Signed RHP Tommy Hunter to a one-year deal worth $2 million; designated C-L Tony Wolters for assignment. [2/12]
A signing that just makes sense.
Hunter remained on the market into mid-February due to offseason surgery that repaired an abdominal muscle‒an operation he’s expected to recover from in time for Opening Day. When he’s right, he controls a trio of fastballs, including his upper-90s four-seamer that he’ll elevate late in counts. Alas, that’s where the fun stops. Hunter's breaking ball is more get-me-over than get-me-out, and his failure to develop a weapon versus lefties limits his leverage ceiling.
Still, the Indians were previously relying upon two or three of their non-roster invitee lot to claim middle-relief jobs‒a risky, albeit low-cost strategy for a contender to take. Adding a reliable arm like Hunter (who has posted a 125 ERA+ and 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three seasons as a reliever) ought to provide Terry Francona with more peace of mind; that he comes on a sub-market value deal is an added bonus, so far as the Indians are concerned.
The good news for Hunter is that, barring a setback or unforeseen complications arising from his surgery, he should land a more lucrative contract come next winter.
Signed RHP Carlos Torres to a minor-league deal. [2/11]
One of last season’s running jokes was that the Braves were favorites to sign and/or claim any and every available reliever. Maybe it’ll be a running joke this season as well.
In the interim, you figure Torres has a real chance at cracking the Braves roster. He proved during his time with the Mets that he could serve as a swingman, and there's always room for someone like that on a rebuilding team‒especially one whose bullpen is projected to include multiple Rule 5 picks and rehabbing vets. Torres doesn’t have jaw-dropping stuff‒he leans on his cutter while mixing in fastballs and curves‒but he´s cheap, versatile, and liable to post a league-average ERA. That’s fine.
Signed LHP Craig Breslow to a minor-league deal. [2/12]
Arguably the league's most boring pitcher, Breslow is a 35-year-old who doesn't fit in any typical role. His platoon split is almost nonexistent, but not in a good way; he started two games last season, yet you can't call him a swingman or even a long reliever; and so on. Breslow is just someone who seems to toss 50 innings a season, often while managing a decent ERA, and recently without posting decent fielding independent numbers. Yawn. Presumably, he'll compete with Brad Hand for a spot in the Miami bullpen. Bet on ennui winning.
Signed RHP Blaine Boyer to a minor-league deal. [2/12]
What's a guy gotta do to get a guaranteed contract? A 2.49 ERA in 65 innings for the Twins evidently wasn't enough for Boyer, and who knows if any combination of numbers would have done the trick. The league doesn't value ERA that highly anymore when it comes to certain profiles, and Boyer's age and track record make him less desirable than other pitch-to-contact types, such as Ryan Webb and Burke Badenhop—both of whom, it should be noted, remain free agents. The Brewers would seem to have no use for a fringe reliever, given their collection of young arms, but therein is the rub: David Stearns is almost certain to move Will Smith or Jeremy Jeffress or even Corey Knebel within the next few months. When that happens, Boyer might just get a chance to repeat his fluke season.
Signed LHPs Eric O'Flaherty and Cory Luebke to minor-league deals. [2/11]
As if coaching up Daniel Bard wasn't enough to test his magic, here are two more toads for Ray Searage to turn into princes. O'Flaherty had a brutal 2015, his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He allowed a run for every inning pitched, recorded nearly as many walks as strikeouts, and finished with an 8.10 ERA (FYI, you get 8.20 if you add up the ERA for each of his four full seasons with the Braves). And yet, all that said, he's still more likely to contribute to the Pirates than Luebke, who hasn't thrown a big-league pitch since 2012 due to various arm troubles. Good luck, Ray. You'll need it.