The asterisks (*) here denote instances of 40-man roster players who have agreed to terms on the minor league portion of their split major league/minor league contracts. These players will have their minimum salary dictated by baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement. See our feature on minor league salaries for more.
Signed: RHP Kris Benson, RHP Jose Marte*, LHP Leyson Septimo*, SS Pedro Ciriaco*
Released: RHP Alex Thieroff, 1B Clayton Conner, 2B David Cooper, OF Tyrell Worthington
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jose Marte
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Roque Mercedes, RHP Bryan Augenstein
Signing a minor league deal with the Rangers last year resulted in Benson making eight big league appearances in the first half. A similar situation did not yield a callup to the Phillies in ’08. A third minor league deal in three years establishes Benson's status as journeyman, but that won't stop the first overall pick in the ’96 draft from trying for another bite at the apple with the Diamondbacks. If it doesn't work out, then the 35-year-old Benson certainly won't be the worst role model for the young Triple-A Reno hurlers—Bryan Augenstein, Barry Enright, Wes Roemer, Cesar Valdez, et al.—to follow.
Worthington entered the organization as a athletic prep football recruit and unrefined baseball player. And that's exactly how he leaves the Diamondbacks, who took a $220,000 gamble on the outfielder in the fifth round of the ’07 draft. Worthington, 20, hit just .175/.258/.232 with one home run and a 36-to-140 walk-to-strikeout ratio in three pro seasons, two of them with Rookie-level Missoula and the third with short-season Yakima.
Signed: RHP Juan Abreu*
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jeff Lyman, LHP Mike Dunn
Optioned to Double-A: LHP Wilfrido Perez
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Zach Hammes, LHP Alan Embree
Acquired: RHP Miguel Celestino from Mariners as player to be named in trade that sent 1B Casey Kotchman to Mariners for 3B Bill Hall
Optioned to Triple-A: LHP Felix Doubront, LHP Dustin Richardson, C Mark Wagner
The Dodgers selected Hammes, a projectable 6-foot-6 righty from an Iowa high school, in the second round of the ’02 draft. They deemed him worthy of a 40-man roster spot following his ’06 campaign, when he mixed good (8.8 strikeouts per nine innings) with bad (4.5 walks per nine, 4.32 ERA) while making three starts and 38 relief appearances for high Class A Vero Beach. Hammes improved his walk rate in Double-A, but struck out fewer batters and racked up a 5.26 ERA in two seasons with Jacksonville. Los Angeles removed him from the 40-man following the ’07 season and then lost him to minor league free agency after ’08. From what we can tell, Hammes, now 25, did not pitch in ’09.
Released: RHP Vince Perkins
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Blake Parker, RHP Jeff Stevens, C Welington Castillo
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Rafael Dolis
Chicago White Sox
Released: RHP Daniel Cabrera, 2B Lee Fischer, 2B Keith Ginter, OF Jason Botts
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Freddy Dolsi, RHP Lucas Harrell, RHP Jeff Marquez, RHP Jhonny Nunez, RHP Brian Omogrosso, RHP Clevelan Santeliz, 3B Dayan Viciedo, OF Stefan Gartrell
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Santo Luis
Released: RHP Greg Dombrowski
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Enerio Del Rosario, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Bill Bray, LHP Pedro Viola, 1B Yonder Alonso, SS Chris Valaika
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Jordan Smith, LHP Philippe Valiquette
Bray qualifies for a fourth option year because, even though he had been optioned to Louisville in ’07, ’08 and ’09, he has not yet accrued five seasons of professional experience. A player is not credited with a "pro season" when he spends fewer than 90 days on the major or minor league active list. This definition rules out short-season experience as well as the time Bray spent pitching for Brevard County after he signed out of the draft in ’04.
