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April 12, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Haranging Around

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Aaron Harang and cash from the Rockies for RHP Steven Hensley. [4/11]

Designated RHP Kameron Loe for assignment. [4/11]

In Harang the Mariners have acquired a worthwhile rotation option on the cheap. Though his starts are not appointment viewing—he mostly plays keep-away with the hitters—Harang's tendency to chomp on innings should be useful. Good team or not, there's little value in needing to use your bullpen for four-plus innings in back-to-back days. Right now the Mariners have to do that because Brandon Maurer has struggled and Blake Beavan is Blake Beavan. (One of those two—almost certainly Beavan—can now slide into the bullpen as a mop-up man.) As a side-benefit, Harang may pitch himself into a midseason trade. They won't get much, but then they didn't give up much, either: Hensley is a 26-year-old reliever with minimal experience above Double-A and dim prospects for a big-league future.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed OF-R Casper Wells off waivers from the Mariners. [4/10]

Designated RHP Alex Burnett for assignment. [4/10]

What would this column be without a Blue Jays waiver claim? Here's what I wrote about Wells after he was designated for assignment by the Mariners:

Losing a camp battle to Jason Bay at this stage in his career is never a good thing. Wells is an athletic corner outfielder with above-average raw power, extreme platoon splits, and the tendency to take ugly swings. Perfect as a reserve outfielder on a team with a micromanaging skipper. Wells is older than you'd think and he's tweaks his hitting mechanics too many times to count in search of unlocking more upside, which tends to result in streaky play. But he's cheap and useful so someone will take him on.

Wells figures to serve as a pinch-hitting option most nights, and perhaps John Gibbons gets frisky and platoons him with Adam Lind at designated hitter.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Acquired RHP Luis Ayala from the Orioles in exchange for LHP Chris Jones. [4/10]

Frank Wren acquired Jones after the 2011 season when he dumped Derek Lowe on the Indians. A year and change later Wren has turned Jones—who may turn into a solid left-handed specialist—into Ayala. There's nothing secret about Ayala's game. He pumps strikes, usually his fastball, arm-side and mixes in his slider against righties and changeup against lefties. Because the Braves are Ayala's third team in three seasons, and because his stuff is mundane, his results have gone unnoticed. Yet Ayala is one of 33 relievers with 100-plus innings, a sub-3.00 ERA, and a strikeout-to-walk rate of more than 2.5 since the 2011 season. Arbitrary thresholds but impressive thresholds nonetheless.

Wren has a decision to make in clearing a spot for Ayala. The current member of the bullpen most likely to lose his spot, Anthony Varvaro, is without options. That may mean nothing to the Braves, or it may lead them to explore another route. Cristhian Martinez, the longman extraordinaire, is out of options, though he figures to be safe despite a rough start.


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:  Luis Ayala,  Casper Wells,  Aaron Harang

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