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February 7, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Yippee Callaspo

by R.J. Anderson

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American League
National League

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Re-sign 3B-S Alberto Callaspo to a two-year extension worth $8.975 million. [2/5]

A nifty move by Jerry Dipoto. Matt Swartz's projections had Callaspo making $4.2 million through arbitration before hitting the open market this winter. Instead the Angels get Callaspo in 2013 for $4.1 million and in 2014 for $4.8 million. Callaspo's contributions can go understated on a roster alongside Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, and now Josh Hamilton, but he's a solid player—and this is a solid deal. The Angels have now locked up their entire 2013 lineup for 2014, too.

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Designated RHP Dane De La Rosa for assignment. [2/6]

Designated SS-L Reid Brignac and UTL-S Elliot Johnson for assignment. [2/5]

After operating with three players too many on their 40-man roster for a week, the Rays made three roster-clearing moves.

Brignac is the more notable of the two players. You might remember him as a highly touted prospect with a grand glove and some power potential. The glove still glimmers but the bat is dull. His plate discipline is poor and he seems unwilling or unable to change his swing-happy approach. Brignac clashed with coaches over his hitting philosophy and was then passed over by less talented players for promotions throughout the season. A change of scenery might do Brignac well, and he expects to have suitors because of his defense.

Johnson's chances of latching on elsewhere seem lesser. His best attribute is his speed, which showed up in games more often last season. Although Johnson has experience at multiple positions, his arm is better suited for second base. Alas, his bat doesn't allow him to stick at the position as he doesn't have the secondary skills to overcome poor contact skills. Johnson has been outrighted once before so if he clears waivers he can still elect free agency over an optional assignment.

De La Rosa is a big righty who struggles with control and command. His velocity was too volatile for someone who lives up in the zone, and it's unlikely he develops into more than an up-and-down reliever.

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Signed RHP Jon Rauch to a one-year deal worth $1 million. [2/5]

Rauch is a tree equipped with a low-90s fastball and slider. He struggles with left-handers and home runs alike, and his past issues in high-leverage roles cast doubt on his ability to close out games. And still, despite all of that, this is a likable deal from the Marlins' perspective. Spending $1 million to net a solid middle reliever, one perhaps capable of filling in for Steve Cishek if he struggles, is a worthwhile gamble. The Marlins have made a habit out of milking production from mediocre relievers in the past, and could load their pen with undesirables this spring. Rauch belongs to a higher class than that. As a result, he seems like the best bet to return a decent piece at the deadline. 

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Signed LHP Jonathan Sanchez to a minor-league deal. [2/5]

Do you think Ray Searage hates his job? Do you think he might after dealing with Sanchez and Francisco Liriano for a season? If the Pirates pitching coach can help return Sanchez to his maddening, consistently inconsistent form after last season's disasters then he might deserve knighting. Quips aside, the Pirates are right taking chances on a lottery ticket like Sanchez. No, he's not likely to help, or even appear in the majors for most of the season. But there's little risk here and the potential reward is worth the time.

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Claimed RHP Fautino De Los Santos off waivers from the Brewers. [2/6]

Designated INF-R Jeudy Valdez for assignment. [2/6]

Acquired in July's George Kottaras trade, De Los Santos never threw a pitch for the Brewers before losing his spot on the 40-man roster to Alex Gonzalez. De Los Santos heads to San Diego the same pitcher he was when he headed to Milwaukee. The stuff is good but location issues hamper his effectiveness. That description fits plenty of waiver-wire relievers, of course, and most of them fail to put it all together. De Los Santos probably won't either, but potentially pitching in Petco Park can't hurt.

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Signed RHP Ramon Ramirez to a minor-league deal. [2/5]

The small things that can dictate a middle reliever's value. The Mets traded for Ramirez after a strong 2011 season, in which Bruce Bochy used him against 72 percent right-handers. Terry Collins then used Ramirez against 53 percent righties last season. Ramirez's performance versus righties did worsen a bit, but not by as much as his raw numbers indicate. If Ramirez makes the club and Bochy shows the same  discipline then expect Ramirez to have a bounceback campaign. 

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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