Signed LHP Franklin Morales to a minor-league deal. [2/19]
Not content to open camp with one Morales on the roster, Dayton Moore added another.
This Morales' value is obscured by consecutive poor seasons and less-than-promising peripherals—he doesn't throw strikes, dodge lumber, or keep the ball on the ground an extraordinary amount. A starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever, Morales has a rubber arm that lends itself to multi-inning stints. Yet his arm's elasticity could be wasted if the Royals proceed in carrying seven other relievers—there are only so many innings to go around, after all.
What would be more sensible is to try Morales as a left-handed specialist. He's held left-handed batters to the same True Average over the past three seasons as famous peers Justin Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, and Matt Thornton. Morales' main competition for the role, Tim Collins, has been 50 points worse against lefties during that same period. Morales has never been used in a specialist capacity—he's faced more than 50 percent lefties in a season just once, back in 2011—but it's a role that his statistics and mechanics (closed landing, deceptively short arm stroke) suggest he could inhibit and flourish in.
Besides, what's the downside? Should Morales falter as a LOOGY, he could grab his mop and bucket and head to the back of the bullpen. There's little to lose, and a valuable situational arm to gain.
Signed LHP Joe Saunders to a minor-league deal. [2/20]
There's no way Saunders cracks the Mariners' Opening Day rotation. Not when Roenis Elias or J.A. Happ could be on the outside looking in, and not when Saunders' last two seasons have been as poor as Roy Heinz. As such, there's no reason to object to this deal—or any minor-league deal involving a 33-year-old southpaw with more than 200 big-league starts and a career 95 ERA+. Saunders is unlikely to contribute in a meaningful fashion but if he's willing to ride buses and eat bad food—and he was last season—then he's worth taking a chance on anyway as organizational depth.
Signed RHP Brandon Beachy to a one-year deal worth $2.75 million with a club option worth $3-to-$6 million. [2/21]
Farhan Zaidi is a risk-taker. That is, perhaps more than anything, what we've learned from his first few months running point in Los Angeles.
Freed from the budgetary restrictions he faced in Oakland, Zaidi has opted for a gambler's approach in filling his rotation. He isn't paying Jon Garland $5 million, as his predecessor once did, but rather scraping together a few injury-prone types (Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Beachy), shoving them into the slot machine, pulling the lever, and hoping to avoid three torn UCLs. Even if you pardon McCarthy from the discussion—and in fairness, he did toss 200 innings in 2014—the Anderson-Beachy combination expected to round out the starting five has combined for 37 big-league starts over the past three seasons—or a handful of turns more than they're expected to take this season.
Zaidi seems to be thinking, I have a lot of cash, I have the minor-league depth to cover the tail-end if needed, and my farm system houses enough intriguing prospects to land an external upgrade at the deadline if I desire ... so why give some low-ceiling no. 4 starter multiple years when playing the oft-injured-arms lottery could result in superior production and a better return on investment? Whether Zaidi's gambit works or not is to be seen—it's not hard to envision it going left—but it is an interesting way to leverage his situation, and a departure from the norm in L.A.
Don't expect Beachy to be seen until summer at the earliest, as he continues to rehab from his second Tommy John surgery. Because Beachy would've been under team control through next season anyway, the club option is mostly to lock in costs. If Beachy returns strong, then the Dodgers get a middle-of-the-rotation starter for a pittance. If he doesn't, they can bring him back for a slight raise and try again.
Acquired LHP Steven Brault from the Orioles to complete the Travis Snider trade. [2/20]
Regis University is certainly not known as a hotbed of talent, with a grand total of zero major-league players. It's feasible to make an argument that Steven Brault is the most talented alumnus. He generally sits 90-92 with average present command, but his fastball has some sink and run on it. While he is not an overpowering pitcher, his feel and pitchability on the mound have been noticeable during his time in the lower minors with the Orioles. Brault also carries a slider, curveball and changeup in his arsenal. The slider and curveball are present fringe offerings, both with mild success against lower competition. The changeup is a potential above-average offering, with some fade and deception from his three-quarters arm slot. Brault is adept at hiding the changeup out of his hand, and it has helped him flourish through the lower minors while he was able to work on fine-tuning the rest of his arsenal and mechanics. His loose arm and deception are positive aspects of his delivery, but there isn't much room for mistakes due to the average stuff and lack of a difference-making third pitch. Brault likely profiles as a role-4 relief type, with potential to provide more value if he can improve the consistency of his slider and/or curveball. —Tucker Blair