This installment details all transactions reported by MLB between Feb. 7 and 13. The previous installment is available here.
Signed: RHP Ryohei Tanaka
Removed from 40-man roster: 3B Scott Moore
The Orioles’ signing of Ty Wigginton bumped Moore, 25, off the 40-man roster. The eighth overall pick by the Tigers in 2002, he joined the Orioles in the 2007 trade that shipped Steve Trachsel to the Cubs. Moore, a lefthanded-hitting third baseman, has tantalized in short stretches (see his .256 isolated power in Triple-A in 321 at-bats in ’07), though he generally has struck out a bit much for a player with just modest power.
Unlike the Orioles’ other offseason Japanese import, righty Koji Uehara, the 26-year-old Tanaka has minimal top-level experience, having spent most of his career with Chiba Lotte in the minors. A Marines’ first-round pick in 2001, he struck out five, walked 10 and allowed 11 runs in 10 innings in 2003, his lone big league exposure with Chiba Lotte.
Boston Red Sox
Granted free agency: 1B Jeff Bailey
Removed from 40-man roster: 1B Jeff Bailey
Signed: RHP Luis Pardo
Signed: RHP Franklin Nunez, LHP Kurt Birkins
Released: RHP Eric Schaler
Reinstated from inactive list: RHP Kyle Hancock
Signed: RHP Juan Rincon
Signed: C Pete LaForest, 2B Dave Matranga
A September 2007 waiver claim by the Phillies, LaForest’s time with the organization lasted just 26 at-bats. He spent the final month of ’07 in Philadelphia and then spent about a week and a half with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in ’08 before being cut. The IronPigs’ record stood at 2-13 at the time of LaForest’s release. But the 31-year-old backstop was only the first to go. By midseason, the list of ex-IronPigs grew to include Val Pascucci, Kevin Beirne, Vic Darensbourg and Steve Kline.
Kansas City Royals
Signed: RHP Jamey Wright
The definition of a journeyman pitcher, Wright, 34, embarks on his second tour of duty with the Royals. (He briefly was a member of the K.C. rotation in ’03.) And don’t think that Wright is consigned to the minor leagues just because he signed a minor league pact. His deals with the Giants (for ’06) and the Rangers (for ’08) were of the same nature. For a pitcher who has managed to go 79-110, 5.06 with a 1.59 WHIP for his career, Wright’s staying power simply is incredible. Since debuting with Rockies in 1996, he’s pitched in the big leagues in every season since—and if you remove ’03 from consideration, when he logged just 25 innings, Wright has compiled at least 77 innings in each of those seasons.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Signed: RHP Heath Totten, LHP Brad Halsey, LHP Eric Milton, C J.D. Closser, SS Johnny Washington, OF John-Ford Griffin
Released: OF Sam Steidl
Halsey did not pitch professionally in 2008 after he was released by the Athletics in spring training. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in July 2007, but not before firing salvos at the Oakland front office for perceived mishandling. Now 28, Halsey pitched for Arecibo of the Puerto Rican League, going 0-2, 7.97 in five starts, while racking up eight strikeouts and 13 walks in 20 1/3 innings.
Signed: OF John Raburn
Voluntarily retired: C Jae-Hyung Jang
New York Mets
Signed: OF Brian Burgamy
New York Yankees
Released: LHP Angel Reyes
A once-tantalizing lefty, Reyes pitched just 7 2/3 innings for low Class A Charleston last season after returning from his 50-game suspension for a failed drug test.
Signed: RHP Edgar Gonzalez
Gonzalez debuted with the Diamondbacks in 2003 at age 20, but after compiling a 5.97 ERA in parts of six big league seasons with Arizona, he was nontendered last December. The Monterrey-born righty, who missed much of ’08 with a strained elbow, worked mostly as a reliever/rotation fill-in for the D’backs. Gonzalez proved his health by making seven starts in the Mexican Pacific League this winter—and going 4-1, 4.46 with 24-12 K-BB in 36 1/3 innings—but it was his work in the Caribbean Series that likely piqued the interest of A’s scouts. He tossed seven shutout, two-hit innings against Venezuela, while striking out nine and walking none, in a Feb. 3 start. (Interesting side note: the other Edgar Gonzalez, the Padres infielder who also plays for the Mexican team, led all Series participants with a .423 average.)
