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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 '16.

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

Minnesota Twins, Logan Morrison

Source: Contract language delaying J.D. deal

Slugger expected at full strength in '18, but sides tweaking pact following physical
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The reason the Red Sox haven't held a press conference yet to announce the signing of prized slugger J.D. Martinez is because some contract language is still being worked out as a result of findings from the physical, a source told MLB.com.

There are no concerns about Martinez's ability to play at full strength in 2018. The physical did reveal a potential medical issue that could crop up down the road, and the Red Sox and Martinez are simply trying to protect themselves in case that occurs.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The reason the Red Sox haven't held a press conference yet to announce the signing of prized slugger J.D. Martinez is because some contract language is still being worked out as a result of findings from the physical, a source told MLB.com.

There are no concerns about Martinez's ability to play at full strength in 2018. The physical did reveal a potential medical issue that could crop up down the road, and the Red Sox and Martinez are simply trying to protect themselves in case that occurs.

View Full Game Coverage

The sides have worked through the situation cooperatively and professionally, the source added.

The expectation is that the deal will still be completed and Martinez will join the Red Sox, but no timetable has been provided for how long it will take to finalize the added language to the contract.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

The Red Sox ran into similar situations that delayed signings with free agent J.D. Drew prior to the 2007 season and Mike Napoli in the winter before the '13 season. Both situations resolved themselves.

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 has delayed the formalization of the much-anticipated union between the Red Sox and Martinez.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The Red Sox and Martinez agreed to terms on a five-year, $110-million contract on Feb. 19 that includes an opt-out after the second and third seasons. Martinez arrived to Fort Myers on Wednesday morning to take his physical, and the expectation was that there would be a press conference at some point last week. But things remain in a holding pattern.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox continue to go about their daily business and played their third Grapefruit League game on Sunday, hosting the Orioles.

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

"What stresses me out is the guys here, the schedule and the lineup this week," said Cora. "I was there for 45 minutes to see how we're going to make this work with that day/night doubleheader on Tuesday and the other trip [to Florida's east coast] on Thursday/Friday, and to see how we keep guys off their feet but at the same time get them at-bats and be fair with some of the veteran guys. That's more stressful than anything else."

Chavis tweaks left oblique
The Red Sox had hoped to get a good look at top hitting prospect Michael Chavis during Spring Training, but the infielder tweaked his left oblique taking a swing a few days ago and there's no timetable for when he will make his Grapefruit League debut.

Chavis is ranked Boston's No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline. Last season, he broke out in the Minor Leagues, slashing .282/.347/.563 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs. Cora isn't sure when Chavis will be ready to play, but said the right-handed hitting slugger is feeling better.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox

E-Rod, Wright won't be on opening roster
Neither left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez nor righty knuckleballer Steven Wright will be ready to start the season on the active roster, Cora confirmed Sunday. It had pretty much been trending that way given their daily activities.

"It's looking that way," Cora said. "They're taking their steps where they're looking healthy, but obviously it's getting into March and they need their repetitions. We're not going to jeopardize their careers for one start to pitch them early."

Rodriguez, coming off right knee surgery, will throw his first side session of Spring Training on Monday. Wright is still throwing a few feet in front of the mound.

Video: Outlook: Rodriguez will return in late April or May

Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and Roenis Elias are the top candidates to be the fifth starter until Rodriguez or Wright is ready to return.

Price on schedule
Though lefty David Price hasn't thrown live batting practice, he's right on pace with Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello to be ready for the start of the season.

Cora mentioned that Price doesn't feel comfortable throwing with the L screen and he's more likely to face Minor League hitters in a simulated game setting rather than live BP.

Up next
The Red Sox play their first road game of Spring Training on Monday when they visit the Pirates for a 1:05 p.m. ET game in Bradenton, Fla., on Gameday Audio. Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi will be among the position players making the trip. Brock Holt and Blake Swihart will also see action.

