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Kaneko staying put in Japan

Japanese right-hander Chihiro Kaneko signed a new four-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes on Wednesday, according to The Japan Times. That puts an end to speculation that the defending Pacific League MVP might be posted this offseason, though the 31-year-old remains open to coming to the Major Leagues in the future.

“I would like to do that at some point,” he told The Times.

The Phillies, Red Sox and Padres were among the teams that reportedly had scouted Kaneko.

Though considered to be less of an MLB prospect than countryman Kenta Maeda — who also won’t be posted this winter — Kaneko won the Sawamura Award in ’14 as Japan’s best starting pitcher. In 26 starts for the Buffaloes, he went 16-5 with a 1.98 ERA and 199 strikeouts over 191 innings, though he had bone cartilage cleaned from his elbow in late November. During his nine-season run with Orix, Kaneko owns a 2.69 ERA.

— Andrew Simon

Report: D-backs re-sign Pacheco

The D-backs have re-signed Jordan Pacheco to a Minor League contract and invited him to Spring Training, SBNation.com’s Chris Cotillo reported late Wednesday night. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Pacheco, who will turn 29 on Jan. 30, had been outrighted off the D-backs’ roster last month and became a free agent. He originally came to Arizona in June, when he was claimed off waivers from the Rockies.

Through parts of four big league seasons, Pacheco has been a versatile player, spending the bulk of his time at first base (114 games), third base (92) and catcher (41). Arizona used him mostly at first after acquiring him but also gave him time at third and second.

Between the Rockies and D-backs, Pacheco hit .255/.299/.333 last season, with no homers and 16 RBIs in 69 games. He owns a career line of .281/.316/.374.

— Andrew Simon

Report: Padres make offer to Morrow

Free-agent right-hander Brandon Morrow has received offers to be both a starter and a reliever, though he prefers to the first option, according to FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

One of the teams making an offer is the Padres, though Rosenthal didn’t specify what role the club sees for the 30-year-old. Either way, the one-year deal is apparently “incentive-laden.”

Morrow, the fifth overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, has split time between the rotation and the bullpen over eight big league seasons for the Mariners and Blue Jays. He also has battled numerous injuries, reaching his high of 179 1/3 innings over 30 starts for Toronto in 2011. Last year he posted a 5.67 ERA across only 33 1/3 innings, making six starts out of 13 appearances and missing about four months with a torn tendon sheath in his right index finger.

— Andrew Simon

Report: Angels could deal Wilson, go for another arm

There wouldn’t seem to be a huge trade market for Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, considering he’s 34 years old, is owed $38 million over the next two seasons and is coming off a disappointing 2014.

Nonetheless, the Angels have made Wilson available, according to a report from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, who brings up the possibility that such a move could clear payroll for a run at another pitcher, perhaps free agents Max Scherzer or James Shields. The Angels’ starting pitching is thin, so it follows that any trade of Wilson would have to lead toward the addition of at least one other arm.

Wilson was solid for the Angels in 2013, his second season with the club, going 17-7 with a 3.39 ERA. Last year, however, he dropped to 13-10 with a 4.51 ERA, and he led the league with 85 walks, issuing 4.4 per nine innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio dropped to 1.8. Manager Mike Scioscia also pulled Wilson after he gave up three runs over two-thirds of an inning in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Royals.  Heyman also reports that the Angels don’t want to eat any of Wilson’s salary in a possible deal.

One thing Wilson does have going for him is durability, as he’s made at least 31 starts in five consecutive seasons, though he threw only 175 2/3 innings last year after topping 200 in each of the previous four campaigns.

— Andrew Simon

Reports: Blue Jays interested in Duquette, Williams for president/CEO job

The owners of the Blue Jays are searching for a replacement for longtime president and CEO Paul Beeston, according to a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, and they have discussed filling that position with Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette or White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Beeston became the Jays’ first employee in 1976 and their president and CEO in ’89, leaving for a job in the Commissioner’s Office in ’97 but returning in 2008.

Duquette, who has helped to turn around the Orioles since being hired in November 2011, has won multiple Executive of the Year awards this winter. He’s under contract with Baltimore through 2018, so the club would not have to let him go, or could ask for significant compensation if it does. However, Duquette is a “top candidate” for the job, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

The White Sox promoted Williams from general manager to executive vice president after the 2012 season, with Rick Hahn taking over as GM. The club is “balking” at allowing the Blue Jays permission to speak to Williams about the position, according to Rosenthal, who reports that Williams is considering resigning.

