April 16, 2014
A Moran and a Wolf Walk Into a Bar
Placed LHP Brian Moran on the 60-day disabled list (elbow inflammation); selected the contract of RHP Yoslan Herrera and recalled LHP Jose Alvarez from Triple-A Salt Lake; optioned RHPs Matt Shoemaker and Dane De La Rosa to Triple-A Salt Lake. [4/13]
A classic case of more movement than impact. The two names of note here are Moran and Herrera, and not just because their mugshots allow for this nice juxtaposition:
Moran was a Rule 5 pick for whom the Angels traded international bonus pool money. He has an average fastball and profiles as a left-handed specialist. Should Moran miss the remainder of the season, he'll need to remain on the active roster for 90 days next season before his rights transfer to the Angels. The alternative solution is, of course, Jerry Dipoto sending the Mariners cash or whatever it is they'd desire in exchange for his services.
Meanwhile, Herrera was once a big-time international signing for the Pirates. He never fulfilled his promise, even though he reached the majors with Pittsburgh back in 2008. In the time since, he's spent time in the minors, the independent leagues, and parts unknown—his Baseball-Reference page leaves his 2011-12 whereabouts unclear. But now he's back in the majors, and with vigor. Herrera's fastball clocks in the mid-90s, and the Angels like him enough to give him a go as a middle reliever. Perhaps some big-league success will cause him to crack a smile next photo day. —R.J. Anderson
Signed INF-R Ryan Roberts to a one-year deal worth $1 million. [4/7]
Better known for his tattoos than his play, the Human Rorschach Test was released by the Cubs prior to the season. It didn't take long for a team to look at him and see a useful player, however. The Red Sox needed someone to pair with Jonathan Herrera at third base while Will Middlebrooks recovers from a strained calf, and Roberts fits as someone who brings pop and walks to the party against left-handed pitchers. Unfortunately, Dustin Pedroia's wrist woes tabled those plans. Depending on whether the second baseman needs time on the disabled list (and all indications are he won't), Roberts could hang around as a competent, if limited, backup plan at the keystone. —R.J. Anderson
Roberts’ value is likely to be short-lived, as Will Middlebrooks’ calf strain was diagnosed as a grade one, the most moderate form of the injury. He might stick around as a utilityman even after Middlebrooks returns, but his fantasy value is hardly worthwhile even when he receives full playing time. He might get some starts over Jonathan Herrera in the short term, but if you’re relying on Ryan Roberts, you’re in trouble. —Craig Goldstein
Brian Cashman ensured Nunez's departure when he tapped Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte for the Opening Day roster. Once considered Derek Jeter's potential successor, the 26-year-old never developed the nuance required to take full advantage of his athletic gifts. He puts the ball in play and runs well, yet his defense and approach require serious tightening for him to become more than a super-utility type. The Twins will try their wrenches to see if one fits, but for now Nunez is serving time at Triple-A until Minnesota ends its three-man bench experiment. Sulbaran is the transaction cost; he's a smallish 20-year-old southpaw who throws strikes with a low-90s fastball. Neither player will alter the course of history. —R.J. Anderson
Recalled RHP Brad Boxberger from Triple-A Durham. [4/14]
Leaving spring training, the Rays crowned Jake Odorizzi the winner of a three-way competition for the fifth starter's job over Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard. Now, with Matt Moore out for the season due to an elbow injury and Alex Cobb missing a few weeks with a strained oblique, all three could be in the rotation. Jeremy Hellickson is due back come June, but if the Rays tire of Bedard and/or Ramos before then, they could turn to Nate Karns or Enny Romero. Of course the Rays have shown time and time again that they won't pick short-term gain if it means sacrificing long-term development. For now, though, the Rays rotation is in some trouble. —R.J. Anderson
Purchased the contract of RHP Colby Lewis; designated RHP Daniel McCutchen for assignment. [4/14]
Lewis returned to the majors on Monday night after missing the previous two seasons due to elbow and hip surgeries. He didn't pitch lights-out, as he allowed eight hits and four runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Mariners. Still, while there's no guarantee Lewis stays healthy or performs well enough to merit a rotation spot, the injury-depleted Rangers have to be happy with the development. The same applies to Noesi's Texas debut, which also took place Monday, and Kouzmanoff's surprisingly competent—if singles-heavy—stretch of play in Adrian Beltre's absence (strained quad). —R.J. Anderson
Being back in the big leagues is generally good news for one’s fantasy stock. Lewis’ debut wasn’t the stuff of legends, but he pitched adequately and, more importantly, came out of the outing healthy. He was throwing as hard as he did in 2012 after missing 2013 due to injury, which makes sense given the injury was to the hip and not his arm, though it’s good to know his lower half hasn’t seen its strength sapped. Texas isn’t an ideal location for any pitcher, but it’s the only place that Lewis has known in the majors, so he doesn’t receive a ding for that. The Rangers desperately need someone to stabilize their rotation so Lewis shouldn’t see competition for a rotation spot, and while the offense is a mess right now, in the long run, he should receive ample run support. He’s a fourth or fifth starter in mid-size to deeper leagues and is waiver material in shallower ones.
