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Souza to ARI, Drury to NYY in 3-team deal

Rays receive Solak from Yankees, Banda, 2 players to be named from D-backs
MLB.com @_dadler

The Yankees, Rays and D-backs swung a three-way deal on Tuesday, with Arizona infielder Brandon Drury heading to New York and Tampa Bay outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and right-hander Taylor Widener, New York's No. 14-ranked prospect, going to Arizona. 

The Rays acquired Yankees No. 8 prospect Nick Solak and D-backs No. 4 prospect Anthony Banda. Tampa Bay will also receive two players to be named later from Arizona. 

The Yankees, Rays and D-backs swung a three-way deal on Tuesday, with Arizona infielder Brandon Drury heading to New York and Tampa Bay outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and right-hander Taylor Widener, New York's No. 14-ranked prospect, going to Arizona. 

The Rays acquired Yankees No. 8 prospect Nick Solak and D-backs No. 4 prospect Anthony Banda. Tampa Bay will also receive two players to be named later from Arizona. 

D-backs get: 
Steven Souza Jr. (from TB)
Taylor Widener (Yankees' No. 14 prospect)

Yankees get: 
Brandon Drury (from ARI)

Rays get: 
Anthony Banda (D-backs' No. 4 prospect)
Nick Solak (Yankees' No. 8 prospect)
Two players to be named later (from ARI)

Drury fills the Yankees' need for an infielder. The 25-year-old played mainly second base for the D-backs last season, but he can also play third. That would give the Yankees the flexibility to slot in either top prospect Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar, ranked No. 5, in the other position, as needed. Drury hit .267 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs in 135 games for Arizona in 2017.

Souza further bolsters the D-backs' outfield a day after they signed free agent Jarrod Dyson. While Dyson is a defensive specialist, Souza provides a much more potent bat -- the 28-year-old hit a career-high 30 homers last season and drove in 78 runs.

Arizona also nets Widener, a 23-year-old who went 7-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 27 starts for Class A Advanced Tampa.

The Rays, meanwhile, who had already completed a slate of rebuilding moves this offseason, now add a pair of well-regarded prospects. 

The 23-year-old Solak hit .297 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs in 130 games split between Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2017.

The 24-year-old Banda made his big league debut and pitched in eight games for Arizona last year, including four starts, with a 5.96 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks

Darvish impresses teammates with first live BP

Right-hander says he fits in 'naturally with the team'
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish and Kyle Schwarber squared off for the first time since the National League Championship Series during a live batting practice session on Tuesday. In October, Darvish was on the Dodgers, but now he and Schwarber are teammates.

"It definitely reminded me of the NLCS, but he didn't swing," Darvish said of Schwarber, who did not take a swing at any of the five pitches from the right-hander. "I hope to face him again soon in practice games."

MESA, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish and Kyle Schwarber squared off for the first time since the National League Championship Series during a live batting practice session on Tuesday. In October, Darvish was on the Dodgers, but now he and Schwarber are teammates.

"It definitely reminded me of the NLCS, but he didn't swing," Darvish said of Schwarber, who did not take a swing at any of the five pitches from the right-hander. "I hope to face him again soon in practice games."

Actually, only Willson Contreras took a swing during the 25-pitch session. It seemed the Cubs players wanted to see what their new starting pitcher could do. Darvish was OK with that.

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"If [Schwarber] swung, it would probably go over the fence," Darvish said of the Cubs slugger, who hit a solo home run off him in Game 3 of the NLCS last October. "It's a good thing he didn't."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The right-hander, who signed a six-year deal with the Cubs a week ago, said his new teammates have been very friendly.

"It seems like I fit in naturally with the team," he said.

The Cubs are pretty impressed.

"He's insane," Contreras said, referring to Darvish's pitches. "The movement he has on the baseball, on the breaking balls and the fastball command he has is crazy."

Tweet from @CarrieMuskat: #Cubs hitters waited to give Darvish fist pump after session pic.twitter.com/DgIuIe6Zrw

"It's Feb. 20 -- wow," Cubs manager Joe Maddon of Darvish's first live batting practice. "My impression from the side as an opponent has always been that when he's right on, he has this low fastball with great carry. I walk up and that's all [the hitters] are talking about. Obviously, he's feeling pretty good about himself. His delivery looks clean, the ball was coming out of his hand well.

"I know it's early, I'm certain his adrenaline was flowing a little bit, but he threw the ball great -- great with great conviction," Maddon said. "I'm more of a purist. I looked at the delivery and how the ball was reacting at home plate and it was outstanding."

Video: Maddon discusses Darvish's bullpen session

Obviously, the pitchers have an edge during the live batting practice because they've been in camp longer. Still, Maddon liked what he saw.

"It's just that he's got that low carry working already," Maddon said, before explaining, "Low carry -- when a pitcher is able to start the ball out low in the strike zone, normally as a hitter, you process that it's going to drop more and become a ball. His pitch has the rotation on it so well, it hits that plane and stays on it. Your mind thinks it's going to go below. Guys who are able to do that -- I used to catch Mark Langston and he was like that. There are certain guys who spin it low and keep the plane and those guys are tough."

