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BREAKING: Morrison, Twins agree to deal

Club bolsters lineup with power in lefty slugger, who is coming off breakout season
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are surprisingly set to add a left-handed power bat, as they agreed to terms with slugger Logan Morrison on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million with escalators and a vesting option that could make it worth $16.5 million over two years, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Sunday.

The club, however, has not confirmed the news, as Morrison must pass his physical. The Twins had an open roster spot after losing reliever J.T. Chargois on waivers to the Dodgers.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are surprisingly set to add a left-handed power bat, as they agreed to terms with slugger Logan Morrison on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million with escalators and a vesting option that could make it worth $16.5 million over two years, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Sunday.

The club, however, has not confirmed the news, as Morrison must pass his physical. The Twins had an open roster spot after losing reliever J.T. Chargois on waivers to the Dodgers.

"There's a lot out there and people are talking, but if it happens, we have things to take care of to make it official," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "That's all I can say."

Morrison, 30, is coming off a breakout year that saw him hit .246/.353/.516 with 38 homers, 22 doubles and 85 RBIs in 149 games with the Rays last year. He figures to see most of his time at designated hitter, as Joe Mauer remains Minnesota's starting first baseman. It hurts Kennys Vargas' chance of making the roster, as Morrison is now the backup to Mauer and likely the primary designated hitter. Vargas is out of options and can't be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers.

"I've heard a lot of good things about him," said Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson. "Everybody knows he can hit. We're excited to have anybody like that with that kind of power in our locker room for sure."

The Twins have a lineup that leans left-handed with Mauer, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Jason Castro hitting from the left side along with switch-hitters such as Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman, Ehire Adrianza and Vargas. But the Twins couldn't pass up on the opportunity to add such a productive bat to the lineup.

Video: BAL@TB: Morrison mashes a solo homer to right

Morrison also adds insurance for the Twins in case Miguel Sano misses time with his surgically-repaired shin or is suspended for his alleged sexual assault. Sano will be eased into Spring Training games as he works on his conditioning. Escobar remains Sano's primary backup at third.

Morrison is a career .245/.330/.433 hitter with 122 homers, 148 doubles and 382 RBIs in 864 games with the Marlins, Mariners and Rays. His career high in homers before last season was 23, set in '11 with the Marlins.

Morrison benefitted by changing his swing mechanics to get the ball in the air more, increasing his launch angle from 12.1 degrees in 2016 to 17.4 degrees last year, per Statcast™. His average exit velocity actually decreased from 90.3 mph to 88.5 mph, but he hit 24 more homers in '17 than he did in '16.

Morrison remains outspoken but has matured since his time with the Marlins, when he had a strong presence on social media early in his career. He was teammates with Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi the last two seasons in Tampa Bay and also played under current Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, who was his hitting coach with the Rays in 2016.

"I've heard good things," said reliever Addison Reed. "He's a good player. I can't believe it took this long for him to sign with a team, but I'm glad he's on our side. It's looking good. Last year, they surprised a bunch of people, and in this offseason they did nothing but add pieces. Nobody is gone and the only thing is we added pieces. This team got better, and it's going to be an exciting season."

Morrison is the sixth free agent the Twins have signed to a Major League deal this offseason, as he joins pitchers Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Anibal Sanchez, Michael Pineda and Reed. They also traded for Odorizzi last week. There remains a chance the Twins could add another starter via free agency, but even if they don't, the players like how aggressive the front office has been to improve the team.

"There's definitely guys available," Gibson said. "We know we're ready to make the next step. Any time you can add pieces like that for upgrades, you're creating more competition. Because if he's at DH, it means someone else doesn't hit. So it's only making us a deeper and better team."

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

Minnesota Twins, Logan Morrison

Sources: J.D., Red Sox close to finalizing deal

Team, slugger ironed out contract language following physical
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a productive weekend of collaboration between the Red Sox and slugger J.D. Martinez, the sides appear close to formalizing the five-year, $110 million contract that was agreed upon last week, two sources told MLB.com.

A press conference could come as early as Monday morning, which is the one-week anniversary of when the Red Sox and Martinez agreed to terms on a deal that includes opt-outs after the second and third seasons.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a productive weekend of collaboration between the Red Sox and slugger J.D. Martinez, the sides appear close to formalizing the five-year, $110 million contract that was agreed upon last week, two sources told MLB.com.

A press conference could come as early as Monday morning, which is the one-week anniversary of when the Red Sox and Martinez agreed to terms on a deal that includes opt-outs after the second and third seasons.

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Martinez came to Fort Myers on Wednesday for a physical. The Red Sox determined from the physical that Martinez is fully healthy for 2018. However, they spotted an issue that could be of concern at some point over the length of the contract and sought some other medical opinions.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

From there, the Red Sox and agent Scott Boras, who represents Martinez, worked through the situation all weekend cooperatively and professionally, as both sides just wanted to protect themselves with additional contract language.

Martinez had a sprained Lisfranc ligament in his right foot last year and a right elbow injury in 2016. It is unknown what the precise medical issue is that delayed the formalization of the much-anticipated union between the Red Sox and Martinez.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The Red Sox continued to go about their business without Martinez on Sunday, defeating the Orioles, 7-1, in a Grapefruit League game.

Manager Alex Cora will be excited to greet Martinez once he arrives, but he said Sunday morning he's too consumed with other things to be stressed about the delay in officially adding the new slugger.

Once Martinez arrives officially, he will wear his familiar No. 28, thanks to Cora, who gave up that number earlier this week and switched to 20.

Video: Red Sox add slugger J.D. Martinez to lineup

Red Sox Nation has been abuzz all week with the news of Martinez's coming.

