Signed: 1B Andy Tracy
Released: C Kawika Emsley-Pai
Traded: RHP Cesar Valdez to Pirates as player to be named for LHP Zach Duke
Traded: OF Jose Rivero to Athletics for cash considerations
New Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has kept things lively this offseason, signing free agents, making trades and making waiver claims with abandon. Among the most recent batch of moves, Arizona traded Cesar Valdez, one of the organization's top arms as recently as ’09, to Pittsburgh as the PTBN (because he was eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft) for Zach Duke. The 25-year-old Valdez went 6-10, 5.90 for Triple-A Reno this season, but with 92 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings.
Arizona also pulled off the rare swap involving a minor league Rule 5 draft pick, in this case trading away outfielder Jose Rivero, whom they took from the Mariners in the Triple-A phase. A 20-year-old righty hitter who has yet to graduate from short-season ball in five pro seasons, Rivero batted a cumulative .272/.335/.428 with seven homers in 63 games this year.
Veteran first baseman Andy Tracy signed with the Diamondbacks after spending the last three years as a Lehigh Valley IronPig. The 37-year-old has big league time with the Expos, Rockies and Phillies, but, just as significantly, has hit 278 home runs in 15 seasons in the minors.
Rule 5 selection: LHP Scott Diamond (MLB, Twins)
Released: 2B Omar Casamayor, 3B Levi Carolus, SS Jason White
Traded: RHP Jim Hoey and RHP Brett Jacobson to Twins for 3B Brendan Harris and SS J.J. Hardy
Reinstated from inactive list: SS Jason White
Rule 5 selections: RHP Brent Allar (AA, Marlins), RHP Pedro Beato (MLB, Mets), RHP Pat Egan (MLB, Brewers), C Dashenko Ricardo (AAA, Giants)
Boston Red Sox
Released: C Maykol Sanchez
Rule 5 selections: RHP Dan Turpen (MLB, Yankees), LHP Cesar Cabral (MLB, Rays)
Released: RHP David Patton, LHP Jeremy Papelbon, OF Andres Quezada
Rule 5 selections: RHP Ronny Morla (AAA, Mets), LHP Casey Lambert (AAA, Orioles)
The Cubs carried David Patton for the entire ’09 season as a big league Rule 5 pick. But he didn't do much for an encore while pitching for high Class A Daytona this season, finishing with a 5.03 ERA and 35-to-42 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Chicago White Sox
Rule 5 selections: RHP Ricky Brooks (AAA, Mets), RHP Jake Rasner AA, Orioles), 2B Dale Mollenhauer (AAA, Orioles)
Now property of the Orioles, 24-year-old second baseman Dale Mollenhauer slugged just .327 in Double-A this year, but he bats lefty, can run and defend and throw.
Signed: C Fray Sosa
Dominican Republic native Fray Sosa, 21, trained with buscone Luis Rodriguez at his upper-Manhattan facility for three years.
Rule 5 selections: RHP Jose Flores (MLB, Mariners), SS Josh Rodriguez (MLB, Pirates)
The Indians system furnished the first two picks in this year's Rule 5 draft in the form of Josh Rodriguez and Jose Flores. Rodriguez joins an illustrious list of first overall Rule 5 picks, including Jamie Hoffmann, Terrell Young, Tim Lahey, Ryan Goleski, Fabio Castro, Angel Garcia, Chris Shelton and Enrique Cruz.
Rule 5 selection: OF Chris Frey (AAA, Phillies)
Signed: RHP Chris Oxspring (LG (Korea))
An interesting piece at MLB.com sheds light on the Tigers' strategy in the Far East, which has yielded ready-to-contribute professionals such as relievers John Bale, Fu-Te Ni, Brad Thomas and now Chris Oxspring.
Rule 5 selection: RHP Jeiler Castillo (AAA, Athletics)
Kansas City Royals
Signed: C Brian Peterson (Shreveport-Bossier (American Association))
Released: RHP Chris Nicoll
Rule 5 selection: LHP Starling de la Rosa (AAA, Rangers), LHP Rowdy Hardy (AAA, Braves)
The Royals have made a habit through the years of collecting ex-Braves—Jeff Francouer, for one recent example—but the Braves finally turned the tables on the Royals with their selection of lefty reliever Rowdy Hardy in the minor league Rule 5 draft. Well, not quite. But Hardy does offer Atlanta situational relief potential with a mid-80s fastball and a quality slider/changeup mix he used to handcuff lefthanded batters in Double-A. They hit .214 without an extra-base hit in 112 at-bats.
Los Angeles Angels
Released: 2B Abel Nieves, 2B Eduardo Soto
Rule 5 selections: RHP Mason Tobin (MLB, Cubs then traded to Rangers), LHP Robert Fish (MLB, Yankees), C Travis Scott (AAA, Pirates), 2B Ivan Contreras (AAA, Blue Jays)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Released: RHP Luis Ferreras, RHP Rick Rivas, RHP Eric Thompson, RHP Marlon Urriola, RHP J.J. Whetsel, 1B Clay Calfee
Rule 5 selections: RHP Matt Sartor (AAA, Giants), C Jessie Mier (AAA, Rangers), 1B Jaime Ortiz (AAA, Marlins)
Released: RHP Cody Adams, RHP Rob Currie, RHP Andrew Sauter, LHP Matt Costello, LHP Caleb Thielbar, 1B Brandon Sizemore, 2B Steve Braun, 2B Connor Lind, 3B Allixon Cequea, OF Juan Barrini, OF Erik Miller
Rule 5 selection: RHP Adrian Rosario (MLB, Orioles)
Steve Braun is the younger brother of Brewers slugger Ryan. He signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Maryland in ’08.
