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April 16, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Transactions Spell Relief

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

ANAHEIM ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Kip Wells to a minor-league deal. [4/13]

It took a slew of injuries but Wells returned to the majors last season for the first time since 2009. He did not pitch well in seven starts for the Padres. The Angels are having some depth issues of their own with Jered Weaver down and Garrett Richards already in the rotation. If Wells cracks the majors again—and it is a possibility—don't expect him to pitch much better than he did in 2012. This is still a good signing, however, because it seems to mean Wells' son, who underwent heart surgery in the winter, is doing better.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated OF-R Casper Wells for assignment. [4/15]

See why worrying about the Blue Jays' April waiver claims is pointless? Toronto has claimed three players and designated or optioned them all within days of the original claim. 

This is our third dance with Wells this season already. What else can we learn about him? How about that his middle name is Charles and that he comes from Grand Rapids. He attended Schenectady High School, in Schenectady, New York, and Towson University in Towson, Maryland. His first hit came against Dallas Braden, his first home run versus Jesse Crain. Okay, that about does it. Here's the rest:

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.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a minor-league deal. [4/14]

Claimed RHP Kameron Loe off waivers from the Mariners. [4/14]

When Loe signed with the Mariners I praised him by writing:

There are two kinds of relievers you can net on minor-league deals: Total upside plays and nice situational types. Loe is the latter. He's a tall man with a simple two-pitch mix: sinker, curveball. Groundballs are his favorite thing in the world, left-handed hitters his least favorite. A solid two-year run with the Brewers showed Loe can be useful in the league. Provided the Mariners give him a shot, don't be surprised if he makes last season look like a fluke.

Loe did make last season appear unrepresentative of his talents during his time with the Mariners. Just not in the way I expected. Somehow Loe allowed six home runs in 6 2/3 innings of work, this after allowing nine home runs in 68 1/3 innings in 2012. Most of the damage came on elevated pitches over the plate, an area where Loe can ill-afford to traverse. The Cubs scooped Loe up and he figures to either work in long relief or, should Shawn Camp take over in the ninth inning, perhaps replace Camp as the club's designated groundball getter.

It's fitting that Gregg returns to Chicago at the same time they search for a ninth-inning answer. Three years ago the same scenario unfolded, except then Gregg was coming off a solid campaign with the Marlins. The last we saw of Gregg can be described by many s-words, though solid is not one. Gregg supposedly almost made the Dodgers and could find his way to Wrigley in middle relief. 

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP David Aardsma to a minor-league deal. [4/13]

Released by the Yankees at the end of spring, Aardsma is in a good spot to get potential innings. The Marlins do have a few youngish, solid relief pieces in place: Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, and A.J. Ramos—perhaps Ryan Webb if he pitches more like 2011—but the rest of their bullpen is built from fogies. Chad Qualls is one more bad year from being out of the league, John Maine was out of the league, and Jon Rauch struggled a touch in his most recent outings. If Aardsma's stuff is all or most of the way back to what it was then look for him to get an opportunity sooner than later. Should all go well he could be on the move come July.

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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