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

Boston Red Sox, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright

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:

Swanson greets Scherzer with long home run

MLB.com @mlbbowman

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Looking to put last year behind him, Dansby Swanson may have gained a much-needed confidence boost courtesy of the first inning home run he hit off Max Scherzer during Sunday afternoon's game against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Swanson turned on Scherzer's 1-0 delivery and watched his long solo shot soar down the left-field line before landing just in front of the office building located beyond the bullpen that sits behind the left field wall.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Looking to put last year behind him, Dansby Swanson may have gained a much-needed confidence boost courtesy of the first inning home run he hit off Max Scherzer during Sunday afternoon's game against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Swanson turned on Scherzer's 1-0 delivery and watched his long solo shot soar down the left-field line before landing just in front of the office building located beyond the bullpen that sits behind the left field wall.

View Full Game Coverage

Coming off a season during which he was humbled both offensively and defensively, Swanson came to this year's camp knowing he had to prove himself and restore the team's confidence in his ability to serve as their shortstop of the future.

Swanson hit under .200 through last season's first two months and endured a short demotion to Triple-A Gwinnett near the end of July. The 24-year-old shortstop showed better plate coverage after he returned to the Majors, but still exited the season having hit .232 with six homers and a .636 OPS.

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

Atlanta Braves, Dansby Swanson

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

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.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

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

3 ET: Kershaw, Greinke, Bumgarner debut

MLB.com @DKramer_

Spring Training is in full swing, with games underway in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Many star pitchers will be on the diamond for the first time in competitive play today, and fans can catch seven games on MLB.TV.

A throng of former Cy Young Award winners will make their spring debuts today, including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke, as well as four-time All-Star Madison Bumgarner. Here is what to watch for today (all times ET):

Spring Training is in full swing, with games underway in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Many star pitchers will be on the diamond for the first time in competitive play today, and fans can catch seven games on MLB.TV.

A throng of former Cy Young Award winners will make their spring debuts today, including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke, as well as four-time All-Star Madison Bumgarner. Here is what to watch for today (all times ET):

Bumgarner makes start in Scottsdale: CHC@SF, 3:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Fresh off being named the Giants' Opening Day starter for the fifth consecutive year -- one shy of Juan Marichal's San Francisco-era franchise record for consecutive season-opening outings (1964-69) -- Bumgarner will embark on his 10th big league Spring Training when he takes on the Cubs in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Video: Bumgarner discusses his excitement for 2018 season

For aces of Bumgarner's caliber, this time of year is for fine-tuning and preparation for the six-month regular season (and potentially beyond, the Giants hope), though Bumgarner has established a formidable track record of production in Cactus League play. He's posted a career 3.87 ERA over 160 2/3 spring innings, including a 2.52 ERA in seven starts last year, finishing with nine strikeouts over seven innings against the Reds in his finale.

Bumgarner is coming off a 2017 regular season in which he was limited to just 17 starts after he separated his pitching shoulder in a dirt bike accident during an off-day in Colorado in April. His first career stint on the disabled list, which sidelined him three months, snapped a streak of six consecutive seasons in which the left-hander had eclipsed 200 innings.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Business as usual: LAD@SEA, 3:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Bumgarner will be part of what will assuredly be one of the best pitching matchups of Opening Day, as he's slated to face Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on March 29. Kershaw was tabbed the Dodgers' Opening Day starter for a club-record eighth time nearly two weeks ago.

Kershaw and the Dodgers' pitching staff will likely be throwing on a more gentle spring schedule after the club's deep postseason run and the shorter offseason as part of the new regular-season schedule, which begins roughly a week earlier in 2018. Aligning with a five-day throwing schedule, Kershaw tossed a 22-pitch, one-inning batting practice session on Tuesday. The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner will likely throw just one inning today against the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz., in what will be his first live outing since Game 7 of last year's World Series.

Video: Kershaw throws his first live BP of Spring Training

"With position players you have a lot more leeway; they don't need six weeks of Spring Training. Relievers are the same way; they don't need six weeks to get ready," Kershaw said. "Really, everybody's here for us, honestly. The starting pitchers need to go an inning at a time for four or five times, and that takes three or four weeks. There's not much you can do."

Zack's back: MIL@ARI, 3:10 p.m., Gameday Audio
Following one of the most interesting offseasons of any club this winter, the 2018 Brewers, who finished just one game shy of the postseason, are likely hoping to become the '17 D-backs, who after multiple winters of roster bolstering made the playoffs for the first time since '11. These two will meet today in Scottsdale, Ariz., with Grienke facing off against an overhauled Milwaukee lineup and Jhoulys Chacin, whom the club acquired to help fortify its rotation.

