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Reports: Astros agree with Gregerson; Neshek next?

The Astros are reportedly making significant moves to shore up their bullpen, agreeing with Luke Gregerson to a three-year deal and closing in on a two-year contract with fellow late-innings guy Pat Neshek.

USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale first reported the news on both pitchers who, along with Chad Qualls, will help to give Houston one of the best back ends in baseball.

Gregerson is reportedly receiving $18.5 million over three years — $6 million in 2015, $6.25 million in 2016 and $6.25 million in 2017, with enough incentives written into the contract that he could make as much as $21 million total — while Nightengale says the Astros and Neshek are also nearing a multi-year deal.

Nightengale says that Gregerson’s deal is a record for a non-closer, but the right-hander has long been one of the most dependable setup men in the game. Last year, his first with the A’s after five seasons with the Padres, he went 5-5 with a 2.12 ERA in 72 outings.

Neshek also had a standout 2014 with the Cardinals, going 7-2 with a 1.87 ERA in 71 appearances out of the ‘pen.

— Joey Nowak

Reports: Hammel returning to Windy City

A piece of the Cubs rotation is reportedly falling into place, with Jon Heyman of first reporting that right-hander Jason Hammel is nearing a deal to return to Chicago.’s Carrie Muskat has confirmed that the deal is pending a physical and CSN‘s Patrick Mooney reported Monday afternoon that the terms of the agreement were for two years, $20 million guaranteed — $9 million in each of next two seasons with a $2 million buyout on a $12 million club option.

Hammel was dealt with Jeff Samardzija to the A’s in July, and is a free agent.

The 32-year-old was excellent in his 17 starts with the Cubs last year, going 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 108 2/3 innings. He and Samardzija were sent to Oakland on July 5 for Billy McKinney, Addison Russell, Dan Straily and a player to be named later. For the rest of the season, Hammel went 2-6 with a 4.26 ERA.

— Joey Nowak

Handful of clubs interested in Korean SS Kang

With the news that Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang is likely to be posted next week,‘s Jon Heyman is reporting that the Mets, Giants and A’s are among the clubs interested in him.

The 27-year-old has spent the last nine seasons playing in the Korean Baseball Organization, posting some gaudy numbers, should they translate to the position in the Majors.

Over 116 games last year,  Kang hit 39 home runs with 115 RBIs, a .354 average and a 1.189 OPS with the Nexen Heroes. The free agent and trade market for shortstops is thin, though Heyman reports that many Major League clubs view Kang as a second baseman.

The Giants have Brandon Crawford at short (and Heyman says Joe Panik could move to third to replace Pablo Sandoval and leave room for Kang), but the Mets have explored multiple options at the position, though they’re willing to give Wilmer Flores a shot. The A’s have the most pressing need at shortstop, with Nick Punto, Eric Sogard and Andy Parrino on the depth chart.

— Joey Nowak

Report: 3 teams interested in trading for Kemp

The Dodgers already had an abundance of outfielders even before the Tuesday acquisition of Chris Heisey from the Reds, and now seem even more likely to move at least one of them.

That could be former MVP candidate Matt Kemp, who apparently has a couple teams interested.‘s Jon Heyman wrote Wednesday that the Orioles, Padres and Mariners are interested in the 30-year-old two-time All-Star.

But Heyman cautions that Baltimore, while interested, is said to be “nowhere” in the talks and “almost no progress” has been made with the other two clubs, which makes the Dodgers seem reluctant to move Kemp.

Los Angeles has already lost right-handed hitter Hanley Ramirez this season, but still has Kemp, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Heisey in the mix.

The Orioles have lost outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz and suddenly seem more likely to lose out on longtime Baltimore outfielder Nick Markakis. Seattle has made a few big splashes already this season (signing Cruz and extending Kyle Seager), while the Padres are always looking for lineup upgrades. And, Heyman notes, San Diego’s trade chips — catchers and starting pitching — are what the Dodgers are looking for.

