The Dodgers have called it quits with the Luis Cruz experiment, designating the infielder for assignment to create a spot on the roster for outfielder Scott Van Slyke. Cruz, who showed hints of potential in 296 trips to the plate last year, brought a sub-.350 OPS through his most recent appearance on June 19. By various offensive measures, he has been the least-productive player in baseball, as his OPS “beats” Brewers infielder Alex Gonzalez .344 to .433, and his wOBA is significantly lower at .155 to .193 as well.
Van Slyke, 26, had been tearing the cover off of the ball with Triple-A Albuquerque, posting a 1.173 OPS in 159 plate appearances. In a one-month stint in the Majors prior to the injury, he posted an .843 OPS in 74 PA.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.