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MLB off season thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 05:08 pm
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lobo316



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Veteran infielder-outfielder Chone Figgins, looking to revive his career after a disappointing tenure in Seattle and a one-year baseball hiatus in 2013, has reached agreement on a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a baseball source told ESPN.com.

The deal includes an invitation to the team's major league spring training camp, where Figgins is expected to compete for a spot on manager Don Mattingly's roster as a utility man.

Figgins, 36, is a .277 hitter with 337 stolen bases in the majors. After making the American League All-Star team and finishing 10th in MVP balloting with the Los Angeles Angels in 2009, he signed a four-year, guaranteed $36 million deal with the Seattle Mariners with a vesting option for a fifth year.

But Figgins struggled badly in Seattle, hitting .188 and .181 in back-to-back seasons, and the Mariners released him in November 2012. Figgins hooked on with the Miami Marlins, but they released him last March and he sat out the entire 2013 season.

Figgins recently held an open tryout in Tampa that was attended by scouts from about 10 clubs. He ran the 60-yard dash in a fleet 6.5 seconds and showed enough with his bat and glove to prompt the Dodgers to offer him a minor league deal.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 05:10 pm
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Eric O'Flaherty returns to health and his former form, the Oakland Athletics believe they have one of baseball's best left-handers to add to an already stout bullpen.

The A's further bolstered their pitching staff Wednesday, agreeing with the free-agent lefty on a $7 million, two-year contract.

O'Flaherty, who turns 29 next month, sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow last season with Atlanta. He went 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 appearances before his season ended May 17 and he had elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

A's assistant general manager David Forst said there is no timetable for when O'Flaherty might be ready to pitch again following the long rehab process following that surgery.

Once healthy, he could provide depth in a bullpen featuring newcomers Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson, and Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero.

Over the past three years, O'Flaherty's 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances is the lowest among relievers with 125 or more innings.

"He's been one of the best left-handers in the game over the last three years and proven he can pitch anywhere, including toward the end of the game," Forst said.

O'Flaherty, originally a sixth-round selection in the 2003 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners, he owns a 20-9 career record with a 2.85 ERA over parts of eight major league seasons.

To clear room on the 40-man roster for O'Flaherty, the two-time defending AL West champion A's designated outfielder Corey Brown for assignment.

During a busy December, general manager Billy Beane acquired AL saves leader Johnson from Baltimore as the replacement for All-Star closer Grant Balfour. Oakland also traded for right-handed reliever Gregerson in a swap that sent outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres. Lefty Scott Kazmir received a $22 million, two-year contract to fill a spot in the rotation that lost 40-year-old 18-game winner Bartolo Colon.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 05:11 pm
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For the second time this offseason, a Baltimore Orioles free-agent signing is in jeopardy over issues related to a physical exam.

A deal with outfielder Tyler Colvin, who reached agreement with the Orioles on a one-year contract last week, is on hold because the team has issues with his physical, a baseball source told ESPN.com.

In December the Orioles made news when they backed out of a two-year, $15 million deal with free agent closer Grant Balfour, reportedly over concerns about his wrist and knee. Balfour went back on the market and is still looking for a home.

Colvin, 28, is a .241 hitter over parts of five big-league seasons with the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies. Chicago picked him out of Clemson with the 13th overall selection in the 2006 draft.

The Orioles signed Colvin last week with the intent of throwing him into the left field mix in spring training with Delmon Young, David Lough and several other new acquisitions this winter.

Colvin suffered a collapsed lung in 2010 when he was struck in the chest by a piece of a broken bat, and last season he was bothered by a disc problem in his back. But a source said the outfielder has been working out regularly five days a week in Arizona this winter.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 05:13 pm
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Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is reportedly recovered from his ankle and knee injuries that have limited him to 179 games over the last two seasons, but according to his agent, Dave Stewart, don't expect to see him playing in the opening series in Australia vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Stewart said he doesn’t think Kemp will be ready for 3/22 opener in Australia. “If the season opened April 1, I think Matt would be ready.”