Even though he did pitch an extra month because of the World Series last year, Darvish said he's treating this Spring Training like any other one. The Cubs will be careful with his Cactus League outings. Contreras has some work to do, too. How will he call seven different pitches?

"I have to figure that out," Contreras said, laughing.

Have any of the Cubs players tried to learn Japanese?

"Not one," Darvish said. "I think [former Cubs infielder Munenori] Kawasaki got them too tired learning Japanese."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish

J.D. deal embraced at Red Sox camp

Martinez not only brings big bat, but also veteran presence to young core
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The official arrival of J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox could come Wednesday, once he passes his physical. The anticipation in the clubhouse for the arrival of this offseason's premier slugger was building by the end of Tuesday's team workout.

For a team with World Series aspirations, the addition of a player who belted 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season was a thrilling development.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The official arrival of J.D. Martinez to the Red Sox could come Wednesday, once he passes his physical. The anticipation in the clubhouse for the arrival of this offseason's premier slugger was building by the end of Tuesday's team workout.

For a team with World Series aspirations, the addition of a player who belted 45 homers in just 432 at-bats last season was a thrilling development.

Sources: Red Sox have 5-year deal with J.D.

"It's a good bat and at least 40 homers," said Hanley Ramirez. "And we're trying to win this [thing]. This is how we can do it, to get a player like that. We've been together for three or four years training together down in Miami. We have a good relationship. He's a good hitter, and I think he's going to help us a lot."

Video: Look for Martinez to be early-round fantasy option

After finishing last in the American League this past season with 168 homers, the Red Sox now have the type of impact slugger who can instantly change that.

Martinez also represents another veteran presence to help the team's talented young core.

"He's a great player," said Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi. "He's proven himself. I'm just looking forward to getting to know him. I've heard he's helped out young guys throughout his years, so I'll be all ears when he comes in."

The right-handed hitting Martinez should provide the type of impact in the middle of the order the Red Sox badly missed during David Ortiz's first season of retirement last year.

"He's obviously a presence," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "Having that type of presence in the lineup can make a difference and that's what he is; he's a difference-maker."

The Red Sox won the AL East with 93 wins in each of the past two seasons, but also lost both years in the Division Series. They now have the type of big bat that could help lead them to a deep October run.

"He's a force, obviously," said first baseman Mitch Moreland. "To have him kind of anchored in the middle of our lineup is only going to help us.

"It's great having him, obviously," said Bradley. "We look forward to seeing him and welcoming him with open arms, and we can't wait for him to be a part of this unit."

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

All clubs to don Stoneman caps for ST openers

MLB.com @_dadler

All 30 Major League teams will wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball caps before their Spring Training games this weekend to show support for the Parkland, Fla., community and the Stoneman Douglas student body after the tragic shooting at the school on Feb. 14.

Players across MLB will then be signing the caps and auctioning them to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund. Seventeen people were killed in the shooting, including 14 students and three staff members.

All 30 Major League teams will wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball caps before their Spring Training games this weekend to show support for the Parkland, Fla., community and the Stoneman Douglas student body after the tragic shooting at the school on Feb. 14.

Players across MLB will then be signing the caps and auctioning them to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund. Seventeen people were killed in the shooting, including 14 students and three staff members.

"It's a tragedy. It was a tragedy that hit the state of Florida, where we have two teams, but obviously has very specific baseball connections," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Really a very strong sentiment among the clubs that this was the appropriate thing to do immediately."

MLB teams will wear the caps pregame on Friday and will also be allowed to wear them during their games. Since they're off on Friday, the Royals and Rangers will don the hats on Saturday.

The Commissioner approved the use of the caps during all games on Friday, the Spring Training openers for most of the clubs.

The effort started with a few Grapefruit League teams, which wanted to wear the caps pregame, and it quickly spread across camps in Florida and Arizona. Soon all 30 teams had decided to join in the support and fundraising effort for the school community.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo attended Stoneman Douglas, and spoke at a prayer vigil at Pine Trails Park the day after the shooting. 

"It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," Rizzo said Monday about meeting with families of the victims of the shooting. "You don't know what to say, there's nothing you can say. When people get shot, you're grateful they're alive. When they pass away, you're grateful you knew them. Just to see how real it is, it's sad and it's why I'm so proud of what they're doing back in Parkland and how everyone is coming together. They're going to turn this tragedy into something positive.

"The caps made for the fundraising effort will be provided to all players, coaches and umpires."

The Stoneman Douglas High School caps are reminiscent of how the Mets wore NYPD and FDNY caps following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The Mets donned the caps to honor the first responders in their first game after the attacks, in Pittsburgh on Sept. 17, and again in their return to New York four days later. In that memorable game at Shea Stadium, Mike Piazza hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning to lead the Mets to an emotional win over the Braves.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Kershaw's first live spring BP short but solid

MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasiel Puig drew the short straw and was first to face Clayton Kershaw, as he threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. Puig was ready, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a soft liner.

"I probably should have," Kershaw said when asked if he expected Puig's ambush.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasiel Puig drew the short straw and was first to face Clayton Kershaw, as he threw live batting practice for the first time this spring. Puig was ready, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a soft liner.

"I probably should have," Kershaw said when asked if he expected Puig's ambush.

