American League

National League

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Acquired LHP Andrew Faulkner from Texas Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later. [4/6]

We ranked Faulkner as the Rangers' 10th-best prospect in our prospect list, and with Jake Diekman’s injury it looked like he had a good chance to play a role in Texas' bullpen this season. His arsenal features a sinking fastball around 94 mph, a solid slider at 85, and a fringy changeup at 88. Faulkner is a LOOGY whose biggest problem is giving up the long ball to right-handed batters when asked to face them (five homers in 39 plate appearances). Texas frees up a 40-man roster spot with this move and earns a little cash on the side. —Brice Paterik

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Signed RHP Mike Pelfrey to a minor-league contract. [4/5]

Signed IF/OF-R Ryan Raburn to a minor-league contract. [4/8]

Even though the White Sox are most definitely rebuilding, they still need quality major-league players to fill in at the margins and keep the team from posting an embarrassing 100-loss season. When you can’t find those types of players, you sign Pelfrey and Raburn to minor-league contracts. Big Pelf has long been derided as a replacement-level starter and Raburn is notably volatile, and the lows for each player could be further down than Pelf’s sinker.

This past season was something of a nadir for both players. Pelf posted a DRA so bad that he cost the Tigers more than two wins over 22 starts. Raburn was miscast into more plate appearances against right-handers than against lefties, making his overall line poor despite hitting a bit better than league average against southpaws. It’s possible each of these players could have something left to offer in different roles than they’ve been used recently—perhaps Pelf could make for a decent ground-ball specialist in a relief role, and perhaps Raburn could be a decent bench bat if he were prohibited from facing right-handers—but on the White Sox both are likely to be cast in their traditional rolea … if they crack the roster. Perhaps a change might do them good, but they’ll need more of one than simply relocating to the South Side. —Bryan Grosnick

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Claimed C-R Luke Maile off waivers from Tampa Bay Rays. [4/6]

I gave Maile a bit of a hard time in the 2017 Baseball Prospectus Annual—on sale now!—for being a “boring” backup catcher. Well, being boring isn’t all that bad. While Maile doesn’t have any outstanding tools or skills, the total package is solid, better than replacement level, and quite possibly an upgrade over incumbent backup Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He’s a plus framer (Salty is not), and he could end up being a walk-and-occasionally-slap-a-single role-40 offensive player.

Best of all, he’s got years of very cheap team control left, so long as you can stomach carrying him on a 40-man roster. Maybe these days most catchers can frame a bit better than they used to, and if teams continue to train their receivers to perform at a high level Maile’s skill set will likely devalue. But in the interim, he’s a pretty decent second- or third-string catcher. That’s not very exciting, but it is fairly valuable to have on hand in case of an emergency. —Bryan Grosnick

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Signed 1B-L Ryan Howard to a minor-league contract. [4/6]

Raise your hand if you expected Howard to quietly fade into retirement. I did too. Instead, it appears that he’s going to make one more go at the National League East, signing on with the Braves as the team’s Freddie Freeman replacement. While the Braves were unlikely to compete even with Freeman upright and healthy, this is a team that had no backup plan at all if he were to miss significant time. Enter Howard, who will work himself into game shape in Gwinnett while waiting to see what happens next and likely only displacing Matt Tuiasosopo or Blake Lalli in the team’s pecking order. (Which is to say, no big deal.)

There’s been so much made of Howard’s inability to deliver on his mammoth contract or his MVP past that I don’t really feel the need to rehash it here. Instead, let’s focus on the positive. The big lefty still has mammoth game power, and still can brutalize a mistake pitch provided by a right-handed hurler. While better served as a platoon designated hitter in the American League, he could be a bench bat capable of eliciting a smile and a fond thought from the fans. And maybe even knocking a massive dinger once in a while. No, this isn’t the way that any of us wanted to see his career peter out—even those of us who loathed his ability to batter our favorite teams into submission—but it would be fun to see him take the field as part of the Braves’ late-career revival tour for one more go-round in 2017. —Bryan Grosnick

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Signed OF-R Drew Stubbs to a minor-league contract. [4/5]

Signed OF-R Melvin Upton to a minor-league contract. [4/8]

With very sketchy outfield depth, I’d bet Stubbs (and his agent) felt pretty proud of themselves after inking a split contract with the Giants. Instead of bouncing all over the league, like how he played for three teams in 2016, he could almost immediately slot in as a fifth or sixth outfielder and wait patiently for the next Hunter Pence or Denard Span injury to open a space for him. The only problem with the plan was that less than four days later, the Giants signed another outfielder to a minor-league contract, only this one was basically an all-round upgrade over Stubbs and likely pushes him even further back on the depth chart.

Once a dynamic defensive center fielder, age has cut Stubbs down to a platoon corner outfielder who can’t do anything quite well enough to hold a regular job. His offensive upside rests on a few walks and fewer still homers, and his best role is as a team’s sixth outfielder/break-glass-in-case-of-emergency center fielder. The newest Giant, Upton, has considerably more upside and a better floor, but probably still falls short in the eyes of many thanks to that ill-fated 2013 season in Atlanta.

See, Upton is about an average regular still, making his pickup by the Giants on a minor-league deal something of a coup. Yes, he was bad with Toronto at the end of last season, likely failing to hit his weight in pounds and showing none of the power he flashed in his early-season resurgence. His 2016 platoon split was about twice as pronounced as his average split, and he can still track down balls in the outfield, so in the right role he can be a very valuable asset.

I’d go as far as to say that Upton is immediately the second- or third-best outfielder on the Giants and should quickly displace either Chris Marrero or Gorkys Hernandez as the soft side of a platoon with Jarrett Parker. As for Stubbs, well, he may not even be the sixth outfielder on this team. Timing is everything, and as long as Upton stays upright in San Francisco, perhaps the well-traveled Stubbs should try his hand on another team. —Bryan Grosnick

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