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On The Move: Trades & Transactions

Mets ink lefty Vargas to 2-year deal

Veteran, who pitched briefly for New York in 2007, to provide rotation insurance
MLB.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets' offseason efforts, while wide-ranging, seemed incomplete. The team spent much of this winter fortifying its most obvious areas of need -- the bullpen and infield. It ignored a rotation rife with issues, with general manager Sandy Alderson going as far as to say, "I'm not convinced we need more pitching."

In the end, however, the Mets relented, deferring to the adage that a team can never have enough. New York iced its offseason with a rotation signing on Sunday, officially inking left-hander Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal. The contract includes an $8 million club option for 2020 and up to $3 million in innings incentives, bringing its total potential value to $27 million over three seasons. In order to make room for Vargas on the 40-man roster, the Mets placed infielder T.J. Rivera on the 60-day disabled list.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets' offseason efforts, while wide-ranging, seemed incomplete. The team spent much of this winter fortifying its most obvious areas of need -- the bullpen and infield. It ignored a rotation rife with issues, with general manager Sandy Alderson going as far as to say, "I'm not convinced we need more pitching."

In the end, however, the Mets relented, deferring to the adage that a team can never have enough. New York iced its offseason with a rotation signing on Sunday, officially inking left-hander Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16 million deal. The contract includes an $8 million club option for 2020 and up to $3 million in innings incentives, bringing its total potential value to $27 million over three seasons. In order to make room for Vargas on the 40-man roster, the Mets placed infielder T.J. Rivera on the 60-day disabled list.

Video: Callaway on Vargas, possible six-man rotation

"I don't think you can have too much pitching," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "It can't ever [hurt] to have good, quality arms."

Over the past dozen years, Vargas has established himself as one such arm, posting a 4.17 ERA for five teams. Now 35 years old, the left-hander went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA last year for the Royals after missing most of the previous two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. Discounting those injury-shortened campaigns, Vargas has averaged 188 innings per year since 2010.

As such, he offers the Mets rotation insurance in the event that Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler -- all of whom have struggled to stay healthy throughout their careers -- are unable to remain on the mound this season. Vargas will join a rotation that should include some combination of those three, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are also vying for spots this spring, creating perhaps the most compelling job hunt in baseball.

"I don't think we're penciling anybody in," Callaway said. "Everything's a competition."

It is possible that one of Wheeler, Gsellman or Lugo winds up in the bullpen, though for now, the Mets appear willing to classify all of them as starters.

Video: DET@KC: Vargas hurls six innings of one-run ball

"I'll just go out there and do what I normally do," Wheeler said, offering only clipped answers to questions after learning of the signing. "I'm just here to be a starting pitcher. That's what I've always been, and that's what I'm going to be. When I'm healthy, I know I'm just as good as anybody out there."

Yet health has been enough of an issue for Wheeler and others that the Mets kept an eye on pitching options all winter. An abnormally quiet free-agent market also kept them engaged -- particularly in a class of arms that included Vargas, Andrew Cashner and Jaime Garcia. Waiting for a "pressure point" in that market, the Mets signed Vargas one day after the other two agreed to terms elsewhere.

The Mets never harbored serious interest in Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, who have Draft-pick compensation tied to them. The Vargas signing pushes their projected Opening Day payroll over $150 million, just a hair shy of last year's $155 million total.

On some levels, the Mets are already familiar with Vargas. He pitched briefly for them in 2007, after then-general manager Omar Minaya -- now a Mets special assistant -- traded for the left-hander. Vargas also spent four years working under Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland in Kansas City, and his agency, CAA, has strong ties with the Mets' front office. In recent years, the two parties have worked out deals for Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier and Tim Tebow.

A person familiar with the situation said Eiland played an instrumental role in convincing the Mets to add Vargas to that list.

"He can pitch," said Callaway, who opposed Vargas the past four years as Cleveland's pitching coach. "He's a guy that goes out there and does his job. Tremendous teammate. He gave us some fits when we were facing him."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jason Vargas

Sarah's Take: Hosmer could alter NL West race

MLB.com

Saturday night, the Padres signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, multiple sources have confirmed. The deal will average $20 million a year for the first five years and has an opt-out clause after five years, according to multiple reports. Signing Hosmer changes the complexion of the Padres and the National League West. Since the opening of Petco Park in 2004 until now, the Padres have struggled offensively. The 28-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman gives the Padres a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup.

Hosmer was a member of a young core that enabled the Royals to win a World Series championship in 2015. Most baseball-knowledgeable people thought the Royals wouldn't break up that core, but they haven't been competitive either in '16 or '17. The Royals are a small-market team, so they couldn't retain the services of Hosmer, who had a brilliant '17, with a career-high batting average of .318 and 25 home runs.

