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On The Move: Trades & Transactions

MLB Buzz: Darvish, Cubs reportedly in talks

MLB.com

The Hot Stove is open for business. As the top free agents begin to ink new deals and clubs begin to make the moves they think will vault them into contention or put them over the top, MLB.com will have you covered with all the latest buzz right here.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Hot Stove is open for business. As the top free agents begin to ink new deals and clubs begin to make the moves they think will vault them into contention or put them over the top, MLB.com will have you covered with all the latest buzz right here.

Hot Stove Tracker

Cubs setting sights on Darvish?
The Cubs are having "active talks" with pitcher Yu Darvish, according to a report Monday night by the Associated Press.

There is no agreement in place, according to the AP. Still, it appears the market for Darvish is beginning to pick up. Earlier Monday, ESPN reported that Darvish had received a five-year offer from an unknown team.

In addition to the Cubs, the free-agent right-hander has been linked to the Twins, Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees and Brewers.

News of talks between the Cubs and Darvish comes on the heels of a report that Chicago has agreed to a Minor League pact with veteran catcher Chris Gimenez, a former teammate of Darvish's with the Rangers.

Darvish, who finished last season with the Dodgers and started Game 7 of the World Series, beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

Mets interested in reunion with Colon
At 44 years young, Bartolo Colon is still angling for one more year in the Majors, and the right-hander may already have one suitor. The Mets are interested in a potential reunion with Colon, according to former Twins teammate Ervin Santana, who discussed Colon in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Colon was a fan favorite with the Mets from 2014-16, a span in which the veteran went 44-34 with a 3.90 ERA and 3.79 FIP. The reunion could make sense for both sides, as the pitcher figures to carry a low price tag and has a specific goal to reach before retirement.

Colon has reportedly been striving to play another season in an effort to pass Dennis Martinez as the Majors' all-time winningest Latin American pitcher. With 240 wins, Colon is just five victories behind Martinez's record. Colon already holds the record for Dominican-born pitchers, having passed Pedro Martinez in 2016.

Working against Colon's goal is the fact that he posted a career-worst 6.48 ERA last season with the Braves and Twins. Colon did manage to add seven more wins -- along with 14 losses -- to his career total last season, but he will likely have to improve on last year's performance if he wants an opportunity to reach his goal.

Indians discussing Moylan
The Indians may be interested in signing veteran reliever Peter Moylan according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Cleveland is looking to fill the bullpen vacancies left by Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith, each of whom departed via free agency (Shaw to the Rockies and Smith to the Astros).

Moylan, 39, was tied with Shaw for most appearances (79) in MLB last season. He posted a 3.49 ERA in 59 1/3 innings for the Royals, though his walk rate per nine innings was 3.8. He missed the entire 2014 season and part of 2015 recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his elbow, but in three seasons since then, has a 3.46 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

After two years out of big leagues, Craig will try to make a comeback
The Padres have signed the 33-year-old veteran outfielder and first baseman Allen Craig -- who last played a Major League game in 2015 -- to a Minor League deal, according to a report from SB Nation's Chris Cotillo on Monday. The team has not confirmed the report.

Craig was a Cardinal from 2010-14 and helped St. Louis win the 2011 World Series, with some memorable hits in the Fall Classic, including the go-ahead home run against the Rangers in Game 7.

He was traded to the Red Sox at the 2014 Trade Deadline and struggled for the next two seasons, then spent 2016 and '17 in the Minors before being released last June.

In 534 career Major League games, Craig is a .276/.333/.435 hitter with 59 home runs and 296 RBIs. He was an All-Star with the Cards in 2013.

Koji eyeing one-year deal
Koji Uehara may still have one more season in him. The 43-year-old free-agent reliever said that he wants to play one more year before retiring -- assuming he gets a Major League contract offer.

Uehara talked about his future at a baseball clinic in Fukushima, Japan, as first reported by Kyodo News.

One key stipulation for Uehara is that he would not be interested in signing a Minor League contract with a team. The veteran right-hander said that he's been talking with teams but hasn't received an offer, so retirement remains an option.

Despite his age, Uehara was very serviceable last year with the Cubs. He held a 3.98 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 12 walks over 43 innings. Uehara also held a 1.16 WHIP, which, while still impressive, broke a streak of seven straight seasons with a sub-1.00 mark.

If Uehara plays in 2018, it will be his 10th Major League season after spending 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants in Nippon Professional Baseball. However, Uehara hasn't completely shut the door on playing beyond then.

"If I get a major league contract, and I do put up good numbers, then I'll think about another year," Uehara said, "but right now I'm focused on just this one year."

Orioles may be a fit for Dyson
The Orioles are looking for a left-handed hitter to play right field and back up center fielder Adam Jones, and Jarrod Dyson remains a possibility, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports.

