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Marlins sign Wise, Thurston, 2 others

The Marlins have added some potential depth, signing outfielder Dewayne Wise, utility man Joe Thurston, catcher Clint Sammons and corner infielder Jamie D’Antona to Minor League contracts, MLB.com confirmed through a source on Wednesday. 
The role of lefty pinch-hitter for the Marlins has been in question heading into the 2011 season, but Wise and Thurston both hit from the left side, have Major League experience and could fill that role if they make the big league club. Catcher John Baker, recovering from Tommy John surgery, has also been considered an option for that role until he can start throwing again. 
Wise also has significant experience at center field and could potentially serve as insurance for Chris Coghlan, who’s expected to make the move to center field in 2011, following knee surgery. 
– Alden Gonzalez, Joe Frisaro  

Roundup: Arbitration looms for some clubs

Spring Training may be fast approaching, but some clubs still have some important business to take care of with pending arbitration cases in the pipeline.
Next Tuesday, clubs will exchange numbers with arbitration-eligible players leading up to the actual hearings next month. Since it’s fairly rare for clubs and players to go all the way through arbitration, there figures to be a good number of agreements in the coming days. 
A few teams avoided arbitration on Wednesday, as the Cubs inked Koyie Hill to a one-year deal and the Tigers signed left fielder Ryan Raburn to a two-year deal. Raburn, 29, has played a sort of super utility role for Detroit in recent years, but he appears in line to grab a lot of the playing time in left field this season, according to MLB.com’s Jason Beck. 
The 31-year-old Hill agreed to a contract worth $850,000, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reported on Wednesday. Hill started 60 games for the Cubs last season and batted .214 with 13 doubles. 

- – The Angels agreed to terms on a 2011 contract with catcher Jeff Mathis, thus avoiding arbitration.
 

Mathis, 27, spent his third full season with the Angels in 2010, batting .195 with 19 runs scored, six doubles, one triple, 3 home runs and 18 RBI in 68 games played. After missing 55 games because of broken wrist, Mathis put together a 13-game hit streak from April 5 – June 22, matching the longest streak by an Angel last season.
 
Mathis is the second Angel to agree to terms and avoid arbitration, leaving the Angels with six remaining arbitration-eligible players (Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli, Jered Weaver and Reggie Willits).
 
- The Rockies avoided salary arbitration with right-handed reliever Matt Belisle on $2.35 million, according to SI.com. After spending the first five years of his Major League career with the Reds, the 30-year-old Belisle had a career season in his second campaign with the Rockies in 2010. He posted a 2.93 ERA in a career-high relief 76 appearances, averaging 8.9 strikeouts ever nine innings, posting a 7-5 record.
 
- The Royals erased one potential salary arbitration case, signing right-hander Luke Hochevar to a one-year contract. Hochevar, who figures to be the staff ace, had his 2010 season interrupted by a strain in his right elbow, which restricted him to a 6-6 record and 4.81 ERA over 18 games (17 starts).

In addition the latest arbitration news, here’s a look around the rest of the league on Wednesday:

 
- Even after adding Cliff Lee, the Phillies could be looking for even more pitching insurance. The Phils have talked to starter John Maine about joining their already deep staff, ESPN New York.com reported on Wednesday, citing Maine’s agent, Rex Gary. 
- The Mets made their Minor League deal with left-handed reliever Taylor Tankersley official on Wednesday. Tankersley’s deal includes an invite to Spring Training. Tankersley, who will be 28 by Opening Day, could fill the Mets need for a lefty specialist.
- The Rays have agreed to terms with veteran right-hander Kyle Farnesworth, according to multiple media reports. A baseball source confirmed to MLB.com that a deal was “expected” at this point. The one-year deal will reportedly pay Farnesworth $3.25 million and includes a 2012 option.
- The Cubs also inked outfielder Reed Johnson to Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite on Wednesday. Johnson returns to the Cubs after a season with Dodgers and will battle for a roster spot this spring.
– Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Once-injured pitchers draw interest

