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July 11, 2014

Transaction Analysis

A Pierz to be Missing

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
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Designated C-L A.J. Pierzynski for assignment; optioned RHP Brandon Workman to Triple-A Pawtucket; recalled C-R Christian Vazquez and RHP Rubby De La Rosa from Triple-A Pawtucket. [7/9]

Activated 1B/OF-L Mike Carp from the 15-day disabled list (fractured foot); optioned INF-S Jonathan Herrera to Triple-A Pawtucket. [7/7]

Pierzynski, signed during the offseason to replace the departed Jarrod Saltalamacchia, was done in by a poorly timed slump as much as anything. He got off to a decent start, remaining true to his high-average, low-walk ways, but no longer showing the power that made him a pleasant surprise in the past two seasons. Once June rolled around, Pierzynski's offensive numbers began to slide. The rest of the story is easy enough to piece together, especially in light of the post-release accusations about his attitude not setting well with other Red Sox players.

The truth is, Pierzynski would probably still be employed if he were hitting or if the Red Sox were winning. When a player gets on everyone's nerves, he's only tolerable if he or the team is doing well. Neither is the case, and so Pierzynski is gone. In Pierzynski's place is, in some senses, his inverse. Vazquez is a defensive whiz with a very strong arm and all the trimmings. At minimum, his mitt is good enough to guarantee him a lengthy career as a backup.

Whether Vazquez hits or not—and there's no reason to think he'll ascend beyond the bottom of the lineup anytime soon—he's an upgrade over Pierzynski. Think of it this way: one was a defensive negative wasn't hitting, the other is a defensive positive who probably won't hit. If nothing else, the Red Sox can make the most of what's becoming a lost year by seeing if Vazquez has enough in him to become their man behind the plate heading forward.

From one move with potential long-term implications to another without. Workman made room in the rotation for De La Rosa, who started Wednesday's game, but it's not a real demotion. Should the Red Sox wish, Workman can return without missing a start thanks to the upcoming all-star break. Given the recent flurry of Jake Peavy trade rumors, there's a decent chance Workman will make the start one way or another.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Recalled C-R Erik Kratz from Triple-A Buffalo; placed OF-R Cole Gillespie on the 15-day disabled list (oblique). [7/10]

Claimed OF-R Nolan Reimold off waivers from the Orioles; OF-R Brad Glenn outrighted to the minors. [7/6]

An injury-prone player joins hands with an injury-ravaged team, just like in the movies. Reimold, now 30 years old, has not appeared in more than 60 games in a season since 2011. The Blue Jays can't be too choosy, however, because Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Lawrie have all been placed on the disabled list in the past few weeks. That damage has left John Gibbons to employ some unusual lineups, such as those with Jose Bautista at first base and Dioner Navarro at designated hitter. Reimold (and Kratz, for that matter) can help fill in the blanks, especially against lefties. There is a catch here: Reimold is without options. That means, in theory, he might be exposed to waivers once the Jays get healthier. Of course, if history repeats itself, then Reimold could be on the DL himself at that point.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Purchased the contract of RHP Kyle Hendricks from Triple-A Iowa; optioned RHP Dallas Beeler to Triple-A Iowa. [7/9]

After last week's trade, Jed Hoyer has two holes to fill in his rotation. Beeler and Hendricks are among those in consideration for succeeding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, along with Dan Straily and Tsuyoshi Wada. Hendricks, who debuted on Thursday, is the headliner here thanks to his fantastic statistics on the farm. While the stuff isn't as good as the numbers, he does have impressive command and pitchability. Those attributes, plus a tendency to coerce groundballs, give Hendricks a shot at becoming a back-end starter. Sexier profiles exist, but Hendricks is near the end of his developmental phase and ought to be considered a favorite for one of the two spots.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Placed RHP Gerrit Cole on the 15-day disabled list (lat soreness);recalled then optioned RHP Brandon Cumpton to/from Triple-A Indianapolis; recalled OF-L Jaff Decker from Triple-A Indianapolis; selected the contract of 1B-R Matt Hague from Triple-A Indianapolis; placed OF-R Starling Marte on the bereavement list; designated RHP Duke Welker for assignment. [7/9]

All the movement leaves the Pirates with a six-man bench; a construction seldom seen outside of spring training and September. Sadly, it won't be around for long. Francisco Liriano will rejoin the rotation over the weekend, meaning either Hague or Decker will be removed from the roster. Whoever remains will leave when Marte returns, and everything will be back to normal. The big winner from Cole's absence is Vance Worley, who otherwise would have headed to the bullpen or the minors. Should Worley continue to pitch well, he could force the Pirates to decide between him and Edinson Volquez.

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:  Boston Red Sox,  Toronto Blue Jays

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