Traded: 3B Brendan Harris and SS J.J. Hardy to Orioles for RHP Jim Hoey and RHP Brett Jacobson
Rule 5 selection: RHP Michael Allen (AAA, Nationals), RHP Eliecer Cardenas (AAA, Braves), LHP Jean Mijares (AAA, Cardinals)
Now a National thanks to the minor league Rule 5 draft, righty Michael Allen features an 88-92 mph sinker and a quality change. Of course, all that got him this year was an ugly 6.75 ERA and a demotion to high Class A. But there's something there—Allen also had a firm rate of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
New York Mets
Rule 5 selection: RHP Elvin Ramirez (MLB, Nationals)
New York Yankees
Rule 5 selections: RHP George Kontos (MLB, Padres), RHP Lance Pendleton (MLB, Astros)
Signed: RHP Vinnie Chulk (Hiroshima (Japan))
Released: 3B Jeff Baisley
Acquired: OF Jose Rivero from Diamondbacks for cash considerations
Rule 5 selections: RHP Justin Friend (AAA, Phillies), RHP Dan Sattler (AAA, Angels)
Vinnie Chulk spent half of last season pitching for Japan's Hiroshima club, appearing in 16 games and notching a 15-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Signed: LHP Donald Veal (re-signed)
Acquired: RHP Cesar Valdez from Diamondbacks as player to be named for LHP Zach Duke
Rule 5 selection: RHP Nathan Adcock (MLB, Royals)
Donald Veal, a veteran of the ’08 Rule 5 draft, had Tommy John surgery this year and was non-tendered by Bucs two weeks ago. Now, he's back in black (and gold).
St. Louis Cardinals
Rule 5 selection: RHP Brian Broderick (MLB, Nationals)
San Diego Padres
Rule 5 selection: OF Quintin Berry (AA, Mets), OF Brad Chalk (AAA, Pirates)
Many minor league Rule 5 draft picks have scouting reports that bear an uncanny resemblance: lefty bat, strong defensive player, good runner. Brad Chalk, now of the Pirates, is no exception. A second-round pick from Clemson in ’07, he didn't hit much at all this year in Double-A, but he's a plus runner with gliding range in center field, which provides real value to a minor league pitching staff. He'll take a walk and steal some bases, but don't expect any power.
San Francisco Giants
Voluntarily retired: 1B Michael Ambort
Rule 5 selections: LHP Joe Paterson (MLB, Diamondbacks), 3B Jake Blackwood (AAA, Padres)
Signed: 3B Chris Gimenez, OF Ryan Langerhans (re-signed)
Released: RHP Ryan Moorer, LHP Kody Kurowski, LHP Matt Petiton, C Jimmy Jacquot
Rule 5 selection: OF Jose Rivero (AAA, Diamondbacks)
Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: RHP Jonah Bayliss
Rule 5 selections: RHP Aneury Rodriguez (MLB, Astros), RHP Heath Rollins (AAA, Royals), LHP Justin Dowdy (AAA, Giants), 2B Roan Salas (AA, Blue Jays)
Down Winston Abreu and Joe Bateman this offseason, the Rays took a step toward addressing their bullpen shortage at Triple-A Durham and possibly St. Petersburg, too, by signing 30-year-old veteran Jonah Bayliss. He's a low-90s, slurvy slider reliever who's coming off one of his finest seasons: 43 appearances, 8.4 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings for Triple-A Round Rock in the Astros system.
In addition to Abreu and Bateman, Tampa Bay lost another potential Triple-A reliever in Heath Rollins, now with the Royals courtesy of the minor league Rule 5. The 25-year-old gets separation on a high-80s cutter and a high-70s slurve. He's aggressive, athletic and unafraid to pitch to contact.
Signed: RHP Yhency Brazoban, OF Hirotoshi Onaka
According to this source, Hirotoshi Onaka most recently played for Kantaiheiyo University. Well, so much for that. A Rangers press release brings clarification:
Onaka, 22, batted .327 (92-for-281) with five home runs and 36 RBIs over 75 games during a four-year career at International Pacific University, a private school in Higashi-ku, Okayama, Japan, which is in the western part of the country between Hiroshima and Osaka. The 5-foot-8, 172-pound Onaka batted .321 (35-for-109) with two homers and nine RBIs over 26 games during his senior season. A switch-hitter who throws righthanded, he played center field the past two years after beginning his college career as a shortstop.
Toronto Blue Jays
Released: 2B Jonathan Fernandez
Rule 5 selection: 3B Brad Emaus (MLB, Mets)
Signed: RHP Joe Bisenius (re-signed), OF Buck Coats, OF Archie Gilbert, OF Jonathan Van Every
Rule 5 selection: 2B Michael Martinez (MLB, Phillies)
The Nationals buoyed their depth in signing a pair of versatile, lefty-hitting outfielders. Both Buck Coats and Jonathan Van Every can play all three outfield spots, have spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues and, at worst, provide insurance at Triple-A. Van Every has hit for power in Triple-A (.471 slugging), while Coats runs better and has much more feel to hit than Jon Van Every—but also much less power. That last bit might be key because with the loss of Adam Dunn, Washington has zero power from the left side. Regardless, the outfield picture ought to be wide open around Jayson Werth, especially if the club trades Josh Willingham, as rumored.