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American League

National League

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Acquired RHP Anthony Ranaudo from Texas Rangers for RHP Matt Ball. [5/12]

When you think of “Quad-A” players, you probably think of power-hitting first basemen and outfielders who have trouble adjusting to the quality of stuff once they reach the majors. They are your Matt LaPortas and Kila Ka’aihues–hitters who never found a way to sustain success at the big-league level, often in spite of a strong prospect pedigree and solid Triple-A performance. Well, think of Ranaudo as something like that, only for pitchers.

A fastball-curveball pitcher, Ranaudo was once a rising star in the Red Sox system before repeatedly turning into a pumpkin at the big-league level in 2014, 2015, and now 2016. With less-than-ideal command, no solid third pitch, and fringy velocity Ranaudo struggles to get punchouts and keep the ball in the yard. Nevertheless, he could be a suitable swingman for a White Sox team that could use a little rotation depth behind their superstar lefties. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and (maybe) Carlos Rodon are great, but this is a team that could use a little extra depth now that John Danks is out of the picture. It’s no sure thing that Ranaudo will be better than Danks, but he’s got a minor-league option left. Perhaps that’s what the Sox were trading for here–an option, and not much more–but perhaps that’s just enough to give Ranaudo another chance in the majors. —Bryan Grosnick

TEXAS RANGERS
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Signed RHP Kyle Lohse to a minor-league contract. [5/14]

During the post-2012 offseason, Lohse leveraged a late-career renaissance with the Cardinals–an event that used to happen like clockwork–into a three-year pact with the Milwaukee Brewers. After two perfectly serviceable seasons with Milwaukee, Lohse fell apart during his 2015 season. He wasn’t exactly a hot name on the free agent market this most recent offseason and now he’s taking his talents to Arlington, where his particular skill set may be both a fit and not a fit.

The biggest problem with Lohse is that his peripherals are–and were–not good, even during his peak from 2011-2014. The righty consistently out-performed his FIP; that FIP certainly was done no favors by his career 14.9 percent strikeout rate and 41.2 percent ground ball rate. Like other fly-ball pitchers without strong strikeout stuff, Lohse’s success confounded analysts until it didn’t, and in 2015 he started giving up more, better contact than he had in the past. Fly balls that had previously died in the outfield started leaving Miller Park with increasing frequency and his BABIP soared as well.

In Arlington–especially during the hellish summers–hard contact is not exactly a good way to make a living. He’ll have a tough time rebounding from his 2015 performance in a strong hitters' park, unless the 37-year-old is somehow able to prove that his 2015 struggles were more about dumb luck than a decline in skills. While that seems unlikely, Lohse has a skill that the Rangers desperately need: he typically shows up for 150+ innings per season. With their rotation down to four(ish) arms, the Rangers could just need a warm body in the next few months and Lohse certainly fits that bill.

With his contract being worth as much as $2 million, Lohse is one of the more expensive minor-league free agents the Rangers could have gone after. The team is perhaps paying a premium in order to leverage Lohse’s rubber arm and squeeze those desperately-needed innings out of him. Of course, sometimes his rubber arm also begets baseballs that act like they are made out of rubber, so perhaps this ends poorly. —Bryan Grosnick

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Purchased the contract of 1B-R Tommy Joseph from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. [5/13]

Last seen in a "Transaction Analysis" as the crown jewel of the second Hunter Pence trade in 2012, Tommy Joseph is nothing less than a survivor. A second-round pick of the Giants in 2009, Joseph began his minor-league career as a catching prospect—and a good one at that, ranking fourth in our 2012 Giants top 11 and fifth in our 2013 Phillies list. With big power and hitting potential, Joseph looked like the natural long-term replacement for Carlos Ruiz. Joseph started 2013 in Triple-A, on the doorstep of the majors. Then everything went off the rails.