The speedy Dyson, who has stolen 204 bases in 661 career games, could be ideal for Baltimore, which has placed last in the Majors in stolen bases each of the last four seasons. Dyson was limited to 111 games with the Mariners in 2017, spending time on the disabled list in August with a right groin strain before undergoing season-ending hernia surgery in September. If his health checks out and he's ready by Spring Training, the O's may be interested in platooning Dyson for his defense and speed.

Dyson, 33, hasn't played more than 120 games in a season throughout his eight-year career. Dyson slashed .251/.324/.350 with 13 doubles, three triples, 30 RBIs, five home runs and 28 stolen bases in 35 attempts last season.

Red Sox's offer to Martinez reportedly $125 million
The Red Sox's much-discussed interest in free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez reached a new level on Friday with a report from the Boston Herald that the club has made Martinez an offer of five years and approximately $125 million. The club hasn't confirmed the report.

It had been reported recently that the Red Sox had extended an offer to Martinez of five years and about $100 million.

Martinez's agent, Scott Boras, told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman that the reports of the first offer, which was said to be less than what Martinez was seeking, were "not accurate." Heyman reported last week that Martinez is looking for a six-year deal valued at $30 million per year. Boston has been seen as the favorite to land Martinez.

Heyman reported last week that Martinez is willing to hold out until Spring Training for a contract that he believes meets his market value, which indicates other clubs are also involved in negotiations. Martinez was a catalyst for the D-backs last year in helping them reach the postseason for the first time since 2011, and Arizona is reportedly still interested in bringing him back, per Heyman.

Martinez hit 29 homers with 65 RBIs in just 62 games for the D-backs after being acquired on July 18, trailing only National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton in each category during that span. Martinez hit 45 homers during the 2017 season, despite playing in just 119 games. He became the first player in MLB history with that many home runs in so few games.

If the Red Sox do indeed sign Martinez, that would create a dilemma in the outfield. Martinez would reportedly prefer to play outfield, but Boston already has Gold Glove Award winner Mookie Betts, along with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi. That means Martinez would likely be the club's designated hitter, which in turn may give Arizona an edge, in addition to the fact that the club recently hired Martinez's personal hitting coach.

Twins have interest in Miley
The Twins have been connected to several starting pitchers on the free-agent market this offseason, and left-hander Wade Miley is also on that list, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis.

According to Wolfson's report, the Twins "are maintaining regular dialogue" with Miley's agent, in addition to agents for Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman, among others.

Video: BAL@TB: Miley fans Longoria to end the 1st

Miley, 31, posted a 5.61 ERA with 5.3 walks per nine innings in 32 starts for the Orioles last season. He hasn't posted an ERA below 4.34 since 2013 with the D-backs. He was an All-Star and runner-up in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2012, finishing with a 3.33 ERA in 32 appearances (29 starts) for Arizona.

The Twins have been pursuing frontline starters to add to a rotation that features Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, but the interest in Miley is in keeping with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey's comments that the club is also looking for "value adds."

Miley could fit the bill if he continues being as durable as he's been in his career, and proves that the career-high walk rate, which doubled from the prior season, was an outlier.

Yankees, Rangers, Marlins favorites for Cuban prospect Martinez
Twenty-one-year-old Cuban outfield prospect Julio Pablo Martinez is still waiting to be cleared by Major League Baseball to sign, but three teams have emerged as favorites to sign him if and when he becomes eligible.

The Marlins, Rangers and Yankees have separated themselves as favorites to sign Martinez, who is among the top young players from Cuba, sources tell MLB.com and as was first reported by Baseball America. Because of his age, Martinez will be subject to international bonus pool rules.

Martinez's talent is on par with a first-round Draft pick and that he would likely be ready for a Class A Advanced or Double-A assignment. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, the left-handed hitter has a promising combination of speed, power and athleticism that should allow him to stick in center field.

Martinez slashed .333/.469/.498 with six home runs and 24 stolen bases last season in the Cuban Serie Nacional while walking 52 times compared to 30 strikeouts. He also competed in the Canadian-American Association in 2017 and posted a .297/.345/.449 line with seven home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Martinez is likely to be cleared by Major League Baseball before the current signing period ends on June 15, but depending on which team he chooses, he could opt to sign in either the 2017-18 or 2018-19 period.

Because the Marlins and Yankees -- both of whom have held private workouts for him this week in Florida -- have limited bonus pool space left, Martinez would likely wait until July 2 to sign with either team. The Rangers, however, have significant international money left after failing to sign Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani and would likely choose to sign him in the current period.

Nunez works out for Red Sox
Free-agent utility infielder Eduardo Nunez recently worked out for the Red Sox in the Dominican Republic, according to the Boston Herald. Nunez spent part of last season with Boston, slashing .321/.353/.539 with eight home runs in 38 games following a trade from the Giants.

Nunez injured his right knee on Sept. 9, and though he tried twice to return -- once in the American League Division Series against the Astros -- he ended up aggravating the injury. According to the Herald report, doctors have declared the knee fully healthy, and Nunez's market is gaining steam, as he has been in contact with at least eight clubs.