— Joey Nowak

Report: Lester meeting with Giants

Free agent Jon Lester will reportedly have options spanning the country, as Buster Olney reported Monday morning that the left-hander was set to meet with the World Series champion Giants on Monday.

The Giants have been said to be players in the Lester sweepstakes since they missed out on third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who signed with the Red Sox last week.

Lester has also reportedly met with the Cubs, the Red Sox — who made an offer to their former ace — the Braves and the Cardinals. first reported the Lester offer from Boston, which is believed to be for at least five years. Though terms of the offer were not disclosed, it is believed to be far more substantial than the four-year, $70 million pact the Sox offered Lester back in March. The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo reported it is a six-year deal in the $110-120 million range.

Lester, 30, spent the second half of the season pitching for the A”s after being traded from Boston. He spent the first eight-plus seasons of his career in Boston, where he was a three-time All-Star. In San Francisco, Lester would form a strong trio of starters along with postseason superstar Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.

— Joey Nowak

Report: Hunter choosing between four teams

Torii Hunter apparently has enough left in the tank to warrant interest from a handful of clubs, reportedly including the Rangers, Orioles, Mariners and Twins.

The Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Whicker tweeted after the USC-Notre Dame football game — Hunter was there to watch his son play for the Fighting Irish — that he has a short list which includes those four clubs. Immediately after the season, Hunter said retirement was also on the table.

The 39-year-old outfielder has spent the last two seasons with Detroit, and hit .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs this year. He has won nine Gold Gloves in center field, but would be a corner outfielder should he return in 2015.

The Twins are reportedly not expected to make as strong of a push. It’s also worth noting that Hunter lives in Prosper, Texas.

— Joey Nowak

Report: Sandoval left money on the table

As we wait for the Pablo Sandoval deal to be made official — the Red Sox have scheduled a press conference for this afternoon —‘s Jon Heyman tweeted out some more details about the contract this morning.

Heyman says that Sandoval and the Red Sox have terms for a five-year contract worth $95 million plus a club option for a sixth year. He also wrote that Sandoval “could have gotten more” with the Padres or the Giants.

The Sandoval presser can be streamed live on and at 1 p.m. ET.

— Joey Nowak

Report: Red Sox still interested in Lester

The reported signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez are apparently not slowing the Red Sox in their pursuit of Jon Lester.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted on Monday that Boston is “still very much engaged” with Lester and the “process [is] ongoing” in spite of the club’s recent free agent splashes.

Ramirez’s deal, first reported by, is four years and $88 million with a $22 million vesting option for a fifth year. Sandoval’s is a five-year contract worth close to $100 million, reported.

The Red Sox have met with Lester — who has met also with the Braves and Cubs, and could now be a target for the Giants — and made him an offer.

— Joey Nowak

Sandoval reportedly joining Hanley in Boston

It appears that not long after they secured one high-profile free agent, the Red Sox moved on and got another.

After reports began surfacing Sunday that Boston could be landing both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the two deals reportedly came to a head late Sunday/early Monday.

According to‘s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox agreed to a deal with the two-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion Sandoval for close to $100 million over five years.

The Red Sox have not commented on the reports.

With Sandoval coming to play third and Ramirez possibly moving to the outfield, there’s a good chance Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Craig or Shane Victorino could be on the move.

— Joey Nowak

Report: White Sox, Mariners, Orioles considering Melky

There are at least a trio of teams who are strong potential suitors for free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera,‘s Jon Heyman has reported, and they span the country.

The White Sox “are considering a pursuit” of Cabrera in their quest to find a left-handed bat for their lineup. Heyman said the Mariners “could make sense” as a landing spot, and the Orioles if Baltimore doesn’t re-sign Nick Markakis.

Cabrera would likely slot into the No. 2 spot of the batting order in Chicago where, Heyman points out, the White Sox posted just a .279 on-base percentage (second-to-last in baseball).

Cabrera did receive a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Blue Jays that he rejected. Heyman says Toronto has engaged in long-term talks with Cabrera but their signing of Russell Martin and pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes it less likely.

— Joey Nowak


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