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Joe Blanton coming out of retirement?

Veteran starting pitcher Joe Blanton is on the comeback trail. The right-hander will hold an open workout and bullpen session for interested clubs on Feb. 4, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.

Blanton, 34, retired from baseball in April and did not pitch in the big leagues last season. He last pitched in the Majors in 2013 with the Angels, going 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA over 28 appearances, including 20 starts.

Over a 10-year career with the Phillies, A’s, Dodgers and Angels, Blanton is 85-89 with a 4.51 ERA. He’s pitched at least 191 innings in six different seasons.

At this point, Blanton’s best bet to get back to the Majors would seem to be as a fifth starter on a Minor League deal. If he can go to Spring Training with a club, he could have a shot.

–Austin Laymance

Mariners sign John Baker to Minors deal

The Mariners have signed veteran catcher John Baker to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Baker, 34, provides depth and should compete for a backup role with Seattle. He hit .192 in 68 games with the Cubs last season. Baker has also played for the Marlins and Padres over a seven-year career in the big leagues.

The Mariners have three catchers on their 40-man roster in Mike Zunino, John Hicks and Jesus Sucre.

Pitchers and catchers report to Mariners camp Feb. 20.

–Austin Laymance

Vogelsong returning to Giants?

The Giants and free-agent starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong are working towards a one-year deal, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Vogelsong has been linked to a number of clubs this offseason, and was in Houston earlier this week. But a deal with the Astros never happened and MLB.com’s Chris Haft reported Wednesday that a return to the Giants was possible for the right-hander.

Vogelsong, 37, would add depth and stability to the Giants rotation. He was 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA with the club in 2014, while his 32 starts were second only to Madison Bumgarner. Since joining San Francisco in 2011, Vogelsong has a 3.74 ERA and 39-35 record.

While it appears Vogelsong could be headed for a return to the Giants, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted Thursday morning that the Astros had not been told they were out of the running to land the pitcher.

–Austin Laymance

Geovany Soto to White Sox

The White Sox have signed catcher Geovany Soto to a Minor League deal, tweets Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. It’s not clear if Soto has an invite to Major League Spring Training.

Soto, 32, appeared in 24 games last season, split between the Rangers and A’s. He was an All-Star in 2008 with the Cubs and has played parts of 10 seasons in the Majors.

The White Sox have four catchers on their 40-man roster: Tyler Flowers, Adrian Nieto, Rob Brantly and Kevan Smith.

–Austin Laymance

Shields not a fit in Boston?

James Shields is still a free agent and the Red Sox could use a No. 1 starter, but they don’t appear to be a fit at this point. The Sox do not believe the right-hander’s pitching style suits Fenway Park, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.

Shields gets a lot of fly ball outs, which worked well in spacious Kauffman Stadium last season with the Royals. But Fenway Park is a much smaller venue with the Green Monster just 310 feet from the plate.

Boston added two starters this offseason who get more ground balls than fly balls in Justin Masterson and Rick Porcello. That’s an indication of the kind of pitchers the club values.

Shields has a career groundball percentage of 44.7 percent, compared to 52.1 percent for Porcello and 56.6 percent for Masterson. Shields has a groundball-to-flyball ratio of 0.86, versus 1.12 for Porcello and 1.33 for Masterson. In addition, Shields has allowed an average of 25.2 home runs per year, while Porcello averages 18.5 and Masterson 12.9.

In 13 career starts at Fenway Park, Shields is 2-9 with a 5.42 ERA and 11 home runs allowed.

Of course, with one month until Spring Training, things could change and the Sox could become a player for Shields if his asking price drops. He’s reportedly been seeking a five-year deal worth around $125 million. MLB.com columnist Jim Duquette ranks the Red Sox fourth on Shields’ list of potential suitors.

–Austin Laymance

Cuban outfielder seeks big league deal

Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia has left the country and is looking for a Major League contract, according to Baseball America.

Heredia, who turns 24 at the end of January, was the center fielder for Cuba’s team at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He has reportedly played five full seasons in Cuba, making him exempt from international bonus pools.

Heredia is regarded as a good defender with a strong arm, but he is not known for his bat. He still has to be cleared by Major League Baseball and the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can sign with a big league club.

–Austin Laymance

Belisario getting interest from multiple teams

The Red Sox, Nationals, Blue Jays and Rays have shown interest in free-agent reliever Ronald Belisario, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Belisario, 32, spent time as a closer for the White Sox in 2014 and recorded eight saves. The right-hander had a 5.56 ERA in 62 appearances. The White Sox designated him for assignment in November.

The Red Sox are looking for a right-handed option to fill out their bullpen, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, so Belisario could be a fit in Boston. Meanwhile, the Nationals and Blue Jays have also shown interest in free-agent reliver Burke Badenhop.

–Austin Laymance

Astros sign Colby Rasmus

The Astros have signed free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus to a one-year contract for the 2015 season, the club announced on Tuesday.

Rasmus’ deal is for $8 million, a source told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart.

Houston was in need of an established outfielder after trading Dexter Fowler to the Cubs on Monday. Rasmus is close with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who drafted him in 2005 when Luhnow was the scouting director for the Cardinals.

A left-handed hitter, Rasmus was a free agent for the first time in his career. He’s spent the last three-plus seasons in Toronto after beginning his big league career in St. Louis. The 28-year-old had a .225/.287/.448 slash line with 18 home runs and 21 doubles in 104 games last season.

To make room for Rasmus on the 40-man roster, the Astros designated catcher Carlos Corporan for assignment.

–Austin Laymance 

Nationals, Blue Jays interested in Burke Badenhop

There a number of clubs still looking for bullpen help on the free-agent market. The Nationals and Blue Jays are among those teams and have both shown interest in veteran right-hander Burke Badenhop, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

Badenhop, 31, made 70 appearances with the Red Sox last season and had a 2.29 ERA. He’s pitched for four different clubs in each of the last four years.

The Red Sox were linked to Badenhop earlier in the offseason. Boston remains in the market for right-handed relief, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Dodgers and Brewers are still looking for bullpen help, too.

–Austin Laymance

Would the Nationals trade Stephen Strasburg?

The Nationals made a big splash by agreeing to a seven-year, $210 million deal with free-agent starting pitcher Max Scherzer. Now speculation is growing in regards to what the Nats will do with the rest of their loaded rotation, which currently includes: Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez.

A report surfaced Monday regarding Strasburg’s future with the Nationals, with USA Today reporter John Perrotto tweeting that Strasburg is “very much available and both sides believe it is time to move on.”

However, a baseball source told MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that the chances the Nationals would trade Strasburg are “remote.”

Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore also weighed in on the matter, tweeting his belief that the Nats would listen to potential deals for their starting pitchers but not feel forced to trade any.

Strasburg, 26, is under team control through the 2016 season. He signed a one-year, $7.4 million deal last week for the 2015 season, avoiding arbitration. The right-hander was 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA in 34 starts last season. The Nats drafted him No. 1 overall in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

The Nationals appear inclined to keep Zimmermann and go all-in for the 2015 season, even though he is eligible for free agency after the season and will earn $16.5 million this year.

So if Washington plans to keep Zimmermann and take a shot at the World Series, would they really part ways with Strasburg? At this point, it’s only speculation.

–Austin Laymance 

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