Acquired: RHP Omar Aguilar from Brewers as compensation for loss of Rule 5 pick LHP Chuck Lofgren
Outrighted to Triple-A, removed from 40-man: SS Brian Bixler
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Hector Rondon, C Carlos Santana, 3B Wes Hodges, SS Jason Donald, OF Jordan Brown
Optioned to Double-A: OF Nick Weglarz, SS Carlos Rivero
The Indians claimed middle infielder Anderson Hernandez on a waiver claim from the Mets, relegating Bixler to non-roster status. Hernandez offers a bit more defense than Bixler, and considerably more contact.
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Esmil Rogers, SS Chris Nelson
Signed: RHP Casey Fien, RHP John Sborz*
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Alfredo Figaro, RHP Armando Galarraga, RHP Jay Sborz, 1B Ryan Strieby, OF Brennan Boesch, OF Casper Wells
Optioned to Double-A: SS Audy Ciriaco
Optioned to low Class A: RHP Jacob Turner
It's not uncommon for a player to switch teams more than once on waiver claims in one offseason. His original team will outright him off the 40-man roster, only to lose him on waivers. The claiming team will then often try to sneak him through waivers, too, only to lose him to a second claim. That's how Fien went from the Tigers to the Red Sox to the Blue Jays this March. But what came next was a shock: The Blue Jays, after going through the trouble of claiming him and making room on the 40-man, unexpectedly released him. "This game can be cruel sometimes. Nobody gave me any answers. I asked the Jays why and they told me I was a liability," Fien told the Detroit News after the Tigers signed him to a minor league deal, landing him right back where he started. Detroit originally selected the Cal Poly product in the 20th round of the ’06 draft.
Of all the players drafted out of high school last year, Turner is the only one to report to the minor leagues this season on optional assignment. The reason? Detroit signed him to a big league contract last August, starting his option clock early. Other notable prep draft picks to sign big league deals: Josh Beckett, Delmon Young and the Tigers' own Rick Porcello, whom they selected in the first round in ’07. Porcello made 24 starts for high Class A Lakeland in ’08, which remains the extent of his minor league apprenticeship.
Released: RHP Josh Roberts, RHP Derrick Turnbow, LHP Casey Fry, LHP Brian Schultz, LHP Matt Vieira
Returned Rule 5 selection: 3B Jorge Jimenez (to Red Sox)
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jay Buente, RHP Cristhian Martinez, RHP Brett Sinkbeil, LHP Taylor Tankersley, OF Scott Cousins, OF Jai Miller
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Kris Harvey
Signed: RHP Jose Valdez*, LHP Fernando Abad*, LHP Polin Trinidad*, SS Wladimir Sutil*, OF Yordany Ramirez*
Released: OF Alex Romero
Outrighted to Triple-A, removed from 40-man: 2B Jose Vallejo
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Evan Englebrook, RHP Jose Valdez, LHP Polin Trinidad, SS Wladimir Sutil, OF Brian Bogusevic, OF Yordany Ramirez
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Matt Nevarez, RHP Henry Villar, LHP Fernando Abad
Vallejo had surgery to repair severed tendons in his right hand and was expected to miss most of the season. Houston acquired him when they traded Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers last August.
Kansas City Royals
Signed: RHP Carlos Rosa*
Released: RHP Jack Adams
Voluntarily retired: SS Scott Lyons
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Victor Marte, RHP Carlos Rosa, OF Jarrod Dyson, OF Jordan Parraz
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Aaron Crow, C Manny Pina
After spending the past three seasons on optional assignment, Rosa qualifies for a fourth option because he has not yet accrued five years of "pro experience." The 25-year-old righty does not receive credit for any of his seasons between his ’02 debut and his ’05 lost while recovering from Tommy John surgery. To qualify for a "pro season," a player must spend at least 90 days on the active list for an affiliated club.