If the Red Sox were to sign Nunez, they'd likely play him at second base to start the season, with veteran Dustin Pedroia recovering from knee surgery.

Per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Mets are also showing serious interest in signing Nunez, particularly with their own need at second base.

Reynolds wants to return to Rockies on Major League deal
Free-agent first baseman Mark Reynolds would like to return to the Rockies, but not on a Minor League deal like he signed prior to the 2017 season, according to the Denver Post.

The 34-year-old Reynolds slashed .267/.352/.487 with 30 home runs in 148 games for Colorado in 2017, providing a lift when Ian Desmond, whom the club signed to a five-year, $70 million contract to play first base, was injured to open the season.

Despite slumping in the second half (.762 OPS with 11 homers), Reynolds produced a 105 OPS+ overall, his best since 2012. He did have stark home-road splits, however, slashing .294/.393/.584 at Coors Field, and .242/.311/.392 away from Denver.

When the Rockies signed Reynolds to a Minor League deal last February, he was coming off an injury-shortened season in which he posted an .806 OPS with 14 homers in 118 games for Colorado.

"I think I proved last year that I can produce and help a team," Reynolds told the Post. "I am looking to sign a Major League deal. ... Things are different this year."

The Rockies could use a first baseman, with Ryan McMahon waiting in the wings. Signing Reynolds could open the possibility of a platoon between him and McMahon, especially given that the 148 games Reynolds played in last season were his most since 2011.

Video: LAD@COL: Reynolds reaches 30 homers with two-run shot

Marlins want Acuna in a Yelich deal with Braves
Christian Yelich's name has been in the trade rumor mill for much of the offseason, and the buzz has picked up again after the center fielder's agent said Tuesday that Yelich hopes to be traded before Spring Training starts. According to MLB Network insider Peter Gammons, any deal would have to bring a "huge return" for Miami.

Citing conversations with teams that have called the Marlins about Yelich, Gammons said Wednesday on MLB Tonight that the Marlins won't move the 26-year-old unless they get back "star-level talent." As one example, Gammons said Miami has told the Braves that uber-prospect Ronald Acuna would have to be included in any trade for Yelich.

"The Marlins told the Braves, 'Look, we'll do a three- or four- or five-for-one, but Ronald Acuna has to be in it or we don't go even to the second player,'" Gammons said on MLB Network.

Acuna is one of baseball's very top prospects. He currently ranks as MLB's No. 6 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and could move up even further on that list in the upcoming 2018 rankings. The 20-year-old outfielder seems likely to be promoted to the big league club early next season.

Gammons said Acuna is a player the Braves won't trade, and the fact that the Marlins would tell the Braves that he would have to be the minimum headliner of any Yelich deal indicates that they're "shooting very high."

Following Miami's trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon to the Yankees, Cardinals and Mariners, respectively, Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto have been floated as the next players the team could potentially move as part of its rebuilding effort.

Gammons also mentioned Realmuto in the segment, saying that other teams' general managers think the Marlins might wait to trade Realmuto closer to the 2018 Trade Deadline.

Video: Gammons on Marlins asking for Acuna in Yelich deal

 

Source: Cubs ink Gimenez to Minors deal

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs may have found a backup catcher in Chris Gimenez.

A source confirmed reports that the Cubs have signed Gimenez, 35, to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training camp. The right-handed hitter played in 74 games last season with the Twins, batting .220 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 16 RBIs.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs may have found a backup catcher in Chris Gimenez.

A source confirmed reports that the Cubs have signed Gimenez, 35, to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training camp. The right-handed hitter played in 74 games last season with the Twins, batting .220 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 16 RBIs.

Willson Contreras, 25, is the Cubs' No. 1 catcher but his only backup was Victor Caratini, 24, who made his Major League debut last season and batted .254 in 31 games.

If Gimenez makes the team, Caratini would most likely open at Triple-A Iowa, where he could get more regular playing time.

Besides the Twins, Gimenez has played for the Indians, Mariners, Rays and Rangers. Not only is Gimenez able to catch, but he made six relief appearances totaling five innings for the Twins last season.

The Cubs did need another catcher, but they also may get free agent Yu Darvish's attention. When Gimenez was with the Rangers in 2014, he made 26 starts and caught Darvish 12 times.

The Cubs have yet to release a list of their non-roster invitees for Spring Training.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

 

Chicago Cubs, Chris Gimenez

Giants find center fielder, sign free agent A-Jax

Outfielder could solidify position or platoon after club added Cutch to play right
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their outfield upgrade, at least on paper, by agreeing with free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6 million deal on Monday.

The club confirmed the accord shortly after a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the sides had reached a deal that could be worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants completed their outfield upgrade, at least on paper, by agreeing with free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson on a two-year, $6 million deal on Monday.