Saturday night, the Padres signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, multiple sources have confirmed. The deal will average $20 million a year for the first five years and has an opt-out clause after five years, according to multiple reports. Signing Hosmer changes the complexion of the Padres and the National League West. Since the opening of Petco Park in 2004 until now, the Padres have struggled offensively. The 28-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman gives the Padres a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup.

Hosmer was a member of a young core that enabled the Royals to win a World Series championship in 2015. Most baseball-knowledgeable people thought the Royals wouldn't break up that core, but they haven't been competitive either in '16 or '17. The Royals are a small-market team, so they couldn't retain the services of Hosmer, who had a brilliant '17, with a career-high batting average of .318 and 25 home runs.

For a long time, the Padres needed a power hitter with an acceptable batting average to be a factor in the NL West. Adrian Gonzalez, their native son, proved that a left-handed power-hitting first baseman could be successful at Petco Park. However, during an ownership change in 2010, the Padres traded Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Since then, the Padres have lacked a consistent power source.

Video: Padres reportedly sign Hosmer to eight-year deal

In 2017, the Padres scored the fewest runs in the Major Leagues. Everyone who followed the Padres knew their offensive production needed to improve to be competitive, but many people thought the organization probably wouldn't have the financial resources to obtain the necessary hitter to improve the club's offensive production. During this past offseason, not many trades occurred. The Padres appeared to be satisfied with their youth movement. It appeared unlikely they would compete for a playoff berth.

Wil Myers, 2013 American League Rookie of the Year for the Rays, is coming off a rough '17 offensive performance. Although he hit 30 home runs, his batting average of .243 and his on-base percentage of .328 contributed to San Diego's offensive struggles, while his 180 strikeouts hurt many rallies. Although he was originally a right fielder, the Padres tried to make him a first baseman in '17. The experiment didn't work well for the Padres or Myers. The acquisition of Hosmer will enable Myers to go back to the outfield.

The Padres also obtained right-handed-hitting third baseman Chase Headley from the Yankees. Headley, who has been a Padre before, will help the offensive production even though he doesn't have much power. He will stabilize the hot corner, which has been an issue for the club. Now the Padres have a potent middle of the lineup with Hosmer, Myers and Headley.

With their improved offensive production, the Padres should be able to handle their young pitching staff's growing pains. Hosmer's defensive skills will help the Padres improve what has been a below-average defense. With improved glove work at the corners, the young pitchers won't need to face extra hitters.

Clayton Richard highlights the Padres' starting rotation. At 34, Richard knows how to attack the strike zone. At times in 2017, he was brilliant, but at other times, he struggled and was undermined by his defense. The addition of Tyson Ross, coming off a poor season with the Rangers, should help San Diego's starting rotation.

With the starters set to have a easier time in 2017, it should lessen the stress on the bullpen. The Padres have a great closer in Brad Hand, but getting the ball to him in the ninth inning with a lead was a problem last year. If they can score more and commit fewer errors, the Padres might not have to expose the weak underbelly of the team -- the middle relief -- as much as the past few years.

With Hosmer on board, the Padres will add even more intrigue to what already figures to be a highly competitive NL West in 2018.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer

Hosmer's arrival will reshape outfield, lineup

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Thirteen months ago, the Padres hosted a news conference at Petco Park in which they unveiled their first baseman of the future. Earlier that day, Wil Myers put pen to paper on a massive multiyear contract. And he was presumed to be the anchor at that position for half a dozen years.

Enter Eric Hosmer.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Thirteen months ago, the Padres hosted a news conference at Petco Park in which they unveiled their first baseman of the future. Earlier that day, Wil Myers put pen to paper on a massive multiyear contract. And he was presumed to be the anchor at that position for half a dozen years.

Enter Eric Hosmer.

It's safe to expect similar -- if not identical -- fanfare at the Peoria Sports Complex in the coming days. Late Saturday night, the Padres and Hosmer agreed to the largest contract in franchise history (surpassing Myers' deal, which previously held that mark). According to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, Hosmer has an eight-year deal in place, with an opt out after the fifth season.

Video: Padres reportedly sign Hosmer to eight-year deal

First and foremost, Myers will move to the outfield, and he began taking reps in right field Sunday when he arrived in camp. In November, general manager A.J. Preller phoned his then-first baseman, asking whether he'd be willing to switch positions. Myers, thrilled at the prospect of acquiring one of the game's top free agents, gladly agreed.

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"I would rather have a guy like that here than to play first base," Myers said, later adding, "I don't think it's going to be that difficult to learn that position again. I've played there plenty of times. I feel like the adjustment will be pretty easy."

They haven't settled on whether Myers will be in left field or right field, but he'll begin camp in right, where he's a bit more comfortable from his time with Tampa Bay. Myers arrived in Peoria on Sunday having added 20 pounds of muscle after the club asked him to bulk up during the offseason.

