Claimed RHP Roman Mendez off waivers from the Rangers; transferred RHP Koji Uehara to the 60-day disabled list (fractured wrist). [9/11]
Having failed time and again to construct a quality bullpen in Detroit, consider it fitting that one of Dave Dombrowski's first tasks in Boston is to fix the downtrodden relief corps. Wisely, Dombrowski decided not to wait until the winter to add a candidate to his pile.
Originally a member of the Red Sox, Mendez returns to his home organization more than five years after departing in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade. His calling card remains the same: a fast arm that allows him to sit in the mid-90s and touch higher. Unfortunately, his blemishes have stayed with him as well. Despite superficial success in 2014—it's never good when a pitcher's ERA (2.18) is higher than his strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.29)—Mendez's command and changeup remain inconsistent, hence his struggles to miss bats and retire left-handed hitters.
Because Mendez will enter 2016 without an option to his name, he'll need to make some quick gains over the next few months to secure a middle-relief spot. Otherwise, he'll head back to the waiver wire.
Acquired LHP Daniel Coulombe from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations. ]9/10]
A 25th-round oddity, Coulombe debuted in the majors before Triple-A. He's since spent most of his time in Triple-A, so that fun fact has varying mileage. Anyway, the A's are receiving an interesting, if flawed middle-relief candidate. That's because, while Coulombe is short and lacks great velocity, he features a riding low-90s fastball and a solid breaking ball. The development of his command—he's never walked fewer than four batters per nine in a professional season—will determine whether he ever becomes more than an up-and-down arm.
Claimed 1B/OF-R Tommy Medica off waivers from the Padres. [9/8]
With Mike Morse elsewhere and Jeff Baker a stone's throw from free agency, one of the Marlins' offseason priorities was finding a suitable platoon partner for Justin Bour. Medica might be that guy. Though the Padres never embraced him for legitimate reasons—he's a below-average athlete with a questionable approach who went through some wicked slumps when he did receive a big-league look—the Marlins are likely fixated on his above-average strength. Power isn't the worst tool to prioritize, given that Medica's potential role will include a lot of pinch-hitting in (presumably) important spots. Besides, he's cheap and has an option remaining, so the Marlins have no reason to keep him around if he falters. Medica, for his part, should be thrilled: Miami is the perfect place for him to work on his budding second career as an actor-slash-model.
Announced GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would not have his contract extended. [9/10]
When Amaro took over for Pat Gillick following the 2008 World Series, the Phillies had nowhere to go but down. And down the Phillies went, but not until they won three more division titles and another National League pennant.
The past three-plus seasons haven't been as fruitful. Amaro tried to take full advantage of the Phillies' competitive window, which meant trading prospects for veterans and forfeiting draft picks to sign the likes of Raul Ibanez, Cliff Lee, and Jonathan Papelbon. That strategy, paired with noteworthy front-office departures (Mike Arbuckle and Chuck LaMar) and repeated failures to develop what prospects were kept and/or drafted, greased the slopes for the Phillies—a team whose championship was delivered by a homegrown core—to slide from the top of the league to the bottom.
Of course Amaro made other mistakes along the way. He signed Ryan Howard, one of those homegrown talents, to a regrettable long-term extension; he caused media and public outcries on various topics due to absentminded comments, ranging from statistics to player-management and -evaluation issues; and he failed in his attempt to find Charlie Manuel's successor. There were other blunders too, obviously, and together they formed an ironclad case for his dismissal years ago.
Yet if Amaro is to shoulder the full burden of the failures that occurred under his watch, then it's only right he receives some credit for the successes of late; after all, it's not his fault upper management didn't fire him before this point. The Phillies' farm system has improved—perhaps ascending to the top half of the league—based on recent drafts (which netted quality building blocks in J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola), international efforts, and trade returns, including the Cole Hamels payout that followed months of external pressure and second-guessing. Philadelphia's front office had even begun to invest in analytics, an unthinkable act two or three years ago.
All that is to say Amaro had seemingly matured in ways, or, at minimum, had stayed the same and performed his job at an acceptable (or better) level over the past year-plus. In that sense, his firing was so overdue that it was almost undue in its timing. If the Phillies were ever going to move on from Amaro, however, it was going to be during the transition from Gillick to Andy MacPhail. Lo and behold, that's what happened. And, though Amaro contributed to his own downfall, you have to feel for him, not just because it ends his near-lifelong relationship with the Phillies organization, but because it means he'll miss the team's coming return to glory that he helped plan.
Now the Phillies will find a new planner, and they should have plenty of interested parties. As one executive told Jerry Crasnick about the Phillies, "Look at the ballpark. Look at the spring training facility. Look at the television deal. This is a goose that's going to lay a golden egg."