Video: Outlook: Greinke to anchor D-backs' rotation

Chacin had a quietly productive year for the Padres, compiling a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. With No. 1 starter Jimmy Nelson expected to miss a sizable portion of the regular season early, Chacin is slated to be the club's No. 3 on Opening Day.

Greinke, who played for the Brewers from 2011-12, is in the midst of what he's described as a much more accelerated camp, having already thrown five bullpen sessions. He is likely to be Arizona's Opening Day starter, but manager Torey Lovullo has yet to make that official.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer

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 -- 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 -- 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

A-Rod returning to Yanks as a special advisor

MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez earned plaudits during his career for his ability to mentor and teach younger players, and the three-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner has now officially returned to the Yankees as a special advisor.

Rodriguez, 42, will work alongside fellow former Bombers Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher in his new role, which was announced on Sunday. Swisher is also a new addition to the advisory staff, which is under the purview of general manager Brian Cashman.

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez earned plaudits during his career for his ability to mentor and teach younger players, and the three-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner has now officially returned to the Yankees as a special advisor.

Rodriguez, 42, will work alongside fellow former Bombers Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher in his new role, which was announced on Sunday. Swisher is also a new addition to the advisory staff, which is under the purview of general manager Brian Cashman.

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"These are exciting times for the New York Yankees, and I do not take this opportunity for granted," Rodriguez said. "I am genuinely thankful for the trust the organization has placed in me, and I am looking forward to lending whatever support or expertise is needed of me."

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Rodriguez served in a similar role following his release in August 2016, reporting directly to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner through the final day of '17. Last February, Rodriguez treated a large group of prospects to a steakhouse dinner in Tampa, Fla., where no question was out of bounds.

"There's a lot of places he can help," Jackson said. "Alex is a real student of the game. I think he's got the ability to manage; he's got those skills. It's a good place for him to learn. When Brian invites you back, it's not for practice. I look forward to Alex spreading his knowledge around throughout our Minor Leagues, the big leagues. He knows the game."

The 14-time All-Star will be in uniform at a yet-to-be-determined date during Spring Training. He will stay busy during the season with his on-air work as a television analyst, having signed on to be part of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball team.

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"I continue to cherish the pinstripes, the fans and my involvement with the Steinbrenner family, Brian Cashman and his world-class staff," Rodriguez said.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who preceded Rodriguez in ESPN's broadcast booth, said he spoke with Rodriguez about three weeks ago in New York.

"I think he has a lot to offer," Boone said. "Hopefully with him being on board now, it's an opportunity to impact our team. I think everyone understands just how smart of a baseball mind he is, and his ability to communicate that sometimes is really something he's special at -- especially with the younger guys. We hope to benefit from that. I'm glad he's on board."

Rodriguez and Boone are linked by their history in New York. Three months after hitting one of the most memorable home runs in Yankees postseason history, Boone sustained a season-ending left knee injury while playing basketball. The injury prompted the Yankees to acquire Rodriguez from the Rangers in February 2004, installing him as their third baseman.

"I would say the relationship he and I have had over the years has been more topical, just kind of in passing, 'Hey, how's it going? What's going on? Good to see you,'" Boone said. "Real short conversations, generally speaking. We haven't [gone] too deep into stuff. But now, hopefully, we will have some of those conversations over the course of the season."

Drafted No. 1 overall by the Mariners in 1993, Rodriguez batted .295/.380/.550 over the course of his 22-year career in the Majors. His 696 career home runs are the fourth most in Major League history. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season, following an MLB investigation involving performance-enhancing drug use.

"Alex is back here because of his baseball content," Jackson said. "No matter what you say, it's 3,000 hits, 2,000 runs scored, 2,000 RBIs. Four homers from 700. That's a lot of stuff."

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

New York Yankees

Rivals think Nats could make move on Arrieta

MLB.com

Perhaps the best option remaining on the free-agent pitching market is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Nationals among top suitors for Arrieta

Perhaps the best option remaining on the free-agent pitching market is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Nationals among top suitors for Arrieta

The Nationals, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers and Orioles are "among the teams continuing to monitor the top available starting pitchers," according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Arrieta fits the bill.

