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Indians cut ties with former top prospect Andy Marte

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Once upon a time Andy Marte was considered an elite prospect.

While in the Braves’ farm system he ranked among Baseball America‘s top 50 prospects in four years, including top-15 spots in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

After hitting .275/.372/.506 with 20 homers and 64 walks in 109 games at Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2005 the Braves traded him to the Red Sox for Edgar Renteria and then a month later the Red Sox traded him to the Indians for Coco Crisp.

At the time there was speculation about whether a top prospect being traded twice in the span of six weeks should raise a red flag about his future, but it was tough to argue with Marte’s production in the minors while being very young for each level of competition.

Five years later Marte has hit just .218 with a .277 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage in 924 plate appearances as a big leaguer, never playing well enough to get even 250 at-bats in a season from the Indians. Among all the first basemen, third basemen, designated hitters, and corner outfielders with at least 900 plate appearances during that time Marte has the lowest OPS in baseball at .635.

And today the Indians decided they’d seen enough, dropping Marte from the 40-man roster and giving him the option to become a free agent or accept an assignment back to Triple-A. At age 27 he’s young enough to get another chance somewhere, but since 2006 or so there’s really nothing in Marte’s track record to suggest he’s capable of being more than a role player (and even that might be a stretch).

Right now Marte qualifies as one of the biggest prospect busts of the 2000s.

Report: Arquimedes Caminero likely to sign with Yomiuri Giants

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 21: Arquimedes Caminero #48 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Brewers won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.

The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.

Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.