Finding some targets for minor league contracts

Will any teams offer Wang a major league deal?
Do strikeout totals tell us anything about offensive performance?

Ah yes, the minor league contract. It’s usually the last resort for players still looking for work as reporting dates draw close, unless they want to try their hands in an independent league, of course. Teams will look for some veteran players to fill in the gaps in their minor league rosters, perhaps bring in an emergency catcher, maybe gamble on an arm coming back from injury, stuff like that. No one goes in expecting to find an above average player that will complete their roster when handing out minor league contracts.

The Yankees have already signed four players to minor league contracts that we know of (Jon Weber, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree), and they’ll surely add a few more. The important thing to do with minor league deals is keep expectations low. As in none at all. Most of the time they amount to nothing, but every once in a while you run into a Carlos Pena, who for no reason whatsoever puts it together and becomes a productive player (disclaimer: Pena was arguably the best prospect in baseball once upon a time). More often then not, you’re hoping to get 30 decent mid-season innings or 150 good at-bats as an injury fill-in. Nothing more, nothing less.

Most players who accept minor league deals after spending considerable times in the majors (like the ones I’m listing in this post) usually have an opt-out clause built into their contract, meaning that if they’re not called up the big leagues by a certain date (typically mid-May), they get to become a free agent and seek gainful employment elsewhere. This happened with Brett Tomko last year, who the Yanks called up in early May because he was killing it in Triple-A and they didn’t want to lose him to his opt out clause.

This post was originally going to feature three players I thought would help the Yankees on minor league deals, but then Tyler Walker had to go and sign with the Nationals yesterday afternoon. So now you get just two players. Blame Tyler, not me.

Gabe Gross, OF
After trading away Austin Jackson and Melky Cabrera earlier in the offseason, the Yankees’ outfield depth took a major hit. Gorecki alleviates some of that, however he has zero track record in the big leagues. Same deal with Weber and Colin Curtis. Gross, who you surely remember from his time with the Rays the last few years, was non-tendered despite his reasonable salary ($1.3M in 2009) and remains available.

At age-30, the lefty swinging Gross is what he is, and that’s a league average bat (at best) with very good defense in the outfield corners. Gross’ down season in 2009 (.227-.326-.355, .306 wOBA) followed a three year stretch in which he hit .247-.347-.438 with a .347 wOBA, so any team that signs him would be hoping for an offensive rebound. His three-year UZR in right field is +22.7, which is among the best in the game. Frankly, I’m surprised that someone didn’t gobble Gross up yet (and I’m not alone), even an NL team as a fourth or fifth outfielder.  If the Yanks could bring him aboard on a minor league deal and are able to stash him away in Triple-A for a month or two (assuming he’ll get an opt out) as Brett Gardner/Jamie Hoffmann insurance, there’s absolutely no downside.

Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh, AP

Will Ohman, LHP
One of the game’s more established lefty relievers, Ohman’s season ended in late-May because of an issue with the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. He managed to strain the flexor tendon in his elbow during his rehab, and ended up having surgery on the shoulder in September. Ohman is expected to be ready for Spring Training, though the Dodgers declined his $2.2M option after he posted a 5.84 ERA and lefties had a 1.295 OPS off him in 12.1 IP. They didn’t even bother to offer him arbitration even though he was a Type-B free agent.

When he has health on his side – which, admittedly, is a major question mark right now – Ohman is more than just a serviceable lefty specialist. Prior to his 2009 injury-aided disaster, he held lefty batters to a .197-.283-.317 batting line in 441 plate appearances, striking out close to 30% of ‘em (28.2%, actually). Believe it or not, he was actually throwing harder with the injury last year than he had in the previous few seasons. I’ve never been of the belief that having a lefty in the pen was essential, but when Damaso Marte‘s backup options include Boone Logan and Royce Ring, I don’t see the harm in bringing Ohman aboard on a minor league pact. Assuming he’s game for it, of course.

