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American League

National League

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Signed LHP Mike Minor to a two-year deal worth $7.25 million with a club option worth an additional $10 million. [2/19]

It seems Dayton Moore’s new favorite trick is signing an injured Braves starter to a low-cost, multi-year deal. He first pulled it off last winter, when he inked Kris Medlen to a two-year pact worth $8.5 million with a club option. The stakes here are higher—and not just because the cost is, too: Medlen was coming off his second Tommy John surgery; Minor is coming off a shoulder operation that repaired a “slight tear in his labrum.” Proponents of the elbows heal, shoulders kill school of thought just shuddered.

No matter what you think about Minor’s chances of recovering in whole, you might’ve forgotten what his whole represents. He missed 2015 and his best self missed 2014, leaving him two years removed from being known as a solid mid-rotation starter. Those don’t come cheap on the market (as Moore knows), so banking on Minor at this cost is a decent gamble—especially since Kansas City’s most mature pitching prospects each carry significant risk.

If Minor busts, we’ll look back and shake our heads at wasted dough; if he works out? Who knows; this could be the next Royals tactic the rest of the league copies.

TEXAS RANGERS
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Signed RHP Jeremy Guthrie to a minor-league deal. [2/20]

Guthrie is one of the most game’s likable players—the sort who plays catch with random fans and Instagrams farewell letters to his old stomping grounds—so it hurts to conclude that it’s tough seeing him contribute much to the Rangers.

Not only is Guthrie nearing his 37th birthday, he’s fresh off a season in which he was the worst pitcher in the majors, according to WARP. Quibble with his exact position if you wish, it’s still turtles all the way down. He allowed more walks, hits, and home runs than usual, saw his groundball rate plunge, and was eventually removed from the rotation. Guthrie did pitch better in relief . . . though that entails allowing a run every other inning and two home runs per nine. Oof.

Perhaps the Rangers will use spring to get another look at Guthrie in the ‘pen. Here’s hoping he shows them enough to save his big-league career from being placed in the ground.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Signed RHP Aaron Crow to a minor-league deal. [2/19]

Jed Hoyer hasn’t spent much money this winter on his bullpen, but he has assembled an interesting collection of busts, projects, and busted projects. If Crow fits in any of those categories, it’s the last. When he was squawking his finest squawk with the Royals, he was a power-armed set-up man with a stressful delivery and command problems. Alas. Crow underwent Tommy John surgery in April without ever throwing a pitch for the Marlins, and there’s just no telling how he’ll look if/when he returns. As such, the Cubs could walk away from this deal without a feather to show for it. Still, given the cost, it’s not like they’ll lose their beaks.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Signed RHP Louis Coleman to a one-year deal worth $750,000. [2/19]

Coleman is why your mother taught you to never judge a book by how it throws. His arsenal and mechanics—he’s a fastball-slider pitcher with an extreme crossfire delivery and a low arm slot—suggest he should be a right-handed specialist. Negative. Coleman’s True Average against righties the past three seasons is a substandard .274—or some 38 points worse than his mark versus lefties. Assuming the Dodgers don’t use Coleman as a right-handed lefty specialist, the role he’s most likely to fill is that of a traveler.

If that doesn’t make sense, then here’s a reminder about how last season’s Dodgers aggressively shuttled similar relievers in and out of town. Coleman doesn’t have options remaining and was outrighted last April, yet by paying him more than the minimum, the Dodgers are reducing the odds that a) he’s claimed off waivers and/or that b) he elects free agency after being removed from the 40-man roster. Dirty? A little, but at least Coleman gets hush money.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Signed RHP Casey Janssen to a minor-league deal. [2/20]

The good news for Janssen is he’ll pitch his home games in Petco Park a season after generating a career-low 34 percent groundballs. The bad news is the redesigned Petco didn’t do last year’s Padres much good, as they allowed the third-most home runs in stadium history. Whether you blame that feat on the new dimensions or the pitchers themselves, Janssen could be in trouble.

In addition to missing time for the second year in a row, Janssen extended his streak of seasons with lost velocity to four—an impressive, if troubling achievement. Predictably, his home-run and hit rates have jumped in recent years, while his strikeout rate has ducked; he still pounds the zone, even if he doesn’t miss as many bats as he used to with his cutter-heavy approach. The best-case scenario sees Janssen take advantage of the Padres new-look outfield defense en route to a bounce-back season (or at least a half). Is that likely? Janssen wouldn’t be signing a minor-league pact if so.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Signed RHP Burke Badenhop to a minor-league deal. [2/18]

Badenhop has pitched for a different team in each of the last five seasons. If he's to make it six in six, he’ll have to break camp with the Nationals—or, in more specific terms, he’ll have to edge out Matt Belisle and others for a middle-relief spot.

There's never been much sizzle to Badenhop’s game beyond his clock-like consistency, which is to say that he was bound to run out of batteries. Maybe he did last season. He finished with a sub-50 percent grounder rate for the first time, and deviated from his normal pitch usage to throw more breakers and splitters and fewer sinkers. That shift isn't the top reason for his reduced groundball rate, however; rather, that would be his sinker’s decreased effectiveness—likely because it had less sink and run than usual, per PITCHf/x data. A single-year fluke, or the beginning of the end for Badenhop? The Nationals intend to find out.