And new this week, we take a trip back through the BA archives to present Prospect Handbook profiles of players involved in minor league transactions. We look first at Edgar Gonzalez, who ranked as the Diamondbacks’ No. 9 prospect in the 2004 edition of the book.
Edgar Gonzalez, rhp
Born: Feb. 23, 1983. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 220. Bats: R. Throws: R. Career Transactions: Signed out of Mexico by Diamondbacks, April 18, 2000 . . . On restricted list, June 12, 2000-April 4, 2002.
Gonzalez signed for $3,500 at age 17, but got homesick and left the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before throwing an inning. [Note: Arizona placed him on the restricted list from June 12, 2000 to April 4, 2002.] He made his pro debut two years later in 2002, threw a Midwest League no-hitter in his second start, and reached the majors in June 2003. He won his major league debut against the Padres. Gonzalez is crafty, mixing four pitches while moving them all around the strike zone. He throws his fastball at 88-91 mph, keeping 94-95 in his pocket when he needs it. He also adds and subtracts from his changeup and uses three different curveballs, each with different movement and velocity. Gonzalez doesn’t have a true knockout pitch, so he doesn’t always miss bats or put hitters away at key moments. While Gonzalez studies hitters, he sometimes toys with lesser threats rather than challenging them and getting rid of them quickly. A future No. 3 starter, Gonzalez spent the winter in Panama to help him prepare for a spring training audition for Arizona’s rotation.
Signed: 1B Larry Broadway
San Francisco Giants
Signed: RHP Ramon Ortiz, 1B Rich Aurilia, 3B Juan Uribe, SS Gabe Suarez
Ortiz took a year off from posting five-and-a-half ERAs in the States to pitch in Japan . . . where he went 4-7, 5.82 for Orix of the Pacific League.
Signed: C Jason Phillips
Reinstated from inactive list: LHP Greg Moviel
Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: RHP Winston Abreu, 3B Morgan Ensberg, SS Guillermo Peralta
Released: OF Fernando Frias
Reinstated from inactive list: OF Fernando Frias
Like Ramon Ortiz, Abreu returns from a year spent pitching in Japan. But unlike Ortiz, Abreu’s profile had been headed in a positive direction—and he pitched well for Chiba Lotte in ’08, too, compiling a 3.32 ERA, striking out 24 and walking eight in 21 2/3 relief innings. In two seasons and 117 1/3 innings at Triple-A prior to that, Abreu, 31, struck out 160 (12.3 per nine) and walked 40 (3.0 per nine), while giving up just six home runs.
Signed: RHP Jason Jennings, OF Andruw Jones
Seems odd to see these names in minor league transactions, but then it’s not 2006 anymore.
Toronto Blue Jays
Signed: RHP Jonah Bayliss, RHP Dirk Hayhurst, 1B Brett Harper, 1B Kevin Millar, OF Nick Gorneault
Removed from 40-man roster: C Curtis Thigpen, 2B Russ Adams
Even though Millar couldn’t secure a big league deal this winter (it happens when you bat .234/.323/.394 and can’t crack even a .750 OPS against lefties), he appears to have made a wise choice in signing with Toronto, a club that outscored only the Royals, Mariners and A’s last season. And even if Millar, 37, doesn’t make the big club, he’s positioned to generate interest from other teams thanks to the Blue Jays’ new Triple-A affiliate in hitter-friendly Las Vegas.
Neither Adams, a first-round pick in ’02, nor Thigpen, a second-rounder in ’04, had done much with Triple-A Syracuse in either of the past two seasons, so it’s not terribly surprising to see them removed from the 40-man roster. What was surprising for the duo that once figured into Toronto’s future plans was that they were discarded so that a pair of struggling relievers from struggling franchises—T.J. Beam from the Pirates and Brian Burres from the Orioles—could be added to the 40-man as waiver claims.
Signed: LHP Odalis Perez
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