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March 2, 2015

Transaction Analysis

It's the Latest Johan Santana Comeback

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed OF-R Alex Hassan off waivers from the Orioles; placed RHP A.J. Griffin on the 60-day disabled list (Tommy John surgery). [2/27]
Claimed RHP Chad Smith off waivers from the Tigers; placed RHP Taylor Thompson on the 60-day disabled list (shoulder). [2/26]

Billy Beane snags two players off the waiver wire.

Hassan is a walking Moneyball joke. He's older and boasts limited athleticism to go with his large frame and long swing, yet he doesn't hit for much power. What Hassan does do is command the strike zone. He's never posted an on-base percentage below .350 during his minor-league career, and his walk rate has exceeded 10 percent in every season except his introduction to pro ball. From a scouting perspective, Hassan is an up-and-down type whose best-case scenario is latching on as a bench bat. The A's are always eager to take a chance on this kind of profile, however, so don't be surprised if he sees some time in the majors sooner than later.

Contrariwise, Smith might have to wait for his turn. While claiming a reliever from the Tigers seems like a bad sign, the A's bullpen is in good health. If anything, the A's have too many quality arms, as they'll enter camp with five out-of-option relievers—and that doesn't include the injured Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, or Eric O'Flaherty. Smith could, in time, replace whoever gets left out. He's a physical righty with a short arm stroke who pitches from a low-three-quarters slot. Oh, and he throws strikes with his fastball, which can touch into the mid-to-upper-90s.These being the A's, expect Smith to become more than a situational reliever.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed "OF"-R Dayan Viciedo to a minor-league deal. [2/28]
Signed LHP Johan Santana to a minor-league deal. [2/27]

Alex Anthopoulos adds two famous names to his camp roster.

Viciedo was released in early February by the White Sox, who will remain on the hook for most of his year's earnings. The story on him remains ever the same, and it's telling that a 25-year-old with previous big-league success couldn't net a guaranteed deal. Viciedo's most marketable attribute is his raw power—a trait compromised by his approach. Viciedo is so fond of swinging the bat that he'll expand the zone on a whim to chase breaking balls. The result is a middling-average, low-OBP slash line that isn't atoned by elite power production. Add in poor defense and baserunning, as well as a platoon split and the ever-present possibility he'll collide with a teammate in the outfield, and you can understand why Viciedo is viewed as a limited talent.

Yet Viciedo might fit on the Jays anyway. Trade rumors continue to swirl around Dioner Navarro, Toronto's current DH, and it doesn't hurt Viciedo's odds of making the club that Michael Saunders will miss the beginning of the regular season. Of course the Jays could opt for a number of solutions. They could keep Navarro and use him as the everyday DH while installing Kevin Pillar in left, they could do both of those things and carry Viciedo instead of a third catcher, and so on. The Jays have plenty of flexibility, which is a good thing, because Viciedo offers little.

Santana hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 due to various injuries, including shoulder woes and a torn Achilles tendon. It's not even apparent that he's healthy now, as his winter-league session was short by more shoulder soreness. Weird things happen every season. Unfortunately, Santana playing much of a role for the 2015 Jays would qualify as one of those weird things.


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:  Oakland Athletics,  Toronto Blue Jays

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