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Red Sox in on Beimel, kicked tires on Bautista

The Red Sox and about four other teams, including the O’s, are going after southpaw reliever Joe Beimel, according to the Baltimore Sun. No teams besides the O’s and Red Sox were named, but one other club is identified as being an American League team.
Turning 34 in April, Beimel went 1-2 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rockies in 45 innings and 71 appearances last season, striking out 21 and walking 15. 
Beimel’s been better been against left-handed hitters (.221 last season vs. .329 against righties) and he’s been durable in a 10-year career, making no fewer than 62 appearances in each of the last six seasons. For Baltimore, Beimel would be a complement to Michael Gonzalez, while for Boston, he’d provide depth behind Hideki Okajima.
Mulitple outlets on Tuesday reported that the Red Sox pursued Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista before landing Carl Crawford, making “multiple offers” for him — a sign of how serious Boston was about upgrading its offense. The lineup took a hit when Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez departed via free agency, but was quickly revamped when Adrian Gonzalez (via trade) and Crawford (via free agency) arrived in the same week.
Other unnamed teams reportedly pursued Bautista, who led the Majors with 54 homers, as well.
“It’s all just rumors to me at this stage…who knows if any of it is true?” Bautista told The Boston Globe by text. “There’s nothing for me to comment on yet.”
The Jays reportedly were never serious about trading Bautista, who is looking for more than $10.5 million in arbitration. Toronto submitted a $7.6 million figure. Bautista is a free agent after this season and, according to FOX Sports, there aren’t current talks of a long-term extension.
– Evan Drellich

Roundup: Rangers, Jays complete swap

For the second time in a week on Tuesday, the Blue Jays pulled the trigger on a trade involving catcher/infielder Mike Napoli. Napoli, acquired from the Angels along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells last Friday, is heading back west but this time to the Rangers.
In exchange for Napoli, the Rangers sent right-handed reliever Frank Francisco to Toronto. Francisco, 31, saved 25 games for the Rangers in 2009 and brings a solid resume to the back end of the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
Napoli, on the other hand, could serve in a variety of roles. He slots in as another possible backup catching option as well as provide insurance in case first baseman Mitch Moreland struggles and can take over some designated hitter at-bats. The 29-year-old Napoli also brings a healthy dose of power to the Rangers, having hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last three seasons. 
Tuesday’s swap dominated most of the Hot Stove action, but here’s a look at other news and notes from around the league:
 
- The Astros avoided a salary arbitration hearing with left-hander Wandy Rodriquez, signing the left-haned starter to a three-year, $34 million extension. The deal includes a one-year option that would hike the deal to $44.5 million.
- The Cubs added a familiar arm, agreeing to terms with Todd Wellemeyer on a one-year, non-guaranteed Minor League deal for $800,000, ESPNChicago.com reported. Working mostly as a starter, Wellemeyer went 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA last season for the Giants.
- Oakland avoided arbitration with left-hander Craig Breslow on Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year, $1.4 million deal, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Breslow, the A’s last remaining arbitration-eligible player, earned a significant raise over his 2010 salary of $425,000. Breslow is also eligible for $25,000 in incentives based on the number of games he finishes, Lee reported.
 
 
- The Twins avoided arbitration with Kevin Slowey, agreeing to a one-year, $2.7 million deal, MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier reported. Slowey had filed at $3.1 million and the Twins had filed at $2.3 million, which puts the agreed-upon deal right at the midpoint of the two submissions.
Slowey posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 155 2/3 innings last year. The 26-year-old has never posted a walk rate above 1.7 per nine or a strikeout rate above 6.7 per nine in four big league seasons.
 
