Last offseason the A’s signed career-long utility infielder Nick Punto to a two-year, $5.5 million contract at age 36. He went on to play more or less exactly like you’d expect him to play, posting a .589 OPS in a part-time role, yet today the A’s released him.
Oakland needed the 40-man roster space, but in letting Punto go they’ll eat $2.75 million. He figures to latch on somewhere as a minimum-salaried bench player and it’s unclear why the A’s ever needed to give him a multi-year commitment in the first place.
Pittsburgh has been searching for a right-handed hitter and it looks like they’ve settled on Corey Hart, signing him to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million guaranteed and $2.5 million in incentives.
Hart was one of the best right-handed power hitters in baseball for the Brewers from 2010-2012, batting .279 with an .857 OPS and 31, 26, and 30 homers. Then he missed all of 2013 with a knee injury and was a mess for the Mariners this past season, hitting .203 in 68 games.
As a cheap bounceback gamble not counted on for more than a part-time role–platoon with Pedro Alvarez at first base or with a lefty bat in the outfield–he makes sense and if healthy he should have plenty of upside at age 33.
Veteran infielder/outfielder Martin Prado, whom the Yankees acquired from the Diamondbacks in July, is now headed to the Marlins in a big swap.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post the Yankees are sending Prado and right-hander David Phelps to the Marlins in exchange for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones, and minor leaguer Domingo German.
Prado can play all over the field defensively, but presumably the Marlins want him as their primary third baseman and are prepared to either bench or trade Casey McGehee. They just acquired Dee Gordon to play second base and the outfield is pretty set. Prado is owed $11 million in each of the next two seasons and hit .282 with 12 homers and a .733 OPS in 143 games this year after posting similar numbers in 2013.
Phelps has split his time with the Yankees between the rotation and bullpen, posting a 4.21 ERA in 299 total innings. At age 28 he’s under team control through 2019 as likely fits in Miami as a mid-rotation starter.
Eovaldi has logged 460 innings in the majors despite not yet turning 25 years old, including 199 innings in 2014. He throws hard and has a decent 4.07 career ERA, but his strikeout rate has been mediocre. He should step into the Yankees’ rotation and is under team control through 2017, giving them a young arm with some upside.
Jones is a veteran left-handed bat who can play first base or an outfield corner, giving the Yankees some insurance behind Mark Teixeira. However, he’s not really a starting-caliber player with a modest .240 batting average and .715 OPS during the past two seasons.
German put up good numbers as a 21-year-old starter at low Single-A, but he’s not considered a top prospect and is a long way from the majors.
Now that the Phillies have traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers they might be in the market for some middle infield depth and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that they’re “kicking the tires” on Rafael Furcal.
Furcal is actually a year older than Rollins at 37 and hasn’t been healthy since 2012. He spent this past season with the Marlins and was supposed to be their regular second baseman, but instead was limited to nine games by injuries.
There’s not much risk signing Furcal assuming he’d require only a minor-league contract, but he obviously can’t be counted on for much of anything at this point.
It took a while because the Dodgers needed to trade Matt Kemp to the Padres first, but now their deal to acquire Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies is also official.
Rollins, who waived his no-trade rights to facilitate a move after 15 seasons in Philadelphia, goes to Los Angeles in exchange for left-hander Tom Windle and right-hander Zach Eflin, the latter of whom was acquired from San Diego in the Kemp swap.
Rollins is 36 years old and not many shortstops have remained above-average players at that age, but his defensive numbers were strong in 2014 and he hit .243 with 17 homers and a .717 OPS to rank solidly above par for the position offensively. He’s obviously dropped off him his MVP-winning production in 2007, but Rollins ranked fourth among all MLB shortstops in Wins Above Replacement in 2014.
Windle was a 2013 second-round draft pick, but posted mediocre numbers as at high Single-A as a 23-year-old. Eflin was a first-rounder in 2012 and also spent this past season at high Single-A, although he was just 20 and held his own. It’s not a bad return for the Phillies considering Rollins is expensive, old, and entering the final year of his contract.