Per Morosi, rival executives think Washington could jump on the right-hander if his price falls to within their range. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez are all entering contract years, and the Nats are pushing to win their first playoff series since the franchise moved to D.C. The timing makes sense for the club to add a high-profile arm such as Arrieta this year.

Morosi also notes the relationship between general manager Mike Rizzo and Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, as a potential factor that could impact the veteran hurler's landing spot. Six of the Nationals' eight highest-paid players for 2018, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, are Boras clients.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman listed the Nationals atop Arrieta's possible landing spots when he wrote about the 2015 Cy Young Award winner earlier in the week. Heyman concedes the Nats would have to exceed the luxury tax threshold to sign Arrieta, but the team might be willing to do so with the hope of bringing a championship to Washington.

Heyman slots in the Brewers, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and Twins -- in that order -- as the next most likely clubs to sign Arrieta. Heyman adds the Cubs were in on him prior to signing Yu Darvish to a 5-year, $126 million deal and the Rangers are going "cost-efficient" this offseason, so there is a small chance "he goes to someone other than that top seven."

The 31-year-old Arrieta could be looking at a similar deal to the one Darvish signed with Chicago. He went 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts for the Cubs over the past five seasons.

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

Phils, Arrieta far apart on contract length
Phillies owner John Middleton addressed Jake Arrieta and the starting-pitching market on Thursday, saying, "It's hard to characterize it at this point" whether the team will be able to add a starting pitcher before Opening Day.

Arrieta would of course be a huge get for the Phillies, but they might be too far apart in terms of contract length. Sources have told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that the Phillies would be open to a three-year deal for Arrieta, but they are currently unwilling to go to the six or seven years that the right-hander wants.

As far as Philadelphia's negotiations with Arrieta, Middleton said Thursday he hasn't heard from Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, noting that general manager Matt Klentak will be the one who negotiates any potential deal. The team and Boras have had discussions throughout the offseason, but little has changed at this point.

"It's not so remote that you'd say no, there's really no chance," Middleton said. "But I would tell you we're not just looking at free agents. We're talking to teams about trades, because there are players that we would trade for."

Even though the Phillies think they'll be much improved this season, they don't like the idea of committing $100-plus million to a 32-year-old pitcher regardless of Arrieta's talent, according to Zolecki.

"We want to improve the team, we're always trying to improve the team," Middleton said, "but we've got to do it a way that makes sense now and next year. We don't want to sacrifice something significant in the future by making a short-term move." -- This report was first posted on Feb. 22.

Phillies talking with Arrieta
The Phillies, who already made one splash signing this offseason in bringing in first baseman Carlos Santana, might be trying to add another.

Philadelphia and Jake Arrieta "are having dialogue" about a potential deal, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Heyman notes that Phillies president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and director of player development Joe Jordan "love [Arrieta] from their days in Baltimore together."

Arrieta, 31, went 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts) for the Orioles to begin his career, but since a trade to the Cubs in 2013, he is 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts. He was named the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2015, when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in a career-high 33 starts and 229 innings.

The veteran right-hander has been known to be seeking a long-term contract, but according to Heyman, the Phillies "would prefer a shorter term" deal. "So there's a gap," Heyman added.

Arrieta could be seeking an offer close to the six-year, $126 million deal Yu Darvish recently signed with the Cubs. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 20.

Heyman sees Arrieta's best fit to be Brewers
The Brewers have already taken aggressive measures to bolster a roster that last year finished just one game shy of the postseason, yet their most glaring personnel deficiency -- a need for at least one top-of-the-rotation arm -- remains unaddressed. For this, and with the division-rival Cubs' signing Yu Darvish, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman predicts in a post for FanRag Sports that Arrieta's most suitable landing spot is Milwaukee.

