Selected the contract of RHP Ryan Mattheus from Triple-A Salt Lake; optioned 1B-R Efren Navarro to Triple-A Salt Lake; acquired RHP Chad Smith from the Athletics in exchange for cash considerations. [5/8]
There was a time, back in 2011-2012, when Mattheus seemed to be a competent middle reliever. Despite shaky peripherals, he threw roughly 100 innings while maintaining a sub-3 ERA. Then 2013 came, and his luck ran out. His streak of quality ERAs ended, and he fractured his hand by punching a locker. Ouch. That about wrapped Mattheus' term in D.C., so it wasn't a surprise to see him sign elsewhere as a minor-league free agent. In limited duty this year in Salt Lake, he's looked as good as he has in a while: posting a 6.00 strikeout-to-walk rate and generating close to 60 percent grounders with his low-to-mid-90s sinker. He's unlikely to start missing bats, but maybe he can pretend it's 2012 again.
Speaking of middle-relief depth, Smith lasted all of two outings in Oakland. He'll report to Salt Lake for the time being. However, as Mattheus proves, Smith could join the big-league club at any point.
Purchased the contract of OF-L Preston Tucker from Triple-A Fresno; placed OF-R George Springer on the 7-day disabled list (concussion); designated 2B-R Ronald Torreyes for assignment. [5/7]
With Springer sidelined following a head-first collision with a wall, the Astros turn to their seventh-round pick from the 2012 draft. A product of the University of Florida, Tucker's profile splits evaluators. While his minor-league numbers are impressive—he homered 10 times in 25 games at Fresno—his tools and positional choices are limited. Tucker is a well-below-average defender and baserunner, placing more emphasis on his bat; problematic, because in spite of his above-average raw power, his substandard hit tool and approach creates uncertainty on how well he'll hit big-league arms. As such, the cone of outcomes for Tucker is wide than most, stretching from platoon outfielder to bench bat to Quad-A afterthought.
Acquired C-R Drew Butera from the Angels in exchange for INF-R Ryan Jackson. [5/7]
Not to go all nihilist, but this trade means nothing. Desiring a veteran backup until Erik Kratz returns from the disabled list, the Royals swapped organizational depth with the Angels. It won't matter. When people say Butera can't hit, they mean he cannot hit: his career True Average is worse than Mario Mendoza's, albeit in half the plate appearances. What Butera can do is throw, as he was once clocked at over 90 mph during a blowout. Couldn't mean less. Why? Because Salvador Perez is the workhorse catcher's workhorse catcher; he's started 28 of the Royals' first 30 games, and will probably start 28 of the next 30. If Butera is lucky, he'll be around for another start; if not, nobody will care.
Acquired RHP Edward Mujica and cash considerations from the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations; transferred RHP Jarrod Parker to the 60-day disabled list (elbow fracture). [5/10]
Purchased the contract of RHP Angel Castro from Triple-A Nashville; optioned RHP R.J. Alvarez to Triple-A Nashville; released OF-R Alex Hassan. [5/8]
What do you get to fix the bullpen with the worst ERA in the AL? How about a pitcher with a 4.61 ERA? Mujica still threw a lot of strikes during his stint in Boston, but he struggled with the quality of his stuff. To wit, two of the three home runs he allowed with Boston came off his signature splitter. The transaction and opportunity costs are trivial, so the A's can experiment and tinker to their heart's content; if Mujica continues to serve up BP, then Billy Beane can place him back onto the waiver wire without hesitation.
Whereas Mujica is the A's latest external attempt to salvage their bullpen, Castro is the A's latest internal attempt. That's the good news. The bad news is Castro is a 32-year-old with past experience in winter ball, Mexico, Japan, and . . . well, about everywhere except the one place that would have earned him an Annual comment. Nonetheless, Castro's fastball can touch the upper 90s, making him more intriguing than the typical story of perseverance—even if folks won't hear it over their calls for Pat Venditte. Oh well.
Recalled RHP Matt Andriese from Triple-A Durham; purchased the contract of RHP Andrew Bellatti from Triple-A Durham; optioned INF-R Jake Elmore to Triple-A Durham; placed LHP Drew Smyly on the 15-day disabled list (torn labrum); transferred RHP Alex Cobb to the 60-day disabled list (Tommy John surgery). [5/9]
With the Rays dealing with the flu and more arm troubles, two of Durham's starters get the call. Andriese works fast, throws strikes, changes speeds, and lets his defense do all the work. Unfortunately, his arsenal limits his ceiling to that of a back-end starter or a Burke Badenhop-like reliever. Bellatti, meanwhile, is best known for being charged with vehicular manslaughter early in his professional career. (This story is worth reading, if only because of the awing compassion showed by the victim's family.) He returned to starting this season, and has posted some solid numbers. Neither his low-90s fastball nor his slider grade as plus offerings, so he could wind up back in the bullpen (and likely in Durham) before long.
Signed C-S Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a minor-league deal. [5/7]
The Diamondbacks entered spring with the worst catching situation in the majors. They've since lost their two top backups (Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez and HACKING MASS pick Gerald Laird) to injuries, leaving them with Tuffy Gosewich and Jordan Pacheco. Saltalamacchia, though not a world beater, ought to be an upgrade once he returns to the majors.
Of course, Saltalamacchia's time in Miami didn't go as planned. He hit okay last season, but his power production dipped with the move from Fenway to the canyon in Miami. Saltalamacchia still takes walks, yet his tendency to work deep counts combines with his massive swing-and-miss issues to create uncomfortably high strikeout rates. Defensively, Saltalamacchia doesn't gain many points. He stabs too often to be considered a quality receiver, and failed the eye test even when the metrics disagreed. To his credit, he does have an improved reputation as a staff-handler.
Factor in Saltalamacchia's longstanding platoon issues, and Dave Stewart's hopes should be modest in nature. If Saltalamacchia regains some of his pop in a more hitter-friendly ballpark, then expect him to draw more interest this winter when he re-enters the open market.
Recalled RHP Williams Perez from Triple-A Gwinnett; optioned RHP Michael Kohn to Triple-A Gwinnett. [5/6]
Perez is a plausible internet favorite due to his file-cabinet build and multiple last names. His raison d'être is inducing grounder after grounder with his low-90s sinker and solid changeup. Although Perez is a career starter and could pitch at the back of a rotation, his limited upside and the Braves' pitching depth meant a move to the bullpen was more likely than not. That the transition is occurring now is a touch surprising—Perez has appeared in only five Triple-A games—but there's no time like the present, and he could stick in middle relief provided he misses big-league barrels.