Rangers trade Wes Littleton to Boston for two players to be named later or cash.
Imagine my surprise when, right before I went to hit submit, a trade went down. The only weakness the Red Sox had last season was their middle relief unit. Theo Epstein and company have made an effort to improve that aspect with both of their trades this off-season; first, Ramon Ramirez, and now the 26-year-old Cal State Fullerton standout Littleton. Since 2006, Littleton has pitched in 80 games, amassing 102.3 innings, and a mid-4 FIP. Triple-A success hasn't quite translated over, but there's reason to be optimistic about Wes all the same. In only 18 innings last season Littleton had a mere 61.6% strand rate. That's going to regress this season. For the first time in his majors career some of the strikeout ability carried over; seven per nine last season, career average of 4.84. If he can continue generating strikeouts and groundballs with his 88 MPH fastball, mid-70's slider, and occasional change-up, Littleton's going to be a pretty nice get.
Phillies sign RHP Mike Koplove
Solid signing by the Phillies. Koplove has proven over the past three seasons that he's conquered the homerun ball that cast him out of favor in Arizona quickly. Of course, most of his proof is cast in Triple-A, but there's reason to believe he'll be a decent asset to the Phillies if they need him. Koplove historically gets a good amount of groundballs an thus should keep his homerun totals down. Solid strikeout and walk rates combine with the homerun totals to give Koplove a pretty nifty career FIP of 4.06.
Kameron Loe, Justin Germano, and Ryan Wing to Japan
Nothing special, although Wing could've made a decent LOOGY. Loe is coming off of his best stint in a while, with a 3.88 FIP in 30ish innings. Germano is the opposite, as things absolutely exploded for him this season. I'm sure more money and success is in each of their futures.
Pirates sign RHP Dinesh Patel and LHP Rinku Singh
Amusingly, most people are belittling the Pirates for this signing. Yes, it's a bit humorous that a team is signing contestant winners, but then the realization hits that the Pirates actually made a pretty savvy move that extends beyond Singh and Patel. You can read a short scouting report about both here, but let's examine the larger than intended consequences here. The Pirates have tapped into an untouched market, that being the country of India, and now have the ability to expand into nurturing the young talent by building baseball camps if they so choose. Of course, any team can theoretically do that, but the Pirates are now the national MLB team thanks to Patel and Singh, no matter if they work out or not. Don't think they considered this heavily? Here's a quote from Neal Huntington on the matter:
"The Pirates are committed to creatively adding talent to our organization," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Monday. "By adding these two young men, the Pirates are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market. We are intrigued by Patel's arm strength and Singh's frame and potential."
Red Sox sign RHP Junichi Tazawa
And if the Pirates play their cards right, we'll be talking about a deal for them similar to this one day. Tazawa apparently had a more lucrative offer on the table from the Rangers, but instead chose Boston due to it's developmental system. I'm sure having Tazawa's idol Daisuke Matsuzaka around didn't hurt either. Tazawa is 22 and came rather cheaply. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this signing, even if Tazawa's ceiling is simply a reliever.