There's work ahead for Myers, who was subpar defensively from 2013-15. But the majority of his struggles came during a '15 experiment that placed him in center field. The Padres think he's more than capable in one of the corner spots. As the Padres considered the Hosmer signing this offseason, skipper Andy Green watched every fly ball hit in Myers' direction from '14, and he came away with that conclusion.

"He's as athletic as anybody in Major League Baseball," Green said. "You don't hit 30 home runs and steal 20-plus bases if you're not. He can fly. … He's got plenty enough speed to play literally anywhere on the baseball field. I don't think anything's going to be a real challenge for him that way."

Suddenly, that leaves Jose Pirela and Hunter Renfroe locked in a battle for one spot. It's a tricky proposition.

Video: Outlook: Renfroe has growing power, OBP must improve

Without question, Pirela is coming off a better season. He batted .288/.347/.490 and was arguably San Diego's best hitter. But Renfroe is two years younger and was one of the organization's top prospects ahead of his rookie campaign last year. Despite his on-base woes, Renfroe's power can be game-changing, and the club certainly isn't ready to cast him aside.

There could be a simpler solution. Earlier this month, Green hinted at giving Pirela some reps at second base, where he played from 2014-16.

Pirela's defense at second was suspect, however, and that initially prompted his move to the outfield. As it stands, the Padres currently have a pair of left-handed-hitting second basemen -- Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje -- already battling for that job.

"It's good for our culture, it's good for our clubhouse for guys to know, 'I've got to perform if I want to play for the Padres, because if not, there's somebody else right there knocking on the door waiting to come.'" Green said. "The more competitive we can make it to get at-bats on the roster, the better of a club we're going to be."

Perhaps it's likeliest the Padres opt to use Pirela at second against left-handed pitchers, while he otherwise splits time with Renfroe in the outfield. A team source noted that a trade remains possible, too, though nothing specific has yet been discussed. (Pirela, coming off a career year, would appear to be the likeliest candidate.)

In any case, the Padres clearly have a few roster-based questions to answer before they break camp in late March. With Hosmer on board, it's a problem they are happy to have.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Jose Pirela, Hunter Renfroe

Twins acquire starter Odorizzi from Rays

Shortstop prospect Palacios heads to Tampa Bay
MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins took a major step toward solidifying their rotation late Saturday night, acquiring right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios, the club announced.

Minnesota was in the market for starting pitching even after agreeing to terms with right-hander Anibal Sanchez on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Friday. To make room for Odorizzi, the Twins placed right-hander Michael Pineda on the 60-day disabled list, but they will have to make a move for Sanchez, which could be placing right-hander Trevor May on the 60-day DL.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins took a major step toward solidifying their rotation late Saturday night, acquiring right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios, the club announced.

Minnesota was in the market for starting pitching even after agreeing to terms with right-hander Anibal Sanchez on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Friday. To make room for Odorizzi, the Twins placed right-hander Michael Pineda on the 60-day disabled list, but they will have to make a move for Sanchez, which could be placing right-hander Trevor May on the 60-day DL.

Justice: Odorizzi gets Twins closer to contending

"Jake is someone we targeted going back to last year," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said Sunday. "He's a guy who has had a lot of success in the American League East. We knew a lot about his makeup and who he was as a pitcher. During this offseason with the uniqueness around free agency and some trades, it just took a bit longer than normal. But we had interest in him throughout the winter."

The Twins could look to add more starting pitching, but it appears unlikely now that manager Paul Molitor is leaning toward opening the year with a four-man rotation because of off-days early in the season. Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson are considered locks. Ervin Santana is out for the first two to four weeks of the season due to surgery on his right middle finger. With Odorizzi now on board, the fourth spot will come down to a battle between candidates such as Phil Hughes, Adalberto Mejia, Tyler Duffey and Sanchez.

"I'm not going to turn my phone off," Falvey said. "We'll stay in touch. We've added six Major League pitchers this offseason with Michael Pineda [added] with more of an eye for the end of the year, but we've attempted to address our pitching staff and will continue to do so."

Odorizzi, 27, fills a major need for the Twins and has a career 3.83 ERA in 129 appearances (126 starts) since 2012. He has struck out 643, walked 232 and allowed 101 homers in 705 1/3 innings. The Twins had been linked to Rays right-hander Chris Archer, but opted for Odorizzi, who is under control through '19 and will earn $6.3 million this year after winning his arbitration case against Tampa Bay.

Video: TB@BAL: Odorizzi fans nine in six frames

Odorizzi went 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA and 127 strikeouts, 61 walks and 30 homers allowed in 143 1/3 innings last year, missing time with both a strained left hamstring and a lower back strain. He has solid secondary pitches with his cutter, slider and curveball, but struggled with his fastball last year, as hitters had a .462 slugging percentage against it with 14 homers, per Statcast™.