The right-handed-hitting masher wields the type of pure power bat the Red Sox missed so much in 2017 -- David Ortiz's first in retirement. Martinez roped 45 homers last year in just 432 at-bats. That power will be a welcome addition to a Boston team that finished last in the American League with 168 homers last year.

It will be interesting to see if Martinez, an all-fields hitter, tries to pull the ball more often at Fenway. He has played just seven games in Boston in his career and made the most of them, going 12-for-27 with two doubles.

An outfielder, Martinez will get a lot of his playing time for the Red Sox at designated hitter. Boston has a strong outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez will become the team's primary first baseman, sharing time there with Mitch Moreland.

Video: Browne on how Cora will use Martinez in the outfield

With strong table-setters like Betts and Benintendi slotted in for the top two spots in the lineup and Ramirez likely to hit third, Martinez should have no problem breaking the personal best of 104 RBIs he set last year.

The Red Sox are excited about adding the 30-year-old veteran to their impressive young nucleus of Betts, Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Bradley.

It was Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, then the Tigers' general manager, who scooped Martinez up just two days after the Astros released him in March 2014.

In the 520 games since Houston let Martinez go, he has produced a line of .300/.362/.574 with 128 homers and 350 RBIs. He looks forward to continuing that momentum with Boston, where he will be reunited with two former teammates from Detroit -- David Price and Rick Porcello.

Dombrowski established Martinez as his top target as soon as the offseason started and never wavered, even when negotiations slowed.

His patience is about to be rewarded.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Scherzer the head of the class among aces

Dominance of Nationals' star over past five seasons sets him apart
MLB.com @MikeLupica

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- His name is John Graham, and there may have been kids happier to be at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on this day than he was. But probably not. Graham, who is 56, suffered a stroke last March, and was diagnosed with prostate cancer after that. He says that when he was first starting to get better, his goal was no more complicated than Spring Training baseball: Being well enough to go back and be at a ballpark like this.

"I thought about days like this," he said. "I thought about the chance to watch somebody like Max Scherzer pitch."

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- His name is John Graham, and there may have been kids happier to be at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on this day than he was. But probably not. Graham, who is 56, suffered a stroke last March, and was diagnosed with prostate cancer after that. He says that when he was first starting to get better, his goal was no more complicated than Spring Training baseball: Being well enough to go back and be at a ballpark like this.

"I thought about days like this," he said. "I thought about the chance to watch somebody like Max Scherzer pitch."

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I asked him if he knew Scherzer might be pitching when he bought tickets for the first Sunday of Spring Training games here, Nationals against the Braves. He smiled and shook his head.

"I have a friend in the ticket office," he said. "He told me who was starting for the Nats." Graham nods at his wife sitting next to him. "When she got home from teaching yoga, I told her, 'We're going to the ballpark.' She said, 'We were just there two days ago.' I said, 'That was two days ago. One of the best pitchers in the world is pitching today.'"

He was talking about Scherzer -- and maybe Scherzer isn't merely one of the best pitchers in the world. He is possibly the best -- winning two Cy Young Awards in a row, and three in five years. We talk about Clayton Kershaw all the time. We also saw what Scherzer's old teammate, Justin Verlander, did for the Astros. There are other aces, though not as many as you think. Chris Sale of the Red Sox is one. Jake Arrieta, currently unemployed, has better numbers over the past five years than you might think.

Video: Scherzer accepts second straight NL Cy Young Award

But when you add it all up, it is not so hard to make the case that the ace of all the aces in baseball right now is Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals.

"When the Nats got him from Detroit, I thought he was just some guy they had who wasn't Verlander," Graham said. "Boy, was I wrong."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Scherzer, great as he is, was absolutely in Verlander's shadow when they were both with the Tigers. He didn't start one of the first two games of the Nats' playoff series against the Cubs last season because he was recovering from a hamstring injury. So Scherzer only got one postseason start in the same October in which Verlander really did look like as much of an ace as he had ever been in his life in pitching a complete game against the Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series -- with the Astros down in the series, three games to two.

But when you look at his total body of work over the past five regular seasons and factor in those three Cy Young Awards, you can see why it isn't much of a challenge to say Scherzer is first among equals. Even if there aren't all that many equals.

Here are some stats from Matt Kelly at MLB.com:

ERA
1. Kershaw: 1.95
2. Greinke: 2.83
3. Arrieta: 2.86
4. Scherzer: 2.87
5. Sale: 3.01
6. Verlander: 3.56

Strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB)
1. Kershaw: 6.9
2. Sale: 5.8
3. Scherzer: 5.0
4. Greinke: 4.2
5. Verlander: 3.2
6. Arrieta: 3.1

Strikeout rate
1. Scherzer: 30.6 percent
2. Kershaw: 30.4 percent
3. Sale: 30.0 percent
4. Arrieta: 24.7 percent
5. Greinke: 23.5 percent
6. Verlander: 23.4 percent

Batting average against
1. Kershaw: .197
2. Arrieta: .204
3. Scherzer: .205
4. Sale: .221
5. Greinke: .230
6. Verlander: .238

OPS against
1. Kershaw: .529
2. Arriera: .595
3. Scherzer: .608
4. Sale: .624
5. Greinke: .639
6. Verlander: .678

Innings pitched
1. Scherzer: 1,092 1/3
2. Sale: 1,038
3. Verlander: 991 1/3
4. Kershaw: 991
5. Greinke: 963 2/3
6. Arrieta: 826 2/3

Wins
1. Scherzer: 89
2. Kershaw: 83
3. Greinke: 81
4. Sale: 70
5. Arrieta: 69
6. Verlander: 64

Home runs allowed
1. Arrieta: 63
2. Kershaw: 66
3. Greinke: 94
4. Verlander: 107
5. Sale: 110
6. Scherzer: 116

Video: Martinez on Scherzer's first start of the spring

Scherzer has given up more home runs than the other guys, yes he has. Here it is, see if you can hit it. He gave up a monster on Sunday afternoon in West Palm Beach to the second batter he faced, Dansby Swanson, who hit one over everything in left field until it landed in front of the Astros' "World Champion" sign out there. But he struck out Austin Riley, swinging, to end the first and struck out two more guys in the second. It was clear to see -- even in this small sampling, even on the first Sunday of spring games, with beer vendors yelling "Dilly Dilly" as they tried to sell Bud Light and fans like John Graham ridiculously happy to be here -- that you could have taken Scherzer's slider, in particular, from this first Sunday of spring games all the way to Opening Day.