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 21, 2014

Of course, he did mention here that he would be ready if the season started April 1, which which would actually be their fourth game of the regular season. They open a three-game series in San Diego on March 30.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 05:14 pm
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CHICAGO (AP) Former slugger Bo Jackson is back with the Chicago White Sox, this time as a team ambassador.

A baseball and football star, Jackson played for the White Sox from 1991 to 1993.

In his new job, Jackson will make appearances for the organization and serve as a team representative in the community and throughout baseball. He joins a team of White Sox ambassadors that includes recently announced Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas, Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, Ron Kittle, Carlos May, Bill Melton and Minnie Minoso.

The White Sox announced the move on Wednesday.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 23rd, 2014 05:16 pm
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NEW YORK (AP) St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andrew Pierce has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test for an amphetamine under baseball's minor league drug program.

The suspension, announced Wednesday by the commissioner's office, will begin with the start of the New York-Penn League season this summer.

A right-hander who turns 23 on Sunday, Pierce was taken by St. Louis out of Southern Mississippi in the eighth round of last June's amateur draft. He went 2-2 with a 2.11 ERA in seven starts and five relief appearances last year for the State College Spikes of the Class A NYP League.

There have been nine suspensions this year under the minor league program.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 01:06 am
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CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians have agreed to terms with free-agent reliever David Aardsma on a minor league contract with an invitation to training camp.

Aardsma spent most of last season in the New York Mets' bullpen. He went 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in 43 games. The 32-year-old stranded all 19 runners he inherited and allowed just one run over his final nine outings. Aardsma was in training camp with the Yankees last season and with Miami before signing with the Mets in May.

Aardsma has also been with San Francisco, the Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

He has 69 career saves and a 2.90 ERA since breaking in with the Giants in 2004. Aardsma was Seattle's closer in 2009 and 2010 before missing most of the next two seasons after surgeries on his right hip and elbow.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 01:06 am
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SEATTLE — Outfielder Endy Chavez is remaining with the Seattle Mariners and will report to spring training next month with a minor league contract.

The agreement was announced on Thursday, giving Seattle additional outfield depth.

Chavez hit .267 for Seattle last year with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 266 at-bats over 97 games. He played all three outfield positions, with most of his time coming in right field.

Chavez, who turns 36 on Feb. 7, has played for seven big league teams.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 01:07 am
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SAN DIEGO (AP) Xavier Nady is one of three players with major league experience who've been invited to spring training with San Diego on minor league contracts.

Nady was a second-round draft pick of the Padres in 2000 and made his big league debut with San Diego that season.

He most recently played for San Francisco in 2012.

Right-hander Blaine Boyer and infielder Alberto Gonzalez also have big league experience. They signed as minor league free agents, as did Nady and right-hander Anthony Carter.

Among the prospects invited are outfielder Alex Dickerson, a native of suburban Poway who was acquired from Pittsburgh, and catcher Austin Hedges.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 01:15 am
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The Milwaukee Brewers have reached agreement on a four-year contract with free-agent pitcher Matt Garza, according to multiple reports.

The 30-year-old Garza's contract is worth $52 million, FoxSports.com reported Thursday.

The right-hander pitched for the Cubs most of the past three seasons before Chicago dealt him to the Texas Rangers at last July's trade deadline.

Garza will step into a Milwaukee rotation that includes holdovers Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 01:16 am
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Free-agent closer Grant Balfour has reached agreement on a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays that will be announced later Thursday afternoon, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN.com.

The contract will pay Balfour $12 million over the next two seasons, a baseball source confirmed to ESPN.com.

The deal comes a month after a proposed two-year, $15 million agreement between Balfour and the Baltimore Orioles fell through after the O's objected to the results of Balfour's physical exam.

Balfour, a 36-year-old Australia native, went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA and 38 saves last season in Oakland and made the American League All-Star team. Balfour pitched previously in Tampa Bay from 2007-10.

