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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Fri Feb 17th, 2017 01:56 am
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Tampa Bay Rays pitchers and catchers - who've already undergone their first workouts at spring camp - will apparently have a new player join them soon.

The Rays have agreed to a minor-league deal with right-hander Tommy Hunter, according to multiple reports.

Hunter's agreement is pending a physical, which could be completed by the end of Thursday, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The 30-year-old Hunter spent 2016 split between the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, posting a 3.18 ERA during 33 appearances. He'll likely battle for a spot in the team's bullpen, which is anchored by All-Star closer Alex Colome.

Hunter struggled with back issues a season ago, but still fashioned a 2.19 ERA in 12 appearances with the Orioles after signing with the club in August.

Over the course of his nine-year career, Hunter, once a starter, owns a 48-35 record with a 4.26 ERA and 1.27 WHIP during 317 appearances, 75 of which have been starts.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 17th, 2017 01:58 am
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Tony Watson apparently didn't get the salary he was looking for.

The 31-year-old lost his arbitration case to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, according to Jon Heyman of FanRagSports, who reports the reliever will earn $5.6 million in 2017. The Associated Press later confirmed the case was closed.

Watson entered the process seeking $6 million after converting 15 saves for Pittsburgh last season to go along with a 3.06 ERA.

The sinkerballer is expected to close games for the Pirates again in 2017.

Prior to 2016, Watson, a one-time All-Star, fashioned an ERA below 1.91 in two consecutive seasons, earning a reputation as one of the best late-inning relievers in all of baseball.

Over the course of his six-year career, he owns a 2.56 ERA and 1.04 WHIP during 403 appearances.

He will be eligible for free agency for the first time at the end of this season.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:22 am
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Approximately one year ago, Jose Bautista appeared at the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex donning a "Home is Toronto" shirt, telling reporters that he knew his worth and that he wouldn't return to the team on a home-team discount.

Oh, how things have changed for the 36-year-old.

After signing a one-year, $18-million deal to mark his highly anticipated return to the 6, Bautista enters 2017 with different expectations, saying he's open to doing whatever he can to help the team - which includes appearing at different positions.

"I'll do whatever it takes to win. I've proven that last year and throughout my career just trying to do what the manager thinks is best and playing whatever position needs to be played," he said, according to The Canadian Press.

"If things need to be shaken up I don't mind being the guy that gets sacrificed and moved around a little bit, so if that plays into what the team believes is our best opportunity to win on any given night, I'm going to continue to do that. I just like to win and if being a trooper and taking a hit for the guys is what I need to do from time to time I don't mind doing it."

The veteran is expected to start the season as the team's everyday right fielder, though that could change down the stretch. Bautista has minimal experience playing first base (27 games for his career), but could slot in at the position if Justin Smoak struggles. He could also spend some time as the team's designated hitter.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:23 am
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After 12 years in the majors, Nick Swisher - one of the most energetic and well-recognized personalities - has decided to call it a career.

Swisher revealed his decision on the Players' Tribune in a detailed and very spirited post explaining why he felt the time was right.

"And now I’m gonna bring that same energy to everything else I do now that I’m officially retiring from Major League Baseball," he said.

"This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I mean, your body tells you when it’s time to call it quits. And this offseason, my body was screaming, 'The dream is over, baby!' And I can’t argue with that. My dream was to play until I was 40 years old, and to be honest, I’m 36 now, and I’m lucky to have played as long as I did. I was never really hurt much in my career, and I didn’t spend a lot of time on the disabled list."

The 36-year-old underwent two knee surgeries in August 2014 and struggled to stay on the field after that. He admitted he "felt like a piece of glass" after he got back in 2015 which factored into his decision.

Swisher played for the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Atlanta Braves. He leaves as a career .249/.351/.447 hitter which included a World Series championship in 2009 and an All-Star appearance in 2010 - both with the Yankees.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:24 am
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Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will miss the start of spring training after he injured his elbow during preseason workouts, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

The 34-year-old won't be able to swing a bat for the next two weeks which could result in him missing the World Baseball Classic as well. If Gonzalez doesn't suit up for Mexico, it would be a huge loss to the club's fortunes ahead of the tournament.

As for his Dodgers availability, the issue shouldn't keep the veteran out of action long, as the injury isn't considered serious. Gonzalez hit .285/.349/.435 with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs last season. His durability has also been impressive, as he's appeared in over 150 games since 2005.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:24 am
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MIAMI - Miami Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria has told a federal jury he lied to investigators about knowing a key figure in an alleged Cuban ballplayer smuggling network linked to a Florida sports agent and a trainer.

Hechavarria testified Friday in the Miami trial of agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada, who are accused of conspiracy and alien smuggling. Hechavarria admitted lying to federal agents about knowing a man who helped organize smuggling trips and obtain player documents.

