Jason Lane, who made six relief appearances when he wasn’t playing the outfield for Triple-A Las Vegas last season, will make a full-time move to the mound next season. The Diamondbacks have signed him to a minor league deal as a left-handed pitcher.
Lane hit 26 homers for the Astros as a 28-year-old back in 2005, but he hasn’t seen the majors since 2007. He’ll play next year at 35, so it’s an awfully late conversion to the mound for the former USC Trojan. But his arm will certainly be fresh.
Overall, Lane is a .241/.314/.457 hitter with 61 homers in 1,208 major league at-bats. He came in at .291/.358/.460 with six homers in 213 at-bats for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate last season. In his 13 innings on the mound, he had a 4.85 ERA and a 12/2 K/BB ratio.
It seems like a long shot that Lane will turn into a serviceable major league reliever, but if he does, it could lead to some really interesting times in Arizona. The Diamondbacks will likely have right-hander Micah Owings back in their pen next year. It’d be fascinating to see the team try to pair the two once in a while: they could alternate between left field and the mound, with Owings facing righties and Lane taking on lefties.
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.
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.
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.
Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!
Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.