This Buck stops in Sacramento

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With the Triple-A season over, the A’s are set to make their final round of callups on Tuesday, but barring some late-season outfield injuries, Travis Buck won’t be rejoining the team.
The then 23-year-old Buck was shaping up as one of the AL’s most promising rookies in 2007. Debuting not even two years after the A’s made him a supplemental first-round pick out of Arizona State, he hit .288/.377/.474 in 285 at-bats. However, injuries played a significant role even then. Buck missed time as a rookie due to wrist, elbow, thumb and hamstring problems, with the latter two injuries requiring DL stints. He later underwent elbow surgery after the season.
Buck went on to open 2008 as a regular, but he returned to the DL before the end of April, this time with shin splints. Upon his return, he was optioned to Triple-A and he spent most of the season there, missing additional time with an inner-era infection and a concussion. He was penciled in as the primary right fielder again last year, but he very quickly fell into a part-time role. An oblique injury struck at the end of May, and again he spent most of the rest of the year in Triple-A.
The story remained the same in 2010. Again he opened the season on the major league roster, and he started on Opening Day for the third time in four years. However, he was placed on the DL on April 22 with a strained oblique and he’s been a non-factor since. In the three years since his strong rookie campaign, Buck has hit .215/.284/.377 with 11 homers in 302 major league at-bats. Also, his Triple-A performance has been far more solid than spectacular. He hit .272/.345/.418 in 266 at-bats for Sacramento last year. This year, he came in at an improved .298/.364/.463 in 141 at-bats.
The A’s were obviously largely unimpressed. They signed Jeremy Hermida last month and opted to give him an opportunity rather than provide Buck one last chance to stick. Now denied a September callup, it seems certain that Buck will be dropped from the 40-man roster this winter.
Buck probably yet has something to offer, but only if he can stay healthy. He’ll just be entering his age-27 season next year, and he remains a fine defender in an outfield corner. Hardly a one-dimensional player, he has a better all-around game than most of the corner outfielders/first basemen one sees get tagged with the quad-A label. It’s doubtful that the A’s would ask for anything significant in return, so maybe the Royals or Indians could pick him up now for a three-week audition.

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.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.