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November 12, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Perez Built On

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed SS-R Jason Bartlett to a minor-league deal. [11/11]

Here's an unexpected development. Bartlett sat out the 2013 season after back-to-back stinkers. He resurfaces, now 34, with the team that he broke into the majors with. It's impossible to know what a year away from the game did for Bartlett, positive or otherwise, but his recent performances suggested he didn't have much left. The flip side is that he was a starting shortstop just three years ago. This is a no-risk deal, and who knows; perhaps Bartlett comes back physically and mentally refreshed and contributes off the bench. At worst, it's an outside-the-box thought on Terry Ryan's part.

TEXAS RANGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed LHP Martin Perez to a four-year extension worth a guaranteed $12.5 million with three club options that could be worth more than $20 million. [11/7]

A classic risk/reward extension. The stakes are obvious: If Perez develops into a middle-of-the-rotation starter, the Rangers will be saving money—particularly during those two free agency years now covered with options. If Perez fails to do so, and ends up a back-end guy or a reliever, then the Rangers lose some percentage of $12 million, which doesn't amount to a hill of beans over four years for a large-market team. Were it not for Perez's history, it would be easy to buy the young, talented southpaw taking the next step. But, because his development was full of perceived teases, there's a little hesitancy to take the plunge. Still, Texas is familiar with Perez and confident in his ability to push forward. It's not a huge gamble, but it's one that could pay off.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Named Rick Renteria manager. [11/8]

Our last managerial hire of the winter. Renteria comes to Chicago via San Diego, where he spent three years as Bud Black's bench coach and forged a relationship with GM Jed Hoyer. That familiarity factored into the hire, but this goes beyond toadying. Renteria is well regarded for his communication skills and positive attitude; he's bilingual, which is always a plus, and was willing to grind throughout his playing career, a tendency bound to come in handy during a rebuild.

One note of intrigue is the Cubs' decision to hire another unproven manager. They went the same route when they tapped Dale Sveum to take over two seasons ago, yet that relationship never prospered. Generally, teams seem to hire the opposite of whatever their last manager was, but the Cubs resisted the temptation to employ Eric Wedge, Manny Acta, or another old face in favor of new blood. Whether it works out depends on Renteria's ability to reach and nurture Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and other young players. If he can do that, he might be around for a while. Otherwise, he could find himself on the outs as quickly as Sveum did.

CINCINNATI REDS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed C-S Brayan Pena to a two-year deal worth at least $1.25 million. [11/8]

There's something about these Tigers backup catchers. Last winter, Gerald Laird leveraged a strong season as Alex Avila's caddy into a two-year deal with the Braves; now Pena has done the same with the Reds. The journeyman switch-hitter is unmemorable on the field. He doesn't do anything particularly well, save for putting the ball in play, and his inconsistencies extend to behind the plate. Cincy fans should enjoy Pena's oddball Twitter account, but the next two seasons should be forgettable.

More intriguing than Pena's arrival is Ryan Hanigan's likely departure. Hanigan has one year of team control remaining, and should summon a market despite his offensive limitations. He's a smart player with good defensive abilities across the board who, at worst, profiles as a fine backup. Expect Tampa Bay, New York, and other teams to inquire on his services, with the Reds moving him before the non-tender deadline.

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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