The Boston Red Sox have announced the signing of right-hander Alexi Ogando to a one-year deal. Ogando will make $1.5 million on his deal with Boston, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeted that Ogando's deal can earn him an extra $1.5 million from performance and roster bonuses.
Ogando was signed as an amateur free agent by the Oakland Athletics in 2002. The 31-year-old has been a swingman with the Texas Rangers after he was acquired by them via the Rule 5 Draft. He was non-tendered by the Rangers this past December.
Ogando first appeared in the bigs in 2010, averaging 96 mph on his heater, while offering a slider and change. Since, he has lost about 2 mph on his fastball. From 2011 to 2013, Ogando registered a 3.34 ERA (3.89 FIP), 7.0 K/9, and a 2.7 BB/9, while being a very valuable asset on the Rangers' pitching staff. He even made the American League's 2011 All-Star team. Last season, however, Ogando pitched just 25 innings due to an elbow sprain.
The Red Sox risk on Ogando is worthwhile. While he is getting up there in age, if he can prove to be effective once again in 2015, the Red Sox can choose to go through the arbitration process with him in 2016. The Red Sox' one-year deal could end up being a two-year pact if they decide to do the process of arbitration. That all depends on if they believe he is worth the money.
With the Red Sox' crowded rotation, it does not look like Ogando will spend much, if any, time as a starter next season. He will likely serve as their seventh-inning pitcher, as a setup man to closer Koji Uehara.
The Milwaukee Brewers have signed veteran left-handed relief pitcher Neal Cotts to a one-year, $3 million deal, according to reports.
The deal will help to boost the Brewers bullpen, as they have been in search of some veteran relief help over the past few days. They could still add more, as Francisco Rodriguez has been a rumored target as of late. Cotts had a rough 2014 season, but could still be very valuable for them if he can find his old self.
For more on Cotts, visit MLBDailyRumors.com.
The Phillies announced that they have signed veteran right-hander Chad Billingsley to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that Billingsley's deal includes performance bonuses that could bring the contract up to $8 million.
The 30-year-old Billingsley has been a solid pitcher over the course of his career. He went to an All-Star Game in 2009 and at the height of his career he struck out a lot of hitters, while being an anchor in the Dodgers starting rotation. Billingsley has since aged and is far removed from his prime, but he has not aged nicely. Over the past two seasons, Billingsley has thrown just 12 innings, having Tommy John surgery in 2013 and Flexor Tendon surgery this past year.
It is hard to know what type of pitcher Billingsley will return as, but the Phillies need him as rotation depth, especially if Cole Hamels or even Cliff Lee get moved at some point this year. Other than their top two aces, the Phillies rotation includes Aaron Harang (who also signed a one-year deal), second-year starter David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, and complete unknown Miguel Gonzalez.
The Phillies had significant interest in signing Billingsley earlier in the week, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported. There was mutual interest in getting a deal done as well. Salisbury noted that Billingsley calls Reading, Pa. home, so the Phillies would be a local fit for him.
Surely, the expectations are quite low for Billingsley in 2015. From 2010 to 2012, he was a solid pitcher, going 33-31 with a 3.79 ERA (3.42 FIP) and a 1.343 WHIP. He posted good walk and strikeout ratios, registering a 7.7 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9. Coming off the two surgeries, it is almost impossible to know if he can pitch to the same level he once did. In 2013, Billingsley allowed four runs in 12 innings.
The former first round pick is 81-61 with a 3.65 ERA (3.67 FIP) over his career. He has pitched eight seasons, all with the Dodgers, and has been worth 17.2 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR). -
The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign right-hander Casey Janssen to a one-year, $5 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Janssen's deal includes a mutual option for 2016, which is valued at $7 million, according to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. Svrluga notes that Janssen's deal will earn him a base of $3.5 million this season with a $1.5 million buyout on the option.
Janssen was one of the remaining big bullpen names on the free agent market, and the Nationals reportedly showing some interest in him back in November. That interest likely increased after Tyler Clippard, their former shutdown right-hander in the bullpen, was sent to Oakland for Yunel Escobar. As it stands, Janssen will set up for closer Drew Storen in 2015.
The 33-year-old Janssen is a product of UCLA and was drafted by the Blue Jays in the fourth round of the 2004 MLB Draft, beginning his career as a starting pitcher, before being converted to a reliever full-time in 2007. Last season, Janssen, despite solid numbers, had the worst year of his career since 2010. He went 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 50 games last year, pitching 45.2 innings and saving 25 games in 30 opportunities. Janssen missed 37 games last season with an injury.
Over his eight-year big league career, Janssen has posted a 29-24 record with a 3.52 ERA. He became the Blue Jays' closer in 2012. Since that time, he has saved 81 games and worked to a 4.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 140 Adjusted ERA+ over 162 innings.
Janssen will be missed in the Blue Jays bullpen. The Blue Jays are still looking for backend relief help, and have shown "limited" interest in acquiring Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies. The Blue Jays could also turn to the free agent market, as two pitchers with closer experience remain in Rafael Soriano and Francisco Rodriguez. The loss of Janssen may cause them to spend some money on another free agent.
For the Nationals, Janssen adds to a bullpen that had some struggles at the end of last season, especially when Soriano, then the Nationals closer, was removed form the position and was replaced by Drew Storen. As a group, the Nationals bullpen posted the fourth-highest Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs) in the league. They hope that Janssen will help to add to that.
Side Note: I correctly predicted the terms and team of Janssen's deal yesterday in my blog post about the top remaining free agent relievers. Check it out here.
The Baltimore Orioles acquired outfielder Travis Snider from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named, the clubs announced.
Snider, 26, will add some much-needed outfield depth to the Orioles' outfield, especially in right field. Coming with two years of team control, Snider is a good buy for the Orioles, after he slashed .264/.338/.438 with 13 home runs and 38 runs batted in (118 Adjusted OPS+) over 359 plate appearances last year, starting a total of 70 games in both left and right field. He was an above average defender last year. Snider was worth a total of 2.5 Wins Above Replacement last season (rWAR).
The Pirates will be receiving the Orioles 2013 third round pick Stephen Tarpley. Tarpley, who will turn 22 next month, made it as high as Short Season Class A last season, working to a 3.68 ERA over 66 innings in 13 games (12 starts). He struck out hitters at a good 8.2 per nine rate, but walked hitters at a below-average 3.3 per nine rate. If he can work more innings with better control, the Pirates may find a gem.