Trade analysis: Sherrill to Dodgers

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Dodgers acquire LHP George Sherrill from the Orioles for 3B Josh Bell and RHP Steve Johnson
So much for the thought that the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed to move their closer.
Sherrill can’t be considered an elite reliever when his career high for innings is 53 1/3, but he’s as effective against lefties as anyone in the game and he holds his own against right-handed hitters. Now that he’ll again be a matchup reliever, he should be even more effective. In theory, he’d also be a better bet to stay healthy. However, Joe Torre is going to have something to say about that. Sherrill might have been better off throwing an inning at a time as a closer than he will be when Torre decides to use him four times a week with the occasional warm-up, sit-back-down usage that he rarely had to deal with in his set role.
What figured to really help Sherrill’s trade value — and make him more attractive as a keeper for the Orioles — is that he’s under control through 2011. However, this isn’t far off the kind of return he might have brought in as a free agent at season’s end.
Bell isn’t the problem. The switch-hitting 22-year-old was hitting .296/.386/.497 with 11 HR, 52 RBI, 70/50 K/BB and 3 SB in 334 AB for Double-A Chattanooga this season. I view him as a potential 25-homer-per-year regular for Baltimore. However, he’s never going to be better than average defensively at third base and some think he’ll require a move to first base or an outfield corner. Also, he’s yet to show much power as a right-handed hitter. In fact, all of his homers this year had some left-handed. He’s a top-50 prospect, but he’s not a sure thing.
Johnson is the weak link here. The Orioles should have insisted on a better second prospect than the 21-year-old. It’d be very disturbing if they let the fact that his father, Dave, was a former Oriole influence their thinking here. Steve Johnson was 8-4 with a 3.82 ERA for Single-A Inland Empire this season. He just moved up to Double-A and posted a 1.69 ERA in his first two starts. Overall, he’s allowed 55 runs — 43 earned — and 15 homers in 107 1/3 innings this season. The Cal League is a tough place to pitch, and he does have 117 strikeouts. However, he’s a long shot to become a quality starter. The Dodgers had at least five better pitching prospects, and the Orioles have around 10.
So, I think the Dodgers did quite well here, though it’s a pickup that could backfire easily. Sherrill’s arm and Torre’s tendency to overuse his setup men could be a bad match, and while Sherrill’s contract status makes him more valuable, if things go badly enough, it’s entirely possible that he’ll be non-tendered this winter.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.