Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com is reporting that the Braves have signed Cuban catcher Yenier Bello to a minor league deal. Sanchez adds that the deal includes a signing bonus and an invitation to spring training.
The Braves have a surplus of catching with Evan Gattis, Gerald Laird, Christian Bethancourt, and even Ryan Doumit. As a result, Bello will join the Braves’ minor league system and work his way up.
Sanchez describes Bello’s interesting path to professional baseball in the U.S. He was caught attempting to escape Cuba in 2012 and had his passport revoked as a result. He retired, eventually earned his passport back, and went to Ecuador. From there, Bello went to Mexico, where he established residency.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.
The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.
Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.
Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.
The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.