Kershaw has a Hollywood stage, and such a famous baseball platform, in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Verlander isn't just a champion now, he has his own profile raised by having a famous model wife like Kate Upton. The Dodgers wouldn't trade Kershaw for anybody. The Astros wouldn't trade Verlander for anybody. But Scherzer, at least so far in Washington, has more than been one of the great free-agent pitching acquisitions of all time -- even if the Nationals paid $210 million over seven years to get him.

Now three years into that deal, the 33-year-old is 51-25 in 98 starts for Washington, with an earned run average of 2.76, never making fewer than 30 starts. He has pitched a no-hitter. He has struck out 20 in a game. Now, his first Spring Training start of 2018. On the last Sunday in February, Scherzer already looked like he was ready for the last Thursday in March, which is when the Nationals will open their regular season in Cincinnati.

Scherzer's Sunday ended in the top of the second, when he struck out Dustin Peterson. Seven batters, three strikeouts, goodbye. He was walking off as soon as the ball was in the catcher's glove.

In the shade behind third base, John Graham smiled. Like a kid.

"The best," he said.

He was either talking about Scherzer. Or the day. Or both.

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com. He also writes for the New York Daily News.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer

Cespedes' first spring homer goes a long way

Yoenis Cespedes knows how to make an entrance. We know him to show up to the Spring Training facilities in his fancy whips, but this is how we really know him -- hitting bombs -- and he did that Sunday when the Mets took on the Marlins:

Business as usual: Kershaw throws clean inning

Dodgers ace retires all 3 Mariners batters faced on 11 pitches
MLB.com @kengurnick

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw breezed through an easy inning on Sunday in his first Cactus League appearances of 2018.

Kershaw, who was named to make an eighth consecutive Opening Day start on March 29 against the Giants, retired the Mariners in order on 11 pitches in the first inning. He got Ben Gamel on a comebacker, Jean Segura on a fly to left that required Matt Kemp to fight off tough sunshine and Robinson Cano on a grounder to shortstop.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw breezed through an easy inning on Sunday in his first Cactus League appearances of 2018.

Kershaw, who was named to make an eighth consecutive Opening Day start on March 29 against the Giants, retired the Mariners in order on 11 pitches in the first inning. He got Ben Gamel on a comebacker, Jean Segura on a fly to left that required Matt Kemp to fight off tough sunshine and Robinson Cano on a grounder to shortstop.

Dodgers Spring Training info

Kershaw then went to the bullpen to throw another inning and was relieved by Tom Koehler, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason with a chance to win the setup relief role.

Tweet from @Dodgers: Hello to you too, @ClaytonKersh22. #DodgersST pic.twitter.com/DJnkR8jo2G

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. Listen to his podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Reggie: Stanton has 'ingredients' to succeed

Yankees likely won't pursue free-agent starters; Wilson expected to report Monday
MLB.com @BryanHoch

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton has said that he is looking forward to playing in front of the big city's bright lights, and as someone who never shied away from that stage, Reggie Jackson has some advice for the newest Yankees superstar.

"Play good," Jackson said with a laugh before the Yankees' 8-3 victory over the Phillies at Spectrum Field. "It'll be fun in Spring Training. It'll be work the first month. They'll want to know why he didn't hit a homer the first day. He's been around it. Last year, he was trying to hit 60 [homers]. There was some pressure there. Miami is not New York, but he'll be fine. He's surrounded with the right group, the right people."

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton has said that he is looking forward to playing in front of the big city's bright lights, and as someone who never shied away from that stage, Reggie Jackson has some advice for the newest Yankees superstar.

"Play good," Jackson said with a laugh before the Yankees' 8-3 victory over the Phillies at Spectrum Field. "It'll be fun in Spring Training. It'll be work the first month. They'll want to know why he didn't hit a homer the first day. He's been around it. Last year, he was trying to hit 60 [homers]. There was some pressure there. Miami is not New York, but he'll be fine. He's surrounded with the right group, the right people."

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Jackson, who arrived at Yankees camp on Sunday, said that he was excited by the December trade that fit the reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner for pinstripes. Between Stanton, Aaron Judge and the rest of the Bombers, Jackson joked that the team might run out of batting-practice balls.

"This is a great collection of talent and personalities and characters," Jackson said. "The pieces are in place, and I'm sure [general manager] Brian [Cashman] is looking for more. It never stops. The demand doesn't stop.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"New York's a tough place. The expectations are as big as the salary. No surprises. I don't think he'll be surprised. It'd be different if he didn't have a big toolbox; if he didn't have the skills. He's got the important ingredients, for sure. He can make it work. It'll be fun."

Not pursuing

Manager Aaron Boone indicated on Sunday that Cashman is not actively pursuing the remaining crop of free-agent starters, having been asked specifically about the likelihood of Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn joining the team.

"At this point, I don't really see those guys as realistic options," Boone said. "I know Cash is always kicking the tires and always looking for ways to improve the club and monitoring every situation, but as we sit here today, it's my understanding that those guys really aren't in play for us. I'd be surprised."

