The Red Sox announced that pitcher Anthony Varvaro has been returned to the club. The right-hander was designated for assignment by the Red Sox in late April and claimed off waivers by the Cubs days later. Varvaro, it turns out, has a torn right flexor tendon and will undergo surgery Tuesday ending his season, reports Cormac Gordon of the Staten Island Advance.com. Rehabilitation is expected to last six months, so Varvaro could resume throwing in November. “The tendon is partially torn off the bone, but the elbow is stable otherwise,” the 30-year-old told Gordon. “I was worried I might need another Tommy John surgery.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league. The Dodgers have signed righty Mickey Storey to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Storey will head to Double-A Tulsa. Storey pitched in the Blue Jays system in 2014 and began his 2015 season with five dominant starts for Somerset in the Atlantic League. The 29-year-old has a career 4.19 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 34 1/3 career big-league innings with the Astros and Blue Jays. The Marlins have announced that they’ve selected the contract of Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A New Orleans and recalled fellow righty Andre Rienzo
The Astros have released left-handed reliever Darin Downs, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 30-year-old was claimed off waivers out of the Tigers organization in 2013 but was outrighted to Triple-A following the 2014 season. Downs spent significant time in the Houston bullpen last season but struggled to a 5.45 ERA with a 27-to-19 K/BB ratio with a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in 34 2/3 innings of work. The cumulative result of Downs’ efforts in parts of three seasons at the Major League level is a 4.76 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 43.5 percent ground-ball rate.
The Marines have signed righty Kevin Gregg to a minor league deal, the team announced (via Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, on Twitter). He will head to Triple-A, taking the place of the recently-traded Yoervis Medina in the Tacoma pen. Gregg, 36, was designated recently by the Reds after opening the year with a prominent role in the Cincinnati pen. He struck out 14 batters in his 10 2/3 innings, walking five in the process, but nevertheless scuffled to a 10.13 ERA. Over parts of 13 years in the big leagues, Gregg has posted 720 1/3 innings and averaged a 4.24 ERA. His best stretch came in the 2007-2010 time frame, when he closed for the Marlins, Cubs, and Blue Jays. (Since, he has also functioned in a 9th-inning capacity for the Orioles and again in Chicago.)
The Blue Jays have signed outfielder Alex Hassan to a minor league deal, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Hassan will head to extended Spring Training to start his tenure with Toronto. Hassan, 27, has had the good and bad fortune of being a popular waiver wire claimee numerous times in recent months. (See this post for documentation of his travels.) He has always put up strong average and on-base numbers in the minors, slashing a combined .278/.381/.402 in his time at Triple-A. Those strong but not overwhelming numbers have led numerous teams to add and subtract him from their 40-man rosters as needs have changed, but the process has made it hard for Hassan to drive his career forward on the field. Despite the opportunity that a 40-man spot represents, he has only appeared in three big league games and has just one big league hit to his credit. For his part, Hassan will likely be glad to have the chance to get his feet under him at Triple-A Buffalo, where he will presumably head in relatively short order. The Athletics released him recently after he finally cleared outright waivers, affording him the chance to choose his own home. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently analyzed the flaws in the DFA/waiver system that have led to so much movement for Hassan and others like him.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league… The Brewers announced yesterday (via Twitter) that they’ve traded right-hander Chris Leroux to the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations. Leroux, 31, is a veteran of parts of six big league seasons and owns a career 6.03 ERA in the Majors. While he’s allowed his fair share of runs in 71 2/3 Major League innings and averaged 4.4 walks per nine, Leroux has also averaged 8.3 K/9 with a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. The Cubs announced today that veteran first baseman/outfielder Mike Baxter‘s contract has been selected from Triple-A Iowa. The team also recalled Junior Lake from Iowa and activated Tsuyoshi Wada from the disabled list in a series of moves that saw Welington Castillo traded to Seattle, Phil Coke designated for assignment and righty Brian Schlitter optioned to Triple-A. The 30-year-old Baxter is a career .225/.331/.342 hitter in 423 big league plate appearances — most of which came with the Mets. As far as Triple-A production, Baxter has slashed a strong .286/.367/.452 in more than 1800 PAs
The Blue Jays have designated righty Todd Redmond for assignment, the team announced. His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Scott Copeland, who was recalled. Redmond, who turned 30 on Sunday, gave up 11 earned runs in his 8 1/3 innings of big league action this year. While he notched seven strikeouts, he issued an untenable six free passes. He fared much better last year for Toronto, when he tossed 75 innings of 3.24 ERA ball. With 7.2 K/9 versus 3.2 BB/9, advanced metrics viewed him as a solid-enough middle reliever or back-of-the-rotation starter (the role he had always played in the minor). While that has not been the case in his limited action in 2015, he is a solid bet to receive another opportunity at the game’s highest level before too long. Whether or not that occurs with the Jays or another club, however, remains to be seen.
Royals infielder Rafael Furcal has decided to retire, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports on Twitter. The 37-year-old had been attempting a comeback bid in the Kansas City organization. Furcal, who hails from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Braves as an amateur free agent in 1996. He hit the big leagues with Atlanta at age 22, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and ultimately spent six years there and another half dozen with the Dodgers during his prime. Furcal posted nearly-identical batting lines over each of those stints — .283/.351/.406 in Atlanta, .284/.348/.409 in Los Angeles — though he obviously had some ups and downs over his first twelve years. Possessing surprising pop for his size, Furcal hit over 100 big league long balls and put up four-straight double digit campaigns
The Mets have designated outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis for assignment, ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports on Twitter. That move seemed likely after the team announced that it would bring up fellow outfielder Darrell Ceciliani from Triple-A, necessitating a roster spot. Nieuwenhuis, 27, has struggled badly in limited action thus far in 2015. The left-handed-hitting outfielder owns a .079/.125/.132 line over forty trips to the plate, racking up 17 strikeouts and just two walks. Notably, his flyball percentage has nearly doubled over his career rates, helping to drive a .143 BABIP. It was readily apparent heading into the year that Nieuwenhuis would not have an everyday job, as the Mets’ outfield is firmly committed to Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, and Curtis Granderson. But after slashing a strong .259/.346/.482 last year, he seemed a good bet to hold a job as a fourth outfielder. In spite of his troubles, Nieuwenhuis could appeal to other clubs who view him as a bounce-back candidate, particularly since he offers some pop and has experience in center. Ceciliani, 24, was a fourth round pick in 2009. He has risen steadily through the minors and is in the midst of a big campaign for Las Vegas
The Mariners have agreed to acquire catcher Welington Castillo from the Cubs in exchange for right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina, the clubs announced. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the deal on Twitter. Castillo, who only recently turned 28, has long seemed one of the more likely players in the game to be dealt — as I explained in breaking him down as a trade candidate back in March. Over the offseason, the Cubs dealt for Miguel Montero and signed David Ross to back him up, leaving Castillo without an obvious role. Indeed, Castillo has only appeared behind the plate in nine games thus far, though he’s managed to see 47 plate appearances due to pinch-hitting duties. Regardless of his role, Castillo has struggled this year, slashing just .163/.234/.349. Of course, a .172 BABIP surely is not helping. And while Castillo carries a hefty 14.3% infield fly rate, he is also credited with more hard-hit balls than he has historically produced. As always, there’s a deeper track record to consider