“I’m focused on helping the White Sox win another championship,” Williams told Rosenthal. “I’ve considered all options as anyone would given the set of circumstances.”

— Andrew Simon

Report: O’s getting heavy interest in Chen

Considering their starting pitching depth and other areas of need, it could make sense for the Orioles to be active in the trade market.

If they are, one pitcher who might be on the move is left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. The Baltimore Sun, citing an industry source, reported Saturday that Chen has been the subject of more inquiries than any other player on the club’s 25-man roster.

According to the report, Orioles executives have described interest in Chen as “very high.” The Taiwan product is set to make $4.75 million in his upcoming age-29 season before becoming a free-agent. In 2014, his third year in the big leagues, he went 16-6 with a 3.54 ERA over 31 starts.

The Orioles already have talked about one deal involving Chen this offseason, according to the Sun, discussing but ultimately rejecting a trade with the Angels that involved second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Baltimore also has right-handers Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez as rotation options. Norris, also set to become a free agent after next season, has received some trade interest, the Sun reported. Jimenez, with $38.75 million left on his contract, would be difficult to move after posting a 4.81 ERA in ’14.

— Andrew Simon

Mets offering up starting pitching

With depth in the starting rotation and weaknesses to address elsewhere on the roster, it makes sense that the Mets could pursue a trade this offseason. In fact, the club is “actively” looking to deal a veteran starter, according to the New York Post.

New York can offer right-handers Bartolo Colon or Dillon Gee or lefty Jon Niese, with Matt Harvey set to rejoin a staff that also features Zack Wheeler and National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.

Colon is due to make $11 million in his age-42 season but threw 202 1/3 innings in 2014, with a 4.09 ERA. Gee will be 29 this year and in his second season of arbitration after posting a 4.00 ERA over 22 starts, missing some time due to injury. Niese, 28, made 30 starts with a 3.40 ERA in ‘14 and is signed for $16 million over the next two years, with options of $10 million and $11 million for ‘17 and ‘18.

There currently are higher-end pitching options available on the free-agent market or potentially available through trade, so the Mets might have to wait — perhaps into Spring Training — to find a return they like.

— Andrew Simon

Extension possible for Braves, Justin Upton

This offseason, the Braves already traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals before his final year ahead of free agency. Fellow outfielder Justin Upton is in the same position, and rumors have been flying that Atlanta will deal him as well.

Yet it’s not a lock that Upton will be wearing a different uniform in 2015, and the slugger could in fact stick around even longer. John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Sunday, and said the club is not involved in active discussions involving Upton or catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis. While Hart downplayed the possibility of a long-term extension for Upton, he also called it “not out of the realm of possibility.”

Upton will make $14.5 million this coming season, at age 27, and will be expensive to retain after that. He’s a career .274/.354/.476 hitter, averaging 24 home runs and 80 RBIs per year since 2009. In ’14, he slammed 29 homers and drove in 102 runs, while posting an .833 OPS.

— Andrew Simon

Report: Orioles interested in Kemp

The Orioles are trying to re-sign one of both of their free-agent outfielders, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. But according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, they also have other targets in mind.

In addition to being one of the finalists for Torii Hunter, Baltimore is one of the clubs that has discussed a trade with the Dodgers for Matt Kemp, Rosenthal reported Sunday. He speculated that the O’s could be looking for alternatives to Markakis and Cruz, as well as leverage in those negotiations.

Retaining Markakis, an Oriole for his entire career, is no longer a “foregone conclusion,” according to Rosenthal. Talks between the two sides were said to be picking up earlier this month.

Kemp has been the subject of frequent trade rumors, with the Dodgers facing a glut of outfielders. The 30-year-old bounced back from an injury-plagued 2013 to play 150 games last year, hitting .287/.346/.506, with 25 home runs and 89 RBIs.

— Andrew Simon

White Sox set to make LaRoche signing official

The White Sox, who agreed to a deal with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche on Friday, are likely to finalize the two-year pact on Monday, according to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers.

Chicago will pay the 35-year-old left-handed hitter a total of $25 million after he batted .259/.362/.455 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs for the Nationals in 2014. He is expected to share time with fellow slugger Jose Abreu at both first and designated hitter.

Rogers adds that the White Sox, who also have signed left-handed reliever Zach Duke this offseason, are “stockpiling” depth at shortstop. That could lead them to trade starter Alexei Ramirez, who is owed $10 million in the final year of his contract.

— Andrew Simon

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