Video: Wilson ready to trade in pigskin for pinstripes

Hey, Mr. Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is expected to be in uniform with the Yankees beginning on Monday, when the one-time Rockies Minor League infielder will participate in workouts. Wilson is expected to be with the club for about six days and will not appear in a game.

"We really want him to come here and enjoy himself and be able to be around our guys," Boone said. "I'm looking forward to our guys getting the opportunity to interact with him, and him getting the opportunity to breathe into our guys. We feel like it's something that's a really positive opportunity for us to take advantage of."

Bombers bits

Jordan Montgomery was sharp in a two-inning outing, permitting a hit with two strikeouts while throwing 16 of 25 pitches for strikes. The left-hander is working on commanding his changeup, an offering that he said was absent for a large portion of the 2017 season.

"I threw two good ones today," Montgomery said. "Just something I'll keep concentrating on, tossing it every day, and get back to what I used to have in college and the Minors."

Video: NYY@PHI: Sheffield whiffs Joseph in the 3rd

Justus Sheffield was dominant in a 1-2-3 third inning, striking out two, but the lefty wasn't able to complete the fourth inning. After a leadoff walk, Sheffield drilled J.P. Crawford with a slider, then permitted a one-out sacrifice fly before Maikel Franco mashed a fastball for a two-run homer.

"It's really important to me that he walks out of there with a lot of positives," Boone said. "If you had never seen him pitch before and you saw that first inning, he'd open your eyes. It was special. I think he gets going a little bit too fast at times. … I think there's a lot to build on from what he showed us."

Chad Green is scheduled to start on Tuesday against the Blue Jays, while Luis Cessa will make his second spring start on Wednesday against the Tigers. Boone said that the Yankees are considering using a sixth starter during the first month of the season.

"That's on the board as a possibility," Boone said. "As long as we can stay fairly healthy, we feel like we're in a good spot to have some good options to come up and give us a spot start."

Quotable

"Put the heat on him. Let's go. Burn a lamp on him. I'm ready." -- Jackson, on Stanton

Up next

Sonny Gray will make his first start of the spring as the Yankees host the Phillies on Monday evening at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. Ben Lively will pitch for the Phillies, with first pitch at 6:35 p.m. ET. Gary Sanchez is scheduled to make his spring debut behind the plate.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery, Giancarlo Stanton

Swanson greets Scherzer with long home run

MLB.com @mlbbowman

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Asked to at least generalize what he focused on changing during the offseason, Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson smiled and replied, "Let's just say self-awareness."

Swanson was surrounded by hype when the D-backs took him with the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He became the focus of many marketing campaigns after debuting with the Braves in '16, and he had a successful first two months as a Major Leaguer.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Asked to at least generalize what he focused on changing during the offseason, Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson smiled and replied, "Let's just say self-awareness."

Swanson was surrounded by hype when the D-backs took him with the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He became the focus of many marketing campaigns after debuting with the Braves in '16, and he had a successful first two months as a Major Leaguer.

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But after Swanson struggled throughout last season, it's easy to say that too much might have been asked of him, too soon. This year, Swanson has returned mentally refreshed, yet still confident, intent on turning the page on 2017. He provided an encouraging sign when he homered off Max Scherzer during the first inning of Sunday's 9-3 loss to the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I fine-tuned some things during the offseason, stuff I believe in and stuff I believe will pay huge dividends moving forward," Swanson said. "Now, it's more of a matter of making them a habit instead of continuing to do the things I don't need to be doing."

Spring Training results, especially those produced during the first week of the Grapefruit League season, might not matter. But when a player is coming off a season during which he hit .232 with six homers and a .636 OPS, homering off a three-time Cy Young Award winner should at least be viewed as a welcome confidence booster.

"I think it has to [help], but I'm going to get right back at it tomorrow," Swanson said.

Swanson's home run, which nearly hit an office building located behind the left-field bullpen, came against a 1-0 fastball that was high and inside. It was certainly an enticing pitch for the Braves' shortstop, who hit .329 with a .529 slugging percentage against pitches on the inner third of the plate, according to Statcast™.

It's proven to be his sweet spot: when Swanson returned in early August from his brief demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, he showed better plate discipline and seemed less susceptible to sliders and other pitches thrown on the outer third. But he still hit just .220 with a .284 slugging percentage against pitches that were located on the outer third of the plate.

Swanson appreciated the results of his first-inning at-bat against Scherzer, but he said he was even more encouraged by the quality contact he made when he lined out to right field against Austin Voth during the fourth inning.

"Any time you can hit the ball well the other way, it shows good signs," Swanson said. "Today, overall was a good day. I just need to move forward with things."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Dansby Swanson

Prospect Kopech poised to take next step

White Sox righty set to bring refined changeup into start vs. A's
MLB.com @RichardJustice

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- This is where 21-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech would like to make things really difficult for the White Sox.

"I hope he does," general manager Rick Hahn said.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- This is where 21-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech would like to make things really difficult for the White Sox.

"I hope he does," general manager Rick Hahn said.

As Spring Training days go, Monday will be about as good as it gets for an organization brimming with both highly regarded prospects and optimism. The White Sox will hand the baseball to their top pitching prospect -- and MLB Pipeline's No. 10 overall -- in Kopech for a start against the Athletics at Camelback Ranch.

Cue the 102-mph gas and 90-mph slider. After a 2017 season in which Kopech exceeded every expectation, this will be the next opportunity to show the White Sox his time has come.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

He arrived at Spring Training with a simple mandate: to refine, polish and become comfortable with a changeup that would make his power pitches even better.

