One Under-the-Radar Move All 30 MLB Teams Can Make Before Opening Day

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2013

One Under-the-Radar Move All 30 MLB Teams Can Make Before Opening Day

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    With less than three months to go before Opening Day, there's still time for each MLB team to make a signing that can bolster their rosters.

    Dozens of free agents with a variety of skill-sets are still left unsigned, waiting by their phones for that one call that gets them off the unemployment line.

    In many cases, the signings could be termed under-the-radar—low-risk guys who offer a particular skill that could give a boost to a team needing that skill.

    Here is one under-the-radar signing for each MLB team that could give them that extra little boost before Opening Day.

     

    *Spoiler Alert: A couple of signings may not be so much under the radar.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Kevin Slowey

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks currently sport a starting rotation that features Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley and either Tyler Skaggs or Patrick Corbin as the fifth starter.

    Daniel Hudson is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and won't be available until sometime in July.

    A little insurance policy might not be a bad idea.

    Kevin Slowey could be that policy.

    Slowey reached triple-digits in wins for three straight seasons as a member of the Minnesota Twins. He spent the entire 2012 season at Triple-A Columbus after failing to crack the starting rotation for the Cleveland Indians.

    A rib-cage injury limited Slowey to just eight starts last year. However, he is healthy and available. Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com noted back in November that there was interest in Slowey, yet he's still waiting for a call.

    Slowey could be agreeable to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. He's no doubt hungry and willing to show teams he can help out. The Diamondbacks spend next to nothing and get an insurance policy for their rotation.

Atlanta Braves: None

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    The Atlanta Braves still have one issue left to resolve before training camp opens in February. That issue won't be solved with an under-the-radar signing.

    Right now the Braves can do one of two things. First, they can keep Martin Prado in left field and roll the dice with Juan Francisco as their starting third baseman.

    Francisco hit .307 in the Dominican Winter League with a .575 slugging percentage, so he could be ready to take the next step.

    Second, the Braves can go after an available player, more than likely via the trade route. There have been various rumors about the possibility of the Braves going after B.J. Upton's younger brother Justin, but it would take a significant package to pry him away from the Diamondbacks.

    As to the question of whether the Braves are interested in Washington Nationals left fielder Michael Morse, Mark Bowman of MLB.com answered that question succinctly.

    Bowman said:

    I have been shocked to see how frequently I have received this question via the Inbox and Twitter. I think the best way to answer is to simply ask: What kind of ridiculous package would Atlanta have to provide to give Washington general manager Mike Rizzo reason to even think about the possibility of trading Morse to one of the two teams with the best chance to dethrone his club atop the NL East standings?

    As of right now, no under-the-radar signings would be of much help to the Braves.

Baltimore Orioles: Travis Hafner

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    At the end of the season, the Cleveland Indians declined the 2013 option on the contract of designated hitter Travis Hafner for $13 million.

    At 35 years of age, Hafner's body has betrayed him more often than not in the past five years. Still, for the Orioles, he would be worth taking a cheap flyer on as an option against right-handed pitching.

    It's a better option than Wilson Betemit.

Boston Red Sox: Dallas Braden

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    Over the past several years, the Boston Red Sox have made a habit of signing journeyman pitchers and stashing them away in Pawtucket for insurance purposes. Kevin Millwood and Mark Prior immediately come to mind—even Bartolo Colon, signed to a minor-league contract by the Sox back in 2008.

    Certainly there is precedent, so it wouldn't do the Red Sox any harm to sign Dallas Braden to a minor-league deal.

    Braden is recovering from shoulder surgery and likely won't be ready until midseason. Still, he could serve as a more-than useful midseason pickup who already be under contract at a minimal cost.

Chicago Cubs: Matt Lindstrom

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    The Chicago Cubs featured the fourth-worst bullpen in the National League last year with a 4.49 ERA.

    They've signed Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, but one more quality arm certainly couldn't hurt.

    Right-hander Matt Lindstrom is coming off a solid year, posting a 2.68 ERA in 46 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks. He features a solid sinker and held opposing right-handed hitters to a .226 average.

    Lindstrom would provide a solid addition at a fairly reasonable cost.

Chicago White Sox: Grady Sizemore

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    The Chicago White Sox would love to find a left-handed bat to replace A.J. Pierzynski in their lineup.

    Unfortunately, they likely won't find that bat on the open market.

    One option is to open spring training with what they have and make adjustments along the way. By then, it's entirely possible that Grady Sizemore could finally be ready to play.

    Sizemore was sidelined all of last season and underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September. He's given indications that he won't sign with a team until he knows he's ready.

    It's a high-risk, high-reward signing for sure, but if the White Sox could somehow convince Sizemore to sign before Opening Day, it could be a risk worth taking.

Cincinnati Reds: Rich Hill

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    The Cincinnati Reds have finished off their shopping list already and are likely to work on taking care of arbitration-eligible players and very minor deals.

    One intriguing option could be left-handed reliever Rich Hill.

    With only one lefty reliever in their bullpen (Sean Marshall), Hill could be brought in on a minor-league deal and tucked away until needed.

    Hill posted a 1.83 ERA in 25 appearances for the Boston Red Sox last season.

Cleveland Indians: Luke Scott

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    The Cleveland Indians have taken care of needs in their outfield (Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs) and at first base (Mark Reynolds).

    They're still lacking in help at the DH spot, however.

    One solution could be Luke Scott. Scott hit just .229 last season but heated up after the All-Star break, hitting .283 with an .845 OPS.

    Scott would be more of a platoon situation, given his awful average against left-handed pitching (.149 BA, .475 OPS in 2012).

Colorado Rockies: Brandon Webb

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    Last Sunday, Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted that the Colorado Rockies were interested in free-agent starting pitcher Brandon Webb.

    Yes, the same Webb who hasn't pitched in the majors since the first week of the 2009 season.

    Shoulder injuries and rotator-cuff issues have kept Webb off the field for the past four seasons, but he's now ready to try again and start throwing for teams who are interested.

    Signing Webb would certainly qualify as under-the-radar.

    But hey, the Rockies can't seem to sign any other pitcher not named Jeff Francis, so why not?

Detroit Tigers: Joey Devine

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    With two Tommy John surgeries in the past three years, it's a safe bet that no one is knocking down Joey Devine's door in an effort to sign him.

    Devine has not appeared in a game since July 24, 2011. When he opted to become a free agent last October, Devine was already throwing at a distance of 90 feet and reported to be pain-free in his elbow for the first time in eight years.

    The Detroit Tigers should take a flyer and give Devine a fresh start. When healthy, the stuff is electric and the Tigers could use a bit of insurance should prospect reliever Bruce Rondon prove not to be up to the task.

Houston Astros: Nyjer Morgan

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    He has an alter ego, he's got panache, and he carries a .280 lifetime batting average with speed.

    Sounds like the perfect candidate for a Houston Astros franchise that could use some life.

    Nyjer Morgan either did or didn't cheat on his girlfriend, either.

    The Astros could use some outfield help. Morgan can supply that, and show fans how to properly tweet in the process.

Kansas City Royals: Pedro Feliciano

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    Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano made $8 million over the last two seasons for the New York Yankees.

    And he did it without throwing one pitch for them.

    Shoulder issues prevented Feliciano from donning pinstripes. He's now throwing in the Puerto Rican Winter League and with the Kansas City Royals in need of some left-handed help in the bullpen, he's at least worth a spring-training invite.

    Feliciano led the majors in appearances for three straight seasons with the New York Mets. As long as the Royals don't use him every other day, he could be effective once again.

Los Angeles Angels: Ronny Cedeno

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    The Los Angeles Angels beefed up their starting rotation, outfield and bullpen this offseason.

    Infield depth, however, is still a bit of a concern.

    They picked up infielder Tommy Field via the waiver wire in late November, but with a grand total of 18 games under his belt, it's a stretch to think he'll be a major contributor off the bench.

    Ronny Cedeno showed great value for the New York Mets off the bench last season. He hit .259 with four homers and 22 RBI in 78 games, covering defensively at second, third and short.

    A one-year deal at around $1.5 million would give the Angels a quality utility man to capably take over for the departed Maicer Izturis.

Los Angeles Dodgers: None

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have replenished their roster almost non-stop since July of last season.

    With the signing of reliever J.P. Howell last week, it's hard to imagine they could possibly need anything else.

    Starting Rotation? They now have eight veterans in tow.

    Bullpen? Brandon League and Howell round the 'pen out quite nicely.

    Outfield? They added Skip Schumaker, who can cover both corners as well as second base.

    Infield? More than enough able bodies there as well.

    Nothing the Dodgers have done in the past six months has been under the radar—don't expect them to start now.

Miami Marlins: Carlos Lee

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    Miami Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison likely won't be ready for Opening Day. He's still recovering from offseason knee surgery and won't even start running until after spring training starts.

    Carlos Lee is still available. His phone probably hasn't rung much this offseason. And he wouldn't mind coming back to Miami.

    Yes, the production is minimal and he's a defensive liability. But the Marlins can't be beggars at this point.

Milwaukee Brewers: Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    The Milwaukee Brewers are crying poor-mouth, courtesy of declining attendance and a really bad TV contract.

    They bulked up their bullpen with Mike Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Badenhop, taking care of a clear need. The cost didn't break their wallet, either.

    They could still use some insurance for the pitching staff.

    Daisuke Matsuzaka is a free agent, and considering his 8.28 ERA last season, he could likely be had on the cheap.

    Mastsuzaka has stated he'll consider going back to Japan if he doesn't receive a guaranteed contract.

    He didn't say how much the contract had to be worth.

Minnesota Twins: Chris Young

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    The biggest area of need for the Minnesota Twins has been dealt with.

    Kind of.

    The Twins acquired Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey to bolster their struggling rotation. However, Pelfrey likely won't be ready until May. Other options include Scott Diamond, Cole De Vries and Liam Hendriks.

    After two lost seasons due to injuries, Chris Young posted a 4.15 ERA in 20 starts for the New York Mets. In the larger confines of Target Field, Young might be a viable option as back-up plan.

New York Mets: Scott Hairston

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    Okay, so he's not so much under the radar. But Scott Hairston simply fits for the New York Mets.

    Hairston is looking for a two-year deal. The Mets only want to offer one.

    No one is biting on Hairston for longer than one year at this point. It's time to come to a compromise.

New York Yankees: Scott Rolen

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    The New York Yankees could use another right-handed bat.

    Scott Rolen would like one good year before he retires.

    Seems like a match.

    As of right now, Rolen has not made up his mind about retiring. The Cincinnati Reds have given indications they would welcome him back.

    However, Rolen might have more of a role with the Yankees than he would with the Reds.

    With Kevin Youkilis on board and Alex Rodriguez out until at least the All-Star break, Rolen would get opportunities both at third base and as a DH in the Bronx.

    It might not be a bad way to end a stellar career.

Oakland Athletics: Freddy Sanchez

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    The Oakland A's have two second basemen in the mix for the 2013 season. However, neither of them are generating a lot of confidence.

    Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks will head to spring training hoping to win the job outright. Sizemore missed the entire 2012 season and Weeks was less than impressive, hitting just .221 in 118 games.

    Freddy Sanchez might be worth at least a look. With a series of injuries that limited his playing time to just 60 games in 2011 and a complete wash last year, Sanchez will absolutely come on the cheap.

    An inexpensive insurance plan that could pay off in the end doesn't sound like a bad option.

Philadelphia Phillies: Austin Kearns

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    The Philadelphia Phillies filled out their wish list early this offseason. They got their center fielder in Ben Revere, their third baseman in Michael Young, their setup man in Mike Adams and their fifth starter in John Lannan.

    All that's needed now are tweaks.

    One tweak could be to add some outfield insurance. The Phillies are planning to go with Domonic Brown in right field and Darin Ruf in left, with John Mayberry as another option.

    Austin Kearns could be signed to add some insurance as well. Kearns is far removed from everyday play but can still offer up some quality at-bats and provide relief in both corners.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Jonathan Sanchez

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates came to an agreement with Francisco Liriano on a two-year deal in an effort to shore up the back of their rotation.

    Unfortunately for the Pirates, Liriano hurt his non-throwing shoulder badly enough over the holidays that the deal is now in jeopardy. The sides are still talking, but no new deal has been reached.

    If they really want to throw money away on a left-hander, how about Jonathan Sanchez?

    Hey, Sanchez's ERA was only 2.73 runs higher than Liriano's last season—the Bucs can save a little coin.

San Diego Padres: Joe Saunders

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    The San Diego Padres have a starting rotation of Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard and Jason Marquis, followed by several pitchers that will vie for the final two spots.

    Eric Stults, Casey Kelly and a few others will look to fill the final pieces.

    Joe Saunders is still available. While the Baltimore Orioles have said they'd like Saunders back, they've dragged their heels in getting a deal done.

    The Padres should pounce.

San Francisco Giants: Brandon Lyon

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    The San Francisco Giants fulfilled their needs early, re-signing three of their key free agents (Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro) and bringing back a former World Series hero (Andres Torres).

    While there's nothing more they really need, adding another reliever, Brandon Lyon, could be a move they make before spring training.

    According to BayAreaSportsGuy.com, it's a deal that could happen soon. Lyon would join a bullpen with plenty of closing experience between several pitchers, so Lyon could certainly share some war stories.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon Inge

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    The Seattle Mariners likely aren't done yet trying to fix an offense that's been impotent for far too long.

    Free-agent infielder Brandon Inge could help provide some pop.

    Inge won't impress anyone with his on-base skills, but the bat still plays—12 home runs and 54 RBI in 83 games last season.

    At this point in his career, Inge won't break the bank. In fact, the Mariners could probably land Inge at about 50-60 percent of last year's salary. If he can produce close to last season, that's a figure well worth the money.

St. Louis Cardinals None

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    The St. Louis Cardinals made only one move of note this offseason, signing Randy Choate as a second left-handed option for their bullpen.

    The Cardinals are well-stocked with starting pitching, infield and outfield help and now a full complement of what they needed for the bullpen.

    Don't look for general manager John Mozeliak to be adding anyone else before the start of spring training.

Tampa Bay Rays: Chad Durbin

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    The Tampa Bay Rays bullpen in 2012 was outstanding, posting a 2.88 ERA to lead the American League.

    J.P. Howell and Wade Davis are gone, however, and general manager Andrew Friedman would like to add at least one more reliever before spring training.

    Chad Durbin posted an excellent 3.10 ERA in 76 appearances last year for the Atlanta Braves, holding right-handed hitters to just a .206 average.

    Durbin made $900K last season—cost certainly wouldn't be an issue.

Texas Rangers: Michael Bourn

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    Okay, so he's not so much under the radar.

    But at this point, center fielder Michael Bourn could be had for far less than what his original asking price was at the start of the offseason. That might be palatable for the Texas Rangers.

    And he fills a need.

    Bourn's great speed and defense up the middle is a good fit for Texas. The added power of A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman doesn't require that the Rangers find a power bat—only a bat that is productive and can help set the table for their run-producers.

    The Rangers are staying in touch with Bourn, and if the price becomes right, they will pounce.

Toronto Blue Jays: Brian Wilson

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    The Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has completely re-stocked his team in dramatic fashion. With his additions, the Jays are now 15-2 favorites to win the 2013 World Series.

    However, they may not be done yet.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Jays are still on the hunt for a back-end bullpen arm.

    Brian Wilson could be that arm.

    Wilson would serve as insurance as well should closer Casey Janssen falter or if Sergio Santos continues experiencing arm issues.

    The Beard in the Rogers Centre along with Dickey et al. Wow. If Wilson bounces back, the above odds could get a lot shorter.

Washington Nationals: Javier Vazquez

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    If there was any one need for the Washington Nationals that went unnoticed, general manager Mike Rizzo certainly took care of that in emphatic fashion.

    The Nationals inked closer Rafael Soriano to a two-year, $28 million contract on Tuesday. With the signing, the Nats indicated they are definitely all-in for a World Series title this year.

    The Nationals are ready, save for a few tweaks. They could still be in the market for an extra starting pitcher, however.

    The Nats have shown interest in Javier Vazquez, who last pitched in the majors with the Florida Marlins in 2011. Vazquez was reportedly throwing 92-93 mph in the Puerto Rican Winter League and looking dominant.

    Vazquez hasn't yet decided on a return, but if he does he gives the Nationals another solid veteran to provide insurance for their rotation.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.