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Report: Rockies sign INF Janish

The Rockies have signed infield utility man Paul Janish to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league Spring Training, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman reported on Monday.

Janish, 31, appeared in 52 games for the Braves last season and has six season of big-league experience. He’s played second and third base, as well as shortstop, for Atlanta and Cincinnati.

– Joey Nowak

1/26 Hot Stove Roundup

Any loose ends in the Brewers’ deal with Matt Garza were tied up on Sunday afternoon, as Milwaukee finalized and made official its four-year contract with the right-hander.

MLB.com‘s Adam McCalvy reported the four-year contract guarantees $50 million with another $4 million available in incentives, plus a vesting option for a fifth year at $13 million, depending on Garza’s workload over the first four years.

It’s the first of the free agent starting pitching dominoes to fall since the Yankees’ signing of Masahiro Tanaka, and there could be plenty more this week. But before getting too far ahead, let’s take a look at some more of Sunday’s Hot Stove news.

  • Reds starter Homer Bailey was “diplomatic” when talking about contract negotiationsMLB.com‘s Mark Sheldon wrote from the Reds Caravan in Cincinnati. Bailey is one of two Reds players eligible for arbitration (the other is closer Aroldis Chapman) and will be a free agent after the 2014 season. His agent Casey Close — who represents Tanaka, among other stars — has been engaged in talks with general manager Walt Jocketty about a multi-year deal. “There is [interest], but it has to be something that works out for both ends,” Bailey said. “That’s kind of tough to do. You see a lot of the signings that are going on, so, of course, it’s going to raise eyebrows on my behalf. Obviously, with a mid-market team, it’s tougher for them, also. We’re just going to have to see how everything goes.”
  • Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is also open to negotiating a long-term contract, MLB.com‘s Jordan Bastian reported Sunday, but he wants to take care of that business before Opening Day. “We haven’t talked about it yet [this offseason],” Kipnis said. “My guess is, if we were going to, it’d probably start in Spring Training, when everybody comes there. They’ve got their hands full with other stuff to take care of first. There’s arbitration cases on other players. It’ll come after — when the time is right.” The Indians are still working on contract talks with Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin, who are all arbitration-eligible.
  • After a dismal 2013 that included rotator cuff and wrist injuries and a Triple-A demotion, Danny Espinosa is intent on working his way back onto the Nationals’ big-league roster, and potentially even the starting lineup. According to Chase Hughes from Nats Insider, Espinosa has been assured by general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams that he will have plenty of chances to work for that opportunity.
  • The Pirates “probably won’t go after a pitcher” if A.J. Burnett decides to hang up his spikes and retire, the Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo reported. Burnett is still mulling the decision. Cafardo has that news and plenty more tidbits in his weekly Sunday baseball notes column.
  • The Mariners made one of the largest splashes of baseball’s offseason by signing second baseman Robinson Cano, but general manager Jack Zduriencik said the team is not yet finished. “We need to do a few more things,” Zduriencik said. “I’d like to add a couple more things to help us.” MLB.com‘s Greg Johns wrote from Mariners FanFest that Zduriencik will meet with new team president Kevin Mather in the next few days to discuss moves, which are most likely to include complementary additions.

– Joey Nowak

Rosenthal: Brewers, Garza agree on deal

The chips are starting to fall after the Masahiro Tanaka deal. 

Many predicted free agent starting pitchers would start hammering out deals once the Japanese ace found an MLB team, and Matt Garza appears to be the first. FOXSports.com‘s Ken Rosenthal tweeted Thursday that Garza and the Brewers have agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal, pending a physical. 

Garza pitched for the Cubs and Rangers last season, combining to go 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 24 starts. 

– Joey Nowak

Reports: Rays plan to announce Balfour signing

The Rays sent out a notice on Thursday morning that the club would be making a major announcement this afternoon, and multiple reports have surfaced now that it will be to announce newly-signed reliever Grant Balfour.

The former A’s closer was close to reaching an agreement with the Orioles earlier this offseason, but the deal fell through because of issues with his physical. Andrew Rickli first reported this bit of news on Thursday, and FOXSports.com‘s Ken Rosenthal tweeted the agreement is for two years. 

Balfour, 36, has spent 10 seasons in the Majors but has become a real force the last two seasons with Oakland, when he has combined for 62 saves.

– Joey Nowak

Phillies sign RHP Chad Gaudin

Philadelphia has signed veteran right-hander Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal with an invite to major league Spring Training.

The 30-year-old righty appeared in 30 games (12 starts) for the Giants last season, going 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .227 average.

After beginning the year with 18 consecutive relief appearances (posting a 2.05 ERA), he was moved to the starting rotation in June and stayed there. His season ended in mid-August due to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Gaudin has bounced around the Majors over 11 seasons, spending the most time (four years) with the A’s. He’s 45-44 in his career with a 4.44 ERA. Of his 344 career appearances, 87 have been starts. 

– Joey Nowak

Report: Dodgers now turning attention to Hanley

Since the Dodgers have locked up one franchise cornerstone — ace Clayton Kershaw — the team can turn its attention to infielder Hanley Ramirez. And, according to Yahoo!‘s Tim Brown, it already has.

Brown reported on Monday that the team is in “early stages” of negotiations with Ramirez, who finished eighth in the NL MVP voting this year despite appearing in only 86 games. He hit .345 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs in the limited playing time.

Ramirez will be a free agent after next season.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Mets re-sign Quintanilla

After seeing a good amount of playing time last year because of the injury to shortstop Ruben Tejada, the Mets have brought back Omar Quintanilla on a minor league deal, ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reported Saturday

At this point, the Mets are expected to go with Tejada as their starter — unless they sign another shortstop, like Stephen Drew — but Quintanilla can provide insurance at the premium position. 

In 95 games last year, Quintanilla hit .222 with a .306 on-base percentage.

– Joey Nowak

Cubs are definitely in on Tanaka

Two of the teams considered to be key players in the Masahiro Tanaka bidding are from the Windy City, and Bruce Levine confirmed the Cubs have made a serious play to land the Japanese ace.

The Cubs brass met with fans on Saturday at the annual Cubs Convention in Chicago and said now it’s just a wait-and-see situation with many clubs seeking Tanaka’s services. Jayson Stark wrote this week many suspect the Cubs will be his new team.

Levine reported on Saturday morning the Cubs “made Tanaka a real offer to be [their] ace and grow with their other talented young players.”

MLB.com‘s Carrie Muskat tweeted there’s not much of an update to the situation other than to “waiting to see how it plays out.”

– Joey Nowak

Report: Mariners close to signing Buck

The Mariners and veteran catcher John Buck are close to striking a one-year deal, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi has reported. Buck would serve as a backup behind young starter Mike Zunino.

Buck, 33, split time last year between the Mets and the Pirates. He had a strong start to the season in New York, where he hit 15 homers and drove in 60 runs in 101 games.

The 10-year veteran has spent time in Kansas City, Miami, New York, Pittsburgh and Toronto. He was an All-Star in 2010.

– Joey Nowak

Astros reportedly sign IF Izturis

The Astros have signed veteran infielder Cesar Izturis to a minor league contract, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman has reported, with the possibility of Izturis joining the club as a utility man. 

MLB.com‘s Anthony DiComo tweeted that the Mets also had interest in Izturis, who appeared in 63 games for the Reds last season. 

Izturis, 33, has spent 13 years in the Major Leagues. He won a Gold Glove with the Dodgers in 2004 and was an All-Star in 2005.

– Joey Nowak

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