"The changeup has been a work in progress for the past couple of years," Kopech said, "and that seems to be where everyone's focus is. I came to camp early and started working on it right away, and feel I've made long strides just in the past couple of weeks.

"It's a grip I've played around with the last two or three years trying to figure it out. It's just getting comfortable with it. I think I've finally found one."

Would that be the final brick in the wall?

"Yeah, for me," he said. "Throwing that and getting ahead in counts, which I feel I did a pretty good job of in the second half of last season. If I can iron out those little things, I feel like I'll be in a good position."

Video: Kopech talks about camaraderie, dealing with nerves

The Sox couldn't be happier about a 2017 season in which he threw a career-high 134 1/3 innings, struck out 172, had a 2.88 ERA and finished with a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte for three starts.

"Physically and emotionally, I'm more in control," Kopech said. "When I take the mound, I feel like I'm able to control my pitches better. That being said, I feel very in control of my thoughts and how comfortable, per se, I am on the mound."

Kopech had two starts and two relief appearances at 2017 Spring Training, but that camp was more about experiencing big league competition for the first time and understanding what manager Rick Renteria and his staff expect.

"It's getting comfortable over the course of time," Kopech said. "It's going to happen naturally. It's also feeling more comfortable with my pitches. I don't feel like I'm going to be out of place when I take the mound. I feel like I deserve to be there. To get to compete with the guys at this level is a good opportunity. I'm really excited about it. For me to get a start this early in camp, hopefully get a couple more opportunities under my belt, it's a big opportunity, and I'm going to try and take advantage of it."

As Hahn said, "A year ago at this time, 20 years old, he had never thrown more than 75 innings in a year, wasn't ever above A-ball. The plan for Michael was to take the ball every fifth day and have some success. Now he blew past those expectations and got stronger as the year went on.

"Now he's got 130-plus innings under his belt and will continue to build on that base. He was dominant with his fastball and his slider. We need to see a little more changeup. At age 21, he'll be in Triple-A to start the year and work with those assignments. If he blows by those like he did last year, then it'll create a good problem for us."

Kopech seems nearly certain to make his big league debut sometime during the 2018 season in what will be another major step in a White Sox rebuild that (so far) has gone faster than almost anyone envisioned.

"It's hard not to think about it," Kopech said. "But I am focused on what I have to do right now. Hopefully, I'll get that opportunity sooner rather than later, but that's not in my control. I'm excited to take it day by day and see where it goes."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter @RichardJustice.

Chicago White Sox, Michael Kopech

Top remaining FA starters drawing interest

Teams ready to pounce when price is right for Arrieta, Cobb, Lynn
MLB.com @jonmorosi

Yu Darvish's six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs was supposed to clarify the starting-pitching market and create a cloudburst of signings.

Yet, two weeks have gone by and Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are still available.

Yu Darvish's six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs was supposed to clarify the starting-pitching market and create a cloudburst of signings.

Yet, two weeks have gone by and Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are still available.

The issue isn't a lack of interest. One source said Saturday night that the Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Orioles and Nationals are among the teams continuing to monitor the top available starting pitchers.

The Yankees have maintained contact with Lynn throughout the offseason. In some ways, the Yanks are an even better fit for Lynn today than earlier in the month, when it seemed possible that a signing of Mike Moustakas would occupy a large percentage of the team's remaining budget for players.

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By instead acquiring Brandon Drury from the D-backs, the Yankees added a potential everyday third baseman who will earn close to the Major League minimum in 2018. Thus, the Yanks have preserved roughly $25 million in spending power for additional signings, trades and callups this year -- while still remaining under the luxury-tax threshold of $197 million.

Why is Arrieta still unsigned?

So Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has two choices: He can shop for a pitching upgrade now, when the calendar may begin exerting downward pressure on the asking prices for Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb. Or Cashman can wait until the non-waiver Trade Deadline, when he can leverage one of the top farm systems in baseball after assessing the development of 25-year-old Jordan Montgomery and the health of the team's more veteran starters.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of intrigue within the industry surrounding the Nats' plans. Washington GM Mike Rizzo sounded content with his roster in comments to MLB.com's Jamal Collier over the weekend. Right-hander A.J. Cole, 26, begins camp as the favorite to be the team's No. 5 starter, in a rotation headlined by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark.

But rival club officials believe the Nationals will be opportunistic if Arrieta, Lynn or Cobb falls into their price range. With Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gonzalez all beginning contract years, the team's collective urgency is extraordinarily high. The franchise is desperate to win a playoff series -- at the very least -- for the first time since relocating to Washington, D.C.

And then there is the Scott Boras factor. Boras represents Arrieta, along with six of the Nats' eight highest-paid players in 2018, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts: Scherzer, Harper, Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Gonzalez and Matt Wieters. The longstanding relationship between team and agent could create the right circumstances for a deal.

From the standpoint of strategic spending, the acquisition of a starting pitcher now would be tantamount to finding Gonzalez's replacement one year early -- although there's optimism within the organization that right-handed prospect Erick Fedde will be a full-time member of the rotation by 2019, if not before.

Meanwhile, the Angels aren't looking seriously at free-agent starting pitchers, but they would consider free-agent closer Greg Holland at the right price.

Holland, 32, is coming off a season in which he reestablished himself as an All-Star closer and led the National League with 41 saves. Blake Parker, who has 10 career saves in the Major Leagues, currently projects to be the Halos' closer.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.

Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn

Why is free agent Arrieta still unsigned?

Top remaining FA starter comes with question marks moving forward
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Spring Training games are in full swing, and yet, one of baseball's most impactful starters remains without a team.

