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.
After surprisingly being designated for assignment by the Padres last week, prospect outfielder Rymer Liriano has a new home. The Brewers just announced that they have acquired Liriano from San Diego in exchange for minor league reliever Trevor Seidenberger.
Once a top-50 prospect, Liriano appeared in 38 games with the Padres in 2014, but he spent all of last season at the Triple-A level and batted .292/.383/.460 with 14 home runs, 64 RBI, and 18 stolen bases over 131 games. It was a head-scratcher to see San Diego give up on him, especially when they have their own outfield issues, but it makes sense to see a rebuilding team like the Brewers take advantage. Liriano is still just 24 years old.
The Brewers already have Ryan Braun in right field and Khris Davis in left, so Liriano’s best chance to contribute is in center field. He has extensive experience there in the minors, though many have viewed him as more of a corner outfielder in the long-term. Domingo Santana, who was acquired from the Astros in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers deal last July, is also in the mix for center field along with names like Keon Broxton and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. It’s worth noting that Liriano is out of options going into this spring, so the Brewers would have to carry him on their active roster to begin the season or risk exposing him to waivers.
Seidenberger, a 23-year-old left-hander, had a 4.07 ERA and 48/26 K/BB ratio over 48 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A last season.
Terrible news coming out of the Dominican Republic, as the Astros announced Monday that minor league right-hander Jose Rosario died Sunday night in a motorcycle accident. He was just 20 years old.
Rosario was signed by the Astros in December of 2013. He split last season between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League, posting a 4.40 ERA and 51/22 K/BB ratio over 57 1/3 innings.
Below is a statement from the Astros international director Oz Ocampo:
“Jose was a beloved member of the Astros Latin American program. He will be remembered as a long, lanky-framed pitcher with tremendous ability, an outgoing personality and an ever-positive disposition. He was a true student of the game and was constantly looking to learn and improve his abilities. He was also a supportive teammate, as he made it a point to encourage his fellow Astros and deliver that message with a smile on his face. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rosario family.”
Our condolences to Rosario’s friends and family and the Astros organization.