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December 3, 2012

Transaction Analysis

All the Non-Tenders

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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Non-tendered 1B/3B-R Mark Reynolds, INF-L Omar Quintanilla, and RHP Stuart Pomeranz. [11/30]

The Orioles’ decision to non-tender Reynolds had to leave teams yearning for more power agog. Reynolds, 29, is a poor defender and a threat to lead the league in strikeouts on an annual basis. Luckily, Reynolds boasts some of the league’s best raw power, which is revealed through a mature approach at the plate. Three-true-outcome-dependent players are always risky, but Reynolds should be able to help a team out at first base or designated hitter next season.

Quintanilla played for the Mets and Orioles last season. After showing some on-base chops with the Mets, he struggled to do anything offensively in Baltimore. He and Pomeranz figure to serve as minor-league depth for some team next season. [Update: Pomeranz will miss the 2013 season after back surgery.]

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered LHP Rich Hill, OF-L Ryan Sweeney, and RHP Scott Atchison. [11/30]

Sweeney came to Boston in the Andrew Bailey trade. After a strong April, Sweeney fell apart and missed time late in the season after fracturing fingers on his right hand. Despite the pretty swing and defensive ability, Sweeney is nothing more than a fourth outfielder nowadays.  Boston reportedly would like to bring back Hill and Atchison, a pair of relievers who were effective for various lengths last season. There are durability concerns with both, however.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered 1B-L Dan Johnson and RHP Anthony Carter. [11/30]

Johnson, otherwise known as “The Great Pumpkin,” spent last season doing what he does best: hammering Triple-A pitching and making name for himself in Game 162. Despite Johnson’s three home runs on the season’s final night, the White Sox appear uninterested in giving the Minnesota native an extended look. Johnson does boast a .270 career True Average, yet his reputation is that of a Quad-A hitter. Unless Johnson’s minor-league stats deceive a team into giving him a big-league deal, expect him to hit his 150th career Triple-A home run early next season.

Carter is a lottery ticket. He throws hard from the left side, but the strike zone eludes him too often for him to be reliable option. That the White Sox were willing to let Carter go is a bad sign. Have no fear, though, as Carter is bound to find work on another farm.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered 3B-L Jack Hannahan and LHPs Rafael Perez and Chris Seddon. [11/30]

Hannahan failed to follow up on a prosperous 2011 season at the plate, instead reverting to his old, mediocre ways in 2012. A defensive dynamo, Hannahan becomes one of the top third basemen available on the free-agent market, though that speaks more to the weakness of the market than his own strength. At worst, Hannahan should find a job on a big-league bench next season, where his manager can hide him against southpaws.

Speaking of left-handers, the Indians let a pair of southpaw relievers go in Perez and Seddon. Perez, the more experienced and successful of the two, missed most of last season with shoulder woes. Seddon, meanwhile, has shown the ability to retire lefties at a reasonable percentage over his various big-league stints. Both may resurface as left-handed specialists on other teams. 

DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered LHP Daniel Schlereth [11/30]

Schlereth, a first-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2008, has impressive stuff—a low-to-mid-90s fastball and plus curveball—but cannot throw strikes consistently. He missed most of last season with shoulder problems. Look for a team eager in trying to unlock Schlereth’s upside to give him a go. 

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered OF-S Derrick Robinson. [11/30]

A former fourth-round pick, Robinson reached Triple-A for the first time last season. Robinson is fast and plays a good center field, but those are about the extent of his marketable tools. He has not shown the ability to hit for average, and he strikes out too much for someone with meager power. Look for Robinson to take a minor-league deal as he tries sneaking into the majors as a fifth outfielder.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered OF-L Jermaine Mitchell. [11/30]

Mitchell, who turned 28 a few weeks ago, lasted all of one season on the A’s 40-man roster. The Texan earned a spot on the 40-man after back-to-back strong offensive performances in Double-A. He failed to build upon that momentum during his time in Triple-A, and now finds himself looking for a minor-league deal elsewhere.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered OF-R Ben Francisco. [11/30]

Francisco’s addition to the free-agent pool is unsurprising. After falling out of favor in Philadelphia, Francisco played for three teams this season and failed to make a positive impact along the way. A team with the need for a fourth or fifth outfielder could consider Francisco, but he may have to settle for a minor-league deal instead.

TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered C-R Geovany Soto, 1B/OF-R Brandon Snyder, and RHP Jacob Brigham. [11/30]

Even coming off a down season, Soto figures to be one of the most coveted free-agent backstops available. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is a well-rounded defensive backstop, and previously a league-average hitter. The reasoning for his dramatic drop in production at the plate is unclear, but he should be someone’s opening day starter next season given the paucity of alternatives.