The club confirmed the accord shortly after a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the sides had reached a deal that could be worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

Adding Jackson, who will turn 31 on Feb. 1, conceivably represents the final step in San Francisco's attempt to improve its outfield defense. Jackson gives the Giants a legitimate center fielder, though Steven Duggar -- their No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- will compete for playing time during Spring Training. Former Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, obtained in a trade last week, is expected to play right field. Hunter Pence, San Francisco's regular right fielder since he was acquired from Philadelphia at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2012, will play left or become the fourth outfielder.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans said in a statement that Jackson "is a talented and versatile player who will strengthen our roster and provide additional depth at all three outfield positions."

Video: KC@CLE: Jackson scores on RBI single thanks to error

This indicated that Jackson, a right-handed batter, could platoon with the left-handed-swinging Duggar. Playing left field part-time is also a possibility for Jackson, who has made 42 appearances there during eight Major League seasons.

Jackson thrived with the Indians last season, recording a slash line of .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs in 85 games while mostly occupying a platoon role against left-handed pitchers. In 141 plate appearances against lefties in 2017, he posted a 1.013 OPS with four homers.

Jackson owns a lifetime slash line of .275/.336/.403, with 111 stolen bases and 62 home runs. The Giants limited him to a .231 batting average (3-for-13) while sweeping the Tigers, with whom he spent his first 4 1/2 seasons, in the 2012 World Series.

Video: CLE@SEA: Jackson's running grab begins double play

Though Jackson's defensive statistics aren't stunning, his presence ought to help improve the Giants' outfield defense overall. According to Statcast™, they ranked next-to-last in the Majors with minus-16 Outs Above Average (OAA) last year. Jackson had a minus-2 OAA. Denard Span, San Francisco's primary center fielder, and Pence ranked among the National League's bottom 20 outfielders in terms of average arm strength.

The Giants were said to have interest in other free-agent center fielders, including Jarrod Dyson (plus-7 OAA in 2017), Cameron Maybin (plus-2) and Jon Jay (minus-3).

According to FanGraphs, San Francisco also recorded minus-45 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), worst in the Majors last season. Its minus-11.4 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) ranked third-to-last among the 30 teams.

Jackson had a minus-2 DRS and a minus-4.4 UZR in 2017.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

San Francisco Giants, Austin Jackson

Tribe adds Wilk, Murphy on Minor League deals

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- The Indians added two more players to the preseason mix Monday, signing left-hander Adam Wilk and switch-hitting catcher Jack Murphy to Minor League contracts that include an invitation to attend Major League Spring Training.

Cleveland's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 14, with the first official workout for that group scheduled for Feb. 16. The remainder of the Tribe's position players are slated to report to Arizona on Feb. 18, leading up to the first full-squad workout on Feb. 20.

CLEVELAND -- The Indians added two more players to the preseason mix Monday, signing left-hander Adam Wilk and switch-hitting catcher Jack Murphy to Minor League contracts that include an invitation to attend Major League Spring Training.

Cleveland's pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 14, with the first official workout for that group scheduled for Feb. 16. The remainder of the Tribe's position players are slated to report to Arizona on Feb. 18, leading up to the first full-squad workout on Feb. 20.

With Wilk and Murphy joining the fold, the Indians have 19 non-roster invitees, bringing the camp total to 59.

Wilk, 30, split the 2017 season between the Mets and Twins, appearing in four games (two starts), in which he allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings. In 44 1/3 innings at Triple-A last year, the left-hander posted a 5.48 ERA with 35 strikeouts against eight walks. Wilk has a 7.36 ERA in 40 1/3 career innings in the Majors between stops with the Tigers, Angels, Mets and Twins, dating back to 2011.

Video: MIN@CLE: Wilk strikes out Encarnacion swinging

The Indians already have a sound MLB catching duo in Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes -- not to mention MLB Pipeline's No. 1 catching prospect in Francisco Mejia knocking on the big league door -- but Murphy will give the team another catcher to serve as depth and help divvy up the Spring Training workload.

Murphy has spent the past nine seasons in the Blue Jays' and Dodgers' farm systems, hitting .222 (.649 OPS) with a career 29 percent caught-stealing rate. Last year, Murphy hit .141 in 187 plate appearances between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Beyond Wild and Murphy, the Indians' list of non-roster invitees includes: Pitchers Jeff Beliveau, Lisalverto Bonilla, Louis Head, Cameron Hill, Evan Marshall, Josh Martin, Alexi Ogando, Neil Ramirez, Cole Sulser and Robert Zarate; infielders Bobby Bradley, Drew Maggi, Michael Martinez and Nellie Rodriguez; and outfielders Brandon Barnes, Richie Shaffer and Melvin Upton Jr.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

 

Cleveland Indians, Jack Murphy, Adam Wilk

Astros claim lefty reliever Boshers from Twins

MLB.com

The Astros claimed left-hander Buddy Boshers off waivers from the Twins on Monday.

The 29-year-old had a 4.89 ERA in 38 relief appearances with Minnesota last season. Boshers held left-handed batters in check, allowing a .224 batting average and a .258 on-base percentage.

The Astros claimed left-hander Buddy Boshers off waivers from the Twins on Monday.

