24 March 2014

Arrivals and Departures (3/24/14): Outrights and Options

As Spring Training winds down, we should expect a relative flurry of moves due to the Orioles having so many players who are out of options.  One such player was Kelvin De La Cruz.  He was one of the players Duquette offered a 40 man roster deal.  He had pretty much dominated AA and AAA for the Dodgers last year, but they let him depart instead of securing him on their roster.  It was thought that the Orioles would bring him in as a replacement for Troy Patton who will be suspended for the first 25 games or for Brian Matusz who has trade rumors constantly swirling around him.  That might no longer be the case because De La Cruz was designated for assignment with the intention of being outrighted to Norfolk when the Orioles claimed INF David Adams from the Indians.

For De La Cruz, it now gets interesting.  Here are the following scenarios:
  1. De La Cruz is claimed by another club and departs.
  2. De La Cruz is traded to another club.
  3. De La Cruz passes waivers and accepts being sent to Norfolk where he will continue earning the contract that was agreed upon.
  4. De La Cruz, having been outrighted before by the Dodgers, is able to refuse his assignment to Norfolk and elects free agency.  The Orioles are no longer responsible for his salary in this case.
It may well be that De La Cruz is no longer in the Orioles' plans after his spring has seen him having little control or command of his pitches.  This has always been the knock on him.  His stuff looks electric, but he cannot consistently get the same movement on his pitches all the time and has difficulty placing them.  I would call him a poor man's southpaw version of Pedro Strop (in a very loose sense).  I imagine we will soon learn his fate.

David Adams was a rather promising second base prospect in the Yankees system.  Nick Faleris (now with Baseball Prospectus) wrote up Adams for a series we were doing on AL East young talent.  Here is what Nick had to say at the time:
Adams was one of our favorite middle-infield targets in the 2008 draft, potentially providing Top 50 value out of the late third round. The former UVA Cavalier has taken his professional approach at the plate at the college ranks and transitioned well to the low-minors. Thus far, he's walked in a little over 10% of his professional plate appearances, posting just 1.5 strikeouts per base-on-balls. Adams has a lot of moving parts in his swing, and it remains to be seen whether or not it will continue to play at the upper-levels. A reasonable projection has Adams carving-out a career as a solid average regular, with no spectacular tools but enough defensive value to make a .750-775 OPS playable out of the bottom-third of the order. There is top-of-the-order upside if Adams shows enough gap-to-gap pop to force upper-level pitching to respect him (if not, his plate discipline will be negated by pitchers coming right at him looking for weak contact).
That season Adams suffered a pretty awful leg injury, which bottomed out his range.  He has a good eye and still has that gap-to-gap power.  However, he is more of a third baseman these days and lacks the extra power often expected from that position.  In his first taste of big league action, Adams withered up at the plate filling in for Alex Rodriguez at third for the Yankees.  I assume the Orioles see him as part of the contingency plan with third base this season as opposed to second base, which appears ably covered with a wide assortment of players.  Adams has one option left. The Yankees used one in 2012 and, I believe, the last time he was optioned in 2013 was for long enough to count.

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