Los Angeles Angels
Signed: RHP Fernando Rodriguez*, RHP Rich Thompson*
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Trevor Bell, RHP Bobby Mosebach, RHP Fernando Rodriguez, RHP Rafael Rodriguez, RHP Rich Thompson, 1B Mark Trumbo
Los Angeles Dodgers
Released: RHP Brian Akin, RHP Jhonny Caraballo, RHP Justin Dignelli, RHP Matt Smith, LHP Jon Dutton, OF Travis Vetters
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Jon Link, RHP James McDonald, C Lucas May
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Javy Guerra, OF Trayvon Robinson
Released: LHP John Halama
Traded: RHP Omar Aguilar to Indians as compensation for Rule 5 pick LHP Chuck Lofgren
Outrighted to Triple-A, removed from 40-man: LHP Chuck Lofgren
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Marco Estrada, C Angel Salome, OF Lorenzo Cain
As it turns out, the Brewers won't have to keep Rule 5 pick Lofgren on their 25-man active roster all season after all. They traded Aguilar to Cleveland for his full rights. And now after outrighting Lofgren to Nashville, they won't have to keep him on the 40-man, either. If he pitches well in Triple-A, then he could surface in Milwaukee as a situational reliever. If not, then the club won't have to make a decision on him again until the offseason, when they'll have to re-add him to the 40-man to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent.
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Alex Burnett, RHP Rob Delaney, RHP Jeff Manship, RHP Anthony Swarzak, 3B Danny Valencia, SS Trevor Plouffe, OF Luke Hughes
New York Mets
Signed: RHP Clint Everts*, RHP Henry Owens, 3B Shawn Bowman*
Released: RHP Josh Fogg, RHP Kyle Snyder
Outrighted to Mexican League: RHP Rolando Valdez, LHP Orlando Lara
A nondrafted free agent signed by the Pirates from Division II Barry (Fla.), Owens seemed like a revelation after the Mets made him a minor league Rule 5 pick in December ’04. He struck out a staggering 12.3 and then 16.6 batters per nine innings as he moved from high Class A St. Lucie in ’05 to Double-A Binghamton in ’06. The Marlins acquired Owens when they traded Jason Vargas to the Mets following the ’06 season, and the hard-throwing reliever shined as a rookie the following year. But then Owens missed the ’08 season with a shoulder injury, got dumped from the 40-man that October and then in November received a 50-game suspension for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs. He returned last season to make 11 wild appearances in the Marlins system, walking 12 batters in 13 2/3 innings but surrendering only one run. Owens last appeared with Double-A Jacksonville on June 28 before being granted free agency at season's end.
Lara and Valdez have a few things in common. Each is a native of Mexico who signed with the Padres in ’05. They both joined the Mets in last December's minor league Rule 5 draft, and now both have been loaned to the Mexican League (where Lara had spent the previous two seasons). Because the ML season begins in March, Lara already has pitched for Mexico City and Valdez for Oaxaca.
New York Yankees
Signed: LHP Wilkin de la Rosa*
Released: RHP Julian Arballo, RHP Griffin Bailey, RHP Paul Heidler, RHP Dan Miller, C Buck Afenir, 1B Mike Lyon, 1B Chris Malec, 2B Issac Harrow, OF Seth Fortenberry
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Romulo Sanchez
Loaned to Mexican League: LHP Bob Cramer
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Justin Souza
Option transferred: RHP Justin Souza (Triple-A to Double-A)
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Drew Carpenter, SS Brian Bocock
Optioned to Double-A: LHP Sergio Escalona
Optioned to Triple-A: 3B Pedro Alvarez, OF Jose Tabata
St. Louis Cardinals
Returned Rule 5 selection: LHP Ben Jukich (to Reds)
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Josh Kinney
San Diego Padres
Released: RHP Jon Ellis
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Radhames Liz, RHP Luis Perdomo, RHP Ryan Webb, OF Chad Huffman
San Francisco Giants
Released: RHP Byung-Hyun Kim, LHP Idelfonso Bohorquez, LHP Ricardo Castro
Returned Rule 5 selection: RHP Steve Johnson (to Orioles)
Optioned to Triple-A: 1B Brett Pill, 3B Conor Gillaspie
Kim retired one batter during spring training (on a strikeout), but otherwise gave up two hits (one a home run) before asking for his release. He did not pitch in ’08 or ’09.
