during Rogers’ time in Colorado that he was tipping pitches, but those concerns seemed to disappear after a solid half-season with the Indians. Rogers came up as a starting pitcher, and it’s possible the Jays view him as a potential rotation option. If so, Rogers will only go as far as his mediocre fastball command allows.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Michael Olmsted to a big-league deal. [11/3]

When teams sign 25-year-old relievers without experience above Double-A, they seldom hand out major-league deals ensuring more money and a spot on the 40-man roster. Then again, Olmsted is atypical in many ways. Peter Gammons chronicled Olmsted’s story of perseverance in August. Now the 6-foot-7, 280-lb. right-hander is on the doorsteps of fulfilling his dream. Olmsted’s stuff is nearly as endearing as his human-interest story. His fastball can touch the upper 90s and his slider is a legitimate second offering. Statistically, Olmsted completed more than 59 innings last season across two levels, striking out 92 batters, walking 15, and allowing one home run.  

Ensuring Olmsted a 40-man-roster spot is a sign Doug Melvin believes the big righty can contribute in the majors sooner than later. Melvin has a history of unearthing other solid relievers from parts unknown—John Axford and John Henderson, for example. There is another benefit to handing Olmsted a big-league deal: now another team cannot select him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Expect to see Olmsted in the majors next season.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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