Jake Arrieta has been to the top of the pitching mountain, capturing the 2015 National League Cy Young Award with a summer that evoked Bob Gibson before helping the Cubs break the longest championship drought in professional sports. Arrieta has proven his ability and his mettle in the game's biggest moments, and his league-adjusted 151 ERA+ ranks third among starters who have thrown at least 500 innings over the past three seasons. It's a resume that would typically command a substantial contract in free agency, yet the righty does not seem to be generating much enthusiasm on the market.

Spring Training games are in full swing, and yet, one of baseball's most impactful starters remains without a team.

Jake Arrieta has been to the top of the pitching mountain, capturing the 2015 National League Cy Young Award with a summer that evoked Bob Gibson before helping the Cubs break the longest championship drought in professional sports. Arrieta has proven his ability and his mettle in the game's biggest moments, and his league-adjusted 151 ERA+ ranks third among starters who have thrown at least 500 innings over the past three seasons. It's a resume that would typically command a substantial contract in free agency, yet the righty does not seem to be generating much enthusiasm on the market.

Why have teams been slow to ink Arrieta? Below is an analytical look at reasons why MLB front offices are hesitant to commit to the former Cubs ace.

Velocity
This isn't surprising to those who watched Arrieta pitch the past season, but Arrieta's velocity might be the most concerning part of his profile. Below are Arrieta's dips over the past three seasons on each of his pitch types, per Statcast™ and pitch-tracking data:

Sinker (2015/ '16/ '17): 95.3 mph / 94.5 mph / 92.2 mph
Four-seam fastball: 95.1 mph / 94.2 mph / 92.1 mph
Curveball: 81.3 mph / 81.1 mph / 78.8 mph
Slider: 90.8 mph / 89.8 mph / 87.8 mph
Changeup: 89.5 mph / 89.2 mph / 87.3 mph

Arrieta essentially shelved his four-seamer last season, throwing it only 54 times after he'd averaged 629 in the prior two campaigns. That took away a pitch with a healthy 24.5 percent whiff-per-swing rate in 2015-16, as well as an offering he could tunnel alongside his changeup and breaking balls.

Arrieta's 25.7 percent whiff rate on all his pitches sat just outside the top 20 qualified MLB starters in '15 (min. 1,000 total swings induced), but slipped to 21.5 percent last season. Declining velocity is maybe the most obvious red flag for a free-agent pitcher, and it appears Arrieta will have to rely more on craft and command in the years ahead.

Video: CHC@CIN: Arrieta K's Votto to strike out the side

Contact allowed
Arrieta set the standard for missing barrels to go along with his career-high 206 strikeouts in 2015. Statcast™ considers a hard-hit ball to be one hit with a 95-mph exit velocity or greater, and Arrieta's 24.8 percent hard-hit rate in '15 is the second-lowest Statcast™ has tracked from any qualified starter over its first three years (Clayton Kershaw edged out Arrieta with a 24.5 percent rate that same season).

Arrieta was also fifth best at getting batters to "top" the ball, or drive it straight into the ground, doing so on 47.8 percent of the contact he allowed. Unfortunately, both rates declined over the past two seasons; the 32.2 percent hard-hit rate Arrieta allowed last year was essentially league average, and his topped-ball rate dipped all the way down to 35.7 percent.

The more discouraging development is that Arrieta is allowing more of the most damaging contact from hitters. Pitchers hope to avoid hard-hit balls, but they especially hope to avoid them in the air. Unfortunately for Arrieta, his rate of hard-hit line drives and fly balls allowed has climbed steadily over the first three seasons of Statcast™ data. So too has his barrel-per-batted ball rate, which measures the most ideal air balls for hitters based on their combinations of exit velocity and launch angle. More barrels inevitably mean more home runs, and Arrieta allowed a career-high 23 last summer.

Video: NLCS Gm4: Arrieta strikes out nine in Game 4 win

Age
The biggest reason why Arrieta remains unsigned could be simply be his age -- a factor general managers have clearly become warier of when evaluating free agents. History isn't on Arrieta's side as he celebrates his 32nd birthday in March. Only four of the 29 pitchers to claim Cy Young Awards in the Wild Card Era (1995 - present) did so after their age-32 season: Roger Clemens (ages 34-35, 38 and 41), R.A. Dickey (37), Roy Halladay (33) and Randy Johnson (35-38). Four is also the number of pitchers aged 33 or older who claimed league ERA titles in that span (Kevin Brown, Chris Carpenter, Clemens and Johnson).

Those are high bars to set for any pitcher, but Arrieta's comparables are not encouraging, either. The five closest pitchers to Arrieta through age 31, per Baseball-Reference's similarity scores, are Pete Vuckovich, Clay Buchholz, Jordan Zimmermann, Pat Jarvis and Tim Belcher. Of those five, only Belcher pitched in the Majors past his age-33 season (Zimmermann has struggled with injuries and Buchholz is currently beside Arrieta on the free-agent market).

Belcher, Jarvis and Vuckovich combined for a 4.90 ERA from their age-32 seasons through the ends of their careers.

Arrieta's peak three seasons ago ranks among the greatest performances in baseball history. But his next team will be paying for the future, not the past, and the data suggests that zenith is likely in the rear-view mirror.

Arrieta still possesses the skill, guile and competitiveness to retire Major League hitters, but for how long? Teams may be wondering if Arrieta could truly fulfill the value of the megacontract he's seeking.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Jake Arrieta

Scott aims to be MLB's first South African hurler

Growing up in Johannesburg, righty chose baseball over rugby, soccer
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Infielder Gift Ngoepe made his debut with the Pirates last year and became the first South African to play in the Major Leagues.

Rangers pitcher Tayler Scott is not discouraged.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Infielder Gift Ngoepe made his debut with the Pirates last year and became the first South African to play in the Major Leagues.