The 29-year-old had a 4.89 ERA in 38 relief appearances with Minnesota last season. Boshers held left-handed batters in check, allowing a .224 batting average and a .258 on-base percentage.

He spent the past two seasons with the Twins and pitched for the Angels in 2013.

With the addition of Boshers, the Astros' 40-man roster stands at 39.

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Houston Astros, Buddy Boshers

Duensing, Cubs complete two-year deal

Veteran left-hander worked in 68 games for Chicago last season
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Cubs welcomed Brian Duensing back on Monday, signing the left-handed reliever to a two-year, $7 million deal.

Duensing, who turns 35 next month, ranked second among Cubs relievers last season in innings pitched (62 1/3) in his first season with the team. He posted a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances, striking out 61. He became a free agent after the season. The agreement on a deal was first reported last week.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs welcomed Brian Duensing back on Monday, signing the left-handed reliever to a two-year, $7 million deal.

Duensing, who turns 35 next month, ranked second among Cubs relievers last season in innings pitched (62 1/3) in his first season with the team. He posted a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances, striking out 61. He became a free agent after the season. The agreement on a deal was first reported last week.

His return gives the Cubs at least three lefties in the bullpen, joining Mike Montgomery and Justin Wilson. However, Montgomery may be in the rotation if the Cubs don't add another starter this offseason. The Cubs have been linked to free-agent starters Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, all of whom remain unsigned.

So far this offseason, the Cubs have focused on pitching, signing relievers Dario Alvarez, Brandon Morrow, and Steve Cishek and adding starters Tyler Chatwood and Drew Smyly, although Smyly is coming back from elbow surgery and is not expected to contribute in 2018.

Duensing reportedly had other offers but wanted to remain with Chicago. He began last season on the disabled list with a back problem and gave up six runs in his first five appearances, but pitched to a 2.05 ERA in his final 63 outings, limiting opponents to a .232 batting average and .299 on-base percentage while recording a 1.18 WHIP.

Duensing took to Twitter on Monday to share his excitement:

Tweet from @BrianDuensing52: My family and I are excited to be back in Chicago to try and win a ring with the @Cubs Thank you for all the kind words from everybody. #youcandanceifyouwantto #oryoucanleaveyourfriendsbehind

The two hashtags are reference to the Cubs' relievers celebratory dancing in the bullpen after one of their teammates hits a home run.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

 

Chicago Cubs, Brian Duensing

Cardinals land 2 arms from Jays for Grichuk

St. Louis acquires Leone, who enjoyed breakout '17, and RHP prospect Greene
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Days after publicly expressing his disappointment in the prospect of entering Spring Training as the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, Randal Grichuk is on the move.

St. Louis dealt Grichuk to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone, 26, gives the Cardinals another reliever for their retooled bullpen. Greene, who rose to Double-A last season, ranked 11th on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.

ST. LOUIS -- Days after publicly expressing his disappointment in the prospect of entering Spring Training as the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, Randal Grichuk is on the move.

St. Louis dealt Grichuk to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for right-handed pitchers Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone, 26, gives the Cardinals another reliever for their retooled bullpen. Greene, who rose to Double-A last season, ranked 11th on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.

The trade furthers the Cardinals' efforts to eliminate the outfield logjam that became more complicated with the addition of right fielder Marcell Ozuna last month. The Cardinals have now dealt three outfielders -- Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Magneuris Sierra -- from their 40-man roster since the season ended.

Had they not gotten their desired return, the Cardinals were prepared to keep Grichuk as depth behind starting outfielders Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and Ozuna. But with Jose Martinez likely to make the Opening Day roster, and prospects Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill and Oscar Mercado capable of playing all three outfield positions, Grichuk's presence wasn't a necessity.

What was pressing, however, was to further reinforce a bullpen that lost four key members -- Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Hwan Oh, Zach Duke and Juan Nicasio -- this offseason. Before Friday, the Cardinals' only addition to the 'pen had been Luke Gregerson, who is currently in line to open the season as the club's closer.

Video: BAL@TOR: Leone fans Trumbo for his first MLB save

If Leone can build upon his breakout season from 2017, he could slot into a late-inning role with the Cardinals. Leone ranked 12th among qualifying American League relievers with a 2.56 ERA last season and struck out 81 in 70 1/3 innings.

Leone had success against both right-handed (.211 average) and left-handed (.183) batters while posting a 1.05 WHIP and registering 11 holds. Leone stranded 78 percent of inherited runners, the 13th-highest percentage among AL relievers.

Leone made his Major League debut with the Mariners in 2014 and also spent time with the D-backs. The Cardinals will have him under team control for another four seasons.

Video: TB@TOR: Leone gets out of a bases-loaded jam

Greene, 22, had been methodically climbing through Toronto's system since signing as a seventh-round pick out of high school in 2013. The right-hander reached Double-A last year and finished 5-10 with a 5.29 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). He struck out 92 and walked 83 over 132 2/3 innings.

