Rays sign Betemit
The Tampa Bay Rays added a potential DH solution Friday morning, signing veteran corner infielder Wilson Betemit to a minor league deal, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Betemit missed all but six games in 2013 because of a sprained PCL in his right knee.
The 32-year-old has always hovered around replacement level in his parts of 11 big-league seasons, but much of that is due to his abysmal defensive record. If the Rays can relegate him to the batter's box (i.e. DH him), where he's a career .267/.332/.442 hitter, he could be a 1-2 win player.
Betemit doesn't hit an overwhelming number of line drives and is no one's idea of a speedster, yet he still somehow has a career .339 BABIP in more than 2,000 plate appearances. That number has never really translated to his batting average because of his proclivity for punch-outs (26.2%), but it still makes him a potentially valuable roster piece. He is never going to power his way into fans' hearts -- career .442 SLG -- but he gets on base at a steady clip and owns a solid 819 OPS from the left side of the dish.
Matt Joyce is currently listed at the top of the Rays' depth chart at DH, but seems unlikely to get the lion's share of the starts at the position. Whether or not that means Betemit will step into the role come April remains to be seen.
Rockies re-up with Corpas
The Colorado Rockies have re-signed reliever Manny Corpas to a minor league contract, per Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The deal includes an invite to big-league Spring Training and an opt-out clause should he fail to make the Opening Day bullpen.
Corpas elected for free agency in October when the Rockies removed him from the 40-man roster, but has decided to try his hand at making back into the mix in Denver. The 31-year-old wasn't great last season, posting a 4.54 ERA in 41⅔ innings, and really hasn't been since his brief stint as Colorado's closer way back in 2007. The right-hander put up a 2.53 ERA in his first two seasons, but owns a 4.81 mark in the five years and 264 innings since.
Harding writes that Corpas should have a chance to make the bullpen out of camp, but given the additions the Rockies have made to their relief corps over the winter -- LaTroy Hawkins, Boone Logan, Franklin Morales -- it seems unlikely that he'll find his way onto the active roster.
Reds ink Bernadina
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Bernadina will likely serve as insurance in the event that presumed Opening Day center fielder Billy Hamilton has a disastrous spring and the club decides he's not ready to take on the role full time, posits C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincy Enquirer.
Up to now the 29-year-old Bernadina had spent his entire career in the NL East, spending five seasons and change with the Washington Nationals and a half season with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Curaçaoan was fairly successful as a fourth outfielder (703 OPS) for the Nats from 2010-2012, but hit a proverbial wall last season. The lefty hit just .178/.247/.270 over 85 games, forcing Washington to release him in August.
Bernadina rates as an above-average defender in the corners and much of his struggles at the plate in 2013 were the result of a career-low .234 BABIP, so he should see some big-league playing time this coming season -- the Reds' only other alternative to Hamilton in center at the moment seem to be aging utility man Skip Schumaker.
Marlins sign Reed Johnson
The Marlins signed veteran outfielder Reed Johnson to a minor league deal with a spring training invite, according to a team announcement. Johnson, 37, will likely provide veteran leadership for a core of young outfielders that includes Giancarlo Stanton, Jake Marisnick, Christian Yelich and Brian Bogusevic.
Johnson, who hit .244 with 1 HR and 11 RBI in 74 games last season, had his $1.6 million club option denied by the Braves at the beginning of the offseason. Things have been quiet in terms of interested teams, but he will look to continue his eleven-year major league career by breaking back into the bigs with the Marlins in a backup role.
In 1,190 career games with the Blue Jays (2003-2007), Cubs (2008-2009, 2011-2012), Dodgers (2010) and Braves (2012-2013), Johnson is a lifetime .282 hitter with 63 HR and 380 RBI. He has experience at all three outfield positions throughout his career, so he will provide versatility for Miami if he makes the team.
Orioles sign Alex Gonzalez
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Gonzalez was released by the Brewers in June and was never picked up by another team before today.
In just 65 games with the Brewers over the last two seasons, Gonzalez hit .211 with 5 HR and 23 RBI, which is below his career .246 batting average. The 37-year old is a veteran of 15 major league seasons and could crack the Orioles' Opening Day roster as a backup shortstop if he performs well in spring training.