There are several rumors going around about players who could be possible non-tender options by the Friday deadline, as well as a few players who were placed on waivers today that would be interesting options for the Pirates. Here are a few that caught my eye, with some analysis on each player. I’ll go through the waiver options first:
Ryan Church - Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration, which meant the Atlanta Braves had to clear space on their 40-man roster. They did so by designating Church for assignment. Church has two years of arbitration remaining, and is coming off a down year in which he combined for a .273/.338/.384 line with four homers in 359 at-bats with the Mets and Braves. However, Church hit for a .277/..352/.468 line with a homer every 27 at-bats in 1253 at-bats between 2005 and 2008. He also had a 19.4 UZR/150 in 86 games in right field last year, and can play all three outfield positions.
Church would be a good stopgap option in right field until Jose Tabata is ready, and a solid bench option after that. He’s a better version of Brandon Moss, and would be similar to Rick Ankiel, although Church would be easier to acquire, needing only a waiver claim if Atlanta can’t trade him. Church has two arbitration years remaining, and made $2.8 M this past season. The Nationals have the first waiver claim and could be interested in Church, considering he played with them from 2004-2007. They traded him to the Mets along with Brian Schneider for Lastings Milledge before the 2008 season.
Boof Bonser - Bonser was also designated for assignment today, as the Twins needed to make room for Carl Pavano, who accepted arbitration. Bonser, who has one of my favorite names in baseball, missed the 2009 season with labrum and rotator cuff surgery, so it’s unknown how effective he will be. In his three seasons in the majors he has a 5.12 ERA in 391.2 innings, with a 7.3 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9. Homers have always been his problem, with a 1.4 HR/9.
Bonser has been better as a starter in his career, with a 4.92 ERA, compared to a 6.38 ERA as a reliever in the majors. Bonser is 6′ 4″, 206 pounds with a 91-94 MPH fastball that can touch 96-97 in the bullpen, and a good curveball. Bonser has a career 3.48 ERA in 276.2 AAA innings, with a 9.3 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9. He turned 28 in October, but would probably be a gamble depending on the severity of his injuries last year. Bonser is arbitration eligible for the first time this year, and has three years of service time remaining.
Jeff Larish - I’m adding Jeff Larish to this portion of the list, although he hasn’t been designated for assignment. The Tigers completed a trade sending Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson out, and receiving Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth. That deal would put their 40-man roster at 42. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that Larish is now available to clear roster space for the trade.
You may remember Larish from the Jack Wilson trade rumors last year. He turned 27 in October, and hasn’t had much major league experience, with a .242/.323/.404 line and six homers in 178 at-bats. In his career at AAA he has a .255/.362/.454 line with 27 homers in 595 at-bats. Larish is left handed and has one option remaining. Larish would be a good option to compete with Jeff Clement at first base next year.
Jeremy Accardo - Dejan Kovacevic reported that Jeremy Accardo has been mentioned in the Ryan Doumit trade talk with Toronto, and that Accardo is a candidate to be non-tendered on Friday. Accardo was Toronto’s closer in 2007, replacing an injured B.J. Ryan, and saved 30 games with a 2.14 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched, with a 7.6 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9. He’s only pitched 37 innings since that season, with a 3.89 ERA, but poor control, with a 5.6 K/9 and a 5.1 BB/9.
Last year Accardo spent the majority of the season in AAA, with a 3.00 ERA in 30 innings over 27 appearances, with an 8.1 K/9 and a 2.4 BB/9. By my calculations, he has three years and 168 days of service time, leaving him four days short of his fourth year. That gives him three years of arbitration remaining. He made $900 K last year. Accardo, a right hander, could be a strong set up man, and could contend for the closer role if the Pirates end up trading Matt Capps this off-season.
Kevin Correia - I wanted the Pirates to add Correia last off-season, and he ended up having a break out season in the San Diego rotation, with a 3.91 ERA in 198 innings pitched, along with a 6.5 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9. Some of that had to do with the home field advantage at Petco Park, although Correia did have a 4.18 ERA on the road. Correia is a decent relief option, and obviously can be an option in the back of the rotation. It’s surprising that San Diego is considering non-tendering him, considering he only made $1.1 M last year on an incentive based contract that had a base salary of $750 K. He only has one year of arbitration left before hitting free agency.
Kelly Johnson - It’s been rumored that the Braves could non-tender Johnson, after the second baseman put up a .224/.303/.389 line in 303 at-bats in 2009. Johnson made $2.825 M in 2009, and has two years of arbitration remaining. He hit for a .282/.362/.451 line with 15 home run per season power in 2007/08. His defense isn’t the best, with a career -7.4 UZR/150 rating. The Pirates likely wouldn’t be suitors, since they’ve already added Akinori Iwamura and have Bobby Crosby coming in to the mix this week.
Chien-Ming Wang - Wang is coming off a horrible year in which he posted a 9.64 ERA in 42 innings. From 2005-2008 he posted a 3.79 ERA in 628.2 innings, with a 4.0 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9. One alarming number is that his walk ratio has gone up each of the last three seasons, going from 2.1 BB/9 in 2006 to 2.7 in 2007, 3.3 in 2008, and 4.1 in 2009. However, his strikeout ratio has also gone up, from 3.1 K/9 to 4.7, 5.1, and 6.2. Wang made $5 M last year, and has two years of arbitration left.