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MLB Notebook: Former Blue Jays pitching prospect signs with the Cubs, the Orioles make a trade, and more!

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Ryley Delaney
3 months ago
Wow, is this off-season ever moving slowly.
This is MLB Notebook, where we look at news and notes from around the league, whether it relates to the Blue Jays or not. A divisional rival made a trade, a former Blue Jay signed, and there’s some news on a top free agent.
Let’s dig in!

Thomas Pannone signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs:

Do you remember Thomas Pannone? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. Well, the Chicago Cubs signed him Monday afternoon to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
The Blue Jays acquired him and Samad Taylor (who was eventually moved for Whit Meriifield) in a trade with Cleveland back in 2017 for reliever Joe Smith. Pannone, then 24 years old, made his debut with the Jays in the dreaded 2018 season, where he posted a 4.19 ERA and a 5.11 FIP in 43 innings pitched.
The 2019 season, he was a part of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” rotation which also featured Ryan Borucki, Jacob Waguespack, and Trent Thornton (as well as Marcus Stroman). Anyway, the 2019 season wasn’t as kind to Pannone, who had a 6.16 ERA and a 5.16 FIP in 73 innings pitched.
Pannone was still in the organization in 2020, but due to COVID, he only pitched at the Alternate Training Site, before electing free agency. After that, he bounced around the league for a bit, and even ended up pitching in Korea, before pitching 2.2 innings with Milwaukee in 2023.
Now, he’s signed a minor league deal with the Cubs, who also had other former Blue Jay pitchers in 2022, such as Borucki, Anthony Kay, and Julian Merryweather… as well as Stroman.

Baltimore acquires pitching:

It was announced on Monday afternoon that the Royals were trading 26-year-old right-handed pitcher Jonathan Heasley to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for low-minor prospect Cesar Espinal.
Of course, there’s always risk trading away a low minor prospect, as you can look no further than the Los Angeles Dodgers trading away Yordan Álvarez for Josh Shields (yikes). But more often than not, those prospects don’t amount to much.
Heasley pitched 15 innings from the Royals bullpen in 2023, posting a 7.20 ERA and a 6.99 FIP, along with a 14.3 K% and a 3.2 BB%. He started all 21 games he appeared in during the 2022 season, posting a 5.28 ERA and a 5.67 FIP in 104 innings pitched, along with a 15.1 K% and a 10.1 BB%.
For his career, Heasley has a 5.45 ERA and a 5.86 FIP in 133.2 innings pitched, along with a 14.5 K% and an 8.9 BB%. The Orioles must see something they like. As for Espinal, the right-handed pitcher had a 3.18 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in 34 innings pitched with Baltimore’s Dominican Summer League team, along with a 25 K% and an 8.1 BB%.

Atlanta releases Matt Carpenter:

The 38-year-old is officially a free agent.
Matt Carpenter has been in the twilight of his career for quite a while now, as the 38-year-old was great in the early part of it, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to several World Series. After three rough seasons, the Cardinals declined the option on his contract, and Carpenter walked heading into the 2022 off-season.
He briefly signed with the Texas Rangers, before he was released and the New York Yankees signed him to a major league deal, where magic happened. Between late May until he was injured in early August, Carpenter slashed .305/.412/.727 with 15 home runs in 154 plate appearances… which is an absolutely insane rate. The veteran struggled in the postseason, before signing with the Padres in 2023.
He didn’t have a great season, slashing just .176/.322/.319 with five homers in 237 plate appearances, along with a 17.3 BB% and a 28.3 K% for an 86 wRC+ and a -0.3 fWAR. Carpenter had a player option for the 2024 season, but the Padres traded him and cash to Atlanta, before the latter released him.
He may sign a minor league deal, but it also may be the end of his major league career. In total, he slashed .260/.367/.451 with 175 homers in 5616 plate appearances for a 125 wRC+ and a 32.6 fWAR.

Teams didn’t start bidding on Yoshinobu Yamamoto until Monday:

Do the Blue Jays realistically have a shot at the 25-year-old potential ace? Probably not. However, they’ve been linked to the right-handed pitcher who may make upwards of $300 million. Jeff Passan doused the fire on Monday, noting that all the alleged bids were inaccurate as teams have been asked not to leak.
 
Of course, that doesn’t mean that he won’t get a lot of money, with the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and the Los Angeles Dodgers seen as the front runners. Of course, the Blue Jays and several other teams are interested, but it seems unlikely that he will sign with Toronto.
Either way, let’s hope things start moving before Christmas!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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