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April 6, 2010

Transaction Action

AL Roster Cleanup

by Christina Kahrl

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LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Purchased the contract of 4C-R Robb Quinlan from Salt Lake (Triple-A); placed LHP Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL (hamstring), retroactive to 3/31; placed RHP Anthony Ortega (triceps) and OF-S Reggie Willits (hamstring) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/30; placed OF-R Chris Pettit on the 15-day DL (labrum), retroactive to 3/26; optioned C-R Ryan Budde and CF-R Peter Bourjos to Salt Lake. [4/3]
Designated C-R Ryan Budde for assignment. [4/5]

It took no special power of anticipation to foresee Quinlan's arrival on the roster—he's a familiar bit as bench players go, and however vestigial his uses as a third baseman, the injuries to Willits and Kazmir certainly helped the Halos decide to go for 14 position players, Quinlan among them. But other than his use as the obvious backup first baseman on the roster, it's hard to identify what he's for, beyond nostalgia. Sure, the Angels have three catchers, and but on the days that Jeff Mathis starts, say Mike Scioscia wants to pinch-hit for him, and doesn't want to use Mike Napoli. Maybe Napoli's DHing that particular day. So you want t pinch-hit for Mathis—do you use Quinlan? It's not an obvious upgrade, and the club's carrying a better right-handed hitter, not to mention an actual power source, in Terry Evans.

Now maybe, as the club's primary outfield reserve of the moment, Evans may not pinch-hit much, not without remaining in the game. You can say the same for primary infield reserve Maicer Izturis. But who does Quinlan sub in for? Even his possession of a first baseman's glove shouldn't matter—Napoli's played a good amount of first base in the minors, and if Scioscia wants Napoli's bat but not necessarily his everyday play behind the plate, what better way to avoid taking a hit during Kendry Morales' days off than to plug in Napoli?

Nobody has been better than the Angels when it comes to reshuffling their various moving parts. But a good amount of their flexibility is gone because of the relative immobility of a number of rostered players. In Kazmir's absence, swingman Matt Palmer is doing exactly that, swinging into the rotation, but almost inevitably, you can anticipate the Angels' deciding to move back up to a dozen pitchers. Like Willits and third catcher Bobby Wilson, Evans is out of options, so come the day when Kazmir and Willits are healthy (say, right around Tax Day), you'll have a renewed position-player roster crunch before we get into the issue of whether or not the Angels will come back down to 13. Quinlan should pass through waivers, and Willits or Wilson might; Evans probably wouldn't. If they risk Wilson or Willits, they have alternatives in Bourjos in center; losing Pettit for the year to shoulder surgery makes Evans that much less easy to replace.

So, come the end of next week, things will get interesting. Maybe they stick with six relievers—although even there, their range of options is handicapped by Brian Stokes' optionlessness. Maybe somebody gets hurt. But if Quinlan's looking at a choice between free agency or Utah in a little more than a week, it wouldn't be all that surprising.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Purchased the contract of LHP Will Ohman from Norfolk (Triple-A); placed RHP Koji Uehara on the 15-day DL (hamstring), retroactive to 3/26; optioned RHP Kam Mickolio to Norfolk; designated MI-R Robert Andino for assignment. [4/3]

Beyond some mild disappointment for Mickolio's sake, his groin injury and Matt Albers' nice camp combined to make this an unsurprising development in what are, collectively, unsurprising developments. Between making their initial choice for their rotation and subsequently demoting Chris Tillman, or their choice, partially inspired by Brian Roberts' health, to make a trade to add Julio Lugo to their reserve options, the big news was already made. Andino's DFA or Mickolio's washing out to the Tides were just inevitable footnotes to the completion of camp.


