You know spring training is just around the corner when veteran pitchers begin settling for minor league deals with invites to big league camp. A bevy of veteran starters came to terms recently, including Vicente Padilla (age 34), Kevin Millwood (37), Oliver Perez (30), Nelson Figueroa (37), Tim Redding (33) and, of course, Jaime Moyer (49). For good measure, well-traveled lefty reliever Dennys Reyes (34) signed with the Orioles.
Track all the comings and goings with the Minor League Free Agent Tracker.
Signed: RHP Robert Hinton, RHP Oscar Villarreal, LHP Chris George (re-signed), LHP Seong-Min Kim, LHP Dennys Reyes, C Scott Thomas (Shreveport-Bossier (American Assoc.)), 1B Pita Rona, OF Cory Aldridge
The Orioles' international scouting effort began this offseason with the signings of Nippon Professional Baseball lefties Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada to big league deals. The effort continued with the signings of a pair of 17-year-old Pacific Rim amateurs to minor league deals. The Orioles agreed to terms Korean high school lefty Seong-Min Kim, who reportedly sits in the high 80s with a quality curve and changeup. (Or if you prefer the Korean news account.) Baltimore also signed New Zealand softball standout Pita Rona, and he'll begin his pro career in the Australian Summer League this year.
The Orioles have been just as busy on the domestic front, signing enough minor league free agents to fill out a team's roster. Robert Hinton, Oscar Villarreal, Chris George and Dennys Reyes join a robust field of more than a dozen minor league imports that also includes Winston Abreu, Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga and Jon Link.
Boston Red Sox
Signed: RHP Vicente Padilla, C Max St. Pierre
Signed: 2B Bobby Scales (Nippon-Ham (Japan))
Bobby Scales rejoins the Cubs organization after spending 80 games with Nippon-Ham last season. He batted a solid .261/.328/.394 with nine homers in 287 at-bats for the Pacific League's Fighters. The 34-year-old Scales joined the Cubs in ’08 after spending seven years with the Padres, one with the Phillies in ’06 and another with the Red Sox in ’07.
Chicago White Sox
Signed: RHP Matt Zaleski (re-signed)
Signed: LHP Wilkin de la Rosa (Camden (Atlantic)), 2B James Ewing, OF Willie Harris
Traded: LHP Jeremy Horst to Phillies for SS Wilson Valdez
Signed: RHP Jeremy Accardo, RHP Chris Ray, OF Fred Lewis, OF Ryan Spilborghs
Early-30s corner outfielders Fred Lewis (career .352 OBP vs. righthanders) and Ryan Spilborghs (career .357 OBP vs. lefties) could serve as convincing platoon options in Cleveland. But if they head to Triple-A Columbus instead, they could team up with a group of one-time top prospects that includes 26-year-old outfielder Felix Pie, 27-year-old shortstop Chin-Lung Hu and 28-year-old third baseman Andy LaRoche. That ought to make the Clippers prohibitive favorites to win a third straight International League title.
Signed: RHP Connor Graham, LHP Tyler Johnson, LHP Jamie Moyer, C Mitch Canham, C Josh Ford, C Chris McMurray (Grand Prairie (American Assoc.)), C Robert Perkins, 2B Tim Torres
Released: RHP Andy Graham
None of the pitchers signed by the Rockies this time actually pitched a professional inning last year. The ageless Jamie Moyer missed last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The all-time home runs allowed leader seeks a landing spot in Denver at age 49.
Colorado originally drafted Connor Graham in the ’07 draft's fifth round and subsequently traded him to Cleveland for Rafael Betancourt in ’09.
Signed: RHP Tim Kelley (NDFA—Wichita State), RHP Warwick Saupold
Perth native Warwick Saupold's stellar campaign in the Australian Baseball League earned the righthander a pro contract with the Tigers. The 22-year-old went 5-3, 1.41 in 10 starts for Perth, notching 53 strikeouts and 22 walks in 70 innings. Saupold led ABL pitchers in ERA, innings, WHIP (0.93) and opponent average (.173). He tied for third in strikeouts.
