Nationals sign LHP Preston Larrison
I absolutely love this move for Washington. Call him Chris Schroder deluxe. Larrison finally found his way out of the American League Central after a season with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate and into an organization that should use him at the highest level. Holder of a 69.1% groundball percentage last season, Larrison gets ant killers at an alarmingly high rate. Larrison's swinging strike rates are also enough to make one ecstatic, although not giddy. The tRAs aren't overly impressive, but as a situational reliever with batted ball average flukes, he's a find addition to the Nationals organization.
Athletics sign RHP Jon Hunton
Hunton is a 6'9" monster of a man coming off of two years of independent league ball success as a closer. From 2004-2006 Hunton was in the Cubs minor league system where he racked up 146 strikeouts and 90 walks. That rate improved massively over the past two seasons, which raises the question: did Hunton's control and command get better, or was the competition worse than that found in the Florida State League? It's a worthwhile question, and one the Athletics will find out this season.
Royals sign LHP Carlos Sencion
Some may accuse us of being anti-Royals, yet I assure you that's simply not the case. We interviewed Dean Taylor for cripes sake, we aren't sitting around making jokes about how the Royals should be called the RoyLOLs or anything of the sort. So it's refreshing to see them make two pretty solid moves. Sencion is a former Brave farmhand with some pretty good tRAs over the past few levels as a reliever. Although his groundball rate has declined after every promotion, he apparently has decent stuff. For free, what's not to like?
Marlins sign RHP Brian Sanches
Florida excels at moves like this. Sanches is a lot like Chris Schroder in back story. He's gotten a few major league opportunities for a combined 47 innings, but unlike Schroder he's not a groundball machine. Sanches is more of a flyball pitcher, and still manages to get a good amount of swinging strikes. For the price (nothing) his regressed tRAs, which look entirely average, are a worth investment. Sanches is only 29, expect to see him in Miami, where his flyball style will play well.
Indians sign RHP Greg Aquino
Aquino was a league average reliever not too long ago. Last season played out much like 2007 though, with most of the season spent in Triple-A, and a handful of innings in the majors. Aquino didn't show his groundball inducing skills last season, but encouragingly did get a good percentage of swinging strikes in Norfolk, 14.3%. One of Mark Shapiro's weaknesses has been bullpen building, not alliteration, so if nothing else, this is a nice depth signing for 'Bus. Best case he turns in 20-25 innings of league average work in response to an injury.
Red Sox sign OF Paul McAnulty
For all the big names the Red Sox can (and do) sign, they're the Albert Pujols of front offices for moves like this. McAnulty is unlikely to become a big contributor, but the commitment to finding talent might be unmatched. From the independent leagues to the international borders, Boston looks everywhere. McAnulty is 27 and a left-handed hitter. His BABIP always seems a touch low for his line drive percentages, but otherwise his power has yet to translate over to the majors. Getting away from playing in PetCo and playing his home games in Fenway will help.
Astros acquire LHP Tyler Lumsden from KC for cash or a PTBNL
The White Sox prize for Bartolo Colon signing elsewhere, Lumsden was traded to the Royals for Mike MacDougal and has spent the past two seasons in Triple-A Omaha without much improvement. If his raw numbers look bad it's because, well, he's not a very good pitcher. As a 25 year old southpaw you would expect Lumsden to be approaching LOOGY status, but his 5.7% swinging strike rate suggests he might not have the stuff for situational pitching either. That leaves Lumsden as Triple-A fodder or making use of whatever he studied at Clemson.
D-Backs release INF Jamie D'Antona
D'Antona will pursue a career in Japan and you really can't blame him. He's only 26, but his slugging abilities will make him more money and quicker overseas than it will here. Is he capable of reproducing the 1.009 OPS he had in Tucson this season? Probably not, but that's because his batting average (.365) was astronomically higher than his career average (.303) and drove most of the improvement. Yakult appears to be the victors of D'Antona's services, let's see if he becomes the next Joe Dillon.