This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Jan. 5 and Jan. 11. Last week’s transactions available here.
Reinstated from inactive list: OF David Krynzel
Released: RHP Jang Cho, C Cesar Reyes, C Jerry Verastegui, OF Eliazar Carmona
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Ben Howard
Released: RHP Emilis Guerrero, RHP Argenis Paulino
Howard, who turns 29 tomorrow, used to touch 99 mph in his prospect prime but now resides in the low 90s with a slider. The Padres used a second-round pick to select Howard from a Tennessee high school in 1997, then traded him to the Marlins in the Blaine Neal blockbuster of 2004. Howard struck out 68 batters for Triple-A Iowa (Cubs) last season, while walking just 24, but he also surrendered 13 bombs in 82 innings, which pushed his ERA to 4.28.
Released: RHP Corey Bachman, RHP Michael Bartek, 2B Patrick Brooks, 2B Bill Moss
SS Jemel Spearman
Traded: OF Angel Pagan to Mets for RHP Ryan Meyers and OF Corey Coles
Signed: RHP Matt Ginter, 2B Rafael Vera, 3B Aaron Herr, SS Angel Gonzalez, SS Anthony Medrano, SS Danny Sandoval
Herr, son of Cardinals second baseman Tom and a high school product of Lancaster, Pa., moved to second base in his first taste of pro ball in 2000, after he’d been a supplemental first-round pick of the Braves. He added third base to his resume in 2006 and power the year before that. Though Herr has yet to break through to the big leagues, he did bat .274/.328/.467 for Triple-A Louisville (Reds) last season. While the power has been a nice addition (.498, .455 and .467 slugging in the last three years), it’s come at the expense of more strikeouts (108, 102 and 144). Herr will be 27 next season.
Signed: RHP Eric Schaler, LHP Valerio de los Santos, LHP Ricardo Morales, C Nelson Robledo, 3B Tony Blanco
Released: LHP Stephen Shao
De los Santos may go down as one of the more forgettable No. 1 prospects in BA history. He scaled the top of the Brewers’ list in 1998, made the big league rotation the next year and proceeded to go 9-12, 4.54 for his big league career with 197-116 K-BB in 248 innings over parts of eight seasons. He spent most of the past two years with Monterrey of the Mexican League, so at age 35 de los Santos may not have much left to give.
Released: RHP Stephen Flake, RHP William Jackel, LHP Andy Jackson, 3B Phillip Cummins
Signed: C J.R. House, 1B Lance Niekro, 3B Rob Cosby, OF Victor Diaz, OF Nick Gorneault
At the very least, Triple-A Round Rock should be competitive in 2008. The five free agents listed above all have experienced success at the Double-A level and above, but have sputtered in brief big league looks. All are righthanded bats with average-at-best defensive skills, though, which helps explain why they’ve been passed over. But you can’t blame the Astros for gambling on repeats on these players’ peak performances. Gorneault hit .293/.366/.549 with 26 homers for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2005 at age 26. House, 27, hit .298/.365/.463 with 32 doubles for Triple-A Norfolk just last season. Cosby batted .308/.346/.507 with 17 homers for Double-A New Hampshire in 2005 at age 24. Diaz, 25, has hit .300 with power in each of his minor league seasons—except 2006 when he sulked through a year with Norfolk—and owns a career big league slugging average of .487. That’s 24 homers in 446 at-bats, if you’re counting. And Niekro, 28, has compiled averages of .301/.354/.491 in parts of five season with Triple-A Fresno in 914 at-bats.
Kansas City Royals
Signed: LHP Dustin Pease, C Ken Huckaby, SS Dave Matranga
Released: RHP Yovany Damico, SS Dennis Donovan, OF Felix Peralta
Los Angeles Angels
Released: RHP David Pellegrine
Los Angeles Dodgers
Signed: RHP Eduardo Sierra, RHP Alfredo Simon, LHP Matt Riley
Who needs secondary stuff when you can throw 97 mph? That’s the allure and the downfall of Alfredo Simon, who’s parlayed high-90s heat into a career minor league ERA of 4.64 with a 524-256 K-BB mark in 682 innings. The Dodgers become the fourth team to gamble on Simon’s upside, with the Phillies, Giants and Rangers already having passed. He’s still just 26.
Signed: LHP Erasmo Ramirez
Signed: RHP Zach Day
Released: C Miguel Barrientos, C Gilbert Buenrostro
Reinstated from inactive list: C Gilbert Buenrostro
New York Mets
Signed: 3B Fernando Tatis
Traded: RHP Ryan Meyers and OF Corey Coles to Cubs for OF Angel Pagan
Pagan’s odds of making the Mets increased after Endy Chavez went down with a knee-ligament injury in the Venezuelan League. Originally a draft-and-follow pick of the Mets from the 1999 draft, Pagan didn’t get a big league look until 2006, when he batted 170 times for the Cubs, hitting .247/.306/.394. The 26-year-old Pagan duplicated that on-base percentage mark in 2007 but added power, to the tune of a .439 slugging mark. He’s fared much better as a lefthanded batter in the big leagues, batting .279/.325/.421.
New York Yankees
Signed: OF Jason Lane
Signed: RHP Nathan Tacker
Released: RHP Rob Semerano, RHP William Shields
Signed: C Josh Eachues, 1B John Urick
Signed: RHP Mike Burns, OF Jorge Cortes
San Diego Padres
Signed: SS Gary Schneidmiller, OF Jeff Davanon, OF Ramon Nivar
Davanon, 34, has carved out a career as a part-time outfielder, batting .259/.349/.400 in eight seasons (never garnering more than 330 at-bats in a year) for the Angels, Diamondbacks and A’s. By signing with San Diego, Davanon, a San Diego State product, continues his trend of playing only for West Coast teams. His 2007 season was limited to 39 games by ankle and shoulder injuries. Nivar, once a top prospect for the Rangers (and once known as Ramon Martinez before he took his mother’s maiden name in 2003 [Editor's note: Nivar's name was not changed as a result of a falsified birth certificate, as noted here earlier. Unlike more than 30 Rangers farmhands during that 2003 offseason, Nivar's age was unchanged] played for two independent Atlantic League teams in 2007, spending time at both middle-infield spots. When last he played in the affiliated minors—for Triple-A Ottawa (Orioles) in 2005—he played the outfield. Known for his speed, the 27-year-old Nivar has swiped 162 bases in the minors, to go with .288/.329/.387 averages in 796 games.
Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: C Mike Difelice, SS Ronnie Merrill, OF Erold Andrus
Signed: RHP Jason Davis, RHP Jim Wladyka, C Joseph Hulet
Toronto Blue Jays
Signed: RHP Nate Buttenfield, RHP Shawn Camp
Released: RHP Nate Buttenfield
Signed: SS Pete Orr, OF Alex Escobar
Released: RHP William Bunn, RHP Devin Drag, RHP Abraham Vargas, LHP Zachary Baldwin, LHP Coby Mavroulis, LHP Joseph Welsh, LHP Wendell Yost, C Erick San Pedro, OF Lindon Bond, OF Richard Hidalgo