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Roundup: Andruw Jones makes Bronx return

Fifteen years after Andruw Jones became the youngest player ever to homer in the Fall Classic against the Yankees, Jones has joined them.

Jones, 34 next season, comes to the Bronx as a backup at all three outfield positions on a one-year deal worth $2 million and a potential $1.2 million more in incentives. His right-handed bat complements the left-handed hitting Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner, and the move should be one of the Yankees’ last before Spring Training begins next month.
Jones, who hit .230 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs in 107 games for the White Sox in 2010, hit .400 in the Braves’ World Series loss to the Yankees in 1996. More memorable were the home runs he notched in his first two plate appearances — he was just 19.
Across town on Thursday, the Mets officially announced two moves of their own: the addition of right-hander Chris Young and outfielder Scott Hairston.
Young, 32 next season, has battled arm injuries for the last three seasons, but has always viewed the Mets as a fit. A fly-ball specialist, Young can benefit from Citi Field’s large dimensions, and he’s reunited with general manager Sandy Alderson, whom he worked with in San Diego.
“Unfortunately, the clock sort of ran out of time and I didn’t have the proper time that I needed to build up my arm strength,” Young said of the end of the 2010 season with the Padres, which he finished 2-0 with a .90 ERA in just 20 innings. “But I felt like I was confident. I was making progress and I was very happy with my mechanics, which is a big part of being efficient and healthy.”
Hairston, also formerly of the Padres, hit .210 with 10 homers last season in a reserve role, and he’s to battle for the same type of spot with Nick Evans. Hairston turns 31 in May.
Elsewhere around the Hot Stove:
  • The Cubs and their fifth-round Draft pick from 2010, Matt Szczur, agreed on a new Minor League deal worth a reported $1.5 million that commits Szczur officially to baseball. The two-way standout was a star receiver at Villanova, and was permitted to play his senior season this fall after signing a $100,000 deal after the Draft. This summer, Szczur was impressive in his brief pro baseball debut in 2010, opening with a 21-game hit streak.
  • The Giants settled on a one-year deal with arbitration-eligible left-hander Javier Lopez, who went 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 77 appearances between Pittsburgh and San Francisco last season. The deal is said to be worth close to $2.4 million. The Giants have only one arbitration-eligible player left to strike a deal with, Andres Torres.
  • The Giants are also nearing a deal with right-hander Jeff Suppan. The 36-year-old made half of his 30 appearances last year with Milwaukee and St. Louis as a reliever, going 3-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 101 1/3 innings.
  • The Blue Jays bolstered their farm system with the signing of 16-year-old Dominican lefthander Jairo Labour for $350,000, according to Baseball America. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder has reportedly hit 92 mph.
  • Eric Chavez, previously linked to the Blue Jays and others, worked out for the Dodgers at their complex in Arizona. A California native, Chavez is only 33 but coming off four years of injuries, primarily to his shoulder and back. He hasn’t played more than 90 games in a season since 2006.
— Evan Drellich

Angels linked to Manny, Vlad

The Angels, searching for offense, appear to be interested in both Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero as free agents, according to a report by Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes. Citing sources, Rojas reports that both players are closing in on deals. One source suggests Ramirez is likely to sign by the beginning of next week.

The Angels, Twins, Rangers, Rays and Blue Jays have shown some interest in Ramirez, but Minnesota is out after signing Jim Thome. The Angels, Rangers and Rays appear to be pursuing him most aggressively. Rojas hears that Ramirez is determined to redeem himself after a disappointing season, and money is not his primary concern.

Guerrero, according to a source, believes the Orioles have the inside track on signing him, but the Angels are another possibility. – Lyle Spencer


Roundup: Yankees add Soriano; Pavano still a Twin

It was a throwback in the Bronx on Wednesday, when Rafael Soriano, hefty contract in hand, was introduced as the newest Yankee. The addition was one that Brian Cashman said wasn’t his recommendation, but rather ownership’s; a vestige of the days when the late George Steinbrenner owned the club and famously reserved personnel decisions for himself.
“This certainly will help us try to win a championship, there’s no doubt about that, so that’s in the plus column,” Cashman said of Soriano, who received a three-year, $35 million deal to setup for closer Mariano Rivera. “But I didn’t recommend it, just because I didn’t think it was an efficient way to allocate the remaining resources we have. We had a lot of debate about that.”
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine instead worked out the deal with Soriano, which includes out clauses after both of the next two seasons.
Cashman also revealed some unexpected news on Wednesday regarding a former pinstripes right-hander, Carl Pavano: there was thought he’d be brought back. Pavano signed a four-year, $39 million contract to pitch in New York before the 2005 season, but because of several injuries, including Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2007, Pavano was limited to 26 starts and 145.2 innings for New York.
“I’ve always felt Pav could pitch here,” Cashman said. “I think he’s shown that he can pitch in difficult circumstances. Bottom line, if he’s healthy, he can pitch.”

Later on Wednesday, Pavano finalized a two-year, $16.5 million contract with the Twins, whom he helped lead to the AL Central championship last season.

