The Mets designated reliever Carlos Torres for assignment last week after they added Antonio Bastardo to their bullpen on a two-year, $12 million contract. While Torres had a mediocre 4.68 ERA over 59 appearances last season, he posted a 3.06 ERA and 96/38 K/BB ratio over 97 innings in 2014. Most expected that the Mets would be able to find a trade for him.
The Twins reportedly had interest, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York hears that Torres has been placed on waivers after the Mets were unable to find a trade.
The 33-year-old Torres is only due to make a $1.05 million salary in 2016, so someone will almost certainly claim him in hopes of a rebound. The results weren’t quite there last year, but his average fastball velocity was the highest of his career and he managed to cut down on his walks while increasing his ground ball rate.
MLB.com has named Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager as the No. 1 prospect in the game, unseating Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. Buxton, who has held that distinction for the past two years, checks in at No. 2 on this year’s list.
It’s no surprise to see Seager at the top. After a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A last year, the 21-year-old made his major league debut in September and quickly took over the starting shortstop job from Jimmy Rollins. It was a small sample, but Seager proved worthy of the hype by batting .337/.425/.561 with four homers over 27 games. He only logged 113 plate appearances, so he still qualifies as a rookie for this season, where he’s expected to be the regular shortstop for Los Angeles.
Rounding out MLB.com’s top five are right-hander Lucas Giolito from the Nationals, teenage left-hander Julio Urias from the Dodgers, and shortstop J.P. Crawford from the Phillies.
You can see the full top 100 list here.
In a bit of a blast from the past, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed veteran left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league contract.
Sanchez, now 33, is best known for his time with the Giants from 2006-2011. He pitched a no-hitter for the club in 2009 and had his best season in 2010 when San Francisco went on to win the World Series. His career quick veered off track after that, mostly due to an inability to throw strikes. He struggled in stops with the Royals, Rockies, and Pirates and has spent much of the last two years pitching in his native Puerto Rico.
The Reds apparently got an endorsement from their Double-A manager Pat Kelly, who managed Sanchez in winter ball. He had a good showing there, posting a 2.72 ERA with 32 strikeouts over 36 1/3 innings. He also walked 20 batters, so it’s unlikely he reinvented himself. But he’s still fairly young and throws left-handed, so who knows.
In addition to acquiring outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Rockies today, the Rays have finalized a one-year contract with free agent Steve Pearce. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is worth $4.75 million and carries incentives based on plate appearances.
Pearce came out of nowhere with 21 homers and a .930 OPS for the Orioles in 2014, but he failed to maintain that level of production last season, batting .218/.289/.422 over 92 games. Still, he provided some pop while making starts between first base, both corner outfield spots, and even second base.
With Dickerson and Pearce now in the fold, the Rays suddenly have a bunch of moving parts. At the very least, Pearce will serve as a right-handed bat off the bench, but he could get some starts against left-handed pitching.
Reds speedster Billy Hamilton arrived in the majors with plenty of hype and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2014 after batting .250/.292/.355 with 56 steals while playing excellent defense in center field. The hope was that he would take a step forward at the plate last season, but he actually went in the other direction, batting just .226/.274/.289 over 114 games before undergoing surgery in September to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
While kicking off the Reds Caravan event this morning, Hamilton gave Mark Sheldon of MLB.com an update on his shoulder. He admitted that he’s not yet 100 percent, but all is going according to plan with his rehab and he expects to be ready for the start of spring training.
“I’m throwing, hitting, lifting weights and doing all my therapy,” Hamilton said. “I’m not limited or anything. My shoulder feels good. I’m looking forward to getting out to Arizona and doing more stuff. I haven’t been able to do much stuff out on the field because of the weather.
“It’s a process you don’t want to rush. I could go out there and long toss, but there’s no point in doing it right now. They want to make sure everything is healed.”
Hamilton’s speed can change a game, but the Reds haven’t enjoyed the benefits as often as hoped. The 25-year-old now owns a lowly .287 on-base percentage through his first 1,087 plate appearances in the majors. Only seven players (min. 1,000 plate appearances) have a lower on-base percentage dating back to 2013. There’s serious work to do here. Fortunately, the Reds have shifted into rebuild-mode, so they can afford to let him attempt to figure things out at the plate, especially with the value he provides on defense.