BOSTON RED SOX
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Optioned INF-L Tug Hulett to Pawtucket (Triple-A). [4/2]
Placed RHP Junichi Tazawa on the 60-day DL (sprained elbow); optioned OF-L Josh Reddick to Pawtucket. [4/3]
Purchased the contract of LHP Scott Schoeneweis from Pawtucket; placed RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day DL (neck). [4/4]
Agreed to terms with RHP Josh Beckett on a four-year, $68 million extension.

Yes, the Beckett deal's big, and pointedly slightly bigger than John Lackey's contract, so that paydays for the perceived staff ace reflect that perception. Beckett got a slightly larger signing bonus ($5 million to Lackey's $3.5 million), with a half-million higher annual salary once it kicks in for 2011 and beyond. Such status-related considerations aside, is it a worthwhile investment for Beckett's age-31 through age-34 seasons? As high-maintenance as he might be as a hurler, you can understand why the Sox are paying out this kind of cash.

He did just deliver his heaviest innings workload, and between familiarity and a decision to opt out of next winter's bidding war on Cliff Lee (and very little else in terms of high-end starting pitching), you can see how the Sox would decide to just stick with what they knew. The number of long-term extensions agreed to this past year significantly reduced the freedom of action to play the market for a team like the Sox; Felix Hernandez's long-anticipated free agency is off the table, so who else do you pay for? Beyond Beckett, Lee's the best of next winter's class, and Brandon Webb if he proves healthy enough to engender any real trust. The 2011-12 winter pool offers you just Wandy Rodriguez and Edwin Jackson, with guys like Chris Carpenter or Roy Oswalt likely to be less valuable if their current clubs have cause to not pick up their options. It's not a great field of options for a club craving certainty and results, and one armed with top dollar to boot.

So rather than ping-pong between Lee and Beckett next winter, the Sox bet on Beckett. Per MORP, they've slightly overpaid, by roughly $7 million, but between the signing bonus and the fact that they should be far into the black if he fulfills expectations this year (perhaps by as much as $10 million if MORP has it right), it isn't like the Sox are losing money on the deal in the broad strokes. This isn't outside of what Beckett would have gotten on the market, and it certainly doesn't involve a home-town discount.

It really boils down to whether or not you think Beckett in particular is worth the risk, beyond the abstractions and the forecasts. There, I'm less sure. This isn't quite like the Pedro Martinez contract with the Mets for 2005-08 at the cost of $53 million, despite the seeming comparability in terms of their both being high-maintenance quality starters. Pedro was two years older at that contract's outset, so while he was better, he'd also accumulated that much more mileage. And yet, and yet... there's a sense of regret, that this is the relationship that, like the one with Jason Varitek or David Ortiz or Lowell, lingers a bit beyond beatification, as today's hero becomes tomorrow's eight-figure cause for regret. It won't surprise me in the least if they get 120 starts between now and the deal's completion, and they already had one of those five years on the payroll. You can understand the relative shortage of high-end alternatives on the market playing a key part, but as much as the Sox understand and have documented the risks already run with Beckett's right arm, there's nothing remarkable in anticipating that there's going to be an unhappy patch in this deal.

As it turned out, with Mike Lowell untradeable, and however crowded the field of backup infielders, the Sox only had the space to retain just Bill Hall to back up Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro, depositing Hulett with Kevin Frandsen among the PawSox. Instead, the surprise for the roster is the decision to retain Schoeneweis as their second lefty of the present, pending his performance and the anticipated arrival of Alan Embree to possibly supplant him. Scott Atchison and Manny Delcarmen both stuck, fending off Joe Nelson's bid; he too has been ditched into the spare parts toolbox in Pawtucket.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Placed C-R Ramon Castro on the 15-day DL (bruised heel), retroactive to 3/29; purchased the contract of C-R Donny Lucy from Charlotte (Triple-A). [4/4]

This isn't really major news, in that Castro will heal and Lucy won't play and A.J. Pierzynski won't get m/any days of in the meantime. Instead, what it reflects is that the Sox are committed to initially letting Tyler Flowers play every day in Charlotte. If this injury occurs in July or August instead of March or April, you'd almost certainly see a different decision, but where Lucy's service time is concerned, timing's not the only thing, it's everything.


