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November 9, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Maicer Gets the Cheese

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired OF-L Blake Tekotte from the Padres for RHP Brandon Kloess. [11/7]

As easy as it was to envision Tekotte as a future fourth outfielder entering the season, his initial exposure to Triple-A and the majors has exposed a potentially fatal flaw in his game: making contact. Tekotte fanned 27 percent of the time in Triple-A, and has whiffed on 43 percent of his career big-league swings. He does enough things decently—walking, fielding, hitting for power—that there’s still some hope here if he can improve on making contact. The White Sox are doing no harm getting an up-close look at Tekotte in exchange for a 27-year-old minor-league reliever.  

NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed LHP Josh Spence off waivers from the Padres. [11/6]

Spence reached the majors within a year of signing as a 10th-round pick out of Arizona State. In 40 big-league innings, Spence has shown the ability to sit down left-handed batters with a low-80s-fastball/slider combination. The mediocre stuff forces Spence to approach each encounter carefully, thereby leading to some nibbling and free passes. Surprisingly, Spence generates more fly balls than grounders, making him a weird fit for Yankees Stadium. If he does have a big-league future, it’ll be as a left-handed specialist.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed INF-S Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal worth $9 million with a $3 million club option. [11/8]
Acquired RHP Jeremy Jeffress from the Royals for cash considerations. [11/8]
Designated LHP Scott Maine for assignment. [11/8]

Izturis’ bat-to-ball skills and defensive versatility earned him the 45th spot on our top-50 free agents list, and intrigued the Jays enough to merit a three-year deal to take over as their second baseman. In addition to the contact skills and defense, Izturis has what you might call smart speed—his instincts on the basepaths allow him to play quicker than he is. Izturis came off the bench for the Angels because of superior options and because of his own durability concerns. Add in that Izturis is coming off a down season and recently celebrated his 32nd birthday and you have the makings of a questionable and perhaps unnecessary move, even if the average annual value is reasonable.

Jeffress is a lottery ticket. Kansas City acquired him in the Zack Greinke trade because of his live arm. His fastball sits in the mid- to upper-90s and he complements the heat with a power curveball. Jeffress has two notable flaws, both involving control. He has not shown the ability to throw strikes consistently. The other issue is character-based. Jeffress’ substance abuse issues led the Brewers to add him to the 40-man roster prematurely. When Jeffress is on he looks like a frontline closer, when he’s off he looks like waiver-wire fodder. The Royals soured on Jeffress; the Blue Jays will try salvaging him. 

NEW YORK METS
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Agreed to an early expiration with OF-R Jason Bay. [11/7]

This is what you call a win-win arrangement.

Bay wins because he still receives the $21 million remaining on his contract. Not only does Bay get his money but he gets freedom, too—freedom to pick a new, better situation in an attempt to revive a fading career. Concussions and other injuries limited Bay’s effectiveness with the Mets. His bat is slowed, his actions woodened, and his most recent season inspires little optimism. Still, some team will look at Bay’s 2010-2011 seasons and give him a shot.

The Mets win because of the money situation. No, they won’t be able to avoid paying Bay but they do get to defer some of the cash, which is something they would not have been able to do had they released the outfielder in the spring. The other big pro about this arrangement is the vacating of a roster spot. Valuating that benefit is difficult; however, it does allow the Mets to entertain some outfield options with higher upsides than Bay.

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

Related Content:  Jason Bay,  Maicer Izturi

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Pebble Hunting: 17 Tea... (11/09)
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