Trading season is officially upon us, as Keith Law of ESPN.com reports that the Cubs have traded right-hander Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-hander Pedro Strop, right-hander Jake Arrieta, and about $400,000 in international signing bonus slot amount.
It’s tough to have a good feel for how valuable the international bonus money tranfer is because there’s no real history of it to analyze, but for a rebuilding team like the Cubs anything that allows them to bring in more young talent certainly makes sense.
Feldman pitched well for Chicago, starting 15 games with a 3.46 ERA, and Baltimore was clearly in the market for veteran rotation help. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs signed Feldman to a one-year, $7 million deal as a free agent back in November, so they turned a modest short-term investment into what they hope will be some long-term value.
Arrieta was once a top prospect, but he’s been terrible in various big-league stints with a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings and is now 27 years old. Any notion of him developing into a top-of-the-rotation arm is probably long gone, but he may still be a useful starter or an interesting bullpen project. Strop figures to step into the Cubs’ bullpen in a middle relief role, where he’ll probably continue to struggle with control while flashing occasionally dominant raw stuff.
It’s an interesting trade, as the Cubs signed Feldman on the cheap and then flipped him for a former top prospect and a hard-throwing reliever, plus the ability to spend more on international prospects. Meanwhile, for the Orioles they obviously gave up on Arrieta ever living up to his potential and Strop was pretty expendable in the grand scheme of things, so they added a decent starter in Feldman for the second half without having to dip into their farm system.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.