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MINNESOTA TWINS
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Acquired LHP Kevin Chapman and cash considerations from Atlanta Braves in exchange for for UT-B Danny Santana. [5/8]

Once a promising relief prospect in the Houston pipeline, Chapman had always posted high-end whiff rates but struggled with his command in the minors. During several cups of coffee with the big club, his walk issues looked even worse and the strikeouts couldn’t balance the ledger in the slightest. With a fresh start in Gwinnett this year, the lefty looked to be backsliding a bit, with his strikeout rate dipping to 7.7 strikeouts per nine, but his walk rate started improving a little too.

With the way that relief performance can vacillate between great and terrible at the drop of a hat, it’s not crazy to think that Chapman could lock in a few solid innings and set himself up as a LOOGY-type for the Twins at some point this season; the only problem is that the Twins are already loaded up with lefties like Taylor Rogers and Craig Breslow. It might take a combination of vastly improved performance and fortuitous injuries to give Chapman another shot, and that seems just as unlikely as the Twins hanging on to win the American League Central this season.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
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Acquired UT-B Michael Martinez from Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations. [5/18]

For someone who really can’t hit at all, a bit of a baseball writer cottage industry is popping up around the guy they call Mini-Mart. It probably hit a high point as he was at the dish for one of the most historic moments in recent baseball history—a moment that the talented Holly Wendt recently waxed poetic about in Short Relief. Phillies Twitter, and especially The Ringer’s Michael Baumann, has long recognized Martinez as a weird offensive cipher, but I’ve also long appreciated him as a champion of my McEwing Score metric, which measures positional utility. We even discussed him on the most recent episode of DFA.

Yes, he’s had some luck this season, posting a chaotic .667 BABIP in his measly 14 plate appearances. It’s not indicative of his talent, which is mainly limited to slapping a single once in a while and convincingly standing at seven (or maybe eight) positions. The joke here, maybe, is that Martinez is something of an indifferent defender despite his versatility. Perhaps the other joke here is that Martinez is consistently employed by franchises among the most well-respected in terms of front-office analytics, early-career Phillies excluded.

Since leaving Philly, Martinez found his way to the 2014 Pirates, 2015-2017 Indians, 2016 Red Sox (for just a hot minute), and now the 2017 Rays. When you see a collection like that, it’s easy to think that there might be something to Martinez beyond what we can see in the stat lines and the defensive numbers and the value metrics. Perhaps there’s a secret sauce behind the 34-year-old’s Match.com-esque stat line*? More likely, Martinez is baseball’s equivalent of a seat-filler at the Oscars—as soon as Brad Miller and/or Matt Duffy come off the disabled list, Martinez will relinquish his spot and find a new place to stay. But no matter which team he plays for, and which position he takes, he’s probably going to hit as poorly as anyone in the big leagues.

*Singles only.

ATLANTA BRAVES
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Acquired UT-B Danny Santana from Minnesota Twins in exchange for LHP Kevin Chapman and cash considerations. [5/8]

Imagine being Braves general manager John Coppolella and thinking you need to roster both Santana and an older, slightly worse version in Emilio Bonifacio. Actually, you know what? Don’t imagine that. Just forget about the Braves entirely until next year.

(So far, so bad. Santana has kicked off his Braves tenure with no hits or walks in 17 plate appearances as of Sunday afternoon. While that’s worse than anyone might’ve projected from the fleet utility guy, this performance might even be ugly enough to get him booted from the talent-stricken Atlanta roster. Every team could, in theory, use a guy who can play anywhere up the middle and hit from both sides of the plate, but at this point he’s making Michael Martinez look like Ben Zobrist.)

MIAMI MARLINS
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Claimed 2B-R Christian Colon off waivers from Kansas City Royals. [5/16]

Before 2017, Colon spent parts of five seasons with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, logging 1,288 plate appearances. And while that’s impressive in its own way, it’s certainly not what the Royals had in mind when they drafted Colon fourth overall in 2010 out of Cal State Fullerton. Instead of blossoming into an All-Star shortstop for Kansas City, he’s been an up-and-down utility infielder known more for solid defense than for any ability to hit.