The offseason is rolling on and that means there are fewer options in the free agent pool, especially for starting pitching. The Tigers, though, agreed to a deal with veteran Brad Penny on Tuesday, highlighting a trend of interest in talented pitchers coming off injury years. 
The biggest example in this category, Brandon Webb, signed with the Rangers just after the holidays, but there’s still a group of players who have battled injury and are looking to prove they are finally healthy. 
One such player, Justin Duchscherer, is drawing attention from the Yankees, ESPN.com reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed baseball source. Duchscherer missed several months in 2010 following a left-hip operation, after missing all of 2009 while rehabbing from right elbow surgery.
Free agents Chris Young, who is reportedly drawing interest from the Mets is in a similar boat, having missed a large chunk of 2010 with right shoulder issues.
Outside of the continual hunt for starting pitching, here’s a look at Tuesday’s happenings from around the league: 
- All-Time saves leader Trevor Hoffman told MLB.com’s Barry Bloom that he is calling it a career after 18 seasons in the big leagues. Hoffman, who became a free agent again earlier this offseason, will return to the Padres to serve in an unnamed free agent role, according to Bloom. 
- The Rays are still working to complete their roster for next season. They are looking for help in the bullpen and at designated hitter, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted on Tuesday. Heyman highlighted Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch as possibilities for the closer role, while naming Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and possibly Manny Ramirez as possibilities for the designated hitter slot.
- Monday’s reports that the Rangers were trying to lure Thome to Texas gained more steam Tuesday as Heyman tweeted that outside executives see Texas as a real possibility for the veteran. CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler confirmed on Twitter that the Rangers want Thome, but suggested the team is concerned he’d rather return to the Twins.
- The Angels avoided arbitration with Alberto Callaspo on Tuesday, inking him to a one-year deal. The third baseman’s deal is worth $2 million, according to the AP.
- The Mets have their eye on free agent pitcher Dave Bush, ESPN.com reported on Tuesday. The right-hander went 8-13 last season with the Brewers, but did complete 18 quality starts on the year.
 
The organization also reached agreement on a deal with left-handed reliever Taylor Tankersley, according to Dave Gershman of the MLBlog SPANdemonium and confirmed by MLB.com. The Mets have been seeking left-handed bullpen helps since losing Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano in free agency. Tankersley, who will turn 28 in March, missed all of the 2009 Major League season with an elbow injury. After seeing limited action as a lefty specialist in 2010, he rejected a Minor League assignment and was granted free agency in October.
 
- In addition to making Carlos Gonzalez’s seven-year, $80 million deal official on Tuesday, the Rockies also agreed to terms with right-hander Claudio Vargas on Tuesday, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Vargas will likely compete for a job in the Rockies’ bullpen. 
– Bailey Stephens

Mets interested in RHP Bush?

In addition to potential reclamation projects Jeff Francis and Chris
Young, right-hander Dave Bush is “on the Mets’ radar,” according to
ESPN.com. Bush, who was teammates with recent Mets acquisition Chris
Capuano from 2006-10 in Milwaukee, knows Mets special assistant to the
GM J.P. Ricciardi from their days in Toronto.

Bush finished 8-13 with a 4.54 ERA for the Brewers last season, making $4.2 million.

–Anthony DiComo

Yankees pursuing Justin Duchscherer

The Yankees are stepping up their pursuit of free agent right-hander Justin Duchscherer, according to a report on ESPN.com, which cited a baseball source.

With the pitching market thin and improving the rotation a priority, the Yankees have been looking to options that might offer rewards with little risk. Duchscherer has a career record of 33-25 and a 3.13 ERA in eight seasons, but the two-time American League All-Star has pitched only 28 innings over the last two seasons due to injuries. 
The report said it was unclear if the Yankees were looking at Duchscherer, 33, as a starter or a reliever, but general manager Brian Cashman has said he would prefer to add a starter. 
The Yankees have also recently been linked to Jeremy Bonderman and Jeff Francis on the pitching front. 
– Bryan Hoch

Tigers, Penny agree to terms on one-year deal

The Tigers and Brad Penny have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, MLB.com has learned. The deal is pending a physical.
Foxsports.com reported early Tuesday morning that the one-year deal should be worth $3 million in base salary plus incentives. The Tigers have a policy of not confirming an agreement until a physical is completed.
Penny tweeted on his official account Monday night that he was “getting closer to finding my new home. Should know by the end of the day.” He did not tweet which team, but indications later confirmed he has decided on the Tigers. 
That possibility seemed dim Monday, when the team released its list of non-roster invitees that was expected to would finalize its Spring Training roster. Their chances at adding a starting pitcher abruptly improved Monday evening, when Penny closed in on a decision.
The Tigers’ interest in Penny has been known since last month. They also had been linked to free agent starters Jeremy Bonderman — who pitched for Detroit the past eight years — and Freddy Garcia, but always appeared more focused on Penny. Talks never progressed far on Garcia or Bonderman.
The deal with Penny is expected to finish out the Tigers’ offseason dealings. Detroit is believed to be set with its position players, including invites, barring an unforeseen development. They briefly had interest in Fred Lewis earlier this offseason as a reserve outfielder, but talks didn’t progress far.
– Jason Beck

Lewis, Renteria signed by Reds

A busy January continued for the Reds Monday as they checked off another item off of the wish list by signing Fred Lewis to a one-year big league contract worth $900,000, plus incentives.