Hechavarria told jurors he didn't want to be a snitch. He later reached a deal with the Justice Department to avoid charges if he testified truthfully.

Hechavarria signed a $10-million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after leaving Cuba in 2010. He was traded to the Marlins in 2012.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:25 am
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Outfielder Andrew McCutchen entered his 10th camp as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates this week, but for the first time in his career, he'll transition to a corner outfield spot.

McCutchen, a Gold Glove-caliber center-fielder coming off a career-worst defensive performance, said he wasn't consulted when the Pirates' front office decided to move Starling Marte to take over his former position.

"It wasn't an 'ask,'" McCutchen said, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. "It was more of a 'say.' It was more of a: 'I have to move there.'"

"That was one of the first times that that was something I wanted to go against," he added. "It wasn't something I was ready for or I wanted to do. But as I keep saying that, I'm talking about myself. So I just had to not be as selfish and just accept that that's what I had to do and move over to right."

Throughout his 12 years playing professional baseball, McCutchen has played right field once in the minors in 2006, and has started more than 1,000 games in center.

"Once I got over the fact that I had to move, the more I started to look at it and get some positivity out of it," he said. "And that's one way to look at it. I'm playing at a position and a spot of a guy that you idolize (Roberto Clemente). He set the standard for someone that I would love to be like even half that guy. So it's an honor to be out there playing that position."

The five-time All-Star's future with the Pirates is still up in the air after months of trade rumors. In 2016, McCutchen combined for a career-low .256/.336/.430 line after four straight seasons of top-five MVP consideration.

He won the award in 2013 after hitting.317/.404/.508 and reaching 7.4 WAR.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:26 am
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The San Francisco Giants have added some much-needed infield depth, agreeing to a minor-league deal with Aaron Hill, sources told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Hill could earn $2 million if he makes the Giants' roster, as well as $1.45 million in potential incentives, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports.

The veteran 34-year-old has bounced around the last few years, most recently as a member of the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers in 2016. He remained productive in 125 games for both clubs, hitting .262/.336/.378 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. He was most effective with the Brewers, posting a .283/.359/.421 line in 78 games.

Hill should provide the Giants with versatility in the infield and may be particularly useful at third base, as the team enters 2017 with little depth at the position. Eduardo Nunez is currently slated as the team's third baseman, and Hill has some experience at the hot corner, having started 157 career games there.

In 12 major-league seasons, Hill's won two Silver Slugger Awards and earned an All-Star nod with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009. His best years came with the Blue Jays from 2007-09, when he owned a .285/.331/.464 slash line over 373 games.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:26 am
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The Texas Rangers received some less than ideal news in the early parts of spring training.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre is expected to be out for the next two-to-three weeks as the veteran is dealing with a Grade 1 calf strain, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Beltre's injury could also sideline him for the first round of the World Baseball Classic. He made team Dominican Republic's roster and was expected to be a mainstay for the club as they look to repeat as tournament champions.

The 37-year-old enters his 20th season in the majors. Despite his age, Beltre has remained an elite hitting third baseman for the Rangers as he's coming off a season that saw him combine to .300/.358/.521 with 32 home runs and 104 RBIs.

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 Posted: Sat Feb 18th, 2017 02:27 am
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One of the Baltimore Orioles' personal streaks were broken Friday, as reliever Brad Brach won his arbitration case and will earn $3.05 million in 2017, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The right-hander became the first Orioles player since 1995 to win in a salary arbitration exchange with the club, who had won its previous nine cases. The Orioles are now 11-2 lifetime in arbitration rulings, Heyman notes.

Brach's $3.05-million salary request was countered by the Orioles who offered the 30-year-old an annual figure of $2.52 million when numbers were first proposed. Brach winning his hearing isn't entirely surprising as he's provided above average production in the Orioles' bullpen.

Since being acquired by the club in 2014, Brach has combined to a 2.61 ERA in 179 games including a 22-8 record. He's coming off his best season with the team, providing the Orioles with 2.6 WAR, a 10-4 record, and a 2.01 ERA in a career high 71 games. His 10 wins tied Andrew Miller for most in the league for relievers.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 19th, 2017 06:11 am
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The New York Yankees and Dellin Betances may have had their arbitration case resolved on Saturday, but there appears to be plenty of bad blood left stewing between the two sides.

Betances asked for $5 million from the three-person arbitration panel in his first year of eligibility, while the Yankees countered, and won, with a $3-million offer.

"He doesn't have the stats," Yankees president Randy Levine told reporters, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, while adding that Betances' $5-million request might as well have been $50 million.