"He dealt with a few injuries and things he tried to pitch through," Falvey said. "We thought what he did, especially toward the back end of the year, is what he's done consistently."

Odorizzi has never topped 190 innings, but has a 3.71 ERA over the last three seasons, with 443 strikeouts in 500 1/3 innings. He had a 3.47 ERA in 12 starts in the second half of last year, including a 1.03 ERA over his final five outings.

"This puts us in great shape," Molitor said. "This just deepens us. He's left an impression on me over the years."

Palacios, 21, slashed .296/.333/.454 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs and 20 steals in 124 games between Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Fort Myers last season. The Twins have plenty of shortstop depth in their system with top prospects such as Nick Gordon, Wander Javier and Royce Lewis. Palacios was their 27th-ranked overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

"It's tough because we like Palacios a lot," Falvey said. "But we feel like we have a little bit of depth in the middle infield."

Video: Zinkie on Odorizzi's fantasy value in Minnesota

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Moving from an offensively charged American League East to an AL Central with three retooling clubs, Odorizzi should continue to have standard-league relevancy as long as he manages to lower his 3.8 BB/9 rate and career-worst 1.9 HR/9 rate from last year. The biggest fantasy winner from this trade appears to be Rays No. 1 prospect Brent Honeywell, who should be drafted in shallow leagues given his impressive career Minor League stats (2.88 ERA, 4.9 K/BB ratio) and lofty ceiling for 2018.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Jake Odorizzi

Rays get Cron from Halos; Odorizzi to Twins

MLB.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays completed a busy night of activity by trading Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for Minor League shortstop Jermaine Palacios, Minnesota's No. 27 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

Earlier in the evening, the Rays acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named, and they designated for assignment DH/left fielder Corey Dickerson.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays completed a busy night of activity by trading Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for Minor League shortstop Jermaine Palacios, Minnesota's No. 27 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

Earlier in the evening, the Rays acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named, and they designated for assignment DH/left fielder Corey Dickerson.

Odorizzi defeated the Rays in arbitration this week, the second year in a row the right-hander has done so, earning a $6.35 million contract for 2018. He went 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA in 28 starts last season. He has a career 3.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in six seasons with Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

"There comes a point in time where you have to make some decisions and move some things forward," Rays GM Erik Neander said. "That's just on a general level. We felt this was the best time to [trade Odorizzi], and we felt like this was the best offer."

Without Odorizzi in the rotation, Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Jake Faria, Matt Andriese and Nathan Eovaldi rank as the top five starters, with a host of prospects led by Brent Honeywell pushing from below.

The Twins signed Palacios, 21, out of Venezuela in 2013. He hit .296 with 13 home runs and 67 RBIs in two Minor League stops last season.

Neander stressed that the Rays value Palacios more than many of the prospect rankings by different publications.

Video: Rays acquire Cron, designate Dickerson for assignment

"This is somebody that, by our own work and by our own information, what we see here is a lean, wiry Venezuelan shortstop who has had plenty of offensive success," Neander said. "Carries the position defensively well. Very good arm. Very good hands.

"... He's someone we think has some offensive upside. He can play shortstop, and play it well. All reports on the makeup are very positive. This is someone we think can grow into more physical strength ... might have another gear up from here. You look at what he's accomplished to date on the field, combined with the tool set, along with the makeup, we think that this is a really exciting player to add to our system."

Dickerson is set to make $5.95 million in 2018, and Rays owner Stu Sternberg has mandated a payroll reduction for 2018. Cron will make $2.3 million in 2018.

Neander explained the motivation behind the Cron trade and why they opted to DFA Dickerson.

"A few things were factors in varying degrees," Neander said. "One, we're a bit heavy with left-handed-hitting outfielders right now, and we've been exploring the market, having conversations and trying to figure out what made the most sense for our team.

"One of the things that we have been on the lookout for was a right-handed hitter. When Cron became available at the price he was available for us, we felt like he was a better fit for our club moving forward, to balance us out. Going forward, we're hoping [to have] similar offensive capabilities [from Cron], but from the other side of the plate."

Video: CLE@LAA: Cron smashes a solo jack to left field

Neander sounded like the Rays don't have a deal in place to trade Dickerson, but they felt as though the DFA move might trigger the conclusion of some trade talks they've had with other teams. The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or pass Dickerson through waivers.

"We'll see how it goes," Neander said. "There's a lot of things that we have to balance. And putting our roster together, and where we are, this is something that on some level, conceptually, was a Cron-Dickerson swap. Just with the conversations ongoing with Dickerson, this was the best way to go."

The Rays began Spring Training without a clear favorite to play first base. Brad Miller appeared to be the most likely candidate with highly touted prospect Jake Bauers also a consideration. Miller and Bauers both hit left-handed, while Cron hits right-handed, which might lead to a platoon situation, or Cron could lock down everyday duty.

Cron, 28, appeared in 100 games for the Angels in 2017, all at first base, batting .248 with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs.