Spring Training information

Otherwise, Kershaw's least-favorite Spring Training assignment was rather routine, 22 pitches, most of them tracked and taken by Puig, Chris Taylor and Andrew Toles.

If he's on a five-day schedule, Kershaw will start Sunday's exhibition game against Seattle in Peoria in the next step toward his eighth consecutive Opening Day start March 29.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Management has designed this spring's schedule with a reduced workload after last season extended into November. But for Kershaw, it's pretty much been business as usual, which he explained is a function of his specific job.

"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," said Kershaw. "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.

"Normally, I think I would throw two innings [today] and I threw one this time. And I'll probably throw one inning first time out [in a game] instead of two. So, little stuff. But ultimately, I don't think it matters, and come March 29 I don't think anybody will care where you are right now."

Kershaw said he "felt great" physically, but "the pitching side needs a little work."

Toles said he had never faced Kershaw until this workout.

"It's early and he's not on, but he's got good stuff," said Toles. "You get up for him. You have to. He's good. But it's just practice."

Kershaw said he was thankful that the Commissioner's Office had dialogue with the Players Association before announcing pace-of-play rule changes that did not include a pitch clock.

"Ultimately, I'm not sure if it's going to create a huge difference with the mound visits or not," he said. "Where the union was, as long as it doesn't change the integrity of the game, the competitiveness of the game and it's not costing people one way or the other.

"At the end of the day, we all want to play a quick game, we all want to have a crispness to it, we all want to have the best product out there for the fans. There's a crispness to it when a game is two hours and 45 minutes. It just seems like the 3 1/2-, four-hour games don't benefit anybody. Some games dictate that, but at the end of the day, I think everybody benefits from a quicker game. It's not like the union is adamantly opposed to that. We're right in lockstep with that."

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Phillies, Arrieta having discussions

MLB.com

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

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.

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

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.

Nationals remain possible Arrieta destination
The Nationals have emerged as a suitor for some of the remaining free-agent starters on the market, including Arrieta, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.

Right-hander A.J. Cole currently projects as Washington's No. 5 starter, but he's yet to pitch a full season in the big leagues. The 26-year-old has totaled 99 2/3 innings through 22 appearances with the Nationals over the last three seasons. Cole impressed with a strong finish in 2017, posting a 3.00 ERA through his final eight games. He's out of options, so if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster, the Nationals could lose him on waivers.

Washington's No. 4 prospect Erick Fedde and veteran Edwin Jackson are also in the mix for the final rotation spot. General manager Mike Rizzo has said he's comfortable with the team's in-house options for the role.

The Nationals previously expressed interest in Arrieta at the Winter Meetings, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, has ties to the organization. He represents three of Washington's current rotation members -- Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez -- as well as Nats star Bryce Harper, who's entering a contract year. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 11.

Hot Stove Tracker

Teams interested in "high-salary/short-term" deal
Should Arrieta reach a stage where he feels a long-term deal may not be in sight, perhaps not at the dollar value or length he seeks, the right-hander may have a breadth of job opportunities available. There are multiple teams "very interested" in discussing a high-salary deal with Arrieta, but on a shorter term, according to a report by ESPN's Buster Olney.

Arrieta has been linked to the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies and Nationals, though none of those reports have manifested into anything that indicates a deal is even close to culminating.

Though he has shown flashes as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball as recently as just three seasons ago, advanced metrics, a noticeable dip in velocity and less command of the strike zone all suggested that Arrieta possesses some potential long-term question marks. Those concerns may have prompted prospective suitors to temper their pursuit of a long-term deal with Arrieta, who was widely considered to land one of the most lucrative contracts as recently as just a year or two ago.

Though he is just five months older than Darvish and hasn't undergone major surgery like the Tommy John procedure Darvish underwent in 2015, Arrieta's market has been far more stagnant this winter, at least in the public realm. The Cubs showed far more interest in Darvish before agreeing to a five-year deal with the free-agent righty, which led USA Today's Bob Nightengale to speculate on a red flag relating to Arrieta -- essentially, if the Cubs, who nurtured Arrieta into one of the best pitchers in the game, were more interested in an external option, "What do the Cubs know about him that the rest of baseball doesn't?" -- This report was first posted on Feb. 9.

Arrieta appears ready to hold out for right deal
Arrieta, who is entering his age-32 season and is just two years removed from a historic season in 2015, finished the 2017 campaign with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 30 starts. He was among the most significant pieces of a multiyear Cubs rebuild that culminated with a championship in '16, and he has been linked to several clubs this offseason.

In January, USA Today reported that the Cubs would be willing to bring Arrieta back on a four-year, $110 million deal, though it's believed that the right-hander is seeking a longer deal and Chicago has since added Yu Darvish. The Brewers, who have fortified their lineup but are still in need of a top-of-the-rotation starter, are believed to have made a similar offer in length. CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine reported in early January that the Cardinals have also shown interest in Arrieta.

Levine reported in November that the starting point for negotiations between clubs and Boras were in the six-year, $160 million range. While it seems unlikely that Arrieta will net a contract of that figure, the highly competitive hurler appears to be willing to wait for the right offer.

The standstill market among the most high-profile free agents continues, and it's unclear if the dust will settle before next week, when pitchers and catchers report. -- This report was first posted on Jan. 3.