CLEVELAND INDIANS
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Purchased the contract of RHP Jamey Wright. [4/2]
Purchased the contracts of 2B-R Mark Grudzielanek and Austin Kearns from Columbus; designated C-R Wyatt Toregas and MI-S Anderson Hernandez for assignment; placed RHP Kerry Wood (strained lat) and 1B-L Russell Branyan (herniated disc) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/26. [4/4]

We just passed by Passover, so it's perhaps easy to think in terms of leavened or unleavened this time of year. Usually, when you talk about veteran leavening, it's used somewhat anti-septically; get a bit yeasty, and you expect the resultant mixture to rise, either into a fine loaf or out of the AL Central basement. Is stirring in Grudz or Kearns going to make that much of a difference, or will the Tribe yet again be left munching matzo?

Well, as I noted yesterday after Opening Day, Grudzielanek certainly addresses at least one concern, because he's always been a fearless acrobat around the bag, and between that rotation and worries about Luis Valbuena's range, so if it winds up as more of a job-sharing arrangement than a straight platoon, that works. He won't add much at the plate, but he'll make contact and whistle a few doubles to the gaps. Keeping him relies greatly on the fact that Valbuena and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta have all moved around the infield a bit, so Grudz' limitation to second base isn't a problem because everyone else's flexibility made choosing him over a more classic futility infielder like Andy Hernandez doable.

In the outfield, Kearns won't grow up to be the new Gary Roenicke now that he's about to turn 30. On his career, he's less a masher against lefties than a guy with a 15 percent walk rate against them. That, plus he's the right-handed person behind three lefty-batting starters, and he has been an asset in the corners, and he'll have his uses. The other thing that's noteworthy is he's the team's lone former Nat. Hernandez or non-roster invite Saul Rivera could have added numbers to the cadre of former Acta-rs familiar with the manager; Hernandez had only just arrived, while Rivera didn't do anything to push past long-relief choices like Aaron Laffey and Jamey Wright.


KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Purchased RHP Luis Mendoza from the Rangers; optioned OF-R Brian Anderson to Idaho Falls (Rookie). [4/2]
Placed RHP Gil Meche (shoulder) and 3B-L Alex Gordon (thumb) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/26; placed 3B-R Josh Fields on the 15-day DL (hip), retroactive to 3/28. [4/3]
Purchased the contract of LHP John Parrish from Omaha (Triple-A); designated RHP Anthony Lerew for assignment. [4/4]

The Royals' latest tales of woe aren't quite as bad as you might think. Meche might be back and active by this weekend, with the threat of a Kyle Farnsworth start remaining in the realm of the theoretical in the interim. The third-base situation is frustrating in the case of yet another delay for Gordon, but he should be back in action in April, with Fields not far behind. In the meantime, it's annoying that Alberto Callaspo's been dealing with a groin strain, but the stack of injuries among their third-base options won't add up to a major setback. The Royals can't finish any further out than fifth, after all, and the doubts about Fields' utility as anything other than another college quarterback who didn't hack it as a baseball prospect. However many temporary absences the Royals are dealing with now, the situation remains that whatever Gordon shows them will be the fulcrum around which any future decisions about who's at the hot corner revolve.

On the pitching staff, it's interesting to see Mendoza and Parrish both wash up here, but as with Fields, it's a case of mounding up other people's discarded, middling prospects, and hoping somebody shows them something. Mendoza's a sinkerballer who doesn't generate a lot of ground balls, while Parrish has had occasional velocity, occasional health between elbow and shoulder woes, and occasional problems with John Law and John Barleycorn. That they're in the Royals pen just highlights the bizarre blend of relief help they're relying on beyond Joakim Soria. To set up the Mexicutioner, you'll get to see the expensive disappointments, Farnsworth and Juan Cruz. Parrish and organizational arm Dusty Hughes providing lefty help. Beyond Mendoza, for middle relief duties Robinson Tejeda should have value despite losing out in his bid for a rotation job, and Roman Colon provides that former Brave vibe that might remind Dayton Moore of happier days. Hughes is the lone product of the system; even Soria was somebody else's prospect, back in the day. If it sounds like a desperate lot, that's because it is, with the equally desperate hope being that perhaps Cruz or even Farnsworth pitches well enough to elicit interest elsewhere by the deadline.

