Minor League Transactions

This week’s installment considers all transactions reported by MLB between Feb. 9 and 15. Previous transactions available here.

Baltimore Orioles
RHP Federico Baez, RHP Steve Trachsel
Outrighted off 40-man roster: OF Chris Roberson

So, hold on–the Orioles lost Jeff Fiorentino as a waiver claim, after booting him off the 40-man roster to make room for Roberson . . . and then they don’t think enough of Roberson to keep him on the 40-man? At least they still have Roberson in the organization, as he has re-signed a minor league deal. Fiorentino is on his third team this offseason now with the Athletics.

Boston Red Sox
RHP Victor Galue

Cincinnati Reds
LHP Dave Gassner, LHP Jacob Ociesa, OF Yuber Rodriguez, OF Craig Wilson

Like the other veteran, righthanded corner bats to sign minor league deals this week (Olmedo Saenz, Mike Sweeney, Kevin Mench), Wilson had to wait until the eve of spring training to find a situation to his liking. At one time, Wilson, 31, offered above-average offense at first base or right field (see 2004, when he hit .264/.354/.499 with 29 home runs), but he’s slowed down considerably in the three years hence. Particularly worrisome, he’s failed to hold down bench jobs for the Yankees and Braves, the last two teams to employ him. Blue Jays fans may remember Rodriguez as the five-tool prospect who busted at the low Class A level.  In three seasons at Lansing, Rodriguez batted just .220/.300/.311, though he is a strong center-field defender who runs well. He’s still just 24.

Florida Marlins
Outrighted off 40-man roster:
RHP Marcos Carvajal

Houston Astros
OF Brandon Caipen

Kansas City Royals
LHP Mike Maroth

Milwaukee Brewers
RHP Chris Spurling

New York Mets
RHP Tony Armas, 1B Olmedo Saenz, OF Ben Johnson

Barring injury, Armas has no shot to make the Mets’ Opening Day rotation of Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Oliver Perez and Orlando Hernandez. Of course, Martinez and Hernandez are 36-plus and neither is known for his durability. So while Armas (and likely Mike Pelfrey and Jason Vargas) will have to bide his time in Triple-A New Orleans, he figures to see big league time in 2008. But is this a good proposition for the Mets? Armas has battled injuries of his own and has been comfortably below average in each of his last four big league campaigns.

New York Yankees
C Neall French

French was a nondrafted free agent out of Cincinnati, hitting .343-11-65 for the Bearcats last season.

Oakland Athletics
C Jonathan Johnston, C Matthew LeCroy, 1B Mike Sweeney
Outrighted off 40-man roster: 1B Wes Bankston

Pittsburgh Pirates
1B Doug Mientkiewicz
Outrighted to Mexican League: RHP Rafael Cruz Chavez

Seattle Mariners
1B Greg Norton

Texas Rangers
OF Kevin Mench

Mench returns to the organization that drafted him—in the fourth round from Delaware in 1999—and for whom he hit 26 homers in 2004. Though he’s on a minor league deal, Mench, now 30, still brings thunder against lefties (career .305/.361/.563), but he’ll have to battle Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz (both on the 40-man) for the righthanded-hitting outfielder gig.

Toronto Blue Jays
RHP Gary Lee, RHP Celson Polanco

Toronto previously dipped into the ranks of the independent leagues to sign righthander Chad Blackwell and outfielder Chris Demons this offseason. Lee pitched for Aiken of the South Coast League last season, going 6-5, 2.98 with 40-13 K-BB in 51 innings. Not to be outdone, Polanco pitched for Charlotte County of the SCL last year, though he has roots in affiliated ball, having been a nondrafted free agent sign by the Astros in 2002. He made it as far as short-season Tri-City of the New York-Penn League (2006), and went 1-9, 4.46 with 58-19 K-BB in 77 indy-ball innings in 2007.