1:40pm: The Rays have officially announced the signing of Wagner. 9:48am: The Rays and right-hander Neil Wagner are in agreement on a unique two-year minor league deal that contains an invitation to 2016 Spring Training, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Wagner, a client of Munsey Sports Management, underwent Tommy John surgery this August and is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2015 campaign. That injury is the reason behind the deal’s rather uncharacteristic nature, as Wagner will spend all of 2015 rehabbing with the Rays before attempting to break camp with the club in 2016. Wagner has spent the past two seasons with the Blue Jays, and though he posted an 8.10 ERA in 10 innings this season, he pitched to a 3.79 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 44.1 percent ground-ball rate in 38 frames with the Jays in 2013.
The Rays and right-hander Neil Wagner are in agreement on a unique two-year minor league deal that contains an invitation to 2016 Spring Training, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Wagner, a client of Munsey Sports Management, underwent Tommy John surgery this August and is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2015 campaign. That injury is the reason behind the deal’s rather uncharacteristic nature, as Wagner will spend all of 2015 rehabbing with the Rays before attempting to break camp with the club in 2016. Wagner has spent the past two seasons with the Blue Jays, and though he posted an 8.10 ERA in 10 innings this season, he pitched to a 3.79 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 44.1 percent ground-ball rate in 38 frames with the Jays in 2013. He was designated for assignment and eventually released by Toronto last month. The way in which Wagner was compensated for his solid 2013 season was the subject of ire from agent Jim Munsey, who explained back in April how his client came to earn the league minimum ($500K) this year despite the fact that his initial contract with Toronto was a $525K minor league deal. Toronto’s pre-arbitration pay scale is based on service time, and the salary they offered was just $506,250.
The Reds announced that they have acquired right-handers Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin from the Brewers to complete the Jonathan Broxton trade. Shackelford and Astin ranked 21st and 22nd, respectively, among Brewers prospects heading into the 2014 season, according to Baseball America. However, neither player cracked Milwaukee’s top 20 list on MLB.com’s midseason list. The 25-year-old Shackelford is the more advanced of the two prospects, as he reached Double-A this season and posted a combined 3.69 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 70 2/3 relief innings between that level and Class-A Advanced. BA felt that he should have reached Triple-A, if not the Majors, this season in their preseason scouting report, but Shackelford’s Double-A struggled (4.86 ERA in 50 innings) may have held him back. BA noted that he can touch 97 with his fastball and gets whiffs on his slider, making him a potential late-inning reliever. They did, however, note that the slider can be inconsistent — something he’ll likely look to improve upon in 2015. However, the fact that he’ll turn 26 next season and has yet to reach Triple-A suggests that Shackelford is far from a sure thing to end up as a consistent piece in the Cincinnati bullpen. Astin, 23 next month, was the Brewers’ third-round pick in 2013
Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league… The Cardinals have outrighted catcher Audry Perez and outfielder Rafael Ortega, both of whom were designated for assignment on Monday, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 25-year-old Perez is a career .270/.293/.413 hitter in the minor leagues and has seen sparing time in the Majors, appearing in just three games and totaling just three plate appearances. Ortega, once a somewhat promising prospect with the Rockies, was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals this past offseason following an injury-shortened 2013. (The Rangers had first claimed him, indicating that multiple clubs had some degree of interest.) He hit .249/.331/.346 in 414 Double-A plate appearances and made a brief appearance with Triple-A Memphis as well. The speedster does have six big league plate appearances — each of which came with the Rockies back in 2012.
We’ll keep track of today’s outright assignments here.. The Royals have placed both Chris Dwyer and Blake Wood on outright waivers, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Both hurlers were designated recently to clear space for September call-ups. Once a top prospect, Dwyer has struggled to a 5.59 ERA working mostly in relief at Triple-A this year, while Wood has yet to re-establish himself since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. The Indians announced that they have outrighted outfielder Chris Dickerson to Triple-A Columbus
We’ll keep track of today’s outright assignments here.. The Indians announced that they have outrighted outfielder Chris Dickerson to Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland acquired Dickerson from the Pirates in exchange for a player to be named later back in July. GM Chris Antonetti traded for Dickerson because he valued his ability to play all three outfield positions and ability to hit against right-handed pitching.
The Cardinals have designated outfielder Rafael Ortega and catcher Audry Perez for assignment, the team announced via its Twitter feed. In corresponding moves, outfielder Tommy Pham, right-hander Sam Tuivailala and infielder Greg Garcia have been called up. Ortega was claimed off waivers by the Rangers in January and he has a .669 OPS over 441 combined PA at the rookie league, Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. The left-handed hitting outfielder has a .289/.353/.403 slash line and 175 steals over 2536 minor league PA in the Colorado and St. Louis farm systems since 2008, plus a two-game cup of coffee with the Rockies in 2012. Perez has a similarly limited Major League resume, appearing in three games with the Cards over the last two seasons. The 25-year-old backstop has a .270/.293/.413 slash line over 1738 minor league PA, all in the Cardinals’ system. Ortega and Perez are the latest duo from the same organization to enter “DFA Limbo, as they join Chris Dwyer and Blake Wood (Royals), Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni (Blue Jays), Michael Kohn and Ryan Wheeler (Angels) on the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.
The Angels have designated corner infielder Ryan Wheeler for assignment, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). The move created a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Jairo Diaz, whose contract was purchased by the Halos in corresponding move.
The Pirates have released right-hander Ernesto Frieri, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports. Frieri had been designated for assignment and then outrighted to Triple-A by the Bucs in August. The release puts an exclamation point on a nightmare season for Frieri, who posted a 7.34 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.43 K/BB rate over 41 2/3 innings with the Pirates and Angels. He hurt himself with the long ball by allowing 11 homers this season, though the advanced metrics suggest that Frieri’s 7.34 ERA involved some poor luck — ERA predictors such as xFIP (3.69) and SIERA (2.97) indicate that Frieri was victimized by a .330 BABIP and a very low 60.9% strand rate. The Angels removed Frieri from his closer’s job and then traded him to the Bucs for Jason Grilli in a swap of struggling ninth-inning men.