Now that spring training is underway, the hot stove season has all but drawn to a close. Transactions, of course, will continue throughout the year just as they always have. Many of them may not be major but all will have some impact, however minor, on each team’s fortunes in the current and future seasons.
Since the moves of the other AL Central teams impact the Royals and vice versa, I thought it would be prudent to run down the transactions made in the division every couple weeks or so. Loosely you can expect these recaps to hit on or around the beginning and middle of each month. In the event that we, or one of our network’s AL Central team sites, have published content relating to a move when it took place, I will do my best to link to it.
When it comes to the first half of February, the Cleveland Indians made the most notable roster move by signing Michael Bourn. In addition to making the biggest splash, they were also far and away the most active of the teams in the division. Let’s take a look at all the moves in the AL Central from February 1st through the 15th.
Claimed 1B/LF Lars Anderson (25) off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks on February 1st: A three time Top-100 prospect as ranked by Baseball America (2008-2010), Anderson hasn’t been able to live up to either the rankings or the expectations in recent years. Boston’s 18th round pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, he reached his peak in the rankings prior to the 2009 season when he was tabbed as the 17th best prospect in the game. There was good reason for the hype considering he hit 0.317/.417/.517 between High-A and Double-A with an excellent 14.4 BB%. Even more encouraging was the fact that his numbers improved when he moved from the offense-heavy environment of the California League (A+) to the Eastern League (AA). It wasn’t just a brief audition with Portland either, it was a 44 game sample. Unfortunately for Anderson, and Red Sox fans, his OPS dropped from 0.934 in 2008 to 0.673 in 2009. The result was a 261 point thud that took place while he spent the entire year back with Portland. He bounced back in 2010 and reached Pawtucket (AAA) early in the season but has since seen his OPS mired in the 0.700s. Last summer Boston finally cut bait with Anderson and sent him to Cleveland in exchange for right-handed starter Steven Wright. Just five months later he was a part of the three-team, eight player trade that involved Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs going to Cleveland, Shin Soo Choo to Cincinnati and Didi Gregorius and Anderson to Arizona.
Signed LHP Wes Whisler (29) on February 4th: The White Sox are Whisler’s original organization as they drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft. They traded him to the Marlins in the summer of 2010 but signed him that following offseason before releasing him in April of 2012. This marks this the third time he’s joined Chicago’s organization. His resume includes 1.1 innings of major league action though that came back in 2009. As a minor leaguer he has a 4.58 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 4.9 SO/9 and 1.39 SO/BB in 969.0 innings pitched.
Signed C Omir Santos (31) February 5th: Santos has appeared in 121 big league games with the bulk of those coming with the New York Mets back in 2009. That season happens to be his best as he hit 0.260/.296/.391 in 96 games played. He’s also spent time with the Orioles, Tigers and Rockies after being selected by the Yankees in the 21st round of the 2001 draft. In 12 minor league seasons Santos has hit 0.257/.299/.349 while throwing out 28% of runners attempting to steal.
Signed OF Jeremy Hermida (29) February 5th: The Marlins grabbed Hermida in the 1st round (11th overall) of the 2002 draft and like Lars Anderson is a three-time Top-100 prospect. He steadily climbed from #28 in 2004 to #18 in 2005 all the way up to #4 in 2006 when he finally got an extended look in the majors. Cleveland is his sixth organization and his fifth since 2010. He was a viable everyday player from 2007-2009 and looked to be settling into a decent though largely unspectacular career. The last three seasons however he’s managed to hit just 0.214 in 304 at bats as Oakland, Boston, Cincinnati and San Diego have given up on him quickly.
Signed LHP Rich Hill (32) February 7th: The Cubs brought Hill into professional baseball when they selected him in the 4th round of the 2002 MLB Draft. His best season was by far 2007 when he made 32 starts and wound up with a 3.92 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.4 SO/9 and 2.90 SO/BB in 195.0 innings. Sadly injuries and ineffectiveness have cut short what was shaping up to be a promising career. Hill has thrown just 109 innings in the majors in the five years since his breakthrough season. Boston used him in relief the past three years and the results, when he’s been able to take the mound, have been promising.
Signed 1B Jason Giambi (42) February 9th: He’s far removed from being even a shell of his former self, but the one time AL MVP still ranks 32nd since 1901 in OBP (0.403). In his previous four seasons in Colorado he boasts a 0.248/.375/.452 slash line and 110 OPS+.
Signed OF Michael Bourn (30) February 12th: Obviously this one got plenty of attention from various sources. The guys over at Wahoo’s on First have thoroughly covered the deal, Joel published a piece on the news as well and I left a few comments of my own on that article. One thing that often gets missed in the discussion is that in addition to losing a draft pick (their 2nd round competitive balance pick) for signing Bourn, Cleveland had already lost their their second round pick for signing Nick Swisher earlier in the offseason. They will have their 1st round (5th overall) pick since the top ten are protected, but after that will have a long until they’re on the clock again.