Signed: 2B Jordan Kreke, OF Jordan Brown
Released: LHP Travis Blankenship, LHP Colton Pitkin, LHP Shane Wolf, C Federico Hernandez, SS Hector Rodriguez, OF Kellen Kiilsgaard
Removed from 40-man: RHP Henry Villar (outrighted to Triple-A)
Add Jordan Brown's (.311/.346/.466 in 425 at-bats in Triple-A last year) name to what figures to be a ferocious free-for-all to make Houston's roster as a first baseman or corner outfielder. Carlos Lee is owed $18.5 million in the final year of his deal, so he figures to see plenty of time at first base. Brett Wallace waits in the wings behind Lee, just a step ahead of top prospect Jonathan Singleton, who ought to begin in Double-A. Minor league free agents Brown, Travis Buck and Brad Snyder will vie for time with Brian Bogusevic, Fernando Martinez, J.D. Martinez and J.B. Shuck (all of whom are on the 40-man roster) on the outfield corners.
Kansas City Royals
Signed: RHP Felix Encarnacion, RHP Yimauri Pena, LHP Yojensy Arias, LHP Steve Kent, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
Los Angeles Angels
Signed: SS Ed Lucas, OF Paul McAnulty (re-signed)
Released: RHP Cody Evans, RHP Seth Fowler, RHP Aaron Tullo, LHP Kris Marshall, 1B Eric Oliver, 2B Jon Townsend, OF Brandon Decker, OF Blake Gailen, OF David Harris
Los Angeles Dodgers
Signed: RHP Tim Corcoran (re-signed), RHP P.J. Zocchi (Lincoln (American Assoc.))
Released: RHP Robert Boothe, RHP Steven Matre, LHP Brant Stickel, 1B Beau Brett, 2B Enlly Morales, 3B Chris Henderson
Signed: LHP Bobby Bramhall, C Orlando Mercado, 3B Michael Camp, OF Chris Aguila (re-signed), OF Austin Kearns
Signed: RHP Vinnie Chulk
Signed: LHP Luke French
New York Mets
Signed: 3B Matt Tuiasosopo
New York Yankees
Traded: RHP Hector Noesi and C Jesus Montero to Mariners for RHP Jose Campos and RHP Michael Pineda
Released: RHP Jorge Pena
Signed: OF Brent Clevlen (re-signed)
Traded: SS Wilson Valdez to Reds for LHP Jeremy Horst
Signed: LHP Doug Slaten
Signed: RHP Wes Alsup (Windy City (Frontier)), RHP Kevin Millwood, LHP Oliver Perez
Released: RHP Yovanny Olivero
Traded: RHP Jose Campos and RHP Michael Pineda to Yankees for RHP Hector Noesi and C Jesus Montero
The Mariners regard 25-year-old Wes Alsup as the best arm they've seen at any of their tryouts for indy leaguers and other free agents. He notched an impressive 61 strikeouts in 34 innings in the Frontier League last year—one scout saw him reach 93 mph with an average slider—though his strikeout rate of 16.1 per nine was balanced by 5.8 walks per nine. Alsup, who ranked No. 2 among our top independent leagues prospects in 2010, pitched for the Braves' low Class A Rome affiliate early last season but got released after allowing 15 runs on 21 hits in 14 1/3 innings, though Seattle believes that he's streamlined him mechanics enough to fare better the second time around. Atlanta signed Alsup out of the Northern League after he went undrafted out of Tennessee-Martin in ’10.
Tampa Bay Rays
Signed: RHP Bryan Augenstein
Released: C Kyle Holloway
Signed: LHP Mitch Stetter, 1B Brad Hawpe
Toronto Blue Jays
Signed: RHP Nelson Figueroa, RHP Tim Redding, LHP Bill Murphy (Lotte (Japan)), C Kyle Phillips, SS Chris Woodward (re-signed), OF Danny Perales (re-signed)
Released: 1B Randy Schwartz
Bill Murphy went 14-11, 3.81 with 158 strikeouts in 196 innings over 48 appearances (30 starts) for Lotte during the past two seasons, and the 30-year-old rejoins the same organization he pitched for before he went overseas. Interestingly, both Nelson Figueroa (Taiwan ’07) and Tim Redding (Korea ’10) have also pitched internationally. An Athletics third-rounder back in ’02, Murphy has been traded at various points of his career for Mark Redman, Paul Lo Duca and Steve Finley, suggesting he had done enough to get noticed by scouts from opposing organizations.