Despite a stint on the 10-day disabled list with a left foot contusion and two stints in the Minor Leagues, his 16 home runs tied a career high and his 56 RBIs were the second-most of his career.

In 63 games after the All-Star break, Cron hit .267 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs, which tied for second on the Angels behind Albert Pujols (47).

Dickerson, 28, was elected by the fans as the starting DH for the American League at the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami, his first career All-Star appearance.

In 2017, Dickerson established career highs with 150 games, 84 runs, 166 hits, 64 extra-base hits, 27 home runs, 288 total bases and 51 multi-hit games.

Prior to the All-Star break, Dickerson hit .312 with 17 home runs and 42 RBIs in 85 games, compared to .241 with 10 home runs and 20 RBIs in the second half.

Video: Zinkie on the fantasy impact of Cron, Dickerson

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

A career .262 hitter with the potential to compile 25 long balls and 80 RBIs, Cron could dent standard-league rosters while hitting in the heart of the Rays' lineup on a full-time basis. Dickerson, meanwhile, should not fall off fantasy radars even after being DFA'd given his lifetime .280 average and 27-homer performance from last year.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, C.J. Cron, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi

Giants, lefty Watson agree on multiyear deal

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants added a much-needed left-hander to solidify their bullpen by agreeing with free agent Tony Watson on a two-year contract with a player option for a third season.

Multiple sources confirmed the deal Saturday. The length of the contract, which reportedly is valued between $7 million and $9 million guaranteed, enabled the Giants to keep their player payroll under the threshold for the Competitive Balance Tax.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants added a much-needed left-hander to solidify their bullpen by agreeing with free agent Tony Watson on a two-year contract with a player option for a third season.

Multiple sources confirmed the deal Saturday. The length of the contract, which reportedly is valued between $7 million and $9 million guaranteed, enabled the Giants to keep their player payroll under the threshold for the Competitive Balance Tax.

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Giants officials refrained from commenting publicly until completion of Watson's mandatory physical exam.

As he silenced himself, however, manager Bruce Bochy said, "We're talking about an outstanding player."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Giants closer Mark Melancon, a teammate of Watson's in Pittsburgh from 2013-16, acknowledged trying to persuade his friend to sign with San Francisco.

"I couldn't be more ecstatic," Melancon said. "The guy is one of the most professional people I've ever been around. I spent three-and-a-half, four years with him. There's not one negative thing that I can ever say about him."

Video: Melancon talks reunion with Watson

The Giants' left-handed bullpen contingent had looked shaky. Steven Okert and Josh Osich have demonstrated talent but remain erratic. Will Smith is in the latter stages of recovery from Tommy John surgery, and he probably won't be ready to perform in the Majors until May. Ty Blach is able-bodied, but he'll likely be needed in the starting rotation.

Watson isn't strictly a left-handed specialist who's summoned primarily to retire left-handed batters, however. For his career, he has limited lefty hitters to a .216 average and .574 OPS, comparable to the .226 average and .661 OPS recorded against him by right-handed batters.

In 14 career appearances at AT&T Park, Watson is 0-1 with two saves. He has allowed 16 hits in 12 1/3 innings but no home runs there.

A National League All-Star in 2014, when he appeared in a league-high 78 games, Watson owns a career record of 33-17 with 30 saves. In 2012, one year after his rookie campaign, he began a six-season streak in which he made at least 67 appearances each year.

"He's very businesslike," Melancon said. "He's here to get the job done. I think that fits this clubhouse and our M.O. here."

Watson, 32, split last season between the Pirates and Dodgers, who acquired him at the non-.waiver Trade Deadline. Watson made 11 postseason relief appearances for the Dodgers, including five in a row in Games 2-6 of the World Series. He yielded two earned runs in seven innings during the entire postseason.

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, Tony Watson

Davis reunites with Tribe on Minor League deal

MLB.com

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor lit up when he saw Rajai Davis in the Indians' locker room on Saturday morning. They began slapping hands, going through the kind of high five that looks rehearsed. It has been two years since Davis donned a Cleveland uniform, but the familiarity was instantaneous upon his return.

"It just feels right," Davis said. "It feels like home."

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Francisco Lindor lit up when he saw Rajai Davis in the Indians' locker room on Saturday morning. They began slapping hands, going through the kind of high five that looks rehearsed. It has been two years since Davis donned a Cleveland uniform, but the familiarity was instantaneous upon his return.

"It just feels right," Davis said. "It feels like home."

Davis went through a physical on Saturday to put the final touches on a Minor League contract with the Indians, who invited the veteran to big league camp with a shot at cracking the Opening Day roster. There are no guarantees, but Cleveland knows all too well what Davis -- the author of one of the most iconic home runs in franchise history -- brings to the table.