Meanwhile, you can add Anderson to the list of failed position-playing prospects being converted to the mound. It's invariably interesting to wonder if he could be both a pitcher and a defensive replacement in the outfield, and chuck the hitting as much as it can be avoided. But in the same way that Mother Nature only occasionally gives us the duck-billed platypus or the like, and more generally sticks with ducks that quack like ducks and look like ducks and make excellent duck dishes, baseball's likely to give us "Brian Anderson, pitcher," and not muddy up the fish/fowl divide. There, he might simply be feasted upon by hitters instead of pitchers.


MINNESOTA TWINS
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Placed RHP Clay Condrey on the 15-day DL (elbow); recalled RHP Alex Burnett from Rochester (Triple-A). [4/3]

In the Twins' litany of bullpen mishaps, you can skip listing Condrey's breakdown among them. Per WXRL, he's been roughly around a replacement-level reliever the last two seasons, and given a modest assortment, he's basically just experienced filler in a staff already well-stocked with the type. The present depends more on what they'll get from Pat Neshek and Jesse Crain in supporting roles behind Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, and Jose Mijares. Burnett's more likely than Condrey to provide value after last year's successful move to relief, and with a low-90s fastball that touches 95 and an off-speed assortment that plays up in the pen, he could wind up a keeper where Condrey's become somewhat disposable.


NEW YORK YANKEES
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Purchased the contract of OF-R Marcus Thames from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A); optioned LHP Boone Logan to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. [4/4]

In light of Logan's dispatch, you might wonder about some of the redundancies in the pen: Do the Yankees really need multiple right-handed swing types in Alfredo Aceves, Chan Ho Park, and Sergio Mitre, but no second lefty beyond Damaso Marte? I'd fuss less about this, however, since Park and Aceves and Joba Chamberlain all figure to be used in high-leverage roles, while Mitre might be the staff's mop-up man (as well as a token former Marlin from Joe Girardi's season in teal). If the bullpen's crowded with talent with broader uses, the bench, is not. Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena are the backups behind the plate and in the infield that you hope to see as little as possible of. It's the pair of outfield reserves whose playing-time patterns will bear closer watching, because beyond Randy Winn doing the things that Randy Winn's supposed to do, Thames can handle left field now and again, beyond simply waiting around for the next short-term Nick Johnson injury (anything long-term, and you begin to wonder about Jesus Montero). I wouldn't be surprised if, in-season, Thames winds up working his way into a non-explicit platoon with Curtis Granderson; watch for those well-timed days off where Brett Gardner sidles into center, and Granderson just happens to miss a lefty who owns him (John Danks, for example). That's not to say Thames is merely a platoon masher, however; he's a right-handed power hitter who thumps, whiffs, and walks against everybody about equally, while getting marginally more singles to drop in against southpaws.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Purchased the contract of RHP Tyson Ross from Midland (Double-A); designated DH-L Jack Cust for assignment; placed RHP Trevor Cahill (scapula) and OF-S Coco Crisp (finger) on the 15-day DL; placed RHPs Michael Wuertz (shoulder) and Joey Devine (TJS recovery) and LHP Josh Outman (TJS recovery) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/26; optioned RHP Henry Rodriguez, LHP Brad Kilby, and C-R Landon Powell to Sacramento (Triple-A). [4/4]

The A's moves are so many flavors of strange that it defies easy explanation. Ditching a DH in his age-31 season? Sure, OK, Cust isn't a great hitter for a designated hitter if he's already declined to a .278 TAv (as he did last season), but even PECOTA's harsh appreciation for older players with old player skills anticipated a mild bounce-back season, back up to .287. It did forecast a pretty broad range of possibilities, however, with Cust's 50 percent projection involving a .273 TAv, and things getting down into the .250 to .260 range shortly thereafter. If he's only a DH, that's not a very valuable DH. If his ISO slips below .200, as it does in a few too many scenarios, it's potentially ugly, even if he is walking a good amount of the time.

