Acquired OF-L Travis Snider from the Pirates in exchange for LHP Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later. [1/27]
Remember the table from Wednesday's TA, the one that showed the 10 hitters who improved their True Average the most from 2013 to 2014? Snider didn't qualify for inclusion due to his 285-plate appearance season in '13, but he would've ranked sixth if he had. What's more is Snider improved in other areas: he sliced his strikeout rate to a career-low 18.7 percent, raised his ISO to .174 (its highest point since 2010), and worked himself into favorable counts more often. Factor in Snider's youth (he turns 27 in a few days) and you can understand why the Orioles are willing to gamble on the breakout.
Not that Dan Duquette had much of a choice. His internal options were limited—unless you find some combination of David Lough, Jimmy Paredes, Alex Hassan, and/or Henry Urrutia compelling—and the free-agent market has little left to offer. Snider has his flaws—he's not a good defender and he's been protected against lefties (though he has performed well against them in limited exposure)—and there's a fair chance he's not as good as he played last season. But there's a solid chance he's a tolerable solution in right field who can shed the bust label, too. —R.J. Anderson
No in-depth analysis needed here. Snider is moving from pitcher friendly PNC ballpark to hitter friendly Camden Yards. He also moves from a team with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco in the outfield corners to a team with Alejandro De Aza and Delmon Young in the outfield corners. In sum, Snider stands to see more at bats in a better ball park, up arrow indeed. —Jeff Quinton
Acquired LHP Robbie Ross from the Rangers in exchange for RHP Anthony Ranaudo. [1/27]
However fanboyish it seems to praise a team for adding a pitcher who allowed 7.47 runs per nine last season, this is nice work by Ben Cherington.
Ranaudo had no place in Boston. Not now after the offseason rotation adds, not later with other, superior pitching prospects on the way; the best-case scenario involved him moving to the bullpen, a la Brandon Workman—and it's not like that transition has been a success. Cherington didn't stick around for the possible sequel, opting instead to trade Ranaudo for a pitcher with the same age (as Marc Normandin noted), but a greater track record of big-league success.
Ross didn't take well to the rotation last year, a necessary move given Texas' depleted pitching staff. Yet he'd posted a 2.62 ERA and 2.50 strikeout-to-walk rate while working out of the bullpen during the preceding two seasons. You can focus on what Ross doesn't do: he doesn't throw very hard, he doesn't miss tons of bats, he doesn't generate an otherworldly rate of grounders, he's not a shutdown left-on-left specialist, and so on. All of it is true. But it overlooks what Ross is: a rubber-armed, strike-zone-trained southpaw who does just enough of the aforementioned to earn keep as a flexible reliever. That's more than Ranaudo can claim these days. —R.J. Anderson
Signed 2B-R Gordon Beckham to a one-year deal worth $2 million; designated "OF"-R Dayan Viciedo for assignment. [1/28]
Calling Beckham the prodigal son ignores a simple truth: he wasn't gone from Chicago long enough to spend his $2.6 million signing bonus, let alone last season's $4.2 million salary. Nonetheless, Beckham returns after five months spent out west—fewer than that if you account for him being non-tendered in December—where he served as a swineherd ... er, utility infielder for the Angels, all the while hitting .268/.328/.429 and playing three positions during a 26-game stint. There's little reason for optimism beyond Beckham's age (he's 28), yet the White Sox' shaky second-base situation means he could inherit more playing time than he deserves should Emilio Bonifacio and/or the kids slip in the early going.
Viciedo, perpetually linked to the Mariners, figures to find a new AL-based home in the coming days. He can hit the ball hard. That's about it. —R.J. Anderson
Acquired RHP Anthony Ranaudo from the Red Sox in exchange for LHP Robbie Ross. [1/27]
The Rangers grab a pecan tree for Ross, which is to say a large feller with a slow growth rate. Ranaudo, famously the 39th pick in the 2010 draft, debuted last season to crickets. Blame the apathetic reception on his since-declined prospect stock and subsequently poor performance, as he tallied almost as many home-runs allowed (10) as strikeouts (15). Most pitchers listed 6-foot-7, 230 pounds are cast as starters until the options clock is ticks from midnight. Here's hoping Ranaudo, whose sloppy command and lack of a third pitch undercuts his quality fastball-curveball combination, is the exception. Sure, the Rangers could store him in Triple-A for depth purposes (he has two option years remaining), but unless they're convinced he can be fixed, there's no reason to keep the 25-year-old out of the big-league bullpen for long. —R..J. Anderson
Acquired LHP Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later from the Orioles in exchange for OF-L Travis Snider. [1/27]
The Orioles selected left-handed Stephen Tarpley in the third round of the 2013 draft, and have taken development slowly with the 21-year-old. Tarpley has not reached full-season ball yet in two years, but some evaluators believe he is a raw and fresh arm that could make a big push up the prospect rankings in the next few seasons. Tarpley displays a loose arm with the makings of a plus fastball that sits 92-95 mph with moderate armside run and potential for average command. He counters his fastball with a tumbling 10/4 curveball that has a chance to play at average, and a changeup with mild fade and sneakiness. While there are some mechanical concerns with scouts, Tarpley has cast aside the bad makeup label that was tabbed on him in college. Overall, this is a prospect with some projection and potential, which he began to show glimpses of during his stint with Aberdeen. —Tucker Blair
Signed RHP Casey Janssen to a one-year deal worth $5 million with a mutual option. [1/28]
Washington became an obvious landing spot for a veteran reliever following the Tyler Clippard trade, so Janssen's arrival is somewhat expected. Of course anyone comparing the new guy to his bespectacled predecessor is likely to come away disappointed. Janssen lacks Clippard's durability, for one, and both his strikeout rate and velocity dipped last season. If there is good news, it's that Janssen's pay reflects his inferiority. Another bright spot? Janssen's game has always revolved around his command and his cutter, rather than an ability to overpower hitters, meaning the velocity drop might affect him less than the typical late-inning arm. Provided he's healthy, Janssen ought to put that theory to the test by opening the season as the Nat's eighth-inning man. —R.J. Anderson
Janssen is no longer a closer and he will be setting up a very good one in Drew Storen. Additionally, Janssen does not have the dominant reliever stats to make him fantasy baseball-relevant if he is not collecting saves. —Jeff Quinton