Rangers pitcher Tayler Scott is not discouraged.

"There were a couple of us in the race to be the first South African," Scott said. "There is still the title of being the first South African pitcher, so I'm still in the race for that. It would be a great achievement to have that title."

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It would also be a tremendous moment for the Scott family. Scott was born in Johannesburg and still makes his offseason home in his native South Africa, but he was 17 when his parents partially relocated to the United States so he could pursue his dream.

"They definitely sacrificed a lot for me to be here," Scott said. "I really want to do it for them."

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South Africa has started developing a rich sports legacy as it has emerged from the country's tumultuous political and social past and re-joined the rest of the world in international competition. But is not yet a hotbed for baseball.

Rugby, cricket and soccer are the most popular sports and South Africa's stunning victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup was a pivotal moment in the country's history. Basketball, golf, swimming, boxing and surfing are also popular.

Baseball is still in the embryonic stage, although the success of Scott, Ngoepe and others is helping.

"Baseball down there is very tiny, very little thing," Scott said. "It's kind of a recreational thing for guys on Sunday. Slowly MLB has started getting scouts down there to see the guys, and we have played in the World Baseball Classic. Like any sport, you have to kind of grow up in it with the tradition and culture. Since we have soccer and rugby, it's kind of hard to grow the culture of baseball. We don't have the facilities.

"I played every other sport I could -- rugby, soccer, cricket -- everything you could think of, and baseball as well. Whenever I could find the time, I found some sport I could play. Baseball started taking over as I got older and I got better."

Not cricket? No chance of being a bowler or a wicket-keeper?

"Cricket is a lot different," Scott said. "I was never really that good at cricket. I don't have the arm slot for cricket, so that kind of fell away. I'm still into rugby and soccer, but baseball took over."

Once Scott got serious about baseball, he and his parents -- Rodney and Karen -- packed up and moved to the United States. His two sisters stayed behind in South Africa and the parents rotated between hemispheres. The Scotts picked the Phoenix area and Tayler went to Notre Dame Prep High School in Scottsdale.

"We decided if I was going to do this, I was going to have to move to America," Scott said. "We looked at Arizona, found a school, the next day we each packed a bag and left. My father has his own business, occupational health and safety. It's got to the point where he can run it without being there. We were very fortunate that he had that job and he was able to pack up and come with me and pursue my dream."

It is not easy leaving a country you love and a comfortable home in the Roodepoort section of the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area.

"South Africa a very beautiful place," Scott said. "The landscape of South Africa is beautiful. I'm kind of out north in the grassland. If you drive an hour and a half away you'll be in the wilds with the animals. Everywhere you go in South Africa is going to be beautiful. You want mountains, there are fantastic mountains. Cape Town is beautiful place on the beach."

Scott played in high school and went to as many baseball camps as possible. One was run by former Rangers pitching coach Tom House. The work paid off because he was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

He was released by the Cubs at the end of Spring Training in 2016, but stayed after his dream. He pitched 17 games for the Sioux City Explorers in the independent American Association, and a 1.88 ERA earned him a Minor League contract with the Brewers. He signed on July 6, 2016, and was traded to the Rangers last summer in a deal for reliever Jeremy Jeffress.

Now he is in big league camp as a non-roster invitee, hoping to earn a spot in the bullpen.

"It's a situation like any other," Scott said. "Just trying to make the team or try to help any way I can if I get called up. With the trade, they showed a lot of interest in me, so they obviously have a plan for me."

The race to be the first South African pitcher in the Major Leagues continues.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Tayler Scott

Yankees eyeing free-agent hurler Lynn

MLB.com

Yankees intersted in Lynn
The Yankees, looking to add to a rotation that already should stack up as one of the best in the American League, have "maintained contact" with right-hander Lance Lynn since the start of the offseason, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Morosi speculates the Yankees are in a better position to sign Lynn now than earlier in February, when it seemed like New York might make a run at free-agent third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Yankees intersted in Lynn
The Yankees, looking to add to a rotation that already should stack up as one of the best in the American League, have "maintained contact" with right-hander Lance Lynn since the start of the offseason, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Morosi speculates the Yankees are in a better position to sign Lynn now than earlier in February, when it seemed like New York might make a run at free-agent third baseman Mike Moustakas.

However, acquiring Brandon Drury from the D-backs gives the Yankees a cheaper option at the hot corner while retaining "roughly $25 million in spending power for additional signings, trades and callups" per Morosi, while staying under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.

New York already has Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia slotted into their top four rotation spots, and bringing in Lynn would give the team more time to continue developing promising youngster Jordan Montgomery, who went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts in 2017.

Morosi expects Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to do one of two things: upgrade at starter now while the asking prices for Lynn, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb may have lessened, or wait until the non-waiver Trade Deadline to deal for a hurler as the club gears up to make a run at the World Series.

Lynn, 30, is 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA in 183 games (161 starts) across parts of six seasons with the Cardinals. He has exceeded at least 175 innings in each of his past five seasons he's pitched (he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and missed all of 2016).

-- This report was first posted on Feb. 25.

Redbird return in play?
Lance Lynn has been nothing if not consistent in his six seasons with the Cardinals (he has posted an earned run average at or above the league-adjusted average in five of those campaigns), yet his name remains on the free-agent market.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman speculated in a post for FanRag Sports that the Draft pick that a signing team would have to give up -- on account of the one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer Lynn rejected in November -- might be a sticking point and a reason the right-hander remains unsigned. For that reason, Heyman predicted Thursday that Lynn will eventually winding up re-signing with the Cardinals, with the Brewers, Mets, Phillies and Twins being other clear contenders for his services.