Jake Arrieta

Murphy still limited but primed for Opening Day

Nats' second baseman resumes light baseball activities
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Daniel Murphy acknowledged it might sound a bit crazy before he said it, but if he has trouble sleeping, he visualizes at-bats. There are few players in the game who enjoy hitting as much as Murphy, and he is constantly talking about hitting, watching at-bats and studying analytics.

So it has been difficult for Murphy to spend the past few months not being able to hit, limited as he recovers from the debridement and microfracture surgery he underwent on his right knee at the end of the season. On Tuesday, Nationals position players participated in their first full-squad workouts, which included live batting practice. Murphy was not able to participate.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Daniel Murphy acknowledged it might sound a bit crazy before he said it, but if he has trouble sleeping, he visualizes at-bats. There are few players in the game who enjoy hitting as much as Murphy, and he is constantly talking about hitting, watching at-bats and studying analytics.

So it has been difficult for Murphy to spend the past few months not being able to hit, limited as he recovers from the debridement and microfracture surgery he underwent on his right knee at the end of the season. On Tuesday, Nationals position players participated in their first full-squad workouts, which included live batting practice. Murphy was not able to participate.

His baseball activities are limited for now: fielding grounders from his knees, playing a little bit of catch and running on the treadmill with about 60 percent weight-bearing on his knee. Although it's hard for him to contain his excitement, he's happy with his progress so far and understands he must be patient with the rehab process.

Video: Daniel Murphy is the No. 4 second baseman right now

"You see these guys bouncing around and playing, you want to participate and be playing with your teammates," Murphy said. "But I think it's the understanding of when the training staff lets me go and it's time to play, you only want to come off the DL once. I don't want to start playing games and then have to stop."

Murphy showed up to the Nationals WinterFest event in December on crutches but is walking around just fine now. He still feels some slight discomfort in his knee but has full range of motion.

The Nationals have been optimistic throughout Murphy's rehab that he will be ready for Opening Day. Last week, manager Dave Martinez said Murphy is still on target to meet that goal. Murphy still has a long way to go, but the Nats do not seem to be concerned that he does not have time to hit that goal.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I'm more concerned about rushing him and him not being fully ready," Martinez said. "When we get him back, we don't want him to go back on the DL, we want to get him back for the whole season."

The number of baseball players who have undergone a surgery similar to Murphy's is limited, but one of them is Justin Turner of the Dodgers, Murphy's friend and former teammate, who rehabbed from the same injury in 2013. The two spoke during the offseason and Murphy was encouraged by the similarities in their rehab benchmarks.

"Each one's always going to be different," Murphy said. "I'm more asking him what it looks like, what he experienced, more in the future. Because where I am currently is really not going to change too much. So kind of what to expect is what we've talked about."

Washington has plans to slowly incorporate Murphy into Spring Training games with hopes of preparing him to start the season on time, for the final season of his contract with the Nationals. For now, his focus is on getting healthy again. Once that is done, he can go back to focusing on hitting.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Daniel Murphy

Boon for Ohtani? Angels lower RF wall

MLB.com @_dadler

The Angels will lower the height of the home run boundary line in right field at Angel Stadium this season, the team announced Tuesday.

The height will be changed from 18 feet -- the top of the high wall in right field -- to eight feet.

The Angels will lower the height of the home run boundary line in right field at Angel Stadium this season, the team announced Tuesday.

The height will be changed from 18 feet -- the top of the high wall in right field -- to eight feet.

"The adjustment to the line in right field will increase the fan experience at Angel Stadium while creating an environment that is equitable for both hitters and pitchers," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement.

The new home run boundary will be marked by a yellow line that will run along the outfield wall from the right-field side of the outfield gate in right field to the point in center field where the wall angle changes.

Angels vice president of communications Tim Mead told reporters on Tuesday that the change in the home run boundary was due to the installation of a new out-of-town scoreboard at Angel Stadium, as well as "philosophical changes."

While the Angels, of course, are about to begin their first season with left-handed-hitting Shohei Ohtani in their lineup -- who could take advantage of the lower home run height to his pull side -- the change was decided on before the team signed the Japanese two-way phenom.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Los Angeles Angels

Dodgers have 'open dialogue' with Kershaw

Font to start Cactus League opener; Thompson will get good look in spring
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi would not say whether the Dodgers were having contract negotiations with Clayton Kershaw, who can opt out of his contract at the end of this season.

But Zaidi, speaking at the annual Spring Training media day, acknowledged the team and pitcher have "open dialogue. He's our franchise player."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi would not say whether the Dodgers were having contract negotiations with Clayton Kershaw, who can opt out of his contract at the end of this season.

But Zaidi, speaking at the annual Spring Training media day, acknowledged the team and pitcher have "open dialogue. He's our franchise player."

Spring Training information

Last month, Kershaw downplayed the opt-out.

"The great thing about having options is just that, it's an option," said Kershaw, whose seven-year, $215 million contract signed five years ago allows him to walk next winter or finish out the next two seasons at salaries of $32 million and $33 million.

"It's not really a decision. For me, I just have to go out and try to pitch and be healthy, and if I have options at the end of the year, great. For now, I've got to stay healthy every fifth day. I feel good. I need to go pitch and everything will take care of itself from there."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

A bolder Font: Roberts announced that Wilmer Font will be the starting pitcher for Friday's exhibition opener against the White Sox.

