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August 19, 2013
Infielders Up, Infielders Down
Designated INF-S Elliot Johnson for assignment. [8/15]
That Johnson survived this long is a surprise. Acquired as the player to be named later in the James Shields trade, Johnson hit .179/.218/.241 in 173 plate appearances—only Luis Cruz and Danny Espinosa posted worse True Averages this season in comparable playing time, and both had been previously optioned or waived. Second basemen who can't hit last as long as comedians with more debts than jokes. Dayton Moore's recent acquisitions, Jamey Carroll and Emilio Bonifacio, made Johnson more expendable than he was before. He should clear waivers but, because he was outrighted before, he can elect free agency either now or at season's end.
Designated INF-R Luis Cruz to assignment. [8/16]
Signed 3B/1B/DH-R Mark Reynolds to a one-year deal. [8/15]
You just knew some team would sign Reynolds in a hurry following his release last week from the Indians. The Yankees won the race, apparently, and will use Reynolds at each infield corner as well as at DH. A white-hot April aside, Reynolds' season has been a disappointment. At his best he hits a good amount of home runs, features a healthy walk rate, and strikes out in the rest of his plate appearances. The question is whether Reynolds can show enough over the next six weeks to earn a big-league deal this winter, or if he'll limp to the finish line and start shopping for Triple-A apartments—which, by the way, is what Cruz should start doing.
Signed LHP Mike Zagurski to a minor-league deal. [8/18]
Oakland is Zagurski's fifth organization in the past two years. The Nebraskan native is, in theory, a left-handed specialist in waiting. Alas, Zagurski has not flourished enough to maintain a steady foothold in the majors. In fact, he's struggled with big-league lefties in recent times, yet teams keep giving him opportunities to succeed. The A's have a few other left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster. Still, it wouldn't be surprising to see him reach the majors in September.
Outrighted INF-R Ryan Roberts to Triple-A Durham. [8/18]
The Rays acquired Roberts last July in exchange for minor-league infielder Tyler Bortnick. Thirteen months later they designated Roberts to make room for the returning Alex Cobb. The heavily tattooed one is experienced at various infield positions, and has more bat than the typical utility infielder. Yet he's far enough removed from his 2011 season to start discounting the likelihood of a repeat. The Rays fidgeted with Roberts' mechanics during an in-season demotion, but he didn't show improved results upon his return to the bigs. Outrighted before, Roberts can become a free agent at season's end.
Signed INF-R Tyler Greene to a minor-league deal. [8/17]
Released INF-L Blake DeWitt. [8/17]
With Dan Uggla and Tyler Pastornicky hitting the disabled list over the past week, the Braves were running low on infielders, leaving them to promote Paul Janish and Philip Gosselin. Greene, who was released by the White Sox last week, isn't flashy. He is capable of playing both middle-infield positions, however, and has past big-league success. The Braves released DeWitt to make room for Greene, and it's not surprising: DeWitt has missed most of the season due to a back injury.
Purchased the contract of LHP Kris Johnson from Triple-A Indianapolis [8/18]
Optioned OF-L Andrew Lambo to Triple-A Indianapolis. [8/18]
Transferred C-R Mike McKenry to the 60-day disabled list (sprained knee). [8/18]
A first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2006, Johnson never did reach the majors with Boston. Instead he'll debut with the Pirates some seven years later. A well-built southpaw with a low-90s fastball, Johnson will serve as the third lefty in Pittsburgh's pen. Meanwhile Lambo, rappers' favorite busted top prospect, is headed to the minors after a brief stay. He's likely to see more time in September, and could be in line to take a big-league spot next year.