He went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and led the team in wins, along with innings pitched (221). Since being acquired by the Twins in August 2009, Pavano is 22-15 with a 3.97 ERA in 44 starts.

Though Pavano decided to re-join the Twins, the Yankees may still have another addition coming: veteran outfielder Andruw Jones. His agent Scott Boras said Wednesday that the Yankees are among several teams that he is speaking with about Jones.
The Giants announced the signing of right-hander Santiago Casilla to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. Casilla will earn $1.3 million, up from $400,000 last year, when he finished 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings. He also stranded 41 of 47 inherited baserunners, the Majors’ second-best ratio.

In other news Wednesday:

  • Entering the last season of a four-year deal, Mets’ shortstop Jose Reyes said he wants to talk an extension as soon as possible. “I don’t want to talk about my contract during the season,” Reyes said Wednesday at a Citi Field Kids charity event. “I want to focus on doing my thing, trying to help this team win a lot of ballgames.”
  • With Jim Thome in Minnesota, the Rangers are still looking for a hitter, Rangers president Nolan Ryan told’s T.R. Sullivan. “It’s always nice to have a veteran bat off the bench. It gives you an opportunity late in the game if you don’t like the matchups. I’m not sure that person is out there.” Ryan also said an extension for general manager Jon Daniels is a priority.
  • Left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes‘ deal with the A’s is official. According to The Associated Press, the deal is worth a guaranteed $10.5 million over two years, with a $6.5 million club option for 2013. The Nationals’ acquisition of Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs also became official.
  • The Rockies and Joe Crede agreed on a Minor League deal. Crede sat out the 2010 season with a multitude of injuries. He turns 33 in April.
  • Crede’s one-time team, the White Sox, announced the invitation of 14 to big league camp, including right-hander Brian Bruney and Jordan Danks. The latter is the 24-year-old younger brother of White Sox starter John Danks. Jordan hit .245 with 27 doubles, eight homers and 42 RBIs in his first season at Triple-A in 2010.
  • The mother of Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has passed away in the Dominican Republic.

Galarraga enters trading block

The Cubs are on the verge of sending Tom Gorzelanny to Washington for prospects. Joe Blanton no longer looks like a sure bet to be traded out of Philadelphia. The quality of the remaining free-agent market drops precipitously after Carl Pavano.

What’s a team looking for starting pitching left to do?

Could they go for Armando Galarraga?

That’s what Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is counting on. He’s strong enough about it that he thinks he stands a better chance of trading Galarraga now than Spring Training. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have designated him for assignment Tuesday to make room for Brad Penny.

Instead of waiting until March, the Tigers have 10 days to try to deal Galarraga.

“I’m confident,” Dombrowski said Tuesday when asked about his chances of finding a trade partner for his former fifth starter. “You never know until you get it done. We’ve had enough  clubs express some interest. It’s not like I have a for-sure deal, but I do have enough clubs that have asked me about him.”

By no means is Galarraga an answer for teams looking for a front-line starter. For teams needing a fifth starter who has been through a few seasons, though, Galarraga is an option. That list could be longer than expected, now that waiting for the Tigers to release Galarraga in Spring Training is no longer an option.

The Tigers’ return for Galarraga might be only marginally better than what they received last spring for Nate Robertson. Galarraga doesn’t have an untradeable contract, or a significant injury history, but he’s coming off an up-and-down season and a stretch.

Considering Galarraga’s issues with attacking the strike zone last summer, he’s the type of pitcher who might benefit from a pitching coach who views him as a bit of a project to restore his confidence.

The Tigers could still end up bringing Galarraga to camp if no team claims him on waiver. He could then be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo and brought to Spring Training as a non-roster invite. But with the Tigers rotation clearly set, and prospects Andy Oliver, Charlie Furbush and Jacob Turner also likely to get stretched out in terms of innings, the Tigers could have a problem finding the innings to showcase Galarraga for anybody.

— Jason Beck

Numbers Exchanged on Loney, Kuo

First baseman James Loney is seeking a salary of $5.25 million and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo is asking for $3.075 million, while the Dodgers are offering Loney $4.7 million and Kuo $3.075 million in arbitration numbers exchanged Tuesday. Kuo is coming off a 2010 salary of $975,000 and Loney of $3.1 million.


The only other arbitration-eligible on the club, starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, settled for $6.275 million before numbers were exchanged. — Ken Gurnick


Davies signs with Royals, avoids arbitration

Right-hander Kyle Davies, expected to step it up as part of the Royals’ rotation this year, signed a one-year contract for 2011 on Tuesday and avoided salary arbitration.

Davies signed for $3.2 million, a sizable increase over the $1.8 million he earned last year.

That leaves first baseman Billy Butler as the Royals’ only arbitration-eligible player unsigned.

Davies made a career-high 32 starts last season, just one fewer than staff leader Zack Greinke and posted an 8-12 record with a 5.34 ERA. Now Davies is tasked with helping to fill the void left by Greinke’s trade to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Dick Kaegel.

Tigers, Galarraga avoid arbitration

The Tigers will go another winter without an arbitration hearing,
continuing their streak by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with
right-hander Armando Galarraga.

