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September 5, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Will Amenable

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Designated INF-R Mauro Gomez for assignment. [9/3]

It seems Gomez's career is at a fork in the road: Over there is Japan, over here is Triple-A; which way will he go? Gomez played in the majors in 2012 but failed to move the needle by embarrassing or endearing himself. Instead he remained on a 40-man roster this season without reaching the majors. Despite Gomez's Quad-A profile—read: right-handed and limited defensively—there are some who believe he could add value off the bench. Perhaps a team claims Gomez and makes his choice for him.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed RHP Daniel Bard off waivers from the Red Sox. [9/4]

Designated RHP Michael Bowden and OF-R Cole Gillespie for assignment. [9/4]

Recalled RHP Chang-Yong Lim from Triple-A Iowa. [9/4]

Jed Hoyer's philosophy in three words: "Take a chance." Three of the four names in this entry were acquired via waivers, including Bard. Once a top-flight reliever, Bard, who walked 27 batters in 15 minor-league innings this season, is a lottery ticket—just like Eduardo Sanchez and Henry Rodriguez were when the Cubs snagged them. Perhaps a change of scenery helps Bard, but it's hard to envision him getting back to form. Here's pulling for him.

Lim is an unusual rookie. He's 37 years old with a brilliant overseas career and a scar from Tommy John surgery. The Cubs signed Lim to a two-year split contract; a tacit confession they didn't expect him to pitch in the majors this season. Yet here he is, with the chance to grip onto a 2014 spot. Too old to become a long-term fixture, Lim could turn into a trade piece if his unusual mechanics and better-than-anticipated velocity work as well against big-league hitters as they did against minor leaguers.

NEW YORK METS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed Aaron Harang to a minor-league deal. [9/1]

First Daisuke Matsuzaka and now Aaron Harang—does Sandy Alderson think it's 2008? You'll see that joke used a lot in the coming days, if and when Harang reaches the majors. Obligatory guffawing about the Mets being the Mets aside, this is a sensible signing. Alderson knows what year it is, and knows downtrodden veterans will sign for peanuts, eat innings for a month, and then go away in search of their next start. It doesn't make for entertaining baseball—at least, not for Mets fans who value winning ballgames—but, from a big-picture perspective, it beats rushing kids to the majors to win an extra game or two in a lost season.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Re-signed OF-L Will Venable to a two-year extension worth $8.5 million. [9/3]

Nowadays, extensions often include club options designed to increase team control and reduce costs, shepherding analysts to introduce risk and reward as though they were strangers. Thankfully, Josh Byrnes spared us the bore. His agreement with Venable is as straightforward as these deals get—cost certainty for income certainty—and continues his effort to keep veterans in town, which began last season when he re-signed Carlos Quentin, Huston Street, and Chris Denorfia. Some might quibble with Byrnes' vision for the Padres, but few will question his part in this deal.

If someone is interrogated about this extension, then it will be Venable. He is, after all, enjoying a breakout season—complete with career-best power numbers that obscure a career-worst walk rate. Why surrender future earning potential now? Perhaps because Venable, who attended Princeton, understands the fickleness of the game and the market. Thirty and still seeking his first career 500-plate-appearance season, Venable has not shown a consistent appetite for left-handed pitching. He is a valuable piece, albeit one closer to good than great, and he may have sold himself short. But then, have you met my friends, risk and reward?

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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