Speaking of not pitching in the past two seasons, Bohorquez, 22, spent that entire period on the disabled list. A native of Venezuela, he pitched in the Dominican Summer League for three seasons beginning in ’05, compiling a 2.92 ERA over 11 starts and 20 other relief outings.
Signed: RHP Yusmeiro Petit (re-signed)
Released: RHP Luke Burnett, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, SS Erick Monzon
Traded: RHP Miguel Celestino to Red Sox as player to be named in deal that sent 3B Bill Hall to Red Sox for 1B Casey Kotchman
Optioned to Triple-A: OF Ezequiel Carrera, OF Michael Saunders
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Danny Cortes, RHP Ricky Orta, RHP Anthony Varvaro, LHP Edward Paredes, 1B Dustin Ackley
Burnett generated buzz for the ’08 draft based on his strong showing in the Cape Cod League the year before. "He intimidated hitters with his 6-foot-8, 260-pound frame and a fastball that sat at 96 mph," we wrote, adding, "When it's on, his splitter can be devastating." The Mariners, under previous scouting director Bob Fontaine, took a chance on the Louisiana Tech product, signing him for $200,000 as what constituted a 14th-round gamble. But after racking up big strikeout numbers in his first two college seasons, Burnett turned in an atrocious junior year, going 0-4, 8.41 in eight starts (plus two relief appearances), with 30 strikeouts, 32 walks and eight home runs allowed in 41 innings. His tenure with the Mariners was not much better. In making 14 starts for short-season Everett last season, Burnett went 2-4, 4.66 with 7.1 strikeouts, 5.8 walks and 1.1 home runs allowed per nine innings. A performance that did not exactly qualify as a mark of distinction for a 22-year-old, second-year pro in the Northwest League.
Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: C John Jaso*, C Jose Lobaton*
Released: RHP Mike Southern, C Alex Jamieson, C John Mollicone, 1B Lucas Nakandakare
Optioned to Triple-A: C John Jaso, C Jose Lobaton, OF Fernando Perez
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Omar Beltre, RHP Omar Poveda, LHP Zach Phillips
Toronto Blue Jays
Signed: LHP Sean Henn (re-signed), 2B Luis Figueroa
Released: RHP Casey Fien, RHP Brian Justice, RHP Chase Lirette, RHP Brandon Magee, RHP Wade Townsend, LHP Davis Romero, LHP Nathan Starner, C Chris House
Returned Rule 5 selection: RHP Zech Zinicola (to Nationals)
Recalled: RHP Casey Fien
Outrighted to Triple-A, removed from 40-man: LHP Sean Henn
Optioned to Triple-A: 1B Brian Dopirak, 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir
Henn had previously been outrighted from a 40-man roster (Padres, June ’08), giving him the option to seek free ageny. He opted to re-sign with the Blue Jays instead.
The Blue Jays viewed Magee as a low-risk senior sign when they made him a fourth-round pick in ’06, thinking that at worst he'd make a fine organizational pitcher. It didn't turn out that way. Magee lost effectiveness with each step up the minor league ladder, and his time with Double-A New Hampshire resulted in a record of 11-18, 4.85 with barely more strikeouts (91) than walks (87). He's 26 and still waiting for his first dose of success as a pro. As an amateur, however, he ranks second on Bradley's all-time strikeout list.
Like Magee, Lirette represents a ’06 draft gamble that did not pay off for Toronto. (They selected Travis Snider in the first round that year, but had no second- or third-round pick after signing A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan as free agents the previous winter.) Signed to a six-figure bonus as a 16th-rounder out of South Florida, Lirette hasn't been healthy enough to make more than 20 appearances in any one of his four pro seasons. Just as telling, he spent last season as a 24-year-old in low Class A, racking up a 5.70 ERA for Lansing.
For more on Fien, check out the note with the Tigers section above.
Signed: C Josh Johnson
Released: LHP Ron Villone
Optioned to Triple-A: LHP Matt Chico
Optioned to Double-A: RHP Stephen Strasburg
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