The deal, announced Tuesday, is reportedly worth $2.3 million for the
first-time arbitration eligible Galarraga. It bridges what was expected
to be a potentially difficult gap between what Galarraga wanted after
the better part of three seasons in Detroit’s rotation, and what the
Tigers wanted for someone whose rotation chances for 2011 now look shaky
after last week’s signing of Brad Penny.

Galarraga had a statistical conundrum of a season, and his would-be
perfect game ruined by umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call was just the start
of it. Galarraga could never turn that June 2 outing into momentum for
the summer, and finished the year with a 4-9 record and 4.49 ERA. He made $438,000 last year.

Not since Eric Hillman in 1993 had a Major League pitcher won four games
or less in a season when they posted a 4.50 ERA or less over at least
140 innings. Just three others besides Hillman had pulled off that feat
since 1985: Larry McWilliams and Zane Smith in 1989, and John Dopson in
1988. Galarraga was the first American League pitcher to do it since
Frank Tanana in 1981.

Galarraga’s puzzling 2010 season came two years after he came out of an
obscure minor-league trade with Texas to lead the Tigers in victories in
2008, going 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA. He has gone 10-19 in the two seasons
since, seen his walk-to-strikeout ratio deterioriate and struggle to
pound the strike zone with the same effective he enjoyed as a rookie.

The Tigers have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since
Dave Dombrowski took over as general manager in 2002. Galarraga’s
agreement, on the heels of a two-year contract for Ryan Raburn and a
one-year deal for Joel Zumaya earlier in the month, means that streak
will continue for another year.

— Jason Beck

Roundup: Coming to Terms

Monday proved to be an eventful day in baseball as several teams came to terms with players.

Will the rest of the week be as busy?

In the National League East, the Nationals acquired left-hander Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs for three Minor Leaguers — outfielder Michael Burgess, right-hander A.J. Morris and left-hander Graham Hicks — according to two baseball sources. According to another source, Gorzelanny became expendable after the Cubs acquired right-hander Matt Garza in a trade with the Rays.

Gorzelanny is one of eight pitchers who will compete for a rotation spot. He is coming off a season in which he went 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 29 games (23 starts) with Chicago.

The Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.75 million contract with left-hander John Lannan to avoid salary arbitration.

Also in the NL East on Monday, the Mets agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Chris Young, according to a baseball source. The deal, which the Mets have not confirmed, is pending a physical.

Young is 48-34 with a 3.80 ERA over a seven-year career with the Rangers and Padres.

In the AL East, the Blue Jays added another reliever into the mix for their vacant closer’s role by signing right-hander Jon Rauch to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million.  His contract with Toronto also includes a club option for 2012 valued at $3.75 million. 

The Blue Jays also reached agreement with right-handers Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen and Jesse Litsch on one-year contracts with each pitcher to avoid arbitration. Janssen will earn $1,095,000 in 2011, and Litsch will earn $830,000.  Camp’s one-year deal is worth $2.25 million.

Around the league:

* B.J. Upton and the Rays reached an agreement on a one-year deal for $4.825 million to avoid arbitration.

* The Rockies have reached a Minor League agreement with Jason Giambi, who has served as a pinch-hitter and backup to Todd Helton at first base with the team since late in the 2009 season. Giambi’s deal is pending a physical. The club also reached a two-year contract with a club option for 2013 with newly acquired right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom.

* The Marlins reached agreement on one-year contracts with closer Leo Nunez and right-handed setup reliever Edward Mujica to avoid arbitration.

* The Indians reached agreement on a one-year contract with Asdrubal Cabrera to avoid arbitration with the shortstop. The deal is worth $2.025 million.


* The Royals reached agreement with pitcher Robinson Tejeda for $1.55 million to avoid arbitration.

* The Tigers reached agreement with Armando Galarraga for $2.3 million to avoid arbitration, according to Sport Illustrated’s Jon Heyman.

Dodgers Close on Thames

The Dodgers are close to an agreement with free-agent outfielder Marcus Thames as a potential right-handed hitting platoon-mate for Jay Gibbons in left field. The club also has interest in third baseman Eric Chavez and outfielder Gabe Kapler. — Ken Gurnick

Report: Pujols’ agent targeting A-Rod deal

Both the Cardinals and Albert Pujols’ agent, Danny Lozano, are staunchly avoiding giving updates regarding Pujols’ contract negotiations. However, an report on Monday gave some impression as to what Pujols’ camp may be seeking — something in the neighborhood of Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275-million pact with the Yankees.

According to a story at that site on Monday, “early word is that Pujols has used A-Rod’s contract… as the only comp.” The report goes on to suggest that the Cardinals have little stomach for terms such as those, and that they “are said to have initially suggested” a deal with a similar average annual value but over fewer years.
As the report suggests, it is difficult to envision the Cardinals guaranteeing 10 years to a player who will be 32 at the beginning of his next contract. However, if the sides are already talking about a similar average annual value to Rodriguez’s $27.5 million, that would seem to remove one major potential stumbling block.
Pujols is entering the final year of a contract that will end up paying him $111 million over eight seasons. He has told the club that he will not continue to negotiate once Spring Training starts.
–Matthew Leach