Levine went on to criticize Betances' agents, calling their attempt to land a $5-million salary "half baked," while adding that it had "no bearing in reality." Levine also went on to say that it now puts the organization in an awkward position with Betances heading into camp.

"This was a half-baked attempt to undo all that history, which everybody in the game - club, union, agents - knew and trying to change the market in a radical way using Dellin Betances to say there's no difference between closers and elite setup men and regular relief pitchers," Levine said.

Betances' agent Jim Murray took exception to Levine's comments shortly after.

"If anyone is overreaching it is Yankees with these comments," Murray said, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Murray added that Levine showed "love and appreciation" during the arbitration hearing Friday, but later referred to Betances as 'Dylan.'

The arbitration process was especially uncomfortable for Betances.

Levine believes the 28-year-old was unworthy of such a large spike in salary due to the fact that he is a middle reliever and not a closer. Betances has served in a ninth-inning role for the Yankees at times over the last three years, but not on a consistent basis, and he won't serve as a closer in the future with the re-signing of Aroldis Chapman.

Betances, however, hoped to receive a significant pay raise due to the fact that he's thrown more innings than any other reliever in baseball over the last three seasons. He's logged 247 innings since 2014, with New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia registering the next-highest workload at 233 innings.

That workload, however, wasn't enough to change Levine's mind.

"It's like me saying I'm not president of the Yankees, I'm an astronaut. No, I'm not an astronaut and Dellin Betances is not a closer," Levine said.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 19th, 2017 06:12 am
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New York Yankees president Randy Levine's harsh words for Dellin Betances after their arbitration hearing has drawn the ire of one senior union executive.

Rick Shapiro, a senior member of the union who was also tasked with arguing part of Betances' case during the hearing, tore into Levine for his post-arbitration remarks calling the reliever's $5-million salary request a "half-baked" attempt at manipulating the market.

"For the president of the Yankees to say the things he said is totally unprecedented in salary-arbitration history, an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball," Shapiro told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory - that's unprecedented."

Betances, who's been one of the best relievers in baseball in recent seasons, posted a 3.08 ERA in 73 innings in 2016, but those numbers apparently weren't the ones of concern to the Yankees.

According to Betances' agent Jim Murray, during the tense arbitration hearing, Levine argued the reliever was responsible for declining ticket sales at Yankee Stadium and added that the "sky will fall" if they had ruled in Betances' favor.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 19th, 2017 06:14 am
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Dexter Fowler revealed he and his family's recent travel plans had to be scrapped due to the controversial travel ban implemented by President Donald Trump.
Fowler, whose wife, Darya Aliya Baghbani Fowler, was born in Iran - one of the seven countries on Trump's banned list - told Mark Saxon of ESPN on Saturday that his sister-in-law had to delay a return from a business trip in Qatar due to a fear of being detained. The St. Louis Cardinals outfielder also admitted the order forced them to reconsider a trip with their daughter to see relatives in his wife's native country.
"It's huge," Fowler told Saxon. "Especially any time you're not able to see family, it's unfortunate."
Trump's proposed ban attempted to restrict citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from receiving United States visas. It was unanimously rejected by a federal appeals panel on Feb. 9, however, when it refused the president's attempt to reinstate the executive order.

Last edited on Sun Feb 19th, 2017 06:15 am by lobo316

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 Posted: Sun Feb 19th, 2017 06:15 am
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One of Canada's greatest pitchers of all time could be making his way back to the majors.

Eric Gagne - who's currently at the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training camp in preparation to pitch for Canada at the World Baseball Classic in March - is considering making a comeback to Major League Baseball, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.

"I feel great. It's almost scary," Gagne told Gurnick on Saturday.

Gagne, 41, hasn't played in MLB since the 2008 season with the Milwaukee Brewers. During his prime with the Los Angeles Dodgers, however, the Montreal native was one of the most revered pitchers in all of baseball.

His most dominant campaign came in 2003, when the right-hander crafted a 1.20 ERA and 0.69 WHIP while converting all 55 save opportunities with Los Angeles. That illustrious season was then capped with a Cy Young award, a feat only previously accomplished on nine occasions by a reliever.

He announced his retirement from MLB in 2010.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 19th, 2017 06:16 am
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The Toronto Blue Jays can breathe a sigh of relief regarding All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, as a precautionary MRI on Saturday revealed a calf strain was the cause for a "small tweak" in the infielder's right calf, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.

Donaldson will be "treated and evaluated daily," but is expected to start the season healthy, Davidi adds.

The 31-year-old was said to have "felt something" in his calf during sprinting drills Friday, and the Blue Jays decided to take no chances with the former American League MVP, opting for a prompt MRI.

In 153 games with Toronto last season, Donaldson slashed .284/.404/.549 with 37 home runs, 32 doubles, and 99 RBIs.

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