During the 2016 season, when the Indians won their first of two straight American League Central titles and reached the World Series, Davis brought energy to the clubhouse and the bases. His skills as a base thief were infectious for Cleveland's younger players, who also benefited from his veteran leadership.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Davis and Melvin Upton Jr. (also in camp as a non-roster invitee) give Cleveland two possible solutions as a complementary right-handed outfielder capable of playing multiple spots. It is similar to the role that Austin Jackson earned with the Indians a year ago. It is also the primary job of Brandon Guyer, but he is currently rehabbing from left wrist surgery.

As things currently stand, the Tribe outfield projects to include Michael Brantley in left field, Bradley Zimmer in center and Lonnie Chisenhall in right. Brantley's status for Opening Day is questionable, however, as he is working his way back from October surgery on his right ankle. If Brantley is not ready, there is a chance that Jason Kipnis could be in the mix for at-bats in left field. Brantley, Zimmer, Chisenhall and Kipnis all hit from the left side.

"It seems like we're always in the hunt for a righty to come in and help out," Chisenhall said. "We have some great options here in the spring -- veteran guys. Raj did a great job for us in 2016. It's nice. I know my role on the team, and other guys are kind of up in the air for Opening Day, so we need good options. And we've got them."

Tweet from @MLBastian: Rajai Davis: ���I gave out a lot of hugs today.��� pic.twitter.com/5m7I9f6SjI

Davis split last season between the A's and Red Sox, hitting .235/.293/.348 in 117 games, in which he had five home runs, 26 extra-base hits and 29 stolen bases. In 2016, Davis suited up for the Indians and led the AL with 43 steals in his 134 games. That year, he hit a career-high 12 home runs and recorded 23 doubles, 48 RBIs and 74 runs.

Video: Mike Chernoff on reunion with Rajai Davis

Led by Davis, the Indians paced the AL in stolen bases (134) and Fangraphs' baserunning rating (17.1) in 2016. Last season, Cleveland's stolen-base total dropped to 88 (ninth in the AL) and its BsR went down to 9.9 (fourth). Davis is 37 years old, but his speed has not slipped. Per Statcast™, Davis' Sprint Speed was 29.3 (11th in the Majors) in '17, compared to 28.4 (54th) in '16.

"I just bumped into him here and he looks like he's about 24 years old and in peak physical shape," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said. "He does an unbelievable job of keeping himself in top shape. We saw that when he was here in '16, and he looks exactly the same. It's a real credit to him and how he goes about it."

Video: WS2016 Gm5: Davis steals three bases in Game 5

Among Indians fans, Davis is most remembered for what he did in Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs.

In the eighth inning, Davis pulled a pitch from Aroldis Chapman to left field for a two-run, game-tying shot that electrified Progressive Field. Davis hoisted an arm skyward and Cleveland's players poured out of the dugout in celebration of the home run. Throughout last year, fans who interacted with Davis would often bring up that homer.

"Everybody knew where they were, what they were doing at that exact moment when it was hit," Davis said with a smile. "It was really great to hear all year. I don't get tired of listening to it. It just brings new life, new energy."

Video: WS2016 Gm7: Davis ties game with clutch two-run homer

Cleveland Indians, Rajai Davis

Dodgers, Utley finalize reunion with 2-year pact

Veteran second baseman signs third free-agent deal with LA
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chase Utley undermined his negotiating leverage with the Dodgers this winter by being honest. And it worked.

The club on Saturday finally announced his return with a $2 million contract spread over two seasons to help the Dodgers remain under the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chase Utley undermined his negotiating leverage with the Dodgers this winter by being honest. And it worked.

The club on Saturday finally announced his return with a $2 million contract spread over two seasons to help the Dodgers remain under the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold.

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"Early on I let the Dodgers know I'd like to continue to play, and staying in L.A. would be my first choice," Utley said. "Probably not the best negotiation strategy, but at this point in my career I had to be honest with them."

So, a week after the World Series, Utley resumed workouts at Dodger Stadium, even though he wasn't officially a Dodger.

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"We've built a good relationship for the short time I've been around here," said Utley. "I have a lot of trust in the guys in the front office and I think they do the same with me. I was grateful they allowed me to continue to work out there and now I'm here."

Utley, 39, will serve as a left-handed-hitting backup second baseman to Logan Forsythe and a powerful clubhouse presence. He is virtually idolized by teammates for his professional and gritty approach.

"Speaking for the players and coaches, we're excited to have him back," said manager Dave Roberts. "To have Chase on the roster makes your team better. Whatever the role, I know Chase is in on it. Whatever the role, I know he supports it."

Tweet from @Dodgers: Welcome back, Chase! pic.twitter.com/H8iiVWmcEA

On the field, Utley's game has tailed off with age. He hit only .236 last season, 40 points below his career average, and went 0-for-15 in the postseason. His eight home runs tied a career low and 34 RBIs were the second-lowest total of his career.

