It sucks to be Yohan Flande right now

5 Comments

The Braves got down to 25 players Monday, demoting pitchers Cory Gearrin and Julio Teheran to Triple-A as part of their cuts. Left as the 12th pitcher on the staff was Yohan Flande, who appeared all set to make his major league debut after spending six years in the minors.

Then came the bad news today: Atlanta signed Nationals castoff Chad Durbin to a major league contract. Flande is on his way back to Triple-A after all.

Flande, 26, entered camp as a big long shot to make the team, but he allowed just three runs — one earned — and eight hits in 12 1/3 innings for the spring. He had a 4.01 ERA in 19 starts and 14 relief appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett last year.

Durbin, 34, was cut by the Nats after allowing eight runs — four earned — and 21 hits in 15 1/3 innings this spring. He was a member of Cleveland’s pen last season and had a 5.53 ERA in 68 1/3 innings.

Their recent changes leaves the Braves pitching staff skewing quite a bit older than expected. Durbin and fellow new acquisition Livan Hernandez will both work in middle relief, giving the team veteran fallbacks in case Randall Delgado or any of their other starters struggle early on.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
10 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.