Free agent compensation rule cost Brewers shot at Mike Trout

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The Milwaukee Brewers could have had Mike Trout, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

As you probably knew, Trout, an outfielder in the Los Angeles Angels minor league system, is widely regarded as a rising star. He was all anyone was talking about at the Futures Game in Anaheim last July and has a line of .344/.426/.489 with 69 steals in two minor league seasons. This winter he was rated the best prospect in baseball by both ESPN.com’s Keith Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.

The Angels selected Trout with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2009 draft. What you might not have known is that the No. 25 pick originally belonged to the New York Yankees. That pick was awarded to the Brewers as compensation when the Yankees signed free agent pitcher CC Sabathia, who the Brewers had acquired in a mid-season deal with the Cleveland Indians.

This is where the plot thickens

The Brewers never got to use that draft pick, however.

Later that off-season, the Yankees signed free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had played for the Angels. Because Teixeira was a higher-ranked Class A free agent – the only one rated above Sabathia that winter – the Angels inherited New York’s first-round pick and the Brewers were bumped back to fill the Yankees’ second-round slot, the 73rd pick overall.

“(The compensation rules) hurt us that particular year,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Haudricourt. “The only player we could lose that (first-round) pick on was Teixeira, and the Yankees signed him. We thought that was an unfair part of the system.”

Understandably so. Dropping 48 spots in the draft because the Yankees decided to sign the top two free agents instead of just one is pretty brutal.

The Brewers used the No. 73 pick in that draft to take another high school outfielder, Maxwell Walla of Albuquerque, N.M. While it’s early to say Walla’s .223/.335/.364 line makes him a bust, the difference between he and Trout has to make Brewers fans cringe.

Of course there is no way of knowing if the Brewers would have used the No. 25 pick on Trout. “Whether he would have been the pick, I can’t say for sure, but there’s a good possibility,” Melvin told Haudricourt. “I know Trout was on the board for us.”

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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.