Utley, though, is a six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, all with the Phillies, who traded him to the Dodgers during the 2015 season. This is his third free-agent contract with the Dodgers; he also re-signed last year after the start of Spring Training.

Video: Utley returns to Dodgers on two-year deal

Having recently relocated his home base to Southern California, the former UCLA star said continuing to play was an easy decision.

"I've enjoyed playing baseball for a long time, I still enjoy it and I think I can be productive in a lot of ways," he said. "I'm excited to be back, to get spring started."

Promoted to the Major Leagues by the Phillies in 2003, this will be Utley's 16th Major League season. Among active second basemen, Utley leads in games played, runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, home runs and RBIs.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Chase Utley

Phillies, Abad agree to Minor League deal

Veteran southpaw invited to Spring Training to join bullpen competition
MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies added another left-hander to the mix in their eight-man bullpen competition on Saturday.

Philadelphia signed Fernando Abad to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He joins Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis as left-handers with a legitimate chance to make the team.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies added another left-hander to the mix in their eight-man bullpen competition on Saturday.

Philadelphia signed Fernando Abad to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He joins Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis as left-handers with a legitimate chance to make the team.

"Another left-handed arm with a track record of success at the Major League level," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said on Saturday afternoon at Spectrum Field. "Obviously, very exciting for us to bring Mr. Abad aboard."

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Morgan and Milner entered the spring as the two lefties favored to make the bullpen. Abad could slot between the two. Abad, 32, went 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 43 2/3 innings last season with Boston. He has a 3.65 ERA in 363 career appearances over eight seasons with the Astros, Nationals, A's, Twins and Red Sox.

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"Certainly, something that stands out to me right away is the three lefties that are bringing an incredible level of energy to camp, right now," Kapler said. "Between Curtis and Morgan and Milner, these guys have been exceptional this spring. We also have right-handers that can get left-handers out. [Pat] Neshek can get left-handers out. [Tommy] Hunter, with the cutter, can get lefties out. [Hector] Neris with his split. We have a lot of weapons to beat left-handed hitting. [It's] really awesome to have Abad come to camp, and I'm really anxious to see what he can bring to the table."

Because Abad is the only one of the four lefties not on the 40-man roster, he will have to prove himself. He will have a relatively short period of time to do it. He must be placed on the Phillies' roster by March 22 or he can become a free agent.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Fernando Abad

Giants reportedly reach deal with lefty Watson

MLB.com

The Giants have been looking to upgrade their bullpen, and it appears the club has done so.

San Francisco has reportedly agreed to terms with veteran free-agent reliever Tony Watson, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. It is believed to be a multiyear deal, per Heyman. The club has not confirmed an agreement.

The Giants have been looking to upgrade their bullpen, and it appears the club has done so.

San Francisco has reportedly agreed to terms with veteran free-agent reliever Tony Watson, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. It is believed to be a multiyear deal, per Heyman. The club has not confirmed an agreement.

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Watson, a left-hander, appeared in 71 games with the Pirates and Dodgers, who acquired him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Overall, he had 53 strikeouts against 20 walks in 66 2/3 innings, allowing 72 hits and posting a 3.38 ERA. He made 11 postseason appearances out of the Dodgers' bullpen, including five straight in Games 2-6 of the World Series.

Watson, 32, has made 474 regular-season relief appearances during seven seasons in the Majors, primarily with the Pirates. He was an All-Star with the Bucs in 2014, and he finished that season with 78 appearances, the most in the National League. Watson has 30 career saves, all with Pittsburgh.

For his career, Watson has held left-handed batters to a .216 average and .574 OPS, compared to a .226 average and .661 OPS by right-handed batters.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JALaymance.

San Francisco Giants, Tony Watson

Volquez inks 2-year Minors deal with Texas

MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Free agent Edinson Volquez, who pitched for the Rangers from 2005-07, is returning to the club on a two-year Minor League contract while he recovers from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

Volquez was with the Marlins in 2017 and last pitched on July 5 against the Cardinals. He then started having the elbow issues that resulted in the reconstruction surgery on Aug. 4.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Free agent Edinson Volquez, who pitched for the Rangers from 2005-07, is returning to the club on a two-year Minor League contract while he recovers from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

Volquez was with the Marlins in 2017 and last pitched on July 5 against the Cardinals. He then started having the elbow issues that resulted in the reconstruction surgery on Aug. 4.

Volquez joins the Rangers with an invitation to big league camp and will remain in Arizona to continue his rehab program. The 34-year-old is not expected to pitch at all this season but could be an option in 2019.

"It's a deal for 2019," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "Similar thought process with Shawn Tolleson. Invest some time and energy in the rehab and hopefully reap the benefits of healthy pitchers next year."