Font received a September callup from the Dodgers last year, his first Major League service since five appearances combined in 2012 and 2013 with Texas. He's 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, and he racked up 178 strikeouts in 134 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year. He pitched in independent ball in 2015 and 2016.

The Dodgers see the 27-year-old Venezuelan as starting pitching depth, along with Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart and Walker Buehler.

Roberts said Stripling will start one of the split-squad games Saturday.

Paying tribute: The Dodgers will join the rest of MLB in paying tribute to victims of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by wearing the Parkland, Fla., baseball team's caps during morning workouts and in pregame warmups.

The Dodgers will wear their regular caps in the exhibition games.

Forgotten man: The Dodgers' outfield depth chart is deep, but Trayce Thompson is out of options and he's healthy after a disastrous 2017 season while trying to rebound from two broken vertebrae in his back suffered in 2016.

"He's probably one of the happiest to turn the page on 2017," manager Dave Roberts said. "He's healthy, he feels good. It was just one of those things -- anything that could go wrong did go wrong. He's certainly on our radar. We're going to run him out there a lot this spring."

Thompson injured the back in mid-May of 2016 and continued playing, slugging 10 home runs by June 7, but by July 10 his season was over. He hit only .122 in a brief callup in 2017.

In addition to starters Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig, Thompson is joined in camp by outfielders Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez, Andrew Toles and youngsters Alex Verdugo, DJ Peters, Yusniel Diaz, Henry Ramos and Travis Taijeron.

"We do have a lot of talented outfielders out there; I'd argue as many as anyone out there as far as depth," said Roberts. "He just has to go out and compete and play. I'm expecting him to play well."

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Wilmer Font, Clayton Kershaw, Trayce Thompson

The new pace of play rules, explained

MLB.com @castrovince

Coming off a 2017 season that saw the highest average game time (3 hours, 5 minutes) in history, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association had much discussion prior to Spring Training on how to speed things up. On Monday, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced some rule changes aimed at pace of play.

Here's everything you need to know about those changes:

Coming off a 2017 season that saw the highest average game time (3 hours, 5 minutes) in history, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association had much discussion prior to Spring Training on how to speed things up. On Monday, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced some rule changes aimed at pace of play.

Here's everything you need to know about those changes:

What's different?

There will be limits on mound visits, the length of time between innings and during pitching changes.

MLB announces pace of play initiatives for '18

But what about the pitch clock?

Despite many rumblings about the potential implementation of a pitch clock, that change will not be made for 2018.

How many mound visits are allowed?

Six per team per nine innings. If a game goes to extra innings, each team will receive one additional non-pitching-change mound visit per inning. Note, too, that the prior rule that a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager or coach in a given inning remains in effect.

Video: Hot Stove on batter's box rule, replay review changes

OK, so what qualifies as a "mound visit"?

This is important, because it's not just a manager or coach visit to the mound to meet with the pitcher. It is also a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher or a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit.

That said, there are interactions that don't qualify as mound visits, including:

• If the visit is made due to an injury (or potential injury) to the pitcher
• If the pitcher and position player interact between batters without relocating
• If a position player goes to the mound to clean his spikes in rainy conditions
• If the visit is made immediately after the announcement of an offensive substitution

• Players, managers react to changes

Are there any instances in which a team will get extra mound visits?

Just one. If a team has used up all of its mound visits but a home-plate umpire determines that the pitcher and catcher did not have a shared understanding of the location or type of pitch that had been signaled (in other words, if the two were "crossed up"), the umpire may, upon request of the catcher, allow the catcher to make a brief mound visit.

Note that the "cross-up" situation applies to a team's allotment of six visits per nine innings if the team has not already exhausted its allotment.

Video: Changes to inning breaks in pace of play initiative

How long will the breaks between innings and pitching changes be?

As has been the case since the start of the 2016 season, the breaks will be as follows: two minutes and five seconds for locally broadcast games and 2:25 for national televised games. For tiebreaker and postseason games it will be 2:55. Previously, the between-innings break was 2:25 for locally broadcast games and 2:45 for nationally broadcast games.

When does the inning break begin?

On the final out of the inning, unless that out is a close play that may be reviewed (in which case the timer will begin as soon as the umpire signals an out) or unless the pitcher ends the inning on base, on-deck or at-bat (in which case the timer will begin when the pitcher leaves the dugout for the mound) or the catcher ends the inning on base, on-deck or at-bat (in which case the timer will reset when the catcher enters the dugout and another catcher must begin warming up the pitcher).

During the playing of "God Bless America" or any other extended-inning event previously approved by the Office of the Commissioner, the timer will begin at the conclusion of the song or event.

When does the pitching-change break begin?

As soon as the relief pitcher crosses the warning track (or foul line for on-field bullpens).

How will the time limitations be implemented?

With 25 seconds left on the timer, the umpire will signal to the pitcher to complete his last warmup pitch, which must be delivered before the clock strikes 20. At 20 seconds, the batter will be announced and must leave the on-deck circle. At zero seconds, the pitcher must began his motion to deliver the first pitch of the inning. (Even if everybody is ready, the pitcher cannot deliver the first pitch more than five seconds before the end of the timer, so that the broadcast is ensured to be back from commercial break.)

