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DETROIT TIGERS
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Signed OF-R John Mayberry to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training [1/13]

In 2015, things went from YAYberry to NAYberry in a righteous hurry for this pinch-hitting specialist. The Mets picked up Mayberry thinking he could be what he was a few years prior: a hitter with some power capable of breaking left-handed pitchers down. (He also has no business playing the outfield.)

Unfortunately, even though his career True Average is a respectable .264, last season’s mark of .198 would have been bad for a shortstop. In Double-A. His power disappeared entirely in the admittedly tiny big-league sample, but his recovery sample in Triple-A with the White Sox went even worse. A level deeper, his strikeout rate shot even higher than normal (up to 27.7 percent), but he continued to make hard contact, only making 15.6 percent soft contact. Other than making less contact on balls outside the zone, Mayberry’s profile remains similar to his previous seasons. Does that mean that Mayberry can bounce back at age 32? Stranger things have happened, but even if he does, you wouldn’t expect more than half a win or so in partial duty.

It’s possible that Mayberry is a suitable platoon partner for Anthony Gose, and between the two of them they pair up to be an average-ish corner outfielder. But that would be surprising, given that he hasn’t really been that (half of a) player since 2013. In an offseason where the Tigers’ window is closing and both Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are still on the market, Mayberry was most fans’ Plan J, not Plan A. There’s a chance he can play a little still, but this move is unlikely to carry a serious impact—that's a shame on a team that could use a real short-term boost. —Bryan Grosnick

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Signed OF-L/LHP? Jordan Schafer to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training (will make $1 million if he makes the major-league roster) [1/13]

The Dodgers need Schafer like they need a hole in their collective heads, which is to say that they don’t need him at all. But that’s never stopped the Dodgers from collecting outfield depth before—after all, they grabbed Chris Heisey prior to last season despite already rolling five or six deep on the grass.

As a center fielder, Jordan Schafer—healthy or not—probably doesn’t move the needle in any fashion. Over the past seven seasons, he’s been worth precious little more than a win above replacement level. Released from the Twins last season while on the DL recovering from a meniscus tear, he had one job to do: run fast, run far. The only problem is that with a bum wheel, Schafer could do nothing of the sort. Given that he’s only even theoretically capable of adding value as a plus defensive outfielder with a bit of base-stealing ability, it’s most likely that he’ll only make it to Oklahoma City, and not Los Angeles unless it’s as part of a data-gathering mission on the long-term effects of meniscus surgery on a speedster.

Or perhaps there’s something else afoot entirely? Recent reports indicate that the Dodgers don’t even want a gimpy outfielder—they want to convert Schafer to a pitcher. Mike Petriello of MLB.com’s Statcast team gives us a little data on Schafer’s arm (he maxed out at 91.4 MPH on a throw from the outfield), but that tells us next to nothing about how he’ll fare on the bump. It’s hard enough to predict performance in a position someone already plays, but a switch from center to reliever is impossible to gauge.

If Schafer is getting regular playing time in the middle of the Los Angeles outfield, it means that Joc Pederson is injured, Enrique Hernandez has gone missing in action, and the team’s wild experiment has gone horribly awry. Adding Schafer as a Triple-A center fielder/science experiment is a very Dodgers thing to do; this team loves their depth and they seem to enjoy trying new things. Just don’t expect him to actually suit up for the team for more than a hot minute, unless he’s able to go Full Kenley Jansen. Any team can’t have too many of those. —Bryan Grosnick

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Reportedly signed RHP Carlos Villanueva to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. [1/13]

The Padres have spent most of the offseason tearing apart their bullpen, dealing away Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit for prospects and recently announcing potential closer-to-be Brandon Maurer would get a shot at the rotation in spring training. All the shuffling has left Jon Edwards—6.4 career BB/9, minors included—as a legitimate late-inning weapon, which begs the question: for which team?

Enter Carlos Villanueva, who'll likely play the role of Another Guy more than anything else. Villanueva posted a career-best ERA last season with the Cardinals, in part because, for the first time since 2010, he didn't start a single game. Still, his peripherals hardly improved—his K:BB ratio checked in at 2.62, just a few decimal points better than his career average, while his cFIP actually dropped a couple of points off his norm. He's arguably better served in the swingman role he previously occupied, and with fourth and fifth starter slots expected to go to some combination of Robbie Erlin, Colin Rea, and Drew Pomeranz, Villanueva ought to prepare for the occasional spot start.

However the Padres decide to deploy him, the good news is that Villanueva might be marginally better than a good chunk of San Diego's 'pen, which is set to feature unproven entities (and/or bad pitchers) like Odrisamer Despaigne, Edwards, and Cory Mazzoni. For $1.5 million, it's hard to criticize the Padres for adding needed pitching depth, even if this move doesn't really move the needle. —Dustin Palmateer

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jfranco77
1/15
Interesting move by the Dodgers if they can get Schafer to be a useful enough pitcher to be their 25th man. Gives them a lot of roster flexibility.