Similar to Lewis, being in a major-league lineup is a positive step for Kouzmanoff. Getting to play half his games at the former Ballpark in Arlington won’t hurt either. It’s not like he’s jumping into the middle of an otherwise healthy lineup, but he is hitting behind the good batters the Rangers have left standing, so there is an opportunity for him to drive in some runs. The deeper issue here is a general lack of talent, so his value is built into his playing time, which should dry up when Adrian Beltre returns to health. He’s a solid short term fix in deeper leagues (16-plus) but probably shouldn’t be necessary in anything shallower. —Craig Goldstein
Signed LHP Randy Wolf to a minor-league deal. [4/11]
What a strange, eventful month for Wolf. The veteran southpaw made Seattle's Opening Day rotation, but refused to sign a little-known contract stipulation (at least to us outsiders) that would have impacted his salary had he been waived. Now he inks a minor-league deal with a team that has reassigned two of its starters from last season (both superior to Wolf) to the bullpen. If that's not enough to make the D'backs an odd fit, consider that Wolf might have to bide his time in the Pacific Coast League. On the plus side, you get the sense he's ahead of Archie Bradley on the depth chart, if only for the youngster's developmental purposes. —R.J. Anderson
Wolf is bad and he’ll be pitching for a team that thus far has defined “tire fire.” His home park is a poor setting for a fly-ball pitcher and he won’t miss enough bats to be worthwhile in fantasy. He’s a great add for HACKING MASS, but rosters already locked. Tough situation all around. —Craig Goldstein
Agreed to a five-year extension with 2B-R Jedd Gyorko worth a guaranteed $35 million with a club option worth an additional $13 million. [4/14]
When it comes to signing young players to extensions, few teams have endured a worse run of luck than the Padres. In recent seasons, they've extended Cameron Maybin, Nick Hundley, and Cory Luebke only to see each succumb to injuries or poor play. Will Venable, who signed his new deal late last year, is the apparent exception. Otherwise, San Diego's best efforts to lock their core into place at an affordable cost have failed. (For more on this, see Geoff Young's essay about the Padres in this year's Annual.)
You'd think Josh Byrnes would hesitate before trying again, but that's not the case. Gyorko is receiving more guaranteed money than any of the previous deals, and that's despite having less service time. The risk here is legitimate. Gyorko was considered a potential .280-plus hitter during his prospect days, yet he's batted .241 over his first 577 plate appearances. To his credit, he's homered 24 times; to his debit, he's fanned nearly a quarter of the time and doesn't play a high-quality second base.
The range of probabilities vary from Gyorko putting it all together, thereby becoming a well-rounded hitter, to the contact woes sabotaging his offensive ceiling. Even his position is in question, particularly if the Padres lose Chase Headley after the season. So why extend Gyorko now versus waiting until after the season? Presumably Byrnes felt he couldn't pass on the deal on the table, even if things have gone wrong for the Padres with these deals more often than not in recent years. —R.J. Anderson
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson