Biggest Storylines from This Week's MLB Action

Ben BerkonContributor IJuly 5, 2013

Biggest Storylines from This Week's MLB Action

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    Like most weeks in baseball, this past week has been filled with a lot of newsworthy entertainment. 

    Fans witnessed the first no-hitter in 2013 as well as the first (of many) impactful July trades. Ill-timed injuries occurred, international signing history was made and two home run kings inked exciting contracts.

    Just in case you missed it, below are the biggest story lines from this week’s MLB action.

    All statistics (through July 3) sourced from Baseball Reference and Fan Graphs.

Homer Bailey Hurls Second Career No-Hitter

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    On Tuesday, July 2, Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey threw his second career no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants. Bailey only surrendered one walk in nine innings, while striking out nine batters. It was also the first no-hitter of the 2013 season. 

    The 27-year-old spun his first no-hitter on September 28, 2012 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Similarly, Bailey walked a batter and struck out 10.

    On the season, Bailey has pitched to the tune of a 3.57 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 2.97 xFIP), 1.06 WHIP and 4.27 K/BB. The right-hander, who earns $5.35 million in 2013, will be eligible for his third (and final) year of arbitration after the season.

Chicago Cubs Trade Pitchers Scott Feldman and Carlos Marmol

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    The Chicago Cubs completed two different trades on Tuesday, July 2.

    The first trade sent starting pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Feldman was in the midst of a fantastic season in Chicago, posting a 3.46 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 3.77 xFIP), 1.14 WHIP and 2.68 K/BB. But the rebuilding organization correctly decided to cash in on his production, flipping him for two young, controllable arms. Feldman will be a free agent after the season.

    In addition, the Cubs also dealt maligned former closer Carlos Marmol and their fourth international signing bonus slot to the Los Angeles Dodgers for recently designated reliever Matt Guerrier. The trade is truly the end of an era, as the Cubs originally signed the Dominican native as an amateur free agent in 1999, when he was just 17 years old.

    Marmol, 30, has been particularly ineffective in 2013, posting a dismal 5.86 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 4.88 xFIP), 1.69 WHIP and 1.52 K/BB.

    Just a day after the trade, the Dodgers designated Marmol for assignment. The seemingly odd transaction simply confirms that the Dodgers spent $500,000 (the difference between Marmol’s and Guerrier’s contracts) in order to acquire the additional international slot (which is worth $210,000).  The 30-year-old Marmol has since cleared waivers and will report to Triple-A.

International Signing Period Kicks Off

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    The MLB international signing period commenced on Tuesday, July 2, kicking off a potential bargain-hunting extravaganza for big league organizations. It’s unlikely any of the signees will be as impactful as Yasiel Puig, who inked a seven-year, $42 million contract before the signing period this year. It’s worth noting that the Florida Marlins signed Miguel Cabrera during the signing period 14 years ago.

    This year’s first day was particularly active, as fifteen of MLB.com’s 30 top international prospects signed contracts. And as SB Nation pointed out, “[2013] marks the first time that teams are allotted bonus pools based upon their win-loss record from the previous season—and just the second year that there are international bonus pools at all.” 

Texas Rangers Sign Manny Ramirez to Minor League Contract

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    Manny Ramirez, who hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2011, signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, July 3.

    Ramirez, 41, only garnered 17 plate appearances in 2011 for the Tampa Bay Rays before testing positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs. Ramirez was handed a 100-game suspension for his second offense. Instead of serving his suspension, however, Ramirez retired from baseball.

    The veteran slugger officially applied for reinstatement on December 4, 2011 and negotiated a shorter sentence (50 games). Ramirez signed with the Oakland Athletics on February 20, 2012, but was never promoted from Triple-A.

    Without any suitors in the offseason, the former Boston Red Sox star ventured to Taiwan and inked a contract with the EDA Rhinos. Ramirez slugged a .352 batting average with eight home runs while overseas. 

    Manny Ramirez, who owns a career .312 batting average, park-adjusted 154 OPS+ and 555 home runs in the major leagues, will report to Triple-A for the Rangers.

Josh Willingham Out Four to Six Weeks with Knee Injury

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    On Tuesday, July 2, the Minnesota Twins lost one of their best hitters and prime trade chips. The team announced that Josh Willingham would require arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and need at least a month to recover.

    Willingham, 34, is enduring a down season in 2013, posting a mere .224 batting average, park-adjusted 108 OPS+ and 10 home runs. Given the right-handed hitter’s reasonable contract (just $7 million next season), however, the lowly Twins were expected to dangle the power-hitting outfielder to contending teams.

    Assuming Willingham can prove his health upon his return, the Twins could still attempt to pass the veteran through waivers and deal him before the waiver trade deadline on August 31.

Jim Thome Joins White Sox Front Office

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    Even though the Chicago White Sox could use his stick in the lineup, ex-slugger Jim Thome joined the organization’s front office on Tuesday, July 2.

    Thome, who hit 612 home runs in his career, will be a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn. 

    Upon hiring Thome, Hahn said the following in a statement:

    When [Jim Thome and I] talked recently about how he could move on to the next stage of his baseball career, an obvious fit was to join this organization, where Jim knows so many people and is immediately comfortable. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this role, and we're excited to see the impact he will have on both our major leaguers and minor leaguers.

    Jim Thome will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018.