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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 03:19 am
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lobo316



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Mat Latos' hopes of pitching in the big leagues again will have to be postponed.

The Toronto Blue Jays informed the right-handed pitcher that he will not make the team. Latos can elect to report to Triple-A Buffalo or become a free agent.

The Blue Jays signed Latos to a minor-league contract in February with an invite to spring training. Had he made the roster, he would have received a $1.5-million base salary with an opportunity to earn $500,000 in incentives.

Latos struggled over 14 2/3 innings through the spring, notching a 6.75 ERA while allowing a team-leading five home runs. He also walked eight batters, while striking out only nine.

The 29-year-old right-hander got off to a strong start in 2016, going 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA over five April starts before hitting a wall in May. Between the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals, Latos finished the season with a 4.89 ERA, splitting time between the bullpen and rotation.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 03:20 am
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James Loney's stint with the Texas Rangers ended before it ever really began, as the Rangers released the first baseman on Monday, according to TR Sullivan of MLB.com.

Loney signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers in January with an invite to spring training. However, he only mustered a .174 batting average with one home run and eight strikeouts over 46 spring at-bats. Those struggles - combined with the Rangers' signing of Mike Napoli - meant Loney was going to have trouble finding playing time even if he cracked the big-league roster.

Not a flashy bat, nor blessed with crazy power at first base, Loney has still been productive over his 11 MLB seasons; his career slash line is a respectable .284/.336/.410. While the home run pop never materialized, he was a borderline 100-RBI player with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was part of a touted, young outfielder trio alongside Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

In a glimpse of what could have been, Loney hit .382 with nine home runs and seven doubles in 28 games between September and October 2007. His hot finish helped him place sixth in Rookie of the Year voting.

Loney hit .265 with nine home runs over 100 games with the New York Mets last season.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 06:09 pm
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The Baltimore Orioles have granted Michael Bourn his release after the veteran outfielder requested it Monday, the team announced.

Bourn, who had an opt-out clause in his contract, asked for his release with his chances of making the 40-man roster remote at best. The 34-year-old broke his finger in late February and never got a chance to play in a spring game with the Orioles.

After a horrendous start to the 2016 campaign, the Diamondbacks traded Bourn to the Orioles. With Baltimore, Bourn enjoyed some late-career resurgence, putting together a .283/.358/.435 slash line over 55 plate appearances.

Bourn, who now becomes a free agent, could still provide a team with a good backup outfield option. The two-time Gold Glove-winner has been an above-average fielder in corner outfield positions, and can still run the bases well despite his declining abilities elsewhere. Whether a position like that becomes available, though, may be incumbent on a mid-season injury.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 06:10 pm
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With Opening Day just around the corner, the Los Angeles Dodgers have bolstered their starting pitching depth, agreeing Monday to a minor-league deal with veteran right-hander Justin Masterson, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Masterson, who turned 32 last week, didn't pitch in the majors last season, spending the majority of the summer in the Triple-A International League, where he managed a 4.97 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in five starts and twenty relief appearances for the Indianapolis Indians after signing a minor-league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in May.

An All-Star with the Cleveland Indians in 2013, Masterson's career has since been derailed by injuries and ineffectiveness, as the former second-round pick owns a 5.79 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 34 starts and 12 relief outings in the bigs since the start of the 2014 campaign while stumbling through rough stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 06:11 pm
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With Opening Day looming, free-agent outfielder Angel Pagan is preparing to make a decision about where he will sign within the next 48 hours, according to a report from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Sharing interest in recruiting Pagan throughout the offseason are the Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and Detroit Tigers. Most recently, however, the Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies were identified as the frontrunners of the Pagan sweepstakes.

Pagan is returning from playing for team Puerto Rico who were the runners-up in this year's WBC tournament. Pagan posted a pretty average .286/.324/.371 slash line over 35 at-bats.

Pagan has spent the past five seasons with the Giants and is coming off a four-year $40-million deal. In his last season with the Giants, the two-time World Series champion managed a .750 OPS - his best mark over the past four years - hitting primarily in the two-spot. The 35-year-old outfielder is declining in his fielding abilities, but reduced his whiff rate to 4.2 percent last year. In fact, Pagan's 89.6 percent contact rate was bested by only five qualified hitters in 2016.

