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August 17, 2015

Transaction Analysis

Steve the Cleaver Comes to Baltimore

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Recalled C-L Steve Clevenger from Triple-A Norfolk; designated OF-L David Lough for assignment. [8/14]

With Matt Wieters sidelined by a tight hamstring, the Orioles needed another catcher. Hence Clevenger, whose name was reportedly a popular one around the deadline. Obviously Dan Duquette said phooey to the inquiries, but you might wonder just what other teams saw in Clevenger, a 29-year-old with a career .579 OPS. The answer is, most likely, his minor-league production. During his time on the farm, Clevenger has shown a patient approach and quality bat-to-ball skills. If he brings those traits with him to Baltimore, he could position himself as the 2016 backup catcher. Otherwise, maybe Duquette will double back this winter on his deadline decision and send Clevenger packing.

Lough should find a new home in the coming days. Though he hasn't hit well in 2015, his previous two seasons suggested he could flirt with a league-average line. Add in his impressive defense across the outfield, as well as his cost (he's not arbitration-eligible until after the season), and he deserves to sit on some team's bench.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Claimed RHP Danny Burawa off waivers from the Yankees; signed RHP Edwin Jackson; optioned RHP Ryan Kelly to Triple-A Gwinnett. [8/14]

Remember that bad joke from a few TAs ago, the one where a bunch of relievers who were designated for assignment or released were called future Braves? Turns out one of those pitchers really was.

Perhaps Jackson's move to Atlanta was too predictable given the offseason rumors that had him heading to A-Town in exchange for Melvin Upton Jr. Still, he checks off two boxes for the Braves, who continue to seek cheap relief help and good human beings. Jackson's 2015 is a bit of a contradiction: His ERA and FIP are good because he hasn't allowed a home run, but his season as a whole has disappointed because his strikeout-to-walk ratio has declined from his starting days. If the Braves can help Jackson become more comfortable in a relief role—a place where his fastball-slider combination should, in theory, make him an asset—then he could be an interesting free-agent case. Here's hoping it works out for Jackson, who many across the league regard as a wonderful person.

Speaking of predictable, Burawa also has two qualities the Braves covet: 1) he's a cheap reliever (duh) and 2) he's a former Yankee. John Hart has repeatedly dipped into the ex-Yankee talent pool since last winter, when he hired long-time scout Gordon Blakeley away from New York. In Burawa, like in Jackson, the Braves are getting a potentially interesting reliever with a mid-to-upper-90s fastball. Should he find more consistency with his command and secondary pitches—and there's no guarantee that he does—he could serve as a late-inning option for years to come.

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Recalled RHP Gonzalez Germen and LHP Kenneth Roberts from Triple-A Albuquerque; placed LHP Boone Logan on the 15-day disabled list (elbow inflammation); optioned RHP Eddie Butler to Triple-A Albuquerque. [8/14]

The big move here is Butler, who again failed in his attempt to become a rotation mainstay. There's almost nothing positive to report about his big-league experience through 19 starts. He hasn't performed well—he's walked two more than he's struck out while allowing nearly 12 hits and 1.5 home runs per nine—and you can't even give him credit for health, since he's had two separate bouts with shoulder soreness. Adjusting to the majors is tough (especially when the home park in question is Coors), but Butler was supposed to have a quality three-pitch mix that would propel him to the middle of a rotation sooner than later; instead, he's struggled through three big-league stints and is heading into his age-25 season no closer to fulfilling his promise than he was 12 months ago.

In Germen and Roberts, the Rockies are hoping for some relief help, though it's unclear whether these characters can provide that. Germen's name is familiar around these parts, as he's been waived and claimed a handful of times since last offseason. He pairs a hot fastball with a good changeup and bad command. Roberts is less traveled and is in the midst of a memorable season: He's made his Triple-A and big-league debuts at the not-so-tender age of 27. He has fringy stuff and odd, deceptive mechanics—he throws across and contorts his body to achieve a tougher release point—meaning he'll probably never be heard from again after this season. That or he'll go on to have a 10-year career; freaking lefties, you know?


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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