Anticipating a continuing slip isn't really very exciting, but it's understandable. Favoring the up-side risk of Eric Chavez, though? Projections don't favor that particular roll of the dice, so this is obviously an appreciation based as much on what Chavez was, might have been, and could be if healthy in the best of all possible worlds, outside any model. With $15 million already sunk on the expense of employing Chavez for this last season ($12 million in salary, and $3 million to buy out their 2011 option), the $2.8 million it would cost to employ Cust by comparison seems like chump change; if someone had claimed Cust, that just drops the bill to $2.4 million. And if Cust just goes to Sacramento, he's still theirs until Chavez breaks again. Chavez might be a wishcast in cleats, but Cust isn't the Bambino. They went spelunking for an old daydream, rather than settling. After last season, it shouldn't seem all that surprising; add in the almost non-existent market for Cust's services, and they seem to have anticipated the likelihood that they'll get to retain Cust.

That's not exactly negligible, because they stood to lose guys like Eric Patterson or Jake Fox if they'd tried to outright either of them now that they're not optionable. So it remains to be seen what they'll do with those they have kept. Patterson's been talked up in the past as an aspiring Chone Figgins type, playing second and third and the outfield; I'll believe in their commitment to such a program once it's actually showing up in boxscores. Fox is being asked to be the club's backup catcher; he'll be terrible at it, given the horrendous results from his attempts to catch regularly in the minors, but if they A's were already banking on 130 starts from Kurt Suzuki, you can understand a willingness to run this attending risk. Will this mean Fox catches more than once a week, for a normal reserve's load? Or will they bump Suzuki up to 140 starts? If the later-day A's are supposed to be more considerate of defense, neither Patterson or Fox at any position speaks to that. To some extent, this resembles older cautions, about treating the 40-man roster as a holding tank of talent, and not really employing it to field a team, but we'll see if, now that we're here, Patterson and Fox get used.

Both men may also see action in the outfield, of course, especially now that Coco Crisp is going to be missing until May. With Rajai Davis trying to permanently beat a platoon rap, Ryan Sweeney finally trying to show start-worthy power for a corner, and Gabe Gross and Travis Buck little better off in terms of trying to hold onto their careers, it's going to be very interesting to see whether Bob Geren creates any particular patterns for playing time, or who he winds up favoring. Davis might have dibs because somebody has to lead off and somebody has to play center, but if Sweeney sees time in center or Patterson leads off or the whole thing melts into some sort of oleaginous blur, I wouldn't be surprised.

Finally, there are the choices for the bullpen in the wake of the injuries to Wuertz and Devine, since Gio Gonzalez has the fifth starter's slot to himself as much via default (due to Cahill's injury) as performance with a good Cactus campaign. With Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez added to the mix, seeing both on the roster's not a shocker. Similarly, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, and Brad Ziegler could be taken as givens. The last two slots are a matter of one clock that's ticking while starting another earlier than expected. Jerry Blevins has inspired some elaborate expectations in the past, but whether or not he sticks as a hard-throwing lefty has been a matter of anticipation for a good three years now. Ross, in contrast, is last year's second-round pick out of Cal, and a power arm who might not be stuck in relief forever, but clearly will have to break in as a reliever now. Whether or not it really made sense to get him onto the roster already seems questionable, but between the injuries and the relative shortage of viable right-handed alternatives, it's not set in stone that he'll struggle. As teams like the Dodgers have demonstrated in recent years, some guys are ready sooner than a simple matter of what levels they've pitched at can tell you. Ross has the stuff to stick, but it remains to be seen if pushing him into the pen already will do his career that many favors, especially if he simply winds up shunted aside once Wuertz and Devine are back.


