Left-hander Andrew Oliver, considered one of the bright lights in the Detroit farm system a couple of years ago, was shipped off to Pittsburgh for minor league catcher Ramon Cabrera on Wednesday.
Oliver, a 2009 second-round pick out of Oklahoma State, was rushed to the majors in 2010, only to go 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts. He also made two starts for the Tigers in 2011, but he spent all of 2012 in Triple-A, going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA and a 112/88 K/BB ratio in 118 innings. The Tigers tried him as a reliever at the very end of the year, and while he did strike out 20 in 16 2/3 innings, he also walked 12.
Cabrera, the son of former Diamondbacks first baseman and Japan League superstar Alex Cabrera, hit .279/.342/.367 in 384 at-bats for Double-A Altoona last season. The 23-year-old is considered below average defensively and it seems unlikely that his bat would play well anywhere other than catcher, so his chances of having a future in the majors hinges on him improving behind the plate. He could return to Double-A or move up to Triple-A with the Tigers.
There hasn’t been any word yet on whether the Pirates intend to use Oliver as a starter or a reliever, but given that he’s primarily a two-pitch guy with his fastball and slider, the bullpen would make the most sense for him.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.