Snyder is a former top prospect who has been unable to establish a role for himself in the majors. The Rangers just recently reacquired Brigham, swapping Barrett Loux for him amidst injury concerns. Both will be in line for minor-league deals.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered C-R Bobby Wilson. [11/30]

Toronto claimed Wilson off waivers in October, yet bids him adieu five weeks later. Wilson has drawn comparisons to Jeff Mathis in the past, as both are no-hit backstops whose value resides in the intangibles of the position. The difference is that Wilson has hit lefties over his big-league career, albeit in a small sample. He could latch on elsewhere as a backup, or as organizational depth.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered C-R Wil Nieves. [11/30]

The Diamondbacks will be in the market for a new backup catcher this winter after non-tendering Nieves. The veteran backstop split time with the Rockies and D’Backs this season and hit well by his own standards. But Kevin Towers wisely ignored the small sample success and will look for an upgrade. Nieves seems bound for a minor-league deal.

ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered RHPs Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan. [11/30]

From the 2011 All-Star team to the non-tender pile, the past year and a half has been unkind to Jurrjens. His velocity continued to slip last season, as did his ability to miss bats. The results were ugly and led to Jurrjens making more appearances in the minors than the majors this season. Jurrjens has not made more than 30 starts in a season since 2009, but you can expect a team to take a chance on him because of his recent success and two seasons of team control remaining.

Shoulder surgery limited Moylan to 13 1/3 innings over the past two seasons. A shame because the Australian native, with his side-arm delivery and propensity for groundballs, was as good a right-handed specialist as there was in the league. If the Braves elect to move on to the next Moylan, ostensibly Cory Gearrin, then expect Moylan to find work elsewhere.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered RHPs Jaye Chapman and Zach Putnam, and 3B-L Ian Stewart. [11/30]

All three of the Cubs’ non-tenders were acquired over the course of the year. Chapman is a small right-hander with a low-90s fastball and quality changeup. Putnam is a taller righty with a sinking fastball and slider. Both could see the majors next season in the bullpen. Stewart, a busted former top prospect, ought to latch on somewhere as a left-handed bat of the bench, though his stock can’t get much lower at this point.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered LHP Manny Parra. [11/30]

Parra, who turned 30 a month to the day before his non-tender, returned to the mound after missing 2011 due to elbow surgery. The well-built southpaw has never lived up to his promise, in no small part due to recurring arm and control woes. Neither plight is disappearing over the winter, but look for Parra to resurface as a left-handed specialist or in a piggyback role. Parra will become a free agent after next season, assuming he gets the necessary service time, and with a strong campaign may position himself for a better deal.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered OF-S Andres Torres and RHPs Manny Acosta and Mike Pelfrey. [11/30]

Acquired in the Angel Pagan trade last winter, Torres heads to the free-agent bin after a disappointing season. He’s shown the ability to hit left-handed pitching over the past few seasons, making him the rare switch-hitter with a platoon split. Torres remains a good outfielder, and the combination of his glove and occasionally useful bat should land him a gig as a fourth outfielder.

Acosta throws hard and misses bats and the plate with good regularity. Expect him to land a gig as a middle reliever somewhere else. The same might eventually be true of Pelfrey, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in May and will not be available to pitch at the start of the season. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pelfrey settle for a minor-league deal.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered OF-L Nate Schierholtz. [11/30]

The Phillies acquired Schierholtz in the Hunter Pence trade, yet opted against keeping him for his final two team-control seasons. Look for an opportunistic team with a lot of right-handed outfielders to snatch Schierholtz and use him in a platoon role. Over the past two seasons, the former second-round pick has proven to be a solid all-around hitter against right-handed pitching. He’ll give you some average, some walks, and some power.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered RHP Jeff Karstens. [11/30]

We live in strange times, times in which the Pirates are non-tendering pitchers with consecutive solid seasons. In truth, Karstens’ numbers belie his true ability. His stuff is mediocre, though it does play up because of his control and pitching know-how. He has a checkered injury history that may stem from a closed delivery, causing him to throw across his body and often miss glove-side targets. Karstens has a small margin for error and no ability to grow worthwhile facial hair, but he should be at the back-end of someone’s rotation next season.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered LHP Juan Oramas. [11/30]

A short and stocky southpaw, Oramas outpitches his stuff thanks to command and wit. Unfortunately, Oramas won’t be doing much pitching at all until June at the earliest thanks to Tommy John surgery. It would not be a surprise to see Oramas re-sign with the Padres.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Non-tendered RHP Brian Wilson. [11/30]

Wilson made two appearances for the Giants last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The bearded one now hits the open market a winter earlier than anticipated. It’s hard to say how the market will treat Wilson. His performance in 2011 was subpar by his own seasons, and his esotericism won’t play for certain clubs. The best bet for Wilson might be landing an incentives-laden one-year deal similar to the one inked by Ryan Madson last week.

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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