According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Greene features a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, as well as an above-average changeup. He is also developing a slider and curveball, both of which scouts believe will improve once he finds a more consistent release point.

Video: Top Prospects: Conner Greene, RHP, Cardinals

As for Grichuk, he departs St. Louis four years after the Cardinals acquired him in a four-player swap with the Angels. He debuted in 2014 and opened the next two years as a starting outfielder and cleanup hitter. But the potential that had long intrigued the Cardinals never developed into consistent production.

Grichuk was shuttled to the Minors each of the last two seasons when his confidence waned and his swing got out of whack. Along the way, he lost his starting job with the big league club. During his time with the Cards, Grichuk hit .249/.297/.488 with a .785 OPS. His 63 home runs since 2015 rank second-most on the team (Matt Carpenter, 72).

With the additions of Leone and Greene, the Cardinals' 40-man roster is once again full. This marks the second trade the Cardinals have made with the Blue Jays this winter. In December, the Cardinals dealt away shortstop Aledmys Diaz for Minor League outfielder J.B. Woodman.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

St. Louis Cardinals, Conner Greene, Randal Grichuk, Dominic Leone

Mariners pluck righty Bradford from waivers

MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Chasen Bradford, a 28-year-old reliever with the Mets, was claimed off waivers by the Mariners on Friday.

Bradford was designated for assignment by the Mets on Thursday to make room for the signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over 28 appearances last season after making his Major League debut in late June.

SEATTLE -- Chasen Bradford, a 28-year-old reliever with the Mets, was claimed off waivers by the Mariners on Friday.

Bradford was designated for assignment by the Mets on Thursday to make room for the signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over 28 appearances last season after making his Major League debut in late June.

Bradford spent half of 2017 with Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was 1-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 33 relief outings. Over seven Minor League seasons, he's gone 28-20 with 47 saves and a 3.48 ERA with 333 strikeouts in 391 innings after being drafted in the 35th round out of the University of Central Florida.

Bradford isn't a power arm, with a fastball in the 90-91 mph range, but he's posted strong ground-ball rates and low walk totals in his Minor League career.

Bradford's addition puts Seattle's 40-man roster at 40. The Mariners are less than a month from the start of Spring Training, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria, Ariz., on Feb. 14.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

 

Seattle Mariners, Chasen Bradford

Frieri gets Minors pact from Brewers

Reliever receives invitation to Spring Training to compete for 'pen spot
MLB.com

The Brewers signed former Angels closer Ernesto Frieri to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp on Friday.

Frieri, 32, saved 23 games for the Angels in 2012 and followed that with 37 saves in '13.

The Brewers signed former Angels closer Ernesto Frieri to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp on Friday.

Frieri, 32, saved 23 games for the Angels in 2012 and followed that with 37 saves in '13.

He began last year with the Yankees but was released in June, then signed with the Rangers and appeared in six games from mid June to early July, giving up four runs on six hits over seven innings. On Aug. 8, he was sold by the Rangers to the Mariners for $1 and assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. He appeared in seven games with Tacoma and gave up seven earned runs over 12 innings.

Frieri did not pitch in the Major Leagues in 2016.

Carrie Muskat is reporter for MLB.com.

 

Milwaukee Brewers, Ernesto Frieri

Blue Jays land Grichuk from Cards for 2 arms

Right-hander Leone, pitching prospect Greene headed to St. Louis for outfielder
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' potential Opening Day lineup received a little bit more clarity on Friday afternoon when Toronto acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk in a three-player trade with the Cardinals.

Right-hander Dominic Leone and prospect Conner Greene were sent to St. Louis as part of the deal. It marks the second move between these organizations this offseason, coming on the heels of a December trade that saw infielder Aledmys Diaz join Toronto.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' potential Opening Day lineup received a little bit more clarity on Friday afternoon when Toronto acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk in a three-player trade with the Cardinals.

Right-hander Dominic Leone and prospect Conner Greene were sent to St. Louis as part of the deal. It marks the second move between these organizations this offseason, coming on the heels of a December trade that saw infielder Aledmys Diaz join Toronto.

Grichuk immediately becomes the heavy favorite to replace free agent Jose Bautista as the Blue Jays' starting right fielder. The 26-year-old is coming off a season in which he hit 22 home runs over 412 at-bats for the Cards. While nothing is guaranteed, Toronto envisions using him as an everyday player.

"I think he'll have the best chance of our group to take that position over for us in right field," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "But the fact is, we have options and we'll have some balance. In today's game, asking someone to get 700 plate appearances is a lot. There are very few players who are doing it day in and day out. So where that number ends up, we'll see, but I think he has the best chance at the outset to be the regular for us."

Video: STL@BOS: Statcast™ measures Grichuk's five-star catch

Toronto's outfield appears somewhat set following the trade and the recent signing of Curtis Granderson. Grichuk is expected to start in right field with Kevin Pillar in center and a platoon of Granderson and Steve Pearce in left. That scenario would leave Ezequiel Carrera without a job and the prospect duo of Anthony Alford and Teoscar Hernandez beginning the year at Triple-A Buffalo.