Photo Credit: James A. Finley, AP

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Will any teams offer Wang a major league deal?
Do strikeout totals tell us anything about offensive performance?
  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Gabe Gross is also tobacco free. He doesn’t smoke, dip or chew. That’s according to his constant running PSA’s he did in Florida. I guess they’re less annoying than St. Timmy Tebow’s anti-abortion ads coming to a Super Bowl near you, though.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I hope the Jaguars take Tebow in the second round, so that he can fulfill his dream to stay home in the ultra-conservative part of Florida with his friends, family, and acolytes.

      It’ll make it all the more hilarious two years from now when the Jags move to LA.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        … and hopefully change their name to the “Los Angeles Heathens” or “Los Angeles Sinners” or “Los Angeles Fornicators” or something awesome.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Yeah, Jacksonville is a wingnut town. I can’t wait to see ole Timmy in the NFL. The first time he tries to throw a pass with his arm down around his waist and some huge defensive lineman almost rips his arm from his shoulder socket, will be fun to watch.

          • Mister Delaware

            I hope he’s drafted by Oakland. Those would be the most genuine tears ever cried on the NFL draft podium.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              What’s worse:

              Being drafted by the Raiders
              Being drafted by the Clippers
              Being drafted by the Royals
              Being drafted by an NHL franchise

              Tough question.

              • A.D.

                The Royals isn’t that bad, worse case you serve your 6 years of servitude, and then go sign your big contract elsewhere. More likely is that you’ll be traded as a promising youngster for a veteran that is overpaid, isn’t good, and doesn’t fit with the team. Then you’ll be with a franchise that actually cares about your development.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Yeah, the baseball one is harder to do than the football and basketball ones. I guess it’s easier to play for a losing team during your initial stretch of indentured servitude when you’re playing a non-contact sport with minimal hitting and jumping.

                  Playing for the Royals/Pirates/Nationals/etc. sucks. But playing for the Raiders/Clippers, that’s a living hell.

              • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                Clippers. Easy. Blake Griffin.

              • Dax J.

                I’d say the Clippers. Every top pick they touch goes bad. See Darius Miles, Michael Olowakandi and now Blake Griffin.

              • rbizzler

                I’ll go with the Clip Joint as being the worst option. First off, the owner is a racist who just settled a lawsuit with the federal government concerning discriminatory housing practices. Second, the team itself has a serious history of suckitude. Third, the franchise has recently seen potentially transcendent players (Livingston, Griffin) go down with catastrophic injuries. And last, you automatically play second/third/fourth fiddle to the other pro sports teams in town (Lakers, Dodgers, USC Football).

          • Vin

            Said by some dude sitting behind a computer, whom Tebow would leave cleat marks on, if he ever figured how to lace ‘em up and find the football field.

            Keep your political opinions to yourself.

            • Tampa Yankee
            • rbizzler

              Nice try, but I think the point is that Timmy should keep his political opinions to himself.

              You get the ‘internet tough guy’ award for RAB today.

              Congrats.

              • A.D.
                • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

                  bo = ninja

                  Who Are They?

                  This commenter is in and out in a flash, they will usually only post one comment, no more no less, just enough to get the job done. The ninja will lay in wait while some comment section argument rages. Then, just as everyone has stopped caring whether or not the new Harry Potter trailer looks stupid, the ninja will strike with such grace and precision that it will devastate everyone who stumbles across his comment, forever changing their lives.

                  Their style of drive-by insult is the sort of thing you can’t get away with in real life, where shit-stirrers can get called out and often beaten. We can only imagine that he is sitting at home rubbing his hands, glowing in his accomplishment as he watches replies pile up for hours under a cheap insult it took him four seconds to type.

                  He sees himself as the internet equivalent of the Joker, spreading chaos for chaos’ sake. He laughs maniacally towards the heavens, before breaking into a coughing fit and reaching for his asthma inhaler.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Well done.