Resilient Tolleson returns to Rangers

Daniels said the Rangers tried to sign Volquez to a one-year contract last year, but he took a two-year deal with the Marlins. He was 4-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 17 starts for Miami -- including a no-hitter against the D-backs on June 3 -- before coming down with the elbow injury.

The Rangers originally signed Volquez in 2001 out of the Dominican Republic. He was part of a trio of highly-regarded pitching prospects, along with John Danks and Thomas Diamond.

Volquez pitched in 17 games for the Rangers over parts of three seasons before being traded to the Reds on Dec. 21, 2007, along with pitcher Danny Herrera, for outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Texas Rangers, Edinson Volquez

Reliever Simmons, Cubs agree to contract

MLB.com

Free-agent righty reliever Shae Simmons has agreed to a Major League split contract with the Cubs, the club announced on Friday.

Simmons, 27, has a career 3.50 ERA in 36 innings over three seasons, but has missed significant time due to injuries. He only pitched in nine games in 2017 with the Mariners due to a right elbow strain and missed the '15 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Free-agent righty reliever Shae Simmons has agreed to a Major League split contract with the Cubs, the club announced on Friday.

Simmons, 27, has a career 3.50 ERA in 36 innings over three seasons, but has missed significant time due to injuries. He only pitched in nine games in 2017 with the Mariners due to a right elbow strain and missed the '15 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Major League split contracts work differently than Major League or Minor League deals. Simmons would earn one salary for time spent in the Majors and a lower salary for time spent in Minors. The salary is prorated for each day spent on the Major League roster.

Should he stay healthy, Simmons could be an intriguing bullpen piece. His fastball sits in the upper 90s, and since he has just over three years of service time, the Cubs will have team control of him beyond 2018.

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"We just have to get him out there healthy on a consistent basis," manager Joe Maddon said of Simmons. "He really reads in an interesting way on paper. I think if we get him out there, good things will happen. He's got good stuff."

To make room on their 40-man roster, the Cubs placed left-hander Drew Smyly on the 60-day disabled list.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib.

Chicago Cubs, Shae Simmons

D-backs agree to Minors deal with De La Rosa

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jorge De La Rosa surprised D-backs players when he strolled into the clubhouse just after 8 a.m. MT on Friday.

"Did we re-sign you?" he was asked.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jorge De La Rosa surprised D-backs players when he strolled into the clubhouse just after 8 a.m. MT on Friday.

"Did we re-sign you?" he was asked.

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The news that, yes, De La Rosa had agreed to terms on a Minor League contract to return to the D-backs, brought cheers and hugs in the Arizona clubhouse as players welcomed him back.

De La Rosa, who will turn 37 just after Opening Day, was signed just after camp opened last year to a Minor League deal and wound up winning a spot on the roster. In 65 games, the left-hander went 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA and anERA+ of 114.

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"He had a tremendous year for us last year," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "To get him back is pretty exciting for all of us. The room when they saw him walk in got very excited, and that represents the hard work and dedication that he showed us last year. He showed us what he meant to the group last year."

De La Rosa will once again be competing for a spot in the bullpen, and he gives the D-backs another option against lefties.

Last year, De La Rosa held lefties to a .194 batting average, and he allowed just one earned run in 7 1/3 innings over his final 13 games.

"He got on a really nice roll," Lovullo said. "Down the stretch, he got some huge outs against some quality left-handed batters, and we're excited to have him back. We're not sure what role he'll have. He's got to enter into this competition and see where that takes him."

Getting to know you

D-backs pitchers and catchers took part in a unique drill on Friday, which was a day off of throwing for most of them, designed by pitching coach Mike Butcher.

The pitchers took turns sharing how they like to approach hitters and how they like their catchers to set up. The rest of the group sat in folding chairs listening.

"Developing relationships was, for me, one of the key things for the pitchers and catchers that was working for us last year, and I wanted that to start again this year," Lovullo said. "It was just a session to get familiar with one another. It was nothing that I've ever really seen before, but it was very productive. I think the catchers got a chance to get familiar with what some of these pitchers do and some of their tendencies and preferences, and it was a good old-fashioned session between a pitcher and a catcher without anybody really distracting them."

Delgado and Sherfy throw

Relievers Randall Delgado and Jimmie Sherfy threw their first bullpens of the spring on Friday. The pair are taking things a little slower after injuries last year.

While Sherfy simply had some triceps tightness in September, Delgado missed half the year with a strained flexor tendon. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection toward the end of the season and has not experienced any discomfort while getting ready for the spring.

"My arm is feeling good," Delgado said. "It's really loose. I've been working hard. No pain, nothing right now. It feels normal."

Up next

The D-backs will work out Saturday morning, with stretching beginning a little after 9 a.m. MT. Pitchers will throw bullpen sessions and go through pitchers fielding practice. The team's annual FanFest will be held at Salt River Fields following the workout.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Jorge De La Rosa