 
- After an offseason of additions, the Brewers are still seeking another veteran bench presence, Fox Sports.com reported Tuesday. Mark Kotsay is one possibility for the role, according to the report. The 35-year-old hit .239 for the White Sox last season but owns a .312 career average as a pinch hitter.
- The Os agreed to a Minor League deal with reliever Clay Rapada on Tuesday, MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reported. The deal, which would include an invite to Spring Training, gives the O’s a candidate for the situational lefty role in the pen.  The 29-year-old appeared in just 13 games last season for the Rangers, but was exceptionally tough on left-handed hitters (1-for-21).
– Bailey Stephens

Roundup: D-backs acquire Galarraga, add Owings

The offseason might be winding down, but with roughly three weeks to go until the start of Spring Training, there’s still plenty of time for teams to try and improve the roster heading into 2011.
The D-backs completed two such moves on Monday, acquiring right-hander Armando Galarraga from the Tigers and signing Micah Owings to a Minor League deal. In exchange for Galarraga, the D-backs sent two Minor League pitchers, right-hander Kevin Eichhorn and left-hander pitcher Ryan Robowski, to the Tigers. Owings, who also got a Spring Training invite, will log time on the mound and at first base with the D-backs if he earns a roster spot, general manager Kevin Towers told reporters on Monday. 
The D-backs aren’t the only team who were active Monday. Here’s a look at news and notes from around the league: 
- The Nationals made their deal with Todd Coffey official. MLB.com’s Bill Ladson first reported the signing, which will give the club a right-handed workhorse in the ‘pen. Washington also designated right-hander Shairon Martis for assignment to make room for Jerry Hairston, whose contract was approved by the league.
- Veteran infielder Jorge Cantu is drawing interest from the Padres, but the team is primarily interested in a Minor League deal, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted on Monday. The Braves had discussed Cantu but aren’t currently pursuing him, as was reported on Sunday, according to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
- Where will Vladimir Guerrero land? The latest update comes out of Texas, where team president Nolan Ryan told fans at this weekend’s Rangers FanFest that bringing Vlad back wasn’t off the table, in a quote relayed by the Dallas Morning News. He suggested, though, that the veteran might be looking for more playing time.
“You’d love to have that bat, another right-handed bat on the bench, or him DHing when Michael Young is playing a position,” Ryan said. “That will obviously come into play in the decision of where he’s going to go. How many at-bats he thinks he’s going to get somewhere.”
–Bailey Stephens

Roundup: O’Day agrees to deal, avoids arbitration

Another trip to arbitration was avoided on Sunday as the Rangers reached a deal with reliever Darren O’Day for 2011.
O’Day will earn $1.251 million dollars in 2011, roughly halfway between the two parties’ figures. O’Day filed for arbitration seeking $1.4 million, while the Rangers submitted a potential salary of $1.05 million.
The right-hander earned a significant raise in his first season of arbitration eligibility after putting up impressive numbers in ’10. O’Day registered a 2.03 ERA and allowed just 12 walks in 62 innings last season. 
With O’Day taken care of, the Rangers still have two arbitration-eligible players in outfielder Josh Hamilton and right-hander Frank Francisco.
Here’s a look at some news and notes from around the league on Sunday:
- Royals first baseman Billy Butler will make $3 million this season, plus a $2 million signing bonus, as part of the four-year extension he agreed to with the club on Saturday, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted on Sunday. Butler will then make $8 million from 2012-14. The club also holds a $12.5 million option for the 2015 season as part of the deal, with a $1 million buyout.
- Regardless of where the Red Sox sit in the standings, closer Jonathan Papelbon won’t be off limits for possible trades, a team source confirmed to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. 
- Following up with yesterday’s Vladimir Guerrero rumors, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the O’s haven’t talked with the veteran in two weeks. There have been several conflicting reports over the Orioles’ progress with Guerrero in recent days, but it seems the slugger’s options are fairly limited at this point.
–Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Billy Butler locked up in Kansas City

Already once this offseason, the Royals were a Hot Stove headliner. That was last month, when they bid farewell to their ace, Zack Greinke.