:: Free agent buzz ::

The Brewers have already added free agent Jhoulys Chacin to complement the Opening Day rotation with Chase Anderson and Zach Davies. Jimmy Nelson, who enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 before undergoing shoulder surgery, is not expected until some time later in the first half as he returns from injury. Manager Craig Counsell said the club's current plan is to have a group of Brandon Woodruff, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson compete for the remaining starts. Even with Nelson's return, the current contingent is projected 15th in FanGraphs WAR at the position -- well behind the Cubs and Cardinals, who the Brewers will be chasing in the National League Central.

Couple their needs at the position and owner Mark Attanasio's comments at Fanfest last month indicating that the club had financial flexibility to add to it, and a union with Arrieta appears a strong fit. The Brewers finished with an MLB-low $63 million in payroll in 2017.

"We could sign a big pitcher. If the right situation comes along, we can take advantage of that," Attanasio said.

For all of these reasons, Heyman speculates Arrieta will (eventually) sign with the Brewers. He also notes the Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals and Twins -- each of whom have been linked to Arrieta -- as other potential landing spots, but not to as strong of an extent as Milwaukee. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 15.

Arrieta market may be down to Brewers, Twins
Now that Yu Darvish has agreed to a deal with the Cubs, the free-agent picture for Arrieta is starting to crystallize. The Brewers and Twins, two teams previously linked to Darvish, now appear to be two of the favorites to land Arrieta, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Sunday night. The Nationals, Phillies and Cardinals are also possible destinations for Arrieta, according to Heyman.

Per Heyman, the Brewers could be the most logical fit, and Milwaukee has "been in touch" with Arrieta. The Brewers have made some big splashes already this offseason, signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich, but ace Jimmy Nelson is recovering from right shoulder surgery and their rotation could use a boost, especially if they want to keep pace with the improved Cubs.

The Nationals, meanwhile, are looking to make a deep postseason run, and Arrieta could take an already strong rotation to the next level. General manager Mike Rizzo reportedly loves the idea of adding someone like Arrieta, but Washington is also concerned with remaining below the luxury-tax threshold.

The Phillies are an up-and-coming young team, but they've also already signed Carlos Santana and could look to bolster their pitching staff, too. As Heyman notes, Phillies president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and director of player development Joe Jordan were all Orioles executives when Baltimore drafted Arrieta.

Video: Do Nationals make sense as a destination for Arrieta

According to Heyman, the Twins had appeared to favor Darvish and were focused on him, so an Arrieta-Twins pact might come as a surprise. But they do need pitching with Ervin Santana set to miss time while recovering from right middle finger surgery; the best fit might just be someone like Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb instead of Arrieta.

Looking to get back to the postseason amid a competitive NL Central, St. Louis can afford Arrieta, but improving its bullpen has been a higher priority than its rotation. Addressing that need, the club has reached a deal with free-agent reliever Bud Norris, a source told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal on Monday morning. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 12.

Jake Arrieta

Ohtani electric, erratic in Spring Training debut

Righty shows diverse repertoire, including 69-mph curve, vs. Brewers
MLB.com @mi_guardado

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It wasn't perfect, but it was a start. Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani allowed two runs (one unearned) over 1 1/3 innings in the Angels' 6-5 win over the Brewers on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, marking his first outing in a Major League setting after spending the past five seasons starring in Japan.

Ohtani gave up two hits, including a home run to Keon Broxton to lead off the second inning, while striking out two, walking one and throwing 31 pitches in his Cactus League debut. The 23-year-old right-hander battled command issues but also showed flashes of his impressive arsenal, with a fastball that topped out at 97 mph and some nasty secondary pitches, including a 69-mph curveball.

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- It wasn't perfect, but it was a start. Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani allowed two runs (one unearned) over 1 1/3 innings in the Angels' 6-5 win over the Brewers on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, marking his first outing in a Major League setting after spending the past five seasons starring in Japan.

Ohtani gave up two hits, including a home run to Keon Broxton to lead off the second inning, while striking out two, walking one and throwing 31 pitches in his Cactus League debut. The 23-year-old right-hander battled command issues but also showed flashes of his impressive arsenal, with a fastball that topped out at 97 mph and some nasty secondary pitches, including a 69-mph curveball.

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"To get him out there the first time was great," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He threw all his pitches. Some were really what we would expect them to be, and some he just lost his release point on. But it's a step forward, for sure."