:: Free agent buzz ::

There would appear to be a potential spot on St. Louis' rotation should the Cardinals find a way to sign Lynn. Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright figure to be reliable options, but plenty of question marks accompany Miles Mikolas (returning to the Majors after a three-year stint in Japan) and sophomore righty Luke Weaver. A reliable innings-eater like Lynn would certainly give Cardinals manager Mike Matheny some added peace of mind every fifth day. --This report was first posted on Feb. 15.

Yankees monitoring Lynn's market
With reported targets Yu Darvish and Todd Frazier now off the market, the Yankees' free-agent plans could begin to take shape. MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported Sunday that the club has kept tabs on Lance Lynn this offseason, but it's not clear if the veteran right-hander will fit into their remaining budget of about $15 million for between now and Opening Day.

Morosi noted that while the Yankees have some room before they reach the $197 million luxury-tax threshold, they would still like to maintain payroll flexibility for potential Trade Deadline moves.

The Yankees have also been linked to Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi, a frequent subject of trade rumors this winter. The club's current rotation projects to include Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery.  -- This report was first posted on Feb. 11.

Line for Lynn appears to have gotten longer
Given the development, or lack thereof, of this year's standstill free-agent starting pitcher market, Lynn finds himself in an unenviable position of waiting for the chips to fall ahead of him.

Lynn has still yet to find a home, but a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold suggests seven to eight teams have shown interest in the right-hander.

Interestingly, Lynn's former team, the Cardinals, are not among those Goold listed. Although they extended him a qualifying offer, the Cardinals seem content for now to stick with their existing rotation.

Among those interested include the Brewers, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Rays and Twins.

The Brewers, Twins and Orioles have the most need for starting pitching among that group. Minnesota and Milwaukee will be without their best starters -- Ervin Santana and Jimmy Nelson -- for the beginning of the season, while Baltimore is still trying to fill three spots in its rotation left by departed free agents.

The Cubs and Nationals are looking to round out their rotations as they look to defend their respective divisions. Each has four rotation spots set but could use Lynn's durability over younger options.

Meanwhile, the Rays could be interested in Lynn if they trade fellow right-hander Jake Odorizzi. The Mets are mentioned as a potential suitor and could use stability in the rotation after injuries caused them to employ 12 starters in 2017. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 8.

Lynn engages discussions with Orioles
Desperately in need of starting pitching depth, but potentially hesitant to sign a multi-year deal for as much, the Orioles last week engaged in contract discussions with Lynn, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. However, negotiations did not advance to a serious stage. The Orioles had shown interest as early as November, per MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

"Agents and rival clubs say the Orioles routinely go hot and cold in discussions, making them difficult to read," Rosenthal reported.

The Orioles are in need of at least two starting pitchers to round out their rotation -- currently listed as some form of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Gabriel Ynoa, Miguel Castro and Alec Asher -- and have also been linked to free agents Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas and Chris Tillman, per Rosenthal. Orioles starters last year finished with the Majors' worst ERA (5.70) and fewest innings (846) in the American League.  -- This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

Lynn likely to sign after Darvish, Arrieta
Viewed as a respectable second-tier arm among this year's class of available starters, the reality of Lynn's case is that he may be a fallback option for clubs aspiring to sign Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. In that vein, Lynn could either benefit from a potential megadeal one of those bluechips would sign, thus establishing his market, or -- as has played out -- he may be hamstrung by waiting deep into the offseason to land a job.

According to a Jan. 28 report from MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, at least one Major League executive opined that neither Lynn or Alex Cobb -- a fellow free agent starting pitcher viewed in the same neighborhood of value as Lynn -- would make a prospective club feel better about losing out on Darvish or Arrieta.

"I see them both as No. 3 or 4 starters," the executive said. "Neither gets me excited, but I'd take them both on my team."

Lynn, who turns 31 in May, re-established his value last season after returning from Tommy John surgery and embodying the longevity he showed before the elbow injury. He led the National League with 33 starts reached 175 innings for the fifth time in as many as his full Major League seasons. His career 72-47 record and 3.38 ERA show an established body of work. He may not present a frontline presence that Darvish or Arrieta would, but he'd be an asset to a team seeking dependable rotation depth.

Lynn rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals, which would attach him to Draft pick compensation for whichever club signed him, dependent on the contract he signs and the acquiring club's luxury-tax status. -- This report was first posted on Jan. 28.

Lance Lynn

Source: O's ink Alvarez to Minor League deal

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles agreed to terms on Sunday with free agent Pedro Alvarez, bringing back the left-handed hitter on a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training, a source told MLB.com.

This is Alvarez's third go-around with the O's. The 31-year-old will not be used in the outfield, like he was last season with Triple-A Norfolk. He will see some time at first base and as a designated hitter.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles agreed to terms on Sunday with free agent Pedro Alvarez, bringing back the left-handed hitter on a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league Spring Training, a source told MLB.com.

This is Alvarez's third go-around with the O's. The 31-year-old will not be used in the outfield, like he was last season with Triple-A Norfolk. He will see some time at first base and as a designated hitter.

Orioles' Spring Training info

Alvarez isn't expected to break camp with the Orioles unless there's an injury, though he does add valuable insurance and a left-handed bat, which the big league club is thin on.

Baltimore has also recently added lefty bats Alex Presley and Colby Rasmus.

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Alvarez, who spent the majority of 2017 at Norfolk, played in 14 games for the Orioles and posted a .313/.353/.438 line in 32 at-bats. He was a key factor for the club in '16, playing in 109 games and hitting 22 homers with 49 RBIs.

Alvarez spent his first six seasons in Pittsburgh, where he put up a .236/309/.441 slash line. Signing late is nothing new for the former first-round Draft pick out of Vanderbilt University. He didn't join the O's until March the previous two springs.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Pedro Alvarez