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Mets sign Valverde to minor league deal

The Mets have signed former Tigers closer Jose Valverde to a minor league deal with an invite to Major League Spring Training. 

The 35-year-old right-hander has spent 11 seasons in the majors (with Arizona, Houston and Detroit) and was an All-Star in 2007, 2010 and 2011. He has 286 career saves and converted 49 in a row in 2011, becoming the third pitcher in MLB history to be perfect in all his save opportunities while closing 40 or more games. 

He appeared in 20 games for the Tigers last season and saved nine games after signing a minor league deal on April 4. He was released on August 7.

– Joey Nowak

Maholm with the Dodgers?

Lefty Paul Maholm has apparently landed with the Dodgers as multiple reports out of the team’s Spring Training camp — including from MLB.com‘s Ken Gurnick — have him spotted there, and with a locker in the clubhouse. 

Maholm, 31, was a free agent this winter after going 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA in Atlanta last season. The majority of his nine-year career came in Pittsburgh, along with stints with the Cubs and Braves.

He is 76-95 in his career with a 4.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.

– Joey Nowak

Report: Arroyo agreement could come soon

One of the top remaining free agent starters is Bronson Arroyo, but his 2014 landing spot could come into clearer focus soon, ESPN.com‘s Jerry Crasnick is reporting. 

Crasnick tweeted on Friday that the Dodgers and D-backs are “in the mix” for Arroyo, but the Orioles “still aren’t out of it.” He also said Arroyo “could have a clearer picture where he’ll land by the end of [Friday].”

The right-hander went 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA in 32 starts for the Reds last season. 

– Joey Nowak

Crisp signs 2-year extension

The A’s and  outfielder Coco Crisp have agreed to a two-year extension that will run through the 2016 season, with a vesting option for 2017.

The 34-year-old leadoff hitter will enter his 13th Major League season this year, and his fifth with the A’s. He’s a career .272 hitter with 108 home runs, 531 RBIs and 278 stolen bases over 1,294 games between the Indians, Red Sox, Royals and A’s.

In 131 games last year, Crisp hit .261 with 22 doubles, 22 homers, 66 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. It made him just the 10th 20/20 player in A’s history and the first since Ruben Sierra in 1993. He’s 141-for-162 in stolen base attempts as an Athletic (at 87 percent, it’s the best in franchise history) and all of his career-best 22 homers last season came in the leadoff spot, the most in the Majors.

– Joey Nowak

Angels bring in lefty bench haul

The Angels have signed quite the collection of potential left-handed bench bats, with Brennan Boesch, Carlos Pena and Chad Tracy all reportedly signing minor league deals with invitations to major league Spring Training. 

MLB.com‘s Alden Gonzalez has the news here about Pena and Boesch, whom Gonzalez says will compete for a bench spot this spring. 

Pena, also a solid defensive first baseman, signed a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the Astros last winter and hit .209 with 8 HRs and 25 RBIs in 85 games before he was released on July 31. The 35-year-old signed with Kansas City in August, but had a season-ending appendectomy in September. 

Boesch, who played at UC Berkeley before being drafted in the third round by the Tigers in 2006, played in 380 major league games from 2010-12 in Detroit and appeared in 23 for the Yankees last season. 

The Baltimore Sun‘s Dan Connolly reported Wednesday that the Angels also signed veteran Chad Tracy (not to be confused with former manager Jim Tracy’s son, who signed with the Orioles) to a minor league deal with an invite to big-league Spring Training. The former D-back and National has proven valuable off the bench in Washington the last two seasons.

– Joey Nowak

Young: It’s Dodgers or retirement

There are a number of teams surely interested in Michael Young‘s services should the veteran decide to play again in 2014, but he told reporters this weekend that if he does not retire, he will most likely play for the Dodgers. 

The LA Times‘ Dylan Hernandez wrote that it’s a “safe bet” that Young will play for Los Angeles if he comes back for a 15th season. He was traded from Philadelphia to L.A. on August 31, and appeared in 21 games for the Dodgers at the end of the season.

MLB.com‘s Alden Gonzalez also wrote Sunday that Young “hasn’t been in any big hurry” to make a decision, but he wants to be respectful to all his suitors. Young has a Dodgers offer on the table if he wants it.

The seven-time All-Star hit .279 with eight homers and 46 RBIs in 147 games between the Phillies and Dodgers last year. He’d most likely play second base for the Dodgers in 2014.

“I’ve made no secret I’ve loved my time in L.A.,” Young said, according to the Times. “Great teammates, coaching staff. It’s a first-class organization, top to bottom. As far as baseball is concerned, the Dodgers are it for me.”

– Joey Nowak

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

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