Carrera recently avoided arbitration by signing a one-year deal worth $1.9 million. He has spent the majority of the past two seasons as Toronto's fourth outfielder, but there's no longer a clear path to playing time now. He could be shopped to fill a hole elsewhere or it's possible Carrera will stick as additional insurance during Spring Training.

"We have to stay open about all of the players on our roster," Atkins said when asked about a possible move. "If there's any way to make our team better, more fluid, provide more versatility, we'll look to do that."

If Grichuk becomes the final piece of significance the Blue Jays add this offseason, the question will become whether Toronto did enough to improve its offense. The Blue Jays ranked last in the American League with 693 runs scored, and while the team undeniably has more depth following the additions of Grichuk, Diaz and Yangervis Solarte, most of the starters remain.

Video: PIT@STL: Statcast™ measures Grichuk's 478-foot homer

Instead of adding a big name this offseason, the Blue Jays are banking on a return to health as the primary way to improve. Full seasons from Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis would certainly help, but if the injuries become a problem once again, at least Toronto is in a better position to handle them.

The Blue Jays still have some flexibility to make additional moves, but the focus now shifts to the pitching staff. Toronto remains in the market for a fifth starter, and following the departure of Leone, another piece in the bullpen could be needed as well.

"I think at this point [it's] pitching," Atkins said. "If there's a way to improve our position player roster, we'll look to do that. At this point that would mean subtraction, or other players being optioned. We have a little bit of uncertainty around playing time for some of our players so we have to build as much depth as possible."

Video: Zinkie on fantasy impact of Grichuk to Blue Jays

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Now set to hold a regular role on a team with a hitter-friendly home park, Grichuk has the power (lifetime 39.7 percent hard-hit rate, .239 ISO) to tally 30 long balls and 75 RBIs in spite of his poor plate discipline (career 0.2 BB/K ratio). While the 26-year-old gains late-round status in mixed leagues, the deal will have the opposite effect for Hernandez. Likely to open 2018 in Triple-A, Hernandez can go undrafted in all mixed formats. Meanwhile, Jose Martinez (career .903 OPS) becomes a sleeper in deep mixed leagues on the expectation that he will serve as a fourth outfielder and backup first baseman for the Cardinals.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

 

Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, Randal Grichuk

Source: Blue Jays sign reliever Alburquerque

Veteran righty reportedly agrees to Minors deal with Spring Training invite
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays reportedly added more depth to their bullpen on Thursday by signing veteran right-hander Al Alburquerque to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Toronto has yet to officially announce the non-guaranteed deal, which was first reported by Sportsnet. Alburquerque gives the Blue Jays another option in middle relief and he is expected to compete for a job when camp gets under way next month in Dunedin, Fla.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays reportedly added more depth to their bullpen on Thursday by signing veteran right-hander Al Alburquerque to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Toronto has yet to officially announce the non-guaranteed deal, which was first reported by Sportsnet. Alburquerque gives the Blue Jays another option in middle relief and he is expected to compete for a job when camp gets under way next month in Dunedin, Fla.

The 31-year-old spent last season with the White Sox and Royals. He posted a combined 2.50 ERA over 18 innings and he boasts a 3.16 ERA in 245 career big league innings. Alburquerque primarily uses a slider, which he threw 54 percent of the time in 2017, according to Statcast™.

Alburquerque likely intrigues the Blue Jays because of his ability to generate swings and misses. He has struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings over the course of his career, a skill that will be crucial in a division that features feared right-handed hitters such as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

The signing is a low-risk proposition, and there's no guarantee that Alburquerque will break camp with the Blue Jays. Toronto currently has Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, Dominic Leone and possibly Aaron Loup for the bullpen. Another spot will be reserved for a long reliever, which likely leaves one other position up for grabs during Spring Training.

Alburquerque will receive competition from rookie Carlos Ramirez and possibly lefty Tim Mayza this spring. Toronto also is expected to continue adding depth in the coming weeks, which should complicate this situation even more. Ultimately, if Alburquerque performs well enough, he could force the Blue Jays to option one of their young controllable arms to the Minors.

With less than a month remaining until the start of Spring Training, the Blue Jays remain in the market for a starting pither, another outfielder and likely more depth options for the bullpen on Minor League deals.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

 

Toronto Blue Jays, Al Alburquerque

Mets sign A-Gon to one-year deal

Veteran first baseman (back injury) played in just 71 games in '17
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Mets may still consider Dominic Smith their first baseman of the future, but he is no longer their first baseman of the present.

The team finalized a deal Thursday to assume the last year of Adrian Gonzalez's contract, with plans to give him significant playing time. Though Gonzalez is due to make $22.4 million next season, the Mets will be responsible for just the league minimum. His previous employers, the Braves and Dodgers, will pick up the balance.