With two concussions already under his belt from his time in the Giants system, Joseph suffered the first in a string of concussions in May 2013 from foul tips off the mask, sidelining him for a month. After attempts at two rehab assignments were marred by further concussion symptoms, Joseph’s 2013 was over. He started 2014 in Double-A Reading, and ended up back on the DL with more concussion symptoms before April was out. Six games after his return, Joseph suffered a wrist injury and 2014 was lost. In 2015, he would get back to Triple-A, but suffer yet another concussion from a foul tip off his mask in May. If you’ve been following concussion research in sports over the past few years, you’re probably worried more about Tommy Joseph’s health than his ability to play baseball right now. With that in mind, the Phillies confiscated his catching gear and converted him to first base for his own safety, a la Joe Mauer. Vision problems related to the concussions limited him offensively for the rest of 2015, and he was outrighted off the 40-man roster after the season.

Joseph came into 2016 with his vision issues corrected and was noted by Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and player development executive Joe Jordan as impressing on the major-league side in spring training. Once real baseball began, he absolutely raked, lighting up the Triple-A International League to the tune of .347/.370/.611 with seven homers in 100 plate appearances, leading the league in batting average and slugging percentage. More importantly, he’s remained healthy while displaying the hitting ability that made him a top prospect way back when. With Darin Ruf struggling mightily and Ryan Howard’s monster contract finally winding down—as Howard carries a negative WARP for the third straight year—the Phillies have playing time available to take a look to see if Joseph, still only 24, can be their first baseman moving forward. And whether he is or isn’t a part of the next good Phillies team, Tommy Joseph is a major leaguer, and that’s pretty cool. —Jarrett Seidler

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Claimed C-B Hector Sanchez off waivers from Chicago White Sox. [5/11]

Since busting out in the low minors during his 2010 and 2011 seasons, Sanchez has been strange. Not just strange in the “he’s an extremely young switch-hitting catcher with good raw power” category, but strange in that he’s been about replacement level ever since then. And no, I’m not just talking about major-league replacement level; his minor-league WARPs vacillate in that gray space between 0.5 and -0.5. For all his positives (age, power, arm strength), the negatives (defense, hit tool, health) just kind of zero them out.

This season was meant to give Sanchez a fresh start out of Buster Posey’s–and Andrew Susac’s, I guess–shadow on the south side of Chicago, a veritable catching wasteland. Of course, his acquisition came along with Chicago buying up other distressed backstop assets: Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro found their way there too, so he never really got a shot. So now it’s on to San Diego, where … he probably won’t get much of a shot behind Derek Norris, Christian Bethancourt, and Austin Hedges.

To top it all off Sanchez is playing his age-26 season, which tends to be the magical year where a player can no longer officially be called a prospect, even if he only barely fits the definition. His defining trait used to be youth–now it’s probably the fact that he never panned out. Still, the Padres tend to like to carry three catchers on the big-league roster, so perhaps Sanchez will have another chance to hit his ceiling. The wait has been five years coming, so it may be now or never. —Bryan Grosnick

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Recalled RHP Clayton Blackburn from Triple-A Sacramento; optioned OF-L Jarrett Parker to Triple-A Sacramento. [5/12]

After a 13-inning contest forced Bruce Bochy to burn through his bullpen, the Giants have turned to Clayton Blackburn to add a fresh arm to the weary staff. Blackburn, a 16th-round draft pick, has been used almost exclusively as a starter and will likely slot into the long-reliever role at the big-league level. The big right-hander is coming off a strong season in which he posted one of the lowest ERAs in the PCL, but has struggled to find his groove thus far in Triple-A. Blackburn’s promotion will bump the Giants' roster to 13 pitchers. It’s unclear how long Blackburn’s stint in the majors might last, but a potential signing of Tim Lincecum could bump him back to Sacramento.

Parker, who received a total of six plate appearances for San Francisco this year, will return to Triple-A to await his next call-up. With the questionable health of Angel Pagan and the Giants’ now shallow bench, it shouldn’t be too long before Parker returns to punish mistakes and chase spin. —Will Haines

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