There are a few special circumstances in which the break will be extended, including:

• A delay in normal warmup activities through no fault of the players, such as an injury or medical emergency, equipment issues or playing field or grounds crew issues
• The umpire believes the pitcher is at legitimate risk of injury if he does not receive additional time to throw warmup pitches
• The umpire believes the batter is at risk of injury if he does not receive additional time to enter the batter's box
• Any other circumstances in which, in the umpire's judgment, more time is needed

So are pitchers still guaranteed eight warmup pitches?

Nope. They can throw as many warmup pitches as they are able in the allotted time, but the eight-pitch guarantee has been removed from the rule book.

What happens to those who break the rules?

Monday's announcement promises "progressive discipline" for players who consistently or flagrantly violate the time limits.

Will we see the pitch clock added in 2019?

It's still possible. The Commissioner's Office will monitor how much these changes impact the average time and the pace of games, and it is still possible that the pitch clock is imposed, with or without agreement from the MLB Players' Association, in future seasons.

MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to meet during the 2018 season to continue to discuss pace of play.

What about the batter's box rule installed in 2015?

This rule -- which requires hitters to keep at least one foot in the box between pitches -- is still in effect, though enforcement in recent seasons has not exactly been strict. It is possible that the increased attention on pace of play leads to increased enforcement.

What about the time it takes for replay reviews?

MLB is installing capability for all club video review rooms to receive direct slow-motion camera angles in an effort to expedite that process.

Any other changes?

New phone lines will be installed connecting the video review rooms and the dugout. MLB will monitor communication on those lines to prevent their use for sign-stealing.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Buckle up: Harper set for fascinating year

MLB.com @MikeLupica

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Somehow, even in the Spring Training cluster of red jerseys on a back field on the Nationals side of The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches, with the sound of T.I. blasting out of a Sony speaker set in the green grass, the morning organizes itself around Bryce Harper, who is about to begin the most interesting potential walk year anyone has ever had in baseball. Or maybe any professional sport.

Alex Rodriguez was still just 25 when he set a record for free agents by signing a 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers for $252 million prior to the 2001 season. Now it is expected that Harper might not just break a record for himself, but become the first free agent in sports history to earn a contract of more than $400 million. Harper is 25. He will be 26 when he becomes eligible for free agency at the end of this season.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Somehow, even in the Spring Training cluster of red jerseys on a back field on the Nationals side of The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches, with the sound of T.I. blasting out of a Sony speaker set in the green grass, the morning organizes itself around Bryce Harper, who is about to begin the most interesting potential walk year anyone has ever had in baseball. Or maybe any professional sport.

Alex Rodriguez was still just 25 when he set a record for free agents by signing a 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers for $252 million prior to the 2001 season. Now it is expected that Harper might not just break a record for himself, but become the first free agent in sports history to earn a contract of more than $400 million. Harper is 25. He will be 26 when he becomes eligible for free agency at the end of this season.

They keep breaking into the big leagues younger. It just puts them on the market sooner. This isn't about Harper being the best player in the game. He's not -- even though he is sometimes discussed as if he were LeBron -- maybe because we have known about him since he was in high school. But he is a big talent and a big, good-looking, leading-man star. And as one manager who's not going to be unhappy if Harper leaves Washington after the season, said on Tuesday, "[Harper] likes the moment and that's a good thing. Because whatever club is going to pay him, what they're going to pay him is going to expect him to like the moment."

There was another moment, back when Derek Jeter was young, when he was walking through the Yankees' clubhouse one Sunday morning. I was sitting having coffee with David Cone, who watched Jeter breeze through the room and said with a smile, "It's good being Derek."

Oh, baby, is it good being Bryce Harper these days, as he is about to be the most coveted free agent since A-Rod.

Video: Outlook: Harper one of game's most feared hitters

So here Harper was on a back field in February, playing catch with Michael A. Taylor, slowly backing up toward center field until he was long-tossing with Taylor, before all the Nationals' outfielders would begin fly-ball drills. The fans hanging over the fence out here wore red No. 34 jerseys and black No. 34 jerseys, all expected to be collector's items when this season is over -- simply because the conventional wisdom is that Harper will move on to the Cubs or the Dodgers or the Yankees or the Philles when his contract ends. So there is the sense, even as the baseball season is just beginning for him and his team in the facility off Haverhill Road, at the opposite end of the complex from where the World Series champion Astros train, that this is the beginning of an ending for Harper as well.

The day before, as Harper met with the media here, he laid down his personal ground rules for the upcoming season and the general top of his free agency.

"Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all," Harper said. "I'm focused on this year. I'm focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call [agent Scott Boras] and he can answer you guys. So I'm not going to answer any questions. So if you guys do [ask] anything or talk about anything about that, then I'll be walking right out the door."

Apparently he was under the impression that if there was a question about free agency, and he did walk out the door, that everyone in the room would have died of heartbreak in that moment. Harper is smart not to talk about 2019 in '18, because there is nothing for him in that conversation. But on a day when he had some notes for himself on his phone, he needed to be more facile with the delete key. Or he was simply one more modern athlete in desperate need of an editor.

