Daily Dose: Giants get Garko from Indians

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Giants general manager Brian Sabean has talked about wanting to bring
in some offense for weeks now and finally pulled the trigger Monday by
sending Single-A pitching prospect Scott Barnes to the Indians for Ryan
Garko. San Francisco first basemen are 12th in the league with a
.283/.320/.440 line and Garko is a career .283/.355/.450 hitter, so he
certainly represents an upgrade offensively.

However, he’s far from an elite bat, especially against right-handed
pitching, and much of the improvement at the plate will be wiped away
by the steep dropoff in defense from Travis Ishikawa to Garko. As a
low-key pickup Garko makes sense for the Giants, but the problem is
that Barnes is actually a legit prospect, posting a 2.85 ERA and 99/29
K/BB ratio in 98 innings at high Single-A as a 21-year-old.

Cleveland did well to pick him up for a 28-year-old first baseman
with a mediocre .805 OPS and poor glove who’s about to get fairly
expensive via arbitration. Matt LaPorta is the obvious choice to
replace Garko and is hitting .306/.386/.541 in 73 games at Triple-A,
but for some reason the Indians will keep holding him back in favor of
giving Andy Marte one last chance to show that he’s not a total bust.

While the Giants pay a premium for slight improvement and the
Indians get good value for a spare part, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Three weeks ago, when Kevin Slowey went on the disabled list, the
Twins said that he’d “battled pain in his wrist for a while” and had
issues “opening doors and things like that.” At the time the hope was
that he’d return in a couple weeks, but unsuccessful throwing sessions
were followed by a canceled minor-league rehab assignment and now
Slowey is going under the knife.

He’ll have surgery to remove bone chips from his wrist, which while
innocuous in the grand scheme of pitching injuries will sideline him
for 2-3 months and end his season at 10-3 with a 4.86 ERA and 75/15
K/BB ratio in 91 innings spread over 16 starts. Slowey’s great record
obviously doesn’t match his mediocre ERA, but he had a 4.04 mark before
struggling in his final two starts while hurting.

Slowey remains a nice long-term bet, but his injury means that
Anthony Swarzak will stay in the rotation after going 3-3 with a 3.74
ERA and 26/17 K/BB ratio over 46 innings through eight career starts.
Swarzak’s poor strikeout-to-walk ratio and extreme fly-ball tendencies
are a bad combination and suggest that he’s headed for a trip back down
to earth eventually, but he’s still worth an AL-only pickup.

AL Quick Hits: Josh Beckett became the AL’s first 12-game winner
Monday while striking out 10 … Cito Gaston said Monday that Scott Downs
will remain the Blue Jays’ closer despite recent struggles … Billy
Butler went 5-for-5 and knocked in three runs Monday, giving him 31
doubles and a .295 batting average … Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez
were out of Monday’s lineup with back problems … A.J. Burnett allowed
two singles, two walks, and an unearned run over seven innings Monday …
After another rough outing Monday, Rich Hill revealed that he’s been
pitching through shoulder “issues” … Mike Lowell was a healthy scratch
Monday, with Adam LaRoche getting another start … Juan Rivera
(hamstring) rejoined the lineup Monday after missing eight straight
games … Nick Swisher homered twice Monday, going deep for the first
time in July … Josh Hamilton dropped to No. 7 in the lineup Monday
after batting third or fourth in every game with the Rangers.

NL Quick Hits: Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Zambrano matched gems
Monday before Alfonso Soriano’s walk-off grand slam in the 13th inning
… Tim Lincecum set a new career-high with 15 strikeouts in Monday’s
complete-game win … Josh Willingham launched a pair of grand slams
Monday after entering the game with just 31 RBIs despite 14 homers …
Back spasms knocked Troy Glaus (shoulder) from a rehab game Monday at
Double-A and further delays his timetable … Josh Geer fell to 1-7 while
serving up three long balls Monday, giving him 27 in 102.2 innings
overall … Tim Hudson (elbow) threw just 21 of 47 pitches for strikes in
a four-inning rehab start Monday at Triple-A … Chris Carpenter allowed
one run in seven innings Monday to end July at 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA …
Aaron Rowand has a slightly torn forearm, but will try to avoid the
disabled list … Jonny Gomes went deep twice Monday and has homered five
times in seven games … As rumors swirl, Freddy Sanchez was scratched
from Monday’s lineup with knee soreness.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.