While Bowden is reporting a return to the Giants still remains an option, it's worth mentioning that Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News refutes that claim.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 06:13 pm
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Sometime this week, the commissioner's office is expected to discipline New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who was arrested on domestic violence charges in October 2016, though the 27-year-old is likely to receive a suspension shorter than the 30-game ban Aroldis Chapman received a year ago following a domestic incident, a source told Billy Witz of the New York Times.

Arrested at his New Jersey home on Halloween following a dispute that left the alleged victim with "visible injuries," according to a police report, Familia - who made a personal plea for leniency to commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday - is thus in line to receive the shortest suspension meted out for a domestic incident since the league ratified its new domestic violence policy 19 months ago.


Pursuant to the new policy, the players' union can challenge any discipline handed out to Familia through arbitration, though none of the three players suspended under the policy have chosen to do so.

"The issue at hand is very complicated and no two situations are going to be the same, so it's not a one-size-fits-all policy," said Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the players' union, speaking generally about the policy and not about Familia's case.

"We think the policy is operating to the best of its ability, especially given the sensitivities of each case," Bouris added.

In December, a New Jersey municipal court judge dismissed the misdemeanor charge of simple assault against Familia after a prosecutor indicated there was insufficient evidence to move the case to trial. Under the league's domestic violence policy, however, Manfred is free to administer discipline independent of court rulings.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 28th, 2017 06:15 pm
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Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn pulled off a trade just days before the regular season starts - though it doesn't involve Jose Quintana.

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday morning in exchange for cash considerations, one major-league source told Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bourjos signed a minor-league deal with the White Sox in January and was believed to be a strong candidate for the starting job in center field come Opening Day with Charlie Tilson out due to a foot injury.

The 29-year-old Bourjos enjoyed a strong spring with Chicago, hitting .313/.340/.521 with four doubles and three triples in 19 games. He slashed .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 20 doubles in 123 games with the Philadelphia Phillies last season.

With Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, and Steven Souza locked into starting outfield roles, Bourjos will likely slide in as a fourth outfielder since Colby Rasmus is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 03:29 am
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The Cleveland Indians have officially agreed to a five-year, $26-million extension with third baseman/outfielder Jose Ramirez.

Following Ramirez's breakout 2016 in which he slashed .312/.363/.462 with 11 home runs, 46 doubles, and 22 stolen bases, the Indians wasted no time locking him up through his arbitration years.

The deal features two team options, for 2022 ($11 million) and 2023 ($13 million). His annual payout increases season-by-season, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

Ramirez is expected to see some time at second base in the absence of Jason Kipnis to start the season, furthering his role as a pillar of versatility. The extension will keep him with the Indians - barring a trade - through his age-30 season, should both team options be exercised.

Initially signing with the Indians in 2009 at age 17, Ramirez was a longtime farmhand who finally made his MLB debut in late 2013. Following the extension, Ramirez expressed his gratitude and his desire to stay with the organization and the city long term.

Dear Cleveland, pic.twitter.com/qI8g5DeC6J

— Jose Ramirez (@MrLapara) March 28, 2017

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 09:30 pm
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The Cincinnati Reds added to their infield depth Tuesday by claiming second baseman Scooter Gennett off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Gennett has spent his entire four-year career in Milwaukee, and hit .263/.317/.412 with a career-high 14 home runs and 56 RBIs last season while striking out 114 times in 136 games.

The 26-year-old will earn $2.525 million this season, and is arbitration-eligible for two more years before hitting free agency.

Gennett lost his starting role with the Brewers to Jonathan Villar, and will likely compete with Jose Peraza for time in Cincinnati.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 09:31 pm
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Despite reports to the contrary, it looks like A.J. Pierzynski's playing days are over.

Pierzynski will instead join FOX Sports as an analyst, according to a press release Tuesday. He'll work his first regular-season game Wednesday, April 5 alongside play-by-play man Kenny Albert as the Tampa Bay Rays host the New York Yankees.

The catcher previously worked with FOX for the 2011 postseason and became a regular contributor in the years since.

The 40-year-old two-time All Star spent the previous two seasons with the Atlanta Braves, though he only played 81 games in 2016.

Over parts of 19 seasons with seven MLB teams, Pierzynski slashed .280/.319/.420 with 188 home runs. He won a World Series in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox, a team with which he spent eight seasons.

FOX Sports president and executive producer John Entz appreciates Pierzynski's approach to the game.