SEATTLE MARINERS
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Purchased the contract of DH-R Mike Sweeney from Tacoma (Triple-A); placed LHP Cliff Lee on the 15-day DL (abdominal strain), retroactive to 3/26. [4/4]

I've sort of long since worn out the topic of Sweeney's second successful NRI campaign for retention, so his officialization as far as the roster's concerned isn't really news, as much as whose place he's taking. The Mariners provide yet another reason to tip your cap to them, going with just 11 pitchers instead of over-compensating for Lee's temporary absence, and using his time away as an opportunity to give Jason Vargas starts. To some extent, this might create an in-season competition between Vargas and Doug Fister for who remains in the rotation later this month once Lee returns, because let's face it, a rotation with those two (let alone Ian Snell) shouldn't inspire visions of 90 wins and a flag. The more interesting conundrum between now and Lee's activation (and service of a five-game suspension) is how Don Wakamatsu's going to use a pen where you can peg David Aardsma as the closer, beyond which you have four live arms in Mark Lowe, Brandon League, Shawn Kelley, and Sean White. Kelley and White were on opposite ends as far as fortune on balls in play, and might be best left in middle relief until they show some form of reliability in one form or another. Lowe should see the high-leverage situations with inherited runners if last season was any guide. Will Wakamatsu and company work any particular magic with League after last year's remarkable success with Aardsma? He got to protect last night's eighth-inning lead, handing the save opportunity to the closer, so we'll see how this works out.


TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Acquired RHP Virgil Vasquez from the Pirates for a PTBNL. [4/2]
Placed LHP J.P. Howell (strained shoulder) and OF-L Matt Joyce (strained elbow) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/26; outrighted 2B/OF-S Elliot Johnson to Durham (Triple-A). [4/4]

Joyce's injury may be close to fully healed, but the Rays get to use his temporary absence to take an initial look-see at Sean Rodriguez at second base while pushing Ben Zobrist out to right field. So far, so good, although it'll be interesting to see what they do once Joyce is ready to come back. It seems redundant to carry Zobrist and Rodriguez with Willy Aybar and Reid Brignac on the bench or hoping to get the odd at-bat spotting for the starters in the infield or, in Aybar's case, at DH for Pat Burrell after a full spring's worth of discontent with their DH's hitting to add to last season's disaster.

The way I look at it, Joyce's future may as well be now. First off, there's the fact that Desmond Jennings is on the way up, and should arrive in the majors at some point this season, after he heals and (perhaps predictably) lays into the International League. So that's a body beyond the present starting slate of outfielders he's not going to beat out for at-bats. If Joyce is going to even be the team's fourth outfielder after Carl Crawford presumably leaves as a free agent next winter, they may as well find out now, because nobody's going to give them like value compared to what they paid in playing talent to get him.

As for the Opening Day bullpen in Howell's absence, I'm struck by how this is almost exactly the sort of scenario which puts Mike Ekstrom on the roster as a fiddly bit in the almost definitively moppy seventh reliever role. Andy Sonnanstine and Lance Cormier were already going to make it as the team's middle-innings munchers, with the former keeping an eye peeled towards a swingman's spot starts in case a transient rotation injury crops up. Howell's absence concentrates the high-leverage set-up opportunities in front of Rafael Soriano into the mitts of Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler, while the seemingly unkillable Randy Choate will get employed in situational southpaw scenarios. Howell seems confident he'll be back by late May at the latest, which hardly guarantees Ekstrom that much job security in the meantime; if Joe Maddon decides he wants a second lefty beyond Choate, that'll instantly squash the former Pad person's bid of extended service time.