Video: Bryce Harper not focusing on free agency

Harper is some ballplayer. But not Mike Trout. Not Jose Altuve. If all the best young players in baseball were on one field, he might not be picked ahead of Aaron Judge, either, and perhaps not before gifted shortstops like Manny Machado or Carlos Correa or even Francisco Lindor. But he is the hot, young star with the hot bat who's about to hit the market, and that is all that is going to matter -- even as Machado hits the market at the same time.

Harper has already been an MVP once, and might have been on his way to another MVP season when he sustained a bone bruise last August. He hit 42 home runs in his MVP season in 2015, the only time in his six-year career that he has hit more than 30. He has never had 100 RBIs. It won't matter, the way the injuries that have slowed him down, won't matter, when he becomes available. But it will be great sports theater to see how he does this season as he tries to make the Nationals be more than they have ever been in October and remind people, across an entire season, the way he can hit when he is at his very best.

Once, in that MVP year, Harper looked like the most interesting man in the baseball world. Now things have changed slightly. But he is still the most interesting walk year. "I got the top spot" was one of the lyrics from T.I. in the song to which they were all listening in West Palm this morning. There are always big stakes for all the top guys in sports. None bigger than the ones for Harper. You always hear the expression about them throwing the money on the table in sports. Never quite like this.

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

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper

Atkins confident Donaldson deal will get done

Slugger ready to focus on season amid impasse, GM continues to negotiate
Special to MLB.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- One day after Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson shut down contract negotiations, general manager Ross Atkins addressed the media at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

"I think it is 'yet,'" Atkins said. "We haven't reached a deal yet."

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- One day after Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson shut down contract negotiations, general manager Ross Atkins addressed the media at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

"I think it is 'yet,'" Atkins said. "We haven't reached a deal yet."

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The 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner is looking for a long-term extension with the team after batting .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs, despite being limited to just 113 games due to a right calf injury.

"We're not in the same type of area, the same ballpark, to make a discussion moving forward," Donaldson told reporters on Monday.

Atkins believes that Donaldson and the team will still be able to reach an agreement to keep him in a Blue Jays uniform beyond this season. Shutting down negotiations will allow the two-time Silver Slugger Award winner to focus on the upcoming season, something that is in the best interest of both the player and the team.

"It's been respectful. It's been productive. It's been open," Atkins said of the talks. "We've learned a great deal about one another over the past two and a half years, and I feel good about the relationship, and I feel good about the potential for him to be here long term."

Atkins did not comment on whether they had exchanged hard figures, but said that the team had expressed how they view Donaldson's overall value as a player.

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"There's no doubt in my mind that he wants to be a Toronto Blue Jay. There's no doubt in anyone's mind," Atkins said. "It's such an interesting process with a player of his caliber because he feels a responsibility to this organization, and he feels a responsibility to the city, and he feels a responsibility to his teammates and he also feels a responsibility to the industry."

While the 32-year-old Donaldson said that he was likely headed toward free agency at the end of the 2017 season, that doesn't mean that the Blue Jays won't continue to negotiate a new deal. That's a lesson they learned from last year after negotiations stalled with then-free agent Edwin Encarnacion, who eventually landed with the Cleveland Indians. Atkins said that they would continue to try and work out a deal even if Donaldson did become a free agent.

"They understand where we were, and we understand where they are," Atkins said. "We will continue to work on it, and continue to see."

Donaldson was just one of the topics that Atkins touched upon on Tuesday. He also noted that even though the divisional-rival Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees made some major acquisitions this offseason, the organization still feels it can contend for the AL East crown.

"It's the AL East, and I think the players' reactions to that is the best in my opinion," Atkins said. "They want to be playing against the best, and to beat the best you are going to have to be playing against the best. Ultimately, we see it as a challenge we'll embrace."

Atkins also said he doesn't expect there to be any major signings by the Blue Jays from the remaining free-agent pool, and that there was a "better than 90 percent chance" that the Opening Day roster would consist of players that are already in camp. One exception could be another late addition to the bullpen.

"We have a good team," he said. "We have a very good core of leaders that have won before. There's a lot of reason to believe there could be some bounce-back from some of our players that were injured last year. We have a much, much better Triple-A team, and farm system that, in the event we do have setbacks, that we will be able to overcome them.

"It does feel good, and it feels good to be here with this group of guys, and I feel confident that we have a solid group to make a good run."

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson

Reds GM Williams wants 'step forward' in '18

MLB.com @m_sheldon

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Reds first baseman Joey Votto arrived to Spring Training on Sunday underscoring his desire for the team to get better and start winning again, general manager Dick Williams was both paying attention and agreeing.

"Joey came out and said, 'I'm going to do my part to improve.' We all have to look in the mirror," Williams said on Tuesday at the Cactus League media day session for managers and general managers. "If Joey is going to say that about himself, then I know there are a lot of guys in that clubhouse have to want to get better. If Joey feels he does, then the rest of us have to feel like that."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Reds first baseman Joey Votto arrived to Spring Training on Sunday underscoring his desire for the team to get better and start winning again, general manager Dick Williams was both paying attention and agreeing.