Video: MIL@LAA: Scioscia on Ohtani's Cactus League debut

Ohtani has been the center of attention at Angels camp for the last two weeks and has sparked heightened coverage as he attempts to become both an impact pitcher and hitter in the Majors. Nearly 100 media members were on hand to watch his highly anticipated debut, though Ohtani has seemed relatively unaffected by the intensity of the spotlight.

"Honestly, I didn't feel a lot of nervousness," Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I felt like I was pitching in Japan again. But it's the beginning of the year, first game of the year, and obviously I'm not at 100 percent. I'm still going to try and work my way up there."

Video: MIL@LAA: Ohtani discusses his first spring appearance

In the first inning, Ohtani gave up a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, who opened the game by lifting a 3-1 pitch over the head of center fielder Eric Young Jr. Ohtani then struck out Nate Orf swinging before walking Ji-Man Choi to put runners on first and second.

The Brewers scored their first run of the game after Villar advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado, but Ohtani stranded Choi at third by striking out Brett Phillips looking to end the inning.

Video: MLB Tonight looks at Ohtani's spring pitching debut

"Fastball, he might have to locate a little better, just because today it was a little flatter," Phillips said. "But it was coming out good. Offspeed looked really good. He definitely has a chance to be really good. I got to see it all."

After the Angels scored twice in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead, Ohtani returned to the mound for the second inning, but he threw a fastball down the middle to Broxton, who crushed it to left field for a game-tying homer. Ohtani then capped his outing by inducing a flyout to left field from Nick Franklin.

Video: MIL@LAA: Broxton on HR off Ohtani, Phillips impressed

Ohtani, who had been scheduled to throw two innings, said he thought the long break in between innings might have adversely affected his performance. In Japan, pitchers are allowed to start playing catch in front of the dugout with two outs, so Ohtani said he must adjust to pitching without that routine.

"Today our offense was kind of out there for a while, so my body was getting cold," Ohtani said. "I did kind of struggle to start the second inning, so that was a good learning experience for me."

The Angels have not yet announced when Ohtani will make his debut in the Angels' lineup, though Scioscia said it will be "early next week." Ohtani will not hit the day after he pitches, so the earliest he could bat in a Cactus League game would be Monday against the Padres in Peoria.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Angels among suitors in play for Holland

MLB.com

Among the high-profile Major Leaguers still unsigned is reliever Greg Holland, who's coming off a successful 2017 campaign as the Rockies' closer.

Angels could be in play for Holland
The Angels, who upgraded their pitching staff when they signed Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani in December, aren't seriously considering any other free-agent starters. However, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports the club would consider Holland "at the right price."

Among the high-profile Major Leaguers still unsigned is reliever Greg Holland, who's coming off a successful 2017 campaign as the Rockies' closer.

Angels could be in play for Holland
The Angels, who upgraded their pitching staff when they signed Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani in December, aren't seriously considering any other free-agent starters. However, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports the club would consider Holland "at the right price."

Los Angeles currently has Blake Parker, owner of 10 career Major League saves, projected as its closer. Holland, coming off a year in which he locked down a National League-best 41 saves, would likely be a significant improvement.

Holland, 32, flourished after signing a one-year deal with the Rockies prior to 2017, striking out 70 batters in 57 1/3 innings for Colorado in his return from Tommy John surgery. He was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time since making back-to-back appearances as a member of the Royals in '13-14.

Holland would be a welcomed addition to a bullpen that ranked 11th in the Majors last season with a 3.92 ERA. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 25.

Holland's landing spot may be guessing game, but Cubs seem a strong fit
With the Rockies well out of Holland's picture, having signed free agent Wade Davis, could Davis' former team -- now seemingly in need of a closer -- be the most logical fit for Holland? MLB Network insider Jon Heyman believes so.

In a post for FanRag Sports, Heyman admits that Holland's market remains a "guessing game" given the multitude of clubs with needs at closer. The Cubs' plan, for now, is to have Brandon Morrow handle the ninth inning for the revamped bullpen, which also includes new additions Steve Cishek, Dario Alvarez, Cory Mazzoni and Randy Rosario. However, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reported in January that the Cubs were likely done adding relievers, particularly with young pitchers in the system that could contribute such as