                • john doe

                  Myabe that commenter has an actual job unlike the liberals in this chat room.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  This will end badly.

            • pat

              I’m sure Tim Tebow knows how to lace up cleats and find a football field.

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              I’m pretty sure I didn’t express my political opinions, I made light of Tebow’s political/religious opinions. And, I never said that I was going to rip his arm off, but a huge defensive lineman will. I can’t help it if Tim Tebow has poor throwing mechanics.
              Vin, I’m the last person on here that tries to offend anyone, so, sorry if I offended you.

              Now, go get your shinebox. :)

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                Vin, I’m the last person on here that tries to offend anyone, so, sorry if I offended you.

                Yeah, that’s me, not Andy.

              • Master of all Trades

                At least you do admit that you would not be able to rip Tebow’s arm off. LOL.

            • vin

              Oh no, it’s my capital V doppelganger.

    • Rose

      I guess they’re less annoying than St. Timmy Tebow’s anti-abortion ads coming to a Super Bowl near you, though.

      I’ll be so mad if I see this. All that home schooling shananigans messed up his ability to think clearly.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        No, being a virgin this long messed him up.

      • A.D.

        Lets not go down this road on a baseball blog.

    • Tampa Yankee
      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Crocs?

        Dear God, someone please save that baby before it’s too late.

        • Thomas

          Tebow wears crocs when he isn’t wearing cleats.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            I assume that Tebow’s non-gameday wardrobe consists of a pair of Crocs, a chastity belt, and an extra-large piece of the True Cross, borrowed from good buddy Ned Flanders.

            • Spaceman.Spiff

              Wow, Tebow would leave Croc marks on your face so watch yourself.

            • vin

              Ned Flanders… another lefty.

              http://www.leftorium.com/

  • A.D.

    Figure for Ohman, Yanks are a good a fit as any, were if he performs there is definitely a bullpen spot available.

    For Gross less so, with already 4 OF on the team (and only BG being able to be sent down) Gross would have more of an up-hill battle with the Yanks than potentially other teams, especially given there isn’t a right handed caddy for him to platoon with.

    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

      Figure for Ohman, Yanks are a good a fit as any, were if he performs there is definitely a bullpen spot available.

      there is?

      MO, marte, robertson, hughes/joba, gaudin, mitre, aceves.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Mitre’s gonna have to be traded for a bag of balls if we bring in Ohman and he has a dynamite spring.

        • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

          right, im not saying that isnt an option, but there is not “definitely a bullpen spot available”

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    A few more names to consider who may be willing to settle for a MiL deal:
    Wily Mo Peña
    Marcus Thames
    Hank Blalock
    Noah Lowry (although he may be signing with the Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2.....-soon.html )
    Eric Milton
    Kevin Gregg (probably gets a ML deal from someone, though – still a great sleeper)
    David Weathers

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Wily Mo should be added just to take Shelley’s enforcer roll.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        I agree. He should also take Shelley’s enforcer role as well.

    • Doug

      hank blaylock…wow!

      how the mighty have fallen. is he down to minor league offers, at age 29 no less?

      • A.D.

        OPS+ Of 86 will do that to ya

        • rbizzler

          Yeah, I just looked at Hanks’ numbers for the last few seasons on fangraphs and they are underwhelming to say the least. He may still be worth taking a flier on as there is no way he could be as craptastic as Handsome Cody.

    • Steve H

      What foresight by the writers of Major League when writing Pedro Cerrano’s character. He is Wily Mo Pena in nutshell.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Wily Mo need hats for bats.

        • Steve H

          Wily Mo just needs to find Jobu. And the Yankees have Joba. Match made in heaven.

    • Rose

      Here’s a quick question. What ever happened to Kris Benson? I looked him up because I got him confused with Eric Milton for some reason. Apparently he didn’t pitch at all in 2007 or 2008 and got lit up last year throwing 22 innings for Texas in 2009?