The Marlins don’t seem to worry at all about employing non-prospect middle infielders with the injuries to Adeiny Hechavarria and Martin Prado. (Currently the team is giving the unheralded J.T. Riddle a long look up the middle.) Fortunately for Colon, he may get a chance to be a soft-side platoon option in Miami until Prado returns from injury and get more than a handful of plate appearances. But if he was going to break out as a serviceable regular, he would’ve done it already by unseating Whit Merrifield or Omar Infante back in K.C.

Colon moving from the Royals to the Marlins doesn’t move the performance needle much for either team but, in researching the move, I discovered that Colon just turned 28 years old. That absolutely floored me. Every so often there’s a player who surprises you when they lose prospect status, but Colon slipped past that point three years ago. He’s not a post-hype former prospect, he’s a post-post-post-hype guy. Time isn’t exactly running out for a guy who hasn’t cracked 30, but I’m not sure I’m equipped to live in a world where Christian Colon is a veteran.

SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Acquired OF-R Matt Szczur from Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Justin Hancock. [5/8]

For another example of just how charmed this past season was for the Cubs, look no further than Szczur’s productive part-time role at Wrigley. He’s a “speed-and-defense” outfielder who has precious little statistical backup for those two qualities; his career Baserunning Runs (BRR) is -0.8—with four career stolen bases and four caught stealing—and his career FRAA is -0.5. What once looked like a complete lack of power appeared to resolve into just enough pop to make him a league-average hitter. That player—the Matt Szczur from 2016—could be a just-fine second-division starting outfielder.

Unfortunately, that’s not the Szczur who had shown up in limited action for the Cubs this season before the Albert Almora Experience well and truly pushed him out of a job. In a very limited sample, Szczur returned to his no-power ways and was eventually shipped to San Diego to be a poor man’s Travis Jankowski. Drink that one in for a minute. The ability to play better-than-passable defense in center field while occasionally flashing enough bat to keep one enticednot to mention his weird reverse platoon splitkind of makes Szczur the ultimate fill-in fifth outfielder. He’s capable of anything, but likely to provide just a little more than nothing.

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rbtgt3
5/23
Christian Colon is a puzzling case. He just turned 28 last week and was the 4th overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Royals and was under club control until 2021. He was the Royals Minor League Player of the year in 2013 and would have also won the award in 2014 as well if the Royals had not called him up on July 1st of that season and basically sat him on the bench. He had a whole 49 plate appearances over the Royals' last 4 months of the 2014 season. In total, he has all of 329 major league plate appearances over 3 major league seasons with the Royals (his 161 PA's last season were a career high) and also managed to post a fairly eye popping career WAR of 1.9 over his ridiculously small sample size. Further, the Royals had a not insignificant investment in Colon, having paid him a $2.75 million signing bonus in 2010. And, he has two of the most famous and important plate appearances during the post season (in separate seasons) in the history of the franchise to his credit. This guy was just flat out never given any real chance at the big league level. Since Colon was making the major league minimum, its no surprise to me that somebody would snap him up almost immediately. He represents zero risk and has nothing but potential upside for the Marlins. Guys with a pedigree like Colon's almost never appear on the waiver wire--at age 28, no less--unless they are DONE, done, or, have an injury so severe that it makes them of no further or dubious value in the foreseeable future. Needless to say, neither applies in Colon's case. Doubt we have heard the last of what he has to offer. He's a year younger than Whit Merrfield, whom the Royals kept at Colon's expense and who was, ironically, taken in the 9th round of same draft Colon was, with the 269th pick.
onegameref
5/24
Did the White Sox ever actually sign the Cuban prodigy this week or last week? I saw a lot of speculation but I don't remember anything final.