"He's confident in his opinions and insight and he doesn't hold back or shy away from topics he feels strongly about," Entz said. "Fans want an honest approach to what’s happening on the field, in the locker room, and away from the game, and A.J. gives you just that, and has a lot of fun doing it."

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 09:32 pm
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The Baltimore Orioles added some starting pitching depth Tuesday, acquiring right-hander Alec Asher from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the team announced.

Asher, 25, missed much of the 2016 campaign after landing an 80-game suspension in June for performance-enhancing drugs, but finished his season with aplomb, crafting a 2.28 ERA in five starts for the Phillies as a September call-up.

Selected by the Texas Rangers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, Asher - shipped to Philadelphia in July 2015 as part of the Cole Hamels deal - owns a 5.88 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over parts of two seasons in the big leagues, notching just 29 strikeouts while allowing 64 hits in 56 2/3 innings.

Asher will likely open the 2017 campaign with the Orioles' affiliate in the Triple-A International League.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 09:33 pm
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Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski reportedly got short with reporters Tuesday for perpetuating the idea that reliever Tyler Thornburg's shoulder injury - which will likely hold him out of the Opening Day lineup - is due to the team's throwing program.

"It's not the throwing program, OK?" Dombrowski said, according to Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. "I wish you (reporters) would just lay off of that, OK?"

Of course, the Boston media was just working with information it had gotten from Thornburg himself. Earlier this spring, he said the training regimen from his new employer was unlike any previous shoulder training he'd done before. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald quoted Thornburg as saying, "As we were running through the shoulder program the first time, I was like, 'man, this is really long,' but my arm felt fine after the first one. Then I think it was a combo of increased throwing and those continual shoulder programs."

Red Sox skipper John Farrell sided with Dombrowski, saying that he would dismiss all claims that the shoulder program deserves any blame for the ailment. "To say it's the root cause, that's a little false," said the former pitcher and pitching coach. "That's a lot false. And very shortsighted."

Thornburg has been held to just 1 1/3 innings of work over two games this spring, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out two.

The 28-year-old right-handed reliever, who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers back in December in exchange for third baseman Travis Shaw, enjoyed a bit of a breakout with the Brewers last year. Over 67 innings, he struck out 90 batters and allowed fewer than one baserunner per inning.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 09:34 pm
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The Chicago Cubs granted popular reserve infielder Munenori Kawasaki his release Tuesday, ending his hopes of making the big-league team out of camp.

Kawasaki had been in Cubs camp on a minor-league contract and didn't stand a great chance of going north with the team given their plethora of infield options. While the 35-year-old will now get the chance to look for a potential big-league job elsewhere, the Cubs are hopeful Kawasaki will choose to return on a minor-league deal and serve as depth in Triple-A.

"Hopefully we get a chance to sign him back," manager Joe Maddon told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. "A guy like him needs to take advantage of how well he's playing and possibly see if there's a chance to get a major-league job. That's all that is. But we'd love to get him back."

Kawasaki spent most of 2016 with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, and appeared in just 14 major-league contests with the World Series champions. The native of Japan owns a career .237/.320/.289 slash line with one home run over his five-year big-league career with the Cubs, Seattle Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays.

He's perhaps best known in North America, however, for his fun-loving personality and off-field antics that have made him a beloved member of each team he's played for. Last spring, Kawasaki announced his presence at Cubs camp by serenading the team, then memorably reveled in their playoff celebration despite not being on the active roster. He also made a memorable appearance in a Japanese beverage commercial over the winter.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 29th, 2017 09:35 pm
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WASHINGTON - On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first Opening Day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. ''I might catch a piece of it.''

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: ''Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you.'' The Library of Congress called it ''a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans.''

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

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 Posted: Thu Mar 30th, 2017 03:39 am
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The city of Montreal may have taken a big step towards getting a big-league team again.

A group of investors in Montreal has reportedly met the conditions imposed by the league to bring a team back to the city, according to The Canadian Press, citing an unnamed source.

"I can tell you we are no longer looking for investors and that we believe we have all the ingredients to be able to welcome a team, be it an expansion or one that already exists," the source said.

Montreal has not had a major-league club since the Expos left for Washington in 2004 and became the Nationals.

Fans in Montreal awaiting a new hometown side to cheer for may have to wait, however, as Commissioner Rob Manfred has been on record saying he does not anticipate adding new franchises to MLB until the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics resolve their stadium situations.

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