"Joey came out and said, 'I'm going to do my part to improve.' We all have to look in the mirror," Williams said on Tuesday at the Cactus League media day session for managers and general managers. "If Joey is going to say that about himself, then I know there are a lot of guys in that clubhouse have to want to get better. If Joey feels he does, then the rest of us have to feel like that."

Cincinnati finished 68-94 in each of the past two seasons, lost 98 games in 2015 and hasn't reached the postseason since 2013.

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The rebuilding program began midway through the '14 season, but Williams and the club is ready to see it turn the corner and be able to chart real progress. How that is measured won't be in just wins and losses.

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"Tying it to the win total, there are too many variables involved there," Williams said. "But we want to see a significant step forward. I want to see individual performance and team performance get better."

Despite the last-place finish in the National League Central, the Reds made smaller moves in the offseason. Relievers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez were the only two players they signed to big league contracts. Williams chose to stay the course with the rotation and is counting on healthy years from veterans like Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani while expecting maturation and improvement from several of the younger pitchers.

In contrast, the division-rival Brewers accelerated their rebuild after a surprise 86-win 2017 season. After it finished one game out of a NL Wild Card spot, Milwaukee went all-in this offseason and upgraded its lineup and outfield with the signing of free agent Lorenzo Cain and trading four prospects to the Marlins for Christian Yelich.

"I absolutely think we will expand our payroll and investment in the team in the coming years," Williams said. "That may be to keep the current team together or maybe to bring people in from outside.

"I do think we are getting close to that point where we'll make more significant additions from the outside."

Video: Reds open camp with staff improvements on deck

Besides adding Hughes and Hernandez, the other offseason need for a backup shortstop was filled when free-agent infielder Cliff Pennington was signed Thursday to a Minor League deal.

Although the Reds looked at Tim Lincecum's pitching showcase last week and will touch base with his people, it seemed unlikely more acquisitions would be made during camp.

"We'll keep our eyes open. We're always opportunistic," Williams said. "I do feel like we've got a team we can break camp with."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds

Elite speed sold D-backs on Dyson

Outfielder introduced in wake of two-year, $7.5 million deal
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The tangibles were the first things D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo mentioned Tuesday when discussing the club's latest acquisition, outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

They were most drawn to Dyson's ability to play all three outfield spots and the speed element he brings, but they also hammered home the intangibles: his playoff experience, including a World Series victory, and his clubhouse presence.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The tangibles were the first things D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo mentioned Tuesday when discussing the club's latest acquisition, outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

They were most drawn to Dyson's ability to play all three outfield spots and the speed element he brings, but they also hammered home the intangibles: his playoff experience, including a World Series victory, and his clubhouse presence.

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And to that last point, based on one introductory media session, they are spot on.

"I watched those guys play last year and I could tell they were having fun and were close as a team," said Dyson, 33, who signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal on Monday. "Losing stinks. Losing causes problems in clubhouses. And winning takes care of everything. So this is a nice bunch to be a part of."

Dyson will battle for outfield time with incumbents Yasmany Tomas and David Peralta as well as Steven Souza Jr., who was acquired from the Rays in a three-team trade that sent Brandon Drury to the Yankees on Tuesday night. Dyson is a career .258 hitter with 204 stolen bases in 241 attempts, an 84.6 percent success rate. The left-handed hitter batted .251 and stole 28 bases for the Mariners last year after spending the previous seven seasons with the Royals.

"My game is speed," Dyson said. "Speed does a lot. Speed helps you win ballgames, I'll tell you that."

Dyson said he looks forward to working with D-backs first-base coach Dave McKay, who is credited for a sizable chunk of the team's stolen bases the last three seasons.

Video: LAA@SEA: Dyson swipes his 28th base of the season

Lovullo labeled Dyson's speed as "elite."

"That's an element we didn't necessarily have last year," said Lovullo, whose team was fourth in the National League with 103 steals. "He's going to be a very, very interesting player for us. ... He's going to have a strong impact on our lineup."

Dyson was pinpointed as a possible free-agent addition early in the offseason, Hazen said. Gregor Blanco re-signed with his old club, the Giants, and J.D. Martinez always figured to be seeking a deal larger than the D-backs were willing to offer. Martinez is on the verge of finalizing a five-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox.

"We had talked quite a bit about him as an ideal fit in a lot of ways," Hazen said of Dyson. "We felt like this was something we needed to jump at at this moment in time. I feel like he complements a lot of what we're trying to do. ... Adding speed and usable speed, the ability to steal bases when people know you're looking to steal a base, I think that can only help us win games."

Dyson said waiting find a home so long this offseason was a little stressful and that coming off sports hernia surgery in mid-September likely played a role. But as a 50th-round Draft pick in 2006, he doesn't take anything for granted.

"That's what pushes me, being a 50th-round Draft pick," he said. "What I did with that was on me. I just took it and ran with it."

Dyson was asked what a signing bonus looked like for a 50th rounder.

"It looks terrible," he said. "A bag of peanuts, a plane ticket and a 'Go get 'em.'

"Then you meet other guys who got paid way more money and you feel like, 'I could of gotten a little piece of that.' Oh, well. It wasn't meant for me to get that. That's probably why I have the drive I have today."

Chris Tomas is a contributor to MLB.com.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Jarrod Dyson