October 8, 2013
The Quiet Claims
Claimed RHP Josh Wall off waivers from the Marlins. [10/4]
Wall heads to a new organization for the second time this year. He joined the Marlins in the Ricky Nolasco trade, but never appeared in a game for the big-league team. Instead, Wall becomes one of the first victims from the Marlins' front-office shakeup. Formerly a second-round pick, Wall throws a low-90s fastball and a plus slider, though his location skills are mediocre. Should all go well he could develop into a middle reliever; otherwise it's an up-and-down life for him.
Claimed RHP Tyler Cloyd off waivers from the Phillies. [10/2]
Designated LHP Clay Rapada for assignment. [10/2]
Cloyd is a classic example of a Quad-A pitcher. He's athletic enough to repeat his delivery and throw strikes, but the quality of his stuff—including a mid-to-upper-80s fastball—is too poor to play in the majors. There used to be a thought that he could fake it as a no. 5 starter, but nothing in his big-league portfolio supports that notion. Expect Cleveland to sneak him through waivers sometime during the winter so that he can take his place as organizational depth.
Claimed LHP Raul Valdes off waivers from the Phillies. [10/2]
Declined RHP Philip Humber's 2014 club option. [10/2]
Valdes is a junkballer who profiles best as a left-handed specialist. Over the last three seasons he's allowed a .213/.262/.336 line against same-handed batters, and a .277/.330/.486 mark against righties. Both performances came in small samples, though with his stuff it makes sense that he'd have a traditional platoon split. It's too soon to know what the Astros roster will look like, but expect him to get situational work if they're interested in maximizing his output. Otherwise he could serve as a mop-up reliever.
Claimed RHP Alex Sanabia off waivers from the Marlins. [10/4]
The Diamondbacks had plenty of rotation options to begin with, but what's wrong with one more for good measure? Sanabia is a limited pitcher who relies on his changeup to make up for his fastball and breaking ball's shortcomings. He allowed too much quality contact this season for anyone's comfort, and missed four months with a strained groin; both of which put him on the outs with the Marlins. Sanabia was also caught using a spitball, so his resourcefulness on the mound cannot be questioned.
Claimed 1B-L Mat Gamel off waivers from the Brewers. [10/3]
Back in 2008, Kevin Goldstein ranked Gamel the Brewers' third-best prospect, writing, "He should hit .300 in the big leagues with over 25 home runs annually." In the five seasons since, Gamel has topped 25 home runs once—and that came in the minors. Injuries are more to blame than an incorrect evaluation: Gamel missed most of the past two seasons due to separate ACL tears, and visited the 60-day disabled list for the third time in four seasons.
Now Gamel gets a fresh start in Chicago, where he no longer has to worry about expectations or justification. All he has to concern himself with is regaining his previous offensive potency. If he does, then the Cubs will make room for him, even if it's only as a bat off the bench. Of course the fragility concerns are unlikely to disappear, and that's bad news for the 28-year-old. Another missed season and it might be time to put away any optimism about his big-league future.