Roster-setting day makes minor moves the theme

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Friday was the last day for teams to add prospects to the 40-man roster in advance of next month’s Rule 5 draft. That resulted in plenty of minor moves of interest mostly to geeks like me:
*The Red Sox claimed reliever Robert Manuel off waivers from the Mariners.
Manuel, 26, was the return from the Reds for Wladimir Balentien this summer. He had a 1.25 ERA and a 103/18 K/BB ratio in 86 2/3 innings while spending most of 2008 in Double-A and a 2.88 ERA and a 49/16 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings for two Triple-A teams last season. Still, no one takes him very seriously because he’s primarily a high-80s guy and his slider doesn’t have a whole lot of break. He deserves an extended chance, but he’ll be a long shot to make the Red Sox out of spring training.
*The White Sox added former shortstop Sergio Santos to their 40-man roster.
Working as a reliever for the first time, Santos, the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick in 2002, had an 8.16 ERA and a 30/20 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings in four minor league stops last season. He’s currently at 6.14 with a 20/10 K/BB ratio in 14 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Obviously, the White Sox see some promise here. What makes this especially interesting, though, is that, as far as I can tell, Santos is out of options, having used them all up during his time as an infield prospect.
That means he’ll have to clear waivers if the White Sox want to send him down at the end of the spring. In theory, they would have had a better chance of keeping him had they declined to protect him now, since if he went unpicked in the Rule 5 draft, he wouldn’t have had to go on waivers next spring.
*The Orioles claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Reds.
It’s hard to believe the Orioles could find room for another standard-issue No. 3 catcher on their 40-man, but not Steve Johnson, the second prospect they acquired along with Josh Bell from the Dodgers for George Sherrill. Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.41 ERA and a 154/62 K/BB ratio in 145 1/3 IP between Single-A and Double-A last season, but he’ll be available to everyone in the Rule 5 draft.
Tatum is a fine defender, but he brings absolutely nothing to the table from an offensive standpoint. He’s minor league-contract material.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.