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August 20, 2014

Transaction Analysis

Red Sox Place Their Betts

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled OF-R Mookie Betts from Triple-A Pawtucket; optioned OF-L Jackie Bradley Jr. to Triple-A Pawtucket. [8/18]

Betts ought to get the opportunity to play most days through the end of the season. That Betts' break comes at Bradley Jr.'s expense raises more questions about the latter than the former. Bradley Jr. is now about 500 plate appearances into his big-league career, yet he hasn't shown the ability to be a consistently productive hitter. Now the Red Sox must decide whether they'll proceed with Bradley Jr. as an extra outfielder, or take the route the Angels and Astros did with similar players (Peter Bourjos and Brandon Barnes) last offseason, by trading him to a team that still believes in the bat. Either way, he'll return in September.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Agreed to a one-year extension with RHP Scott Atchison worth $900,000 with a club option for 2016 that could push the deal's total value to $1.9 million. [8/19]

You don't see 38-year-old relievers with injury histories extended often, but this deal makes sense. Atchison was under team control through next season anyway, so this contract just guarantees him a job and nets him—at minimum—an extra $100,000 through the option buyout. From Cleveland's perspective, they secure the right to control whether Atchison is an Indian come 2016. There's a chance his elbow blows out sometime in the next 12 months, rendering the option year moot, just like there's a chance he remains an effective workhorse reliever. For $100K, why not?

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed 1B-R Matt Hague off waivers from the Pirates; optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. [8/18]

For those keeping score, Hague is Alex Anthopoulos' eighth waiver claim of the season*. Like four of those before him, Hague is a right-handed hitter. He offers limited value: he doesn't defend well enough to play a premium position, nor bop enough to start at first base or DH. As such, keeping him on the 25-man roster during this era of seven-man bullpens is difficult. However, if there is a time outside of spring training when carrying Hague makes sense, it's after rosters expand in September. Until then, Hague's job is to stay loose in Triple-A—just in case Nolan Reimold gets hurt.

*In chronological order: Liam Hendriks, Matt Tuiasosopo, Darin Mastroianni, Kenny Wilson, Cole Gillespie, Nolan Reimold, and Brad Mills.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled RHP Will Harris from Triple-A Reno; optioned RHP Bradin Hagens to Triple-A Reno. [8/18]

There aren't many pitchers with fewer big-league qualifications than Hagens. Hagens, who is 25 and tops out in the low 90s, had spent most of the season in Double-A, where he walked nearly as many (4.1) as he fanned (4.9) on a per-nine basis. Were it not for the fact he's already appeared in two big-league games, he's not someone you would expect to ever pitch in the majors. He did, though, so good for him.

Harris, a waiver-claim-turned-bright-spot in the Arizona bullpen last season, has failed to author a convincing sequel in 2014. He's appeared in just 12 games for the D'Backs, and the results have been poor. Fittingly, in his first big-league appearance in more than two months, he allowed a walk-off home-run to the third batter he faced. It's been that kind of season for Harris, who'll need to turn things around soon, or otherwise risk hitting the waiver wire again.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Activated OF-R Andrew McCutchen from the 15-day disabled list (fractured); optioned UTL-S Michael Martinez to Triple-A Indianapolis. [8/19]
Placed RHP Charlie Morton on the 15-day disabled list (hip inflammation); recalled 3B-R Brent Morel from Triple-A Indianapolis. [8/17]

Although the Morton news is a downer—he had surgery on the same hip in 2011—the Pirates will enjoy two positive developments. McCutchen returned to the lineup on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday Gerrit Cole will take Morton's spot in the rotation. Cole, of course, has missed the past month-plus with a strained lat. Vance Worley, who has pitched well for the Pirates, is the bigger winner here, since he'll remain in the big-league rotation through the end of the month.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Recalled RHP Carlos Martinez from Triple-A Memphis; optioned LHP Kevin Siegrist to Triple-A Memphis. [8/17]

Martinez returns to the majors some two-plus weeks after he was demoted to join the Memphis rotation. He pitched well—10 scoreless innings—but he's in St. Louis to relieve rather than start. The Cardinals hope Martinez finds some of last year's magic. The good news is he won't have to in order to be an upgrade over what Siegrist has done since coming off the disabled list (11 runs and 15 baserunners in eight innings). Siegrist figures to return in September. Between now and then, Mike Matheny will have three left-handed relievers to deploy as he sees fit.

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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