Signed RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (32) February 13th: Dice-K was good in his first year in the majors (2007) and even better in his second season, but control has always been an issue. The injury bug has not been kind to him in recent years either. He’s thrown 668.2 innings in the majors and has a 4.52 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9 and 1.90 SO/BB. In terms of ERA+ his 101 career mark puts him right around league average which isn’t bad but not quite the impact Boston was expecting for the nearly $52 million they paid him.
Placed RHP Josh Tomlin (28) on the 60-day DL on February 15th. He is working his way back from his August Tommy John surgery.
*Both Giambi and Matsuzaka can opt out if they aren’t in the majors on or before June 1st.
Not a hint of a roster move coming out of the Motor City and their silence is understandable. They are the clear front runner and favorite to win the division with by far the best rotation. If they stay relatively healthy the Tigers very well could run away and hide leaving all others to jockey for second place honors.
INF Tony Abreu (28) was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants on February 4th: When the Royals DFA’d him I expected he’d get picked up by another team. I wish him all the best as he tries to impress his new organization but frankly he should still be in Kansas City fighting for the utility role.
Signed LHP Mitchell Beacom (23) on February 9th: The Royals have had interest in Beacom for some time now as they drafted him in the 36th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. Instead of signing he elected to return to UCLA for another season and was taken by the Giants in the 20th round of the 2011 draft as a result. Beacom made his professional debut with San Jose (A+) last season but threw just 9.1 innings with 7 BB, 7 SO and 10 H in 9 relief appearances. With his 6’8″ 260 lb frame you’d expect him to have a power arsenal and a big fastball. Instead he throws in the mid-80s and does it sidearm. The funky delivery is needed to offset his subpar stuff.
Signed LHP Zach Jackson (29) on February 11th: A former 1st round pick of the Blue Jays back in 2004, Jackson reached Triple-A Syracuse in his second professional season. Toronto dealt him to Milwaukee prior to the 2006 season in the Lyle Overbay trade and then Brewers would wind up dealing him to the Indians in the July 7th, 2008 trade that featured CC Sabathia and Matt LaPorta as the headliners. In 105.1 major league innings, Jackson has a 5.81 ERA and 1.57 WHIP with other equally unimpressive rate stats. Despite his quick rise through the minor leagues, that aspect of his resume is also lackluster with a 5.04 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 1,027.2 IP. Jackson spent the last two seasons in Round Rock, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, with an ERA north of 5.10 (5.51 and 5.17) each year.
Acquired Elliot Johnson (28) from the Tampa Bay Rays on February 12th as the PTBNL in the December Wil Myers/James Shields trade. Personally I’m not a big fan and I don’t see him providing anything new or more valuable to the table than what Irving Falu or the recently departed Abreu could provide. If cash compensation was an option I would have opted for the money regardless of the amount, but if adding Johnson mean’s Miguel Tejada doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, then perhaps there’s a silver lining here.
To make room for Johnson, the Royals Placed Felipe Paulino on the 60-day DL on February 12th. Paulino continues to recover from the Tommy John surgery he had last July.
Signed 1B/3B Matthew Sweeney (24) on February 12th: Drafted by the Angels in the 8th round of the 2006 draft, Sweeney has hit 0.247/.327/.421 in six minor league seasons. The Royals are his fourth organization with stints in Tampa Bay (2009-2011) and Baltimore (2012) to his credit. So far he has topped out in Double-A and spent last year in the Carolina League (A+) with the Frederick Keys.
Signed INF Doug Bernier (32) on February 1st: Bernier went undrafted in 2002 and signed with the Colorado Rockies shortly after. Aside from four major league at bats in 2008, his entire 11 year career has been spent in the minor leagues. He’s hit 0.236/.345/.310 while spending time in the Rockies, Yankees and Pirates systems.
Signed CF Antoan Richardson (29) on February 1st: So far his big claim to fame is that he’s been drafted four times. The Orioles selected him in the 27th round of both the 2001 and 2002 drafts. In 2004 the Diamondbacks used their 13th round pick on him but it wasn’t until the Giants grabbed him in the 35th round in the 2005 draft that he finally signed. He made his major league debut in 2011 with the Braves and went 2-4 while being used primarily as a pinch runner in nine games. In addition to the Giants and Braves, he’s also spent time with the Orioles making the Twins his fourth organization. Richardson brings speed and patience to the table with a 0.277/.398/.343 line in 8 minor league seasons.
Signed LHP Rafael Perez (30) on February 14th: This will be the first year in his professional career that Perez will be playing for someone other than the Cleveland Indians who signed him out of the Dominican Republic back in 2002. In seven major league seasons he’s been a consistently above average reliever with a 3.64 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 329.0 innings. Perez has lost some of his ability to put hitters away and his control has always been up and down from year to year, but he generally does a good job of limiting hits. He spent most of 2012 on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle and was limited to 13.2 innings with 7.2 of those in the majors.