The 26-year-old Sands is the classic example of a "Quadruple-A" slugger who can hit for big power in Triple-A but is yet to parlay that talent into major league success. Despite an 892 OPS and 128 home runs in his minor league career, he has received only 251 plate appearances in the majors (all with the Dodgers in 2011-12). In those 251 PA, the big right-hander has a line of .244/.325/.376 with four home runs.
Sands might be more famous for the trades in which he has been included than anything he's actually done on the field. He was part of the return that Boston received in the blockbuster Nick Punto trade in 2012, and he was subsequently dealt from Boston to Pittsburgh with Mark Melancon in the Joel Hanrahan deal. With the Rays, he could slot in as a backup first baseman behind James Loney or as depth at designated hitter behind Matt Joyce and David DeJesus.
Starting pitcher Liam Hendriks has been claimed by the Baltimore Orioles, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. He was previously with the Chicago Cubs, who had claimed him from the Minnesota Twins earlier in December.
Hendriks, who turns 25 in February, has spent his entire career with the Twins after signing as an amateur free agent out of Australia in 2007. He has made 30 appearances (28 starts) in the majors over the past three seasons, but struggled to the tune of a 2-13 record and 6.06 ERA. However, he posted a decent 2.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that time and accrued an impressive 4.73 K:BB ratio in 580⅓ minor league innings, so there is still room for optimism if he can learn to limit the hits (11.7 per nine innings in the majors) and home runs (1.7 home runs per nine innings).
The Orioles have been looking for starting pitching depth this winter, as their current rotation is highlighted by solid-but-not-amazing hurlers Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen. The team has been connected to higher-profile starting pitchers, but it is also working on a tight budget and Hendriks is not a bad lottery ticket to add on the cheap.
Surkamp is a 26-year-old who was drafted by the Giants in 2008. The left-hander has an impressive minor league track record, with a 2.84 ERA and 10 strikeouts per nine innings in 87 appearances (83 starts). However, he has been unable to translate those numbers to the majors; he made six starts for San Francisco in 2011 and another one in 2013, but recorded a 7.36 ERA in those outings with more walks (17) than strikeouts (13).
The White Sox are in desperate need of starting pitching after dealing Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels earlier in December. The team has two strong arms at the top of the rotation in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. After that comes John Danks, who hasn't been the same since a shoulder problem that required surgery in 2012, and a bunch of unproven commodities like prospect Erik Johnson and veteran Felipe Paulino, who spent most of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The 26-year-old Morel has played his entire career for the White Sox after being drafted by the team in the third round in 2008. He was rated the No. 85 prospect in the minors by Baseball America before the 2011 season, but never lived up to his pedigree once he reached the majors. He played in 194 games in parts of four seasons for Chicago, in which he posted a .229/.276/.333 batting line with 13 home runs and average defense. His best season came in 2011, when he scratched out a 653 OPS in 444 plate appearances while hitting 10 home runs. He was passed on the depth chart last season by rookie Conor Gillaspie, and his necessity on the roster was further obviated by the acquisition of top third base prospect Matt Davidson from Arizona earlier in December.
Morel will provide depth to a thin Toronto infield. Third baseman Brett Lawrie struggled in his second full season in the majors, but he will be only 24 next year and likely has a long leash as he continues to develop; meanwhile, Ryan Goins and Maicer Izturis make up an underwhelming plan at second base.
The right-hander, who turns 29 in April, was impressive in his first taste of major league ball in 2013. He threw 11 innings out of Pittsburgh's bullpen last season and finished with a 1.64 ERA and seven strikeouts to three walks. In 544 minor league innings, he's posted a 3.87 ERA and almost exactly as many strikeouts (543) as innings.
Reid will join a group of promising-but-unproven relievers in New York's pen. After veteran closer Bobby Parnell, the pen includes names like Scott Rice, Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin, Gonzalez Germen and Vic Black. Reid should slot in on the depth chart somewhere between broadcaster Ron Darling and mascot Mr. Met.
Marshall, who turns 24 in March, made his major league debut last season after being drafted by the Yankees in 2008. The right-hander made three appearances out of the bullpen, totaling 12 innings, a 4.50 ERA, seven walks and seven strikeouts. He was serviceable in the minors, making 115 appearances (113 starts) and posting a 4.07 ERA.
The Cubs are in a rebuilding phase, so Marshall will likely be one of the many players who they throw at the wall in order to see what sticks.