The White Sox added depth to their bullpen on Friday, agreeing to a Minor League contract with veteran right-hander Matt Albers, according to multiple reports.
Albers’ deal reportedly includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. He would earn a base salary of $1.5 million if he makes the team, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Albers, 32, was limited to eight games with the Astros last year because of a shoulder injury. When healthy, he’s been a solid reliever, posting a 2.63 ERA over the last three seasons with the Red Sox, D-backs, Indians and Astros.
The White Sox have made improving the bullpen a priority this offseason, adding free agents David Robertson and Zach Duke. Chicago’s relievers combined for a 4.38 ERA in 2014, which ranked 28th in the Majors.
The Marlins are showing interest in free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
Miami has been in contact with Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras, though nothing is imminent, according to Frisaro.
Rodriguez, 33, saved 44 games with the Brewers last season. He would add a quality and proven arm to the back of the Marlins’ bullpen. Steve Cishek remains the closer, but Rodriguez would be a strong fallback option.
The Marlins actually came into $1 million when they won their arbitration hearing with Mat Latos. The pitcher filed for $10.4 million, and Miami countered at $9.4 million. The ruling went in favor of the club.
Soriano, 35, had 32 saves with the Nationals last season. He’s totaled 117 saves over the last thee years with the Nats and Yankees. The right-hander has a lifetime 2.85 ERA over 13 seasons in the Majors.
Free agent starting pitcher James Shields is reportedly close to signing with a team this week, but the Yankees are not one of those clubs, according to multiple reports.
The Yankees are “not in in play” for a significant free agent starting pitcher such as Shields, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirmed that information, adding that the Bronx Bombers preferred Max Scherzer and never seriously pursued him in free agency this winter.
The Yankees already have a number of starters on their roster, including: CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano and Adam Warren.
Shields is mulling a number of options and is expected to sign a contract by the end of this week, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
Shields was initially expected to command a contract of at least $100 million, but his price tag appears to have dropped as the offseason has progressed. The 33-year-old is now expected to sign a deal in the $70 to $80 million range, which could bring more teams back in on the bidding.
But the Yankees apparently are not one of the bidders.
The Phillies are in the midst of a rebuilding effort, but the club still has a number of veteran players it would like to move, such as closer Jonathan Papelbon.
While rumors surrounding Papelbon have died down recently, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly that trade talks are still ongoing with at least two teams.
“Things are still alive,” Amaro told CSNPhilly.com. “We’re still having discussion — and not just with one club. … It’s complicated. There are a lot of different factors involved.”
The Brewers and Blue Jays are the two clubs that have discussed a potential deal for Papelbon, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported last week.
A number of factors make trading Papelbon difficult. He will earn $13 million this season and has a $13 million club option for 2016 that kicks in if he finishes at least 48 games this year. Papelbon also has limited no-trade rights, though he told reporters in July that would not be an issue in facilitating a trade.
Papelbon, 34, would help clubs looking for a closer. He had a 2.04 ERA and 39 saves in 43 opportunities last year. His 90.7 save-completion percentage ranked sixth out of 29 qualifying closers in baseball, while his 0.90 WHIP ranked 19th out of 185 qualifying relief pitchers.
The Phillies have a number of moves to make going forward, so Papelbon’s situation is worth monitoring.
The deal is slightly above the midpoint of salary figures filed by Moustakas and the Royals. Moustakas filed for $3.1 million and the club countered with $1.85 million. Moustakas can earn an additional $10,000 if he reaches 525 plate appearances, plus a $50,000 bonus if he is an All-Star.
Moustakas, 26, had a strong postseason for the American League-champion Royals after a bit of a down year. During the regular season, he hit .212 with 15 homers and 21 doubles. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career.
The Royals have five remaining arbitration-eligible players: Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland and Eric Hosmer.
The Red Sox have signed outfielder Daniel Nava to a one-year contract for the 2015 season, avoiding arbitration, the club announced on Thursday.
Nava’s deal is worth $1.85 million, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Nava, 31, was eligible for salary arbitration for the first time in his career. He hit .270 with 21 doubles and four home runs over 113 games with the Red Sox last season.
With Nava now signed, left-hander Wade Miley is the only remaining unsigned Red Sox player eligible for salary arbitration.
The Marlins have designated pitcher Arquimedes Caminero for assignment, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
Caminero, 27, made six relief appearances for the Marlins in 2014, but spent the majority of the season in Triple-A. The right-hander worked 13 innings with the club in ’13, striking out 12 over 13 innings and posting a 2.77 ERA. The Marlins signed him as an amateur free agent in ’05.
The Marlins have 10 days to either place Caminero on waivers, release him or trade him.
The Blue Jays have reportedly signed a pair of veterans to Minor League deals: reliever Ronald Belisario and infielder Ramon Santiago. Both players have been invited to Major League Spring Training.
Belisario’s contract will pay him $1.7 million if the right-hander makes the big league club, according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden.
Belisario, 32, has closing experience, but has been better in a middle relief role over a five-year career in the big leagues. He’s coming off a bit of a down season, though, after going 4-8 with a 5.56 ERA in 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014. Chicago designated him for assignment in November. His best season came in 2012 with the Dodgers, when he went 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 68 relief appearances covering 71 innings.
Santiago, 35, appeared in 75 games with the Reds last season and produced a .246/.343/.324 slash line in 214 plate appearances. His deal with the Blue Jays was reported by Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. A veteran of 13 seasons in the Majors, Santiago can play shortstop, second base and third.
The Blue Jays begin Spring Training next month, with pitchers and catchers scheduled for their first workout Feb. 23 and the first full squad workout on Feb. 27.
The Blue Jays could still use some help in the bullpen, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes, and the club is making progress on a contract with right-hander Ronald Belisario, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
While a deal with Belisario is not yet finished, he would appear to be a solid fit in Toronto.
Belisario, 32, has closing experience, but has been better in a middle relief role over a five-year career in the big leagues. He’s coming off a bit of a down season, though, after going 4-8 with a 5.56 ERA in 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014. Chicago designated him for assignment in November.
Belisario’s best season came in 2012 with the Dodgers, when he went 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 68 relief appearances covering 71 innings.
There are still a number of proven relievers available on the free-agent market, including Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, Alexi Ogando and John Axford.
The Braves have officially signed Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano to a four-year contract, the team announced on Wednesday. Toscano’s deal includes a club option for the 2019 season.
To make room for Toscano on the 40-man roster, the Braves designated outfielder Jose Constanza for assignment.
Toscano, 25, posted a .356/.440/.452 slash line in Cuba’s Serie Nacional during the 2012-13 season. A left-handed hitter, Toscano is expected to begin this season in the Minors, tweets MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
“We are very excited to come to terms with a player of Dian’s ability,” Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said in a statement released by the team. “As we look to add depth to our organization, the international market is very important to us and expanding our search into Cuba is a significant step.”
Constanza has played parts of four seasons with the Braves, appearing in 12 games in 2014.