Russell Branyan has been playing for Tijuana in the Mexican League this year. For reals. He has 19 homers for them. He’s still listed on their roster, actually. But now the Cleveland Indians have him, as they signed him to a minor league deal for the rest of the season.
Branyan hasn’t played in the bigs since 2011. It’s doubtful he’ll actually play in the bigs this year. The Clippers are in the International League playoffs — I have tickets for their game against the Durham Bulls next Thursday! — this may be more of a ringer-on-a-softball-team move than something designed to help the big club. Of course, if he hits well for the next week or whatever and the Indians want a power bat on the bench when rosters expand, that’s not a bad thing either.
In other news, between Jim Thome’s one-day/retirement contract, Jason Giambi and now Branyan, the Indians are assembling all of my favorite toys this year. If they sign Jack Cust or trade for Adam Dunn, I’ll be in heaven.
According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have signed right-handed reliever Evan Meek to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. And outfielder Jack Cust got the same deal, reports Roch Kubatko at MASN.
Meek will try to revitalize his major league career with the O’s after spending the last two seasons battling shoulder issues. The 30-year-old will be fighting for a middle relief job this spring in camp.
Cust, 35, did not play MLB-affiliated ball in 2013 and spent the entire 2012 season at Triple-A. He batted just .213/.344/.329 in 270 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2011 and will be a longshot to make the Opening Day roster this year in Baltimore.
From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays have agreed to a minor league contract with free agent outfielder Jack Cust.
The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, where Cust will attempt to earn a backup role.
Cust spent the entire 2012 season at the Triple-A level, batting .243/.400/.442 with 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 72 RBI in 493 plate appearances between affiliates of the Yankees and Blue Jays.
The 10-year major league veteran registered a .213/.344/.329 batting line with three home runs, 15 doubles and 23 RBI over 270 plate appearances with Seattle in 2011. He is a .242/.374/.439 career hitter in the bigs.
To: THE INTERNET
From: Agent Calcaterra
Re: Agent Neyer
Gentlemen: it has come to my attention that Agent Neyer has publicly doubted the efficacy of THE INTERNET to sway the Hall of Fame voting in favor of our chosen candidates. Apparently he was sleeping when THE INTERNET single handedly took control of the Hall of Fame vote from established baseball writers a few years ago and placed Bert Blyleven in the Hall against the will of THE OLD GUARD.
Whatever the case, this is obviously problematic. If Agent Neyer doubts the efficacy of THE INTERNET to control the process, THE GRAND CONSPIRACY will be imperiled. And you know what that means: Jack Cust will never make it into the Hall of Fame and Hank Aaron will never be removed, which I don’t have to tell you has long been our plan.
All agents are hearby ordered to purge references to Agent Neyer from their computers. When finished, you are to await further instructions from Agents Jaffe and Sheehan.
John Lannan wants the Nationals to trade him and they’d be glad to if someone would take his $5 million salary off their hands, but instead he’s stuck in the minors and didn’t help his cause much yesterday in his first Triple-A start.
Lannan lasted just two innings against the Yankees’ affiliate, giving up five runs to a lineup that included No. 3 hitter Steve Pearce and cleanup man Jack Cust. He managed to strike out just one of the 14 batters he faced, allowing six hits and two walks.
If there’s truly almost zero market for Lannan right now the Nationals are probably better off keeping him as rotation insurance, as dumping him to save a few bucks or acquire a marginal prospect has limited value at this point and he could still come in handy if a starter goes down with an injury. Still, it’s remarkable how far he’s fallen after being the Opening Day starter in both 2009 and 2010 before throwing 185 innings with a 3.70 ERA last year.