      His hot wife must have left him by now…

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        His shoulder gave out on him.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Probably blew it out in a fight with another guy… over his wife.

      • Mister Delaware

        I read his rotator cuff was torn when he was trying to extract his arm.

      • A.D.

        Wikipedia says they’re still married.

  • A.D.

    So now you get just two players. Blame Tyler, not me.

    Tyler Walker & his agent should be consulting RAB before the timing of any contract announcements, very poor decision on his part.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I blame Tyler.

      Tyler Durden.

      • Rose

        Not a bad website for those who like comical celebrity news lol

        http://www.wwtdd.com (SAFE)

        • Tampa Yankee

          Yeah, that’s not necessarily the “safest” website to bring up at work. Just sayin…

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Roy Munson: Is this legal?
            Ernie McCracken: I don’t know. It’s fun, though, isn’t it?

          • A.D.

            Yeah that’s probably best in the “safe-ish” to “not safe” category

          • Rose

            For whatever reason that website is not blocked at my work…but if I want results of last night’s Monday Night Raw card…that will be blocked on some sites.

            Make any sense?

            I’ll save you the suspense. The answer is “No.”

  • Joe R

    If the Yankees put in a claim for Joe Inglett he would have to go to the big boys roster right?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yes. I was thinking about him as a utility guy, but he kinda stinks.

      • Joe R

        As do most bench players. Doesnt seem THAT bad tho. Can hit at a decent clip, but obviously no power at all. Can play everywhere. Couldnt be that bad

  • Mark

    Still a ton of veteran guys out there are versatile fielders with league-average bats.

    Hank Blalock, Adam Kennedy, Ronnie Belliard, Chad Tracy, Ryan Garko and Nomar round out the infielders

    Ryan Freel, Darin Erstad, Fernando Tatis and Marcus Thames are the guys who are better suited to the OF

    Formerly productive pitchers like Adam Eaton, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer, Odalis Perez, Jason Jennings and Miguel Batista could probably be had for under a million

    Also a few notable relievers still looking for employment: Russ Springer, Joe Nelson, Ron Mahay, Joe Beimel and Duaner Sanchez have all had varying levels of success in the past

  • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

    Wow – if you keep reading -some of this thread was actually about baseball! Here’s hoping Brett’s extra bat work over the off season helps make this clear cut in ST.

    Meanwhile, I really can’t wait to see what we’re all saying about this topic by the All Star Break. I bet it’s something totally er, um, out of left field. . ..

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      RAB: Come for the insults, stay for the profanity.

      • Jose Offerman’s Unyielding Rage

        And the great view from the Garden Apartment’s.

    • Bo

      If you can get past all the useless movie quotes, memes and nonsense you can actually get some baseball talk. It ain’t easy.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Bo’s right.

        One of our most persistent memes here at RAB is Bo. He’s the most frequently appearing meme, and the least entertaining one by far.

  • T-Dubs

    So are we officially rooting for the A’s to sign Sheets so they’ll be priced out on Damon?

  • ADam

    I still Like Gomes.. Only has to start a third or so of the games.. hits lefties well.. and has AL east experience.. and Cheap… Young yada yada yada

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I think the Cubs are itching to give him a major league contract. That’s why I left him out of my list.

    • Mark

      Unfortunately Gomes is a horrendous fielder

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        But he’s a splendiferous hitter!

        /ClydeFrazier’d

      • ADam

        What will prob end up happening is they’ll go into ST wanting to see what one of their invites has in them… and go from there.
        All i know for sure is if Levine was still making decisions we’d probably have already signed Jim Edmonds to a 3 year deal..

  • bexarama

    Plus, Will Ohman is really, really funny:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZWjdDTjtXw (safe)

  • Bo

    The one thing they will def target and add is minor league depth in the OF. One injury means Curtis is starting games. And that cant happen.