What you don't see here is Hank Blalock's agreement to go to Durham, so even with Joyce out, they ended up riding out his threats to do whatever wherever if he wasn't on the roster, and, a firm grip on reality in place, he can simply be a Bull instead of ventilating it now that the facts of (roster) life are plain. If he has a great month in Durham while Burrell struggles, things get interesting, but he has control over just one of those things; stay tuned.


TEXAS RANGERS
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Signed RHP Scott Feldman to a two-year, $10.9 million contract extension with a $9.5 million club option for 2013 ($600,000 buyout); sold RHP Luis Mendoza to the Royals. [4/2]
Recalled RHP Omar Beltre from Frisco (Double-A); placed RHPs Tommy Hunter (strained oblique) and Warner Madrigal (forearm) and 2B-R Ian Kinsler (sprained ankle) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to 3/26; optioned RHP Guillermo Moscoso to Oklahoma City (Triple-A). [4/4]

While this might seem like a big bet to place on Feldman's future (eight figures, multiple years, excitement!), the guaranteed years simply obviate the need to ever go to arbitration during the remaining balance of the team's contractual control of his future, with the 2013 option representing the first year of free agency that's now also under club control without being guaranteed for much more than the minimum to buy out. If Feldman lives up to anything like their expectations, he'll earn that last year; if he simply develops into a reliable fourth man, as PECOTA suggests, then the option year becomes a much more difficult financial proposition, but one that's cheaply bought out in case they've got better uses for the money by then. Even if PECOTA's relative pessimism (compared to last year's step forward) comes true, his MORP valuation for over $21 million in the next three seasons alone makes this seem like a bargain; add in the likelihood that they'll get five or six wins' worth of value over the three guaranteed seasons, and it becomes better still. Add in the erasure of logistical nuisances of prepping any cases of the panel, and it's a happy expense as such things go.

In the meantime, there's the matter of Kinsler's disabling, which is troubling, but not the end of the world. He might be back by the end of next week or so, and with David Murphy and Ryan Garko on the bench, it isn't like Ron Washington doesn't have an outstanding pair of choices to use as pinch-hitters for that day's starting second baseman, whether that's Joaquin Arias or Andres Blanco. It won't replace Kinsler's value as an everyday player, but Blanco's a big asset in the field, and at least once per ballgame (as needed), Washington will be able to swap in a better bat in high-leverage situations. It's death on fantasy clubs, but a workable problem in terms of game management in real life.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Signed OF-L Adam Lind to a four-year, $16 million contract, with a $7 million club option for 2014 ($2 million buyout), a $7.5 million club option for 2015 ($1 million buyout), and an $8 million club option for 2016 ($500,000 buyout). [4/3]
Placed RHP Dustin McGowan on the 15-day DL (shoulder surgery – recovery), retroactive to 3/26; placed LHP Marc Rzepczynski on the 15-day DL (broken finger), retroactive to 3/31. [4/5]

The segmentation of Lind's deal is neat enough, as he's guaranteed the $16 million through the remainder of that portion of his career the club already had control over (he only has slightly more than two years of service time), and with a series of independent, non-vesting options, the Jays did a nifty job of leveraging Lind's lack of control over his present to make sure they have the initiative in terms of controlling his future affordably enough through his age-32 season. Since PECOTA's confident he can retain value as a hitter through the entire period, producing TAv marks around .300 well into his thirties, it's a tremendous bit of front-office work to have locked him in so thoroughly so soon. If, in the worst case, they wound out just the $16 million plus the $2 million buyout because he completely tanks, that's, what, 1.6 Jose Guillens in terms of expense spread across four times the seasonal service, with none of the attendant unpleasantness? Of course it's a great deal for the club. As for Lind, I'm impressed that he's willing to make this kind of commitment to a future as a Blue Jay, but here again, he leveraged his future to acquire a payday that should leave him nicely set up.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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