 

This time, they’ve topped the day for the talent they’re keeping not letting go.

First baseman Billy Butler has signed a four-year, $30 million contract extension, both sides announced Saturday. Butler, 25-years-old in April, was arbitration eligible and hit .318 with 15 home runs, a .388 on-base percentage and a .469 slugging percentage in 2010.

“I just get to worry about playing baseball, and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year, and this is where I want to be. The city’s great, and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”

Another Royals corner infielder (and DH) for so long — 13 years of his 16 big league years — Mike Sweeney has told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel that he’ll have a decision on his playing future by next Sunday.

Sweeney, 37, made the playoffs for the first time in his career last season with Philadelphia and singled in his lone at-bat. He’s a career .297 hitter who batted .252 between the Mariners and Phils last season.

“I made it clear to my agents that the only way I’m going to play this year is if a contending team offered me a guaranteed deal — and I told them the chance of that happening is next to none,” Sweeney said. “But that’s the criteria I set for them.”

Elsewhere around the league:

? Orioles president Andy MacPhail shot down reports that the Orioles were closing to signing Vladimir Guerrero, although the club is interested. “[The] report is not accurate,” MacPhail told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli via email.

? Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said that a trade of Armando Galarraga, who has been designated for assignment, is likely by next week. “We’re making some progress on some trade talks at this point,” Dombrowski said. “Not quite sufficient to make any announcements, but I would think by the middle of next week we would be in a position where we would make a deal.”

? Right-hander Jason Hammel is back with the Rockies, signing a two-year, $7.75 million contract on Saturday to avoid two of his three years of arbitration. The 28-year-old is 20-17 with a 4.57 ERA since joining the Rockies in a trade with the Rays in 2009.

? The Giants signed their lone remaining arbitration candidate to a one-year deal. Outfielder Andres Torres is believed to have received $2.1 million. He played for $426,000 last year. The switch-hitter turns 33 on Wednesday.

? SportsIllustrated reported on Twitter that a friend of the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, Jose Carlos Thompson, has signed with the Astros for $250,000. Thompson attended junior college at Western Oklahoma, and the school’s website lists his hometown as Woburn, Mass.

Dombrowski says Galarraga trade “likely” next week

Dave Dombrowski had finished up his question-and-answer session with fans this morning at Tigers when he did a group interview with the media. Among the topics that came up was an update on trade talks for Armando Galarraga, whom the Tigers have a little less than a week to move (trade, release or outright to minors).
Dombrowski sounded quite confident it’s going to be a trade.
“We’re making some progress on some trade talks at this point,” Dombrowski said. “Not quite sufficient to make any announcements, but I would think by the middle of next week we would be in a position where we would make a deal.”
Asked then if a trade is likely, Dombrowski said, “Yes, I think it’s likely.” 
– Jason Beck

Butler snags four-year, $30-million deal with Royals

Billy Butler and the Royals have agreed to a four-year, $30-million contract extension, the first baseman said Saturday.

The multi-year contract avoids salary arbitration and gives Butler the security of a long-term deal through 2014.

“I just get to worry about playing baseball and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year and this where I want to be. The city’s great and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”

Butler had filed in arbitration for $4.3 million and the Royals offered $3.4 million. Now that’s off the table.

His new deal was worked out by agent Greg Genske of Legacy Sports with Royals general manager Dayton Moore.

“It worked out for both sides,” Butler said. “I’ve always been happy to be a Royal. We have a lot of young guys coming up and we plan on doing great things. It just means I’m a big part of it.”

Butler, his wife Katie and their daughter Kenley live in Idaho Falls where Butler made his pro debut in 2004 with a rousing .373 average. He was in Kansas City for the Royals FanFest.

“It’s just what’s best for your family,” Butler said. “We’re happy to be done with it and Dayton and the whole organization were great.”

Butler on Saturday was to receive the Royals Player of the Year Award for the second straight time after setting new career highs in several categories, including average (.318), hits (189), walks (69) and on-base percentage (.388).
Dick Kaegel.

