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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

Report: Orioles looking for starter, backup catcher — not closer

One of the Orioles’ most high-profile moves this winter was one that never actually came to fruition, and now it appears the club is prepared to move in an entirely different direction.

Baltimore was close to signing free agent closer Grant Balfour but the deal fell through because of last-minute issues with his physical. Now, the Baltimore Sun‘s Dan Connolly reports, the team is moving on from looking for an outside candidate to close and is more focused on securing starting pitching and/or a backup catcher.

According to his report, the Orioles “have made it known that they are comfortable with in-house options at closer.” NBC Sports‘ Aaron Gleeman suggests the top candidate, then, would be Tommy Hunter, who filled the setup role last season.

As for the team’s prominent needs, Connolly said the team is not in the running for Masahiro Tanaka but Dan Duquette says the club is talking with a number of other starters. Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo remain viable options.

Connolly points to Mike McKenry as a possible backup for Matt Wieters (Baltimore currently has  Steve Clevenger, Johnny Monell and Michael Ohlman on the 40-man). John Buck and Miguel Olivo are other possible free agent options.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Wells DFA-ed by Yankees

The Yankees have designated outfielder Vernon Wells for assignment to clear room on their 40-man roster, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported on Friday.

Wells, 35, spent one season in New York, where he hit .233 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 130 games. The 15-year veteran has seen his production decline over his last three seasons — the previous two with the Angels — as he’s hit .227 over that span.

The three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover spent the first 12 years of his career with the Blue Jays.

– Joey Nowak

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