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Potential Rays' DFA targets, especially Danny Valencia

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A comprehensive list of players left behind by their old teams that may be beneficial to the Rays, with one who sticks out more than the others.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Roster turnover doesn't stop when the trading deadline passes. The flurry of trades forces teams to rework their rosters, and that means that many players get designated for assignment (DFA'd) all at the same time. When a player is DFA'd, that means that he is exposed to waivers. If no other team puts in a claim within ten days, he can be then assigned to the minor leagues, or, if he's a veteran, he can sometimes opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

Usually, players are DFA'd because they're playing poorly, and as such they are unattractive to other teams. But because of the roster moves teams are forced to make after the deadline and before rosters expand in September, teams are sometimes forced to expose players to waivers who they really would like to keep.

Let's step through who's been DFA'd to see if there's anyone who can help the Rays, either for the rest of this season or in future ones.

First Base

Player Team Age PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP ISO wRC+ Projected wRC+
Chris Parmlee BAL 27 102 0.216 0.255 0.433 0.254 0.216 85 98
Garrett Jones NYY 34 147 0.215 0.257 0.361 0.255 0.146 67 98
Dan Johnson STL 35 21 0.158 0.238 0.158 0.200 0.000 16 105
Dan Johnson needs no introduction to Rays fans, but sadly, and despite an overly-optimistic ZiPS projection, The Great Pumpkin is probably no longer capable of breezing in and saving the Rays' season. Parmlee and Jones are slightly more interesting, as they can theoretically play the outfield as well, but with both of them being lefties, they're a downgrade from James Loney at first, or from John Jaso in left field.

The Rays don't need help getting below-average left-handed offense at first base, so nothing to see here.

Third Base

Player Team Age PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP ISO wRC+ Projected wRC+
Danny Valencia TOR 30 173 0.296 0.331 0.506 0.353 0.210 129 92
Joaquin Arias SFG 30 59 0.207 0.207 0.276 0.244 0.069 33 70

Valencia is probably the most interesting player on this list for several reasons. First off, he's been having a very good year (in a limited number of plate appearances). The offense is out of character with his usual production, as the 8%-below-average projection shows, but it's still a good sign.

Secondly, his improvement this year has come because he's hit lefties and righties equally well, but over his career, Valencia has always mashed lefties. In total, he's hit lefties a ridiculous 37% above average while hitting righties 30% below average. That's about as big a split as you'll ever see, and it makes him an ideal bench/platoon player.

Thirdly, while he's listed as a third baseman, Valencia has experience at first base and in the outfield, and he's played all of those spots at a near-average rate. If the Rays aren't happy with their lineup against left-handed pitchers of Logan Forsythe at first base and Tim Beckham at second base (and really, why should they be happy with it?), then Valencia would give them the ability to sit Loney against lefties, get a quality bat into the lineup with experience at the position, and keep Forsythe at his more comfortable second-base spot. On other days he could give Evan Longoria or Brandon Guyer a rest from the field.

And finally Valencia has two more years of team control after this one. If the Rays can pick him up now and keep him on the roster until it expands in one month, they will have secured a possibly valuable bench piece for next year.

The other player on this list shouldn't really draw your eyes, but note that he has no walks in 59 PAs, and that his isolated power will make the internet happy.

Outfielder

Player Team Age PA AVG OBP SLG BABIP ISO wRC+ Projected wRC+
Ezequiel Carrera TOR 28 164 0.279 0.327 0.324 0.349 0.095 94 79
Daniel Nava BOS 32 78 0.152 0.260 0.182 0.200 0.030 26 93
Mike Baxter CHC 30 66 0.246 0.348 0.263 0.281 0.018 74 77
John Mayberry Jr. NYM 31 119 0.164 0.227 0.318 0.155 0.203 53 83

Of these players, Carrera and Nava probably draw the most attention, but with Desmond Jennings allegedly coming back soon, neither of them is likely to help the Rays. In fact, even without DJ returning, they look like downgrades on what's already being trotted out.

Starting Pitchers

Player Team Age IP K/9 BB/9 BABIP ERA FIP xFIP Projected ERA
Bud Norris BAL 30 66.1 6.79 3.39 0.307 7.06 4.51 5.58 4.01
Chris Capuano NYY 37 31.0 8.71 4.35 0.361 6.97 4.28 4.30 4.73
Wandy Rodriguez TEX 36 86.1 7.51 3.75 0.328 4.90 4.28 4.30 4.60
Roberto Hernandez HOU 34 84.2 4.46 2.76 0.290 4.36 4.43 4.41 4.90
Vance Worley PIT 27 69.0 6.13 2.48 0.314 3.78 3.76 4.10 4.08
Edwin Jackson CHC 31 31.0 6.68 3.48 0.306 3.19 2.86 4.23 4.67

This is quite the list of has-beens. Nine years ago, this group would have made an exciting and good-but-probably-not-great rotation. Now they're a who's who of plan Bs and Cs that their team has either given up on or managed to upgrade upon. As the youngest and currently best performing, Vance Worley is probably the most interesting name here, but there's really only two reasons the Rays might be interested in any of them:

  • The Rays think that some of these guys can provide good veteran leadership and are the type of quality high-character types that make a team better by being in the organization.
  • The Rays think that the season is lost but that some of their young pitchers (like Matt Andriese and Andrew Bellatti) will be better served by developing their game in triple-A as opposed to jumping between Durham and the majors. If that's the case, any of these guys might come in and eat some innings at the back of the rotation.

Relief Pitchers

Player Team Age IP K/9 BB/9 BABIP ERA FIP xFIP Projected ERA
Vinnie Pestano LAA 30 11.2 10.06 6.17 0.343 5.40 6.51 5.83 3.78
Joe Thatcher HOU 33 19.0 10.42 5.21 0.377 3.79 3.19 3.76 3.88
Caleb Thielbar MIN 27 5.0 9.00 0.00 0.333 5.40 1.08 2.21 3.99
Deolis Guerra PIT 26 16.2 9.18 1.62 0.438 6.48 5.66 3.28 4.53

The relief pitchers who get DFA'd are more likely to be able to help a team than the players at any other position, in general. All of them have some numbers that suggest they're able to pitch at the major league level, but this is a decision that will have more to do with scouting than with the numbers, and as such almost merits a separate post. Right now, the Rays are reviewing their reports on all of these players, and if they think they have interesting stuff, that will be a good-enough reason to bring them in on the cheap.

Additionally, I'm not certain, but I think Thielbar and Guerra have options left, and were DFA'd to create 40-man rosters space, and if that's true, they could be claimed and then sent to the minors for work in the Rays system.

Roster changes move fast this time of year, so it's possible we've missed someone. If there are any recent DFA's that interest you, please drop those in the comments and let's discuss.