NEW YORK -- The Mets may still consider Dominic Smith their first baseman of the future, but he is no longer their first baseman of the present.

The team finalized a deal Thursday to assume the last year of Adrian Gonzalez's contract, with plans to give him significant playing time. Though Gonzalez is due to make $22.4 million next season, the Mets will be responsible for just the league minimum. His previous employers, the Braves and Dodgers, will pick up the balance.

Video: Gonzalez discusses signing with Mets, mentoring Smith

"For me, all my memories of the National League, going to Citi Field and even Shea Stadium before that, the Mets fans have always been incredible," Gonzalez said. "They've always been a part of the franchise and very passionate, and I just love the atmosphere that they bring each and every day. I'm so happy to be able to play behind them."

A five-time All-Star, Gonzalez has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting three times, leading the American League with 213 hits in 2011 with the Red Sox. As recently as 2016, Gonzalez hit .285 with 18 homers, playing in at least 156 games for the 11th straight season. But he struggled through a back injury last year, batting just .242 with three home runs and a .642 OPS in 71 games. Entering his age-36 season, it is reasonable to wonder how much production Gonzalez can give the Mets.

Tweet from @Adrian_ElTitan: I am extremely excited and ready for the 2018 season. Looking forward to a great ride with my new teammates and coaches with the @Mets Can���t wait for #SpringTraining to start. I am ready! Are you? pic.twitter.com/biW0hTTR1e

To that end, Gonzalez said he has spent this winter focused on his back, eschewing heavy lifting in favor of stretching exercises, Pilates and water aerobics.

"I feel really good right now," Gonzalez said. "Workouts have gone really well. … It's responding really well. And I think for 2018, I will continue to do that."

Questions also loom regarding Gonzalez's leadership abilities after he did not attend all of the Dodgers' World Series games in October -- an action that Gonzalez colored as a joint decision amongst himself, the Dodgers' front office and Major League Baseball. The Mets hope Gonzalez, who also received significant media criticism during his years in Boston, can nonetheless be a positive presence in the clubhouse -- particularly during Spring Training, when they expect him to be a mentor for Smith.

Video: Gonzalez homers in first, final at-bats with Dodgers

It is an imperfect situation; with Gonzalez in the fold, Smith could be ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas to start the season, though it's also still possible he can win the first-base job outright with a strong spring. Both are left-handed hitters, limiting the opportunities for them to split playing time.

As a rookie, Smith hit .198 with nine home runs in 49 games, earning a dash of criticism from general manager Sandy Alderson. The GM later backed off those comments, but Smith nonetheless took them and others to heart; as of mid-December, he had dropped 12 pounds with an offseason focus on exercise and nutrition.

Video: Dominic Smith reflects on 2017, what he learned

"One of my big, key points especially going into Spring Training is to work with Dominic on defense," said Gonzalez, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner. "I'll tell him about my experiences and everything I've done. So I'm looking forward to that adventure with Dominic as well, so I can help him become the best Major Leaguer he can be."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

 

New York Mets, Adrian Gonzalez

Nats, Kendrick agree to 2-year deal

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals reached an agreement on Thursday to bring back Howie Kendrick, the veteran utility man who became a valuable player off the bench after he was acquired midseason.

According to a source, the deal is reportedly worth two years and $7 million.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals reached an agreement on Thursday to bring back Howie Kendrick, the veteran utility man who became a valuable player off the bench after he was acquired midseason.

According to a source, the deal is reportedly worth two years and $7 million.

Kendrick, 34, impressed the Nats after he was acquired in July. He slashed .293/.343/.494 with eight homers in 52 games for Washington while playing second base and the outfield, and serving as the team's best right-handed hitter off the bench. Kendrick was seen as a rental then, but the Nats will bring him back to join their other midseason acquisitions: Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson (who were already under contract), and Brandon Kintzler (whom the team re-signed last month).

Hot Stove Tracker

Filling out the bench was a key priority for the Nationals entering this offseason, and Kendrick adds to the club's strong set of reserves. Kendrick will complement left-handed hitter Matt Adams, who replaces Adam Lind, to form the club's primary pinch-hitting options. Infielder Wilmer Difo, outfielder Brian Goodwin and catcher Pedro Severino are likely to round out the bench, which should be a strength for Washington again.

Video: MLB Now: Howie Kendrick's two-year deal with Nats

Kendrick also provides versatility for the Nats, and new manager Dave Martinez could find a way to keep him in the lineup if Kendrick continues to perform. He would also provide insurance at the start of the season while second baseman Daniel Murphy is recovering from offseason knee surgery. The Nationals continue to be optimistic that Murphy will be ready for Opening Day, but Kendrick could give them another reason not to rush Murphy's progress.

"Love Howie Kendrick, love what he brought us in the clubhouse with the young players," general manager Mike Rizzo said at the Winter Meetings. "He's got a good skill set. He's a guy that did nothing but great things for us between the lines and in the clubhouse."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

 

Washington Nationals, Howie Kendrick