The injury-riddled Braves have secured some insurance for the shortstop position.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com confirms that the Braves have acquired infielder Paul Janish from Reds in exchange for minor league right-hander Todd Redmond. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that he’s expected to join the Braves tomorrow.
The Braves have been on the lookout for help ever since Andrelton Simmons fractured his right pinkie finger on Sunday. The need became even more urgent after Jack Wilson dislocated the middle joint of his right pinkie finger and Martin Prado was forced to fill in at shortstop. The Braves have called up Tyler Pastornicky, but Prado is back at shortstop again this afternoon against the Mets.
Janish is highly-regarded for his defense, but he owns a lowly .221/.289/.302 batting line and a .591 OPS over 975 plate appearances in the big leagues, all with the Reds. The 29-year-old has played exclusively with Triple-A Louisville this season, compiling a .237/.332/.391 batting line and .722 OPS in 49 games played.
Redmond has a 3.57 ERA over parts of eight seasons in the minors, but he’s been stuck at Triple-A Gwinnett since the 2009 season. He’s 27 years old and has never been considered a top prospect despite solid results, so he’ll presumably function as organizational depth with Cincinnati.
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.