He's a career 28-17 with 72 saves over 10 seasons with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and Oakland.

Barring a spring training surprise, Balfour will succeed Fernando Rodney as Tampa Bay's closer this season. He joins a strong Rays bullpen contingent that also includes Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, Heath Bell and Juan Carlos Oviedo.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 01:18 am
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have "turned the page'' on the likelihood of pitcher A.J. Burnett returning to their starting rotation, but they're leaving the door open a sliver and have the financial leeway to try to accommodate him if he decides he wants to pitch in 2014, club president Frank Coonelly told ESPN.com.

"We'd love to have A.J. back, but right now we've turned the page and we're heading to Bradenton (Fla.) thinking he's not going to be with us,'' Coonelly said. "But if he surprises us and calls up tomorrow and says he wants to pitch again, we'd love to have him.''

Burnett, 37, went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA last season and led the Pirates staff with 191 innings pitched and 209 strikeouts. In October, he told a Pittsburgh radio station that he would either return to the Pirates as a free agent this year or retire.

Burnett's prolonged silence on his plans has fueled recent speculation that he's leaning toward calling it quits. Agent Darek Braunecker declined to comment Thursday when asked for an update on Burnett.

In December, the Pirates declined to extend a $14.1 million qualifying offer to Burnett, which would have entitled them to draft pick compensation if he signs with another club. At the moment, the Pirates still haven't received definitive word from Burnett on his plans.

Coonelly's comments jibe with recent observations by Pittsburgh pitching coach Ray Searage, who has said on multiple occasions that he expects the pitcher to retire. Nevertheless, Searage recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he's heard Burnett continues to work out and stay in shape in case he decides to pitch.

In December the Pirates agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with free agent Edinson Volquez, who has a chance to join Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Wandy Rodriguez in Pittsburgh's 2014 rotation. Left-hander Jeff Locke, who made the National League All-Star team before fading to 2-5 with a 6.12 ERA in 12 starts after the break, is also in the mix along with Brandon Cumpton and Phil Irwin.

Burnett was the highest-paid player on the Pittsburgh roster at $16.5 million last season, but Coonelly said the team has some latitude in the payroll to bring him back.

"If he surprises us and he calls tomorrow and he's as passionate and competitive and as determined as he was for the first two years that he was with us, we would be thrilled to have him back,'' Coonelly said. "And we have the flexibility to bring him back.''

If Burnett opts not to return to Pittsburgh and sign elsewhere, sources said the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies are two clubs that have expressed varying degrees of interest in him.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 03:34 am
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Infielder Joaquin Arias has agreed to a $2.6 million, two-year contract with the San Francisco Giants to avoid salary arbitration.

Assistant general manager Bobby Evans announced the deal Thursday with Arias, a key utilityman and bench contributor for manager Bruce Bochy. The 29-year-old hit .271 with one home run, nine doubles, two triples and 19 RBIs in 102 games during his second season with the Giants in 2013. He had an emergency appendectomy in July after missing time in June with a strained hamstring.

Arias has often played against left-handed starters, while filling in at second base, third and shortstop.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 03:37 am
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Reliever Jon Rauch agreed Thursday to a minor league contract and will report to the major league spring training camp.

Rauch was just 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 15 appearances for the Marlins last season, but the 35-year-old right-hander was 3-7 with a respectable 3.59 ERA with the Mets in 2012.

The 6-foot-11, 290-pound Rauch will have to win a spot in a loaded Royals bullpen in spring training. Kansas City returns intact one of the American League's best relief corps.

Rauch is 43-40 with a 3.90 ERA over 11 major league seasons. His best seasons were with the Twins from 2009-10, when he was 8-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 76 appearances.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 24th, 2014 05:05 am
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lobo316 wrote: The Milwaukee Brewers have reached agreement on a four-year contract with free-agent pitcher Matt Garza, according to multiple reports.

The 30-year-old Garza's contract is worth $52 million, FoxSports.com reported Thursday.

Garza is a decent pitcher but he's not worth 13 million a year.



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