Report: Napoli, Rivera for Wells

According to FOXSports, the Angels have agreed to deal catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Vernon Wells, who waived his no-trade clause in the report by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi.

Wells has $86 million coming in the remaining four years on his contract and can opt out after drawing $23 million in 2011. He could move into center field or play left with Peter Bourjos in center field and Torii Hunter in right. Wells had 33 homers and 88 RBIs in 2011 and owns three Gold Gloves. He is 32 and has spent his entire career in Toronto, emerging as a regular in 2002.
 
The Blue Jays could combine Napoli with former Angels teammate Jose Molina behind the plate, along with J.P. Arenciba and also give the slugger playing time at first base, where he performed capably last season in Kendry Morales’ absence. Napoli is arbitration-eligible and has asked for $6.1 million while the Angels proposed an offer of $5.3 million. He led the club with 26 home runs last year.

Rivera is owed $5.25 million on the final year of his contract. Combined, Napoli and Rivera would account for roughly half of Wells’ 2011 salary. Adding Wells would lift the Angels’ payroll into the $150 million range, but they are receiving an unspecified amount of cash in the trade.

The swap would leave the Angels with Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger as their catchers. – Lyle Spencer

Roundup: DH-types coming off the market?

The free-agent market has definitely thinned, now that less than one month remains before the start of Spring Training. But as of Friday, several big names remained in the veteran corner outfielder/designated hitter category.

That may change soon.

The Rays, an industry source told MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, are nearing a one-year deal with Johnny Damon and are also in the mix for his former Red Sox teammate, Manny Ramirez

But Tampa Bay may have some competition for Ramirez’s services, since sources told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that the Rangers and Angels are also interested. Sullivan notes that it’s the Rangers and Rays that are the front-runners at this point, with the Angels seemingly lagging behind.  

Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com heard from sources that Vladimir Guerrero, like Ramirez and Damon, could also be close to signing, saying the Orioles and Angels have interest. The Rangers, Sullivan added, also haven’t closed the door on bringing back Guerrero.
The problem is the soon-to-be-36-year-old — coming off a season in which he batted .300
with 29 homers and 115 RBIs as Texas’ full-time DH — may still be
trying to land an everyday job.

Here’s more from around the league…

* The Red Sox were trying to reel in free-agent closer Rafael Soriano
on a lucrative one-year contract, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com and
MLB Network. If they would have succeeded in that, they could’ve dealt
current closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Athletics or White Sox. Boston also made Yankees closer Mariano Rivera an offer this offseason, so there’s seemingly concern in Beantown about Papelbon.

* When Prince Fielder hits free agency at the end of the 2011
season, the slugging first baseman expects to yield a contract of at least eight
years and for about $200 million, Heyman added.

* The Reds have been all about locking up their own players this
offseason, and they still may not be done. Regarding unsigned starter
Edinson Volquez, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati
Enquirer, “We’re looking at both — one-year and multi-year” deals.
Volquez, arbitration-eligible for the first time, made $445,000 in 2010. Bronson
Arroyo
, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto have all inked
multi-year deals with the Reds this offseason. 

* The Cardinals signed veteran infielder Nick Punto
to a one-year contract. The 33-year-old switch-hitter will serve as a
utility infielder and an insurance policy at third base for David Freese.

* The Mariners reduced the signing bonus of Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero, from $2.9 million to $1.1 million, according to Baseball America.

– Alden Gonzalez

Damon to Rays Reported Close

According to Yahoo’s Tim Brown, via Twitter, the Rays are close to reaching a deal with veteran Johnny Damon, but the report goes on to say a lot of work needs to be done to finalize the deal.

Damon would seem to be an excellent fit for the Rays, who could use him in left field and at DH. In addition, he would provide leadership inside a young clubhouse.

–Bill Chastain

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