Cincinnati was in search of a left-handed hitting outfielder for the bench and a potential leadoff hitter and the club gets both with the 30-year-old Lewis.

The club also announced the official signing of SS Edgar Renteria. Both players completed their physicals today. Renteria will earn $2.1 million in base salary with $900,000 in incentives based on plate appearances.

 

– Mark Sheldon

Roundup: Market for veterans heating up

With Spring Training fast approaching, many elite free agents have found their home for 2011, but there are more than a few impact players still on the market. Two such players, Andruw Jones and Jim Thome, headline a group of veteran role players aiming to prove they can still be difference-makers. 
Jones has reportedly drawn interest from the Yankees in recent weeks. At this point, the Bombers see Jones as their best option, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted on Monday, but the two sides are still apart on the money. Jones would seemingly be a strong fit for New York, serving as a fourth outfielder with significant pop off the bench. Jones, 33, would also fit the bill of a right-handed hitting outfielder, which the Yanks have been seeking this offseason.
Thome, another aging yet still productive slugger, is drawing interest from the Rangers, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney. Olney reported that the team is “actively trying to lure” the slugger to Texas. After the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre, it began to look unlikely that they’d try to keep Vladimir Guerrero around as the designated hitter. After hitting 25 homers last season, it seems likely that Thome could help fill the power void left by Guerrero. 
Here’s a look at other news and notes from around the league on Monday: 
Jose Bautista could be facing a position switch this season, moving from the outfield to third base, Fox Sports reported on Monday, citing an unnamed team official. Unless the Jays add another starting infielder, Bautista figures to be moving to third to start the season. Bautista, who lead the Majors with 54 home runs in 2010, is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, so it’ll be a key year for the 30-year old, the report noted. 
– Catcher Max Ramirez was claimed off waivers for the second time in less than a week, this time by the Cubs from the Red Sox. Boston claimed Ramirez from the Rangers on Jan. 5. Ramirez, 26, gives the Cubs some additional depth behind the plate. Ramirez, who is out of Minor League options at this point, hit .217 in 28 games with Texas last season.
– The Padres completed a two-year deal with shortstop Jason Bartlett on Monday, which will pay the infielder $11 million over the life of the deal. There is also a vesting option for 2013, which could bring the total of the deal to $15 million according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock. 
– The Red Sox made their one-year deal with left-hander Hideki Okajima official on Monday. After non-tendering him earlier this offseason, the Sox have re-signed Okajima for $1.75 million. Okajima, 35, could increase that figure to the neighborhood of $2.3 million with incentives, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.
– The Astros and Phillies completed a minor trade, swapping two Minor League players on Monday. Houston sent second baseman Albert Cartwright to Philly in exchange for left-hander Sergio Escalona. Escalona was recently designed for assignment after the Phils re-signed J.C. Romero.
- Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Garza too pricey for Yanks

The free agent market may be thinning, but some teams are still very much in the hunt for pitching as Spring Training looms in the not-too-distant future.
The Yankees are one such team that remains in the market for quality pitching at this stage of the game, especially with the growing uncertainty surrounding Andy Pettitte’s status. The Yanks did have interest in the recently-traded Matt Garza, but that quickly became unlikely after general manager Brian Cashman learned how much the Rays wanted for Garza, the New York Daily News reported on an otherwise quiet Saturday. 
“We never got off the dime, but strong impressions were that it would be something that would cost us more because we are in the division, kind of like Roy Halladay,” Cashman told the Daily News. “We like Matt Garza and I had a conversation early in the winter and it was clear that what it would take would be more significant than I wanted to do.
Their desire for pitching won’t drive the Yanks to sign a Type-A free agent and give up their 2011 first round Draft pick, as reported by multiple media outlets over the weekend. While there have been conflicting reports about what that means for their pursuit of reliever Rafael Soriano, Cashman seemed firm in his decision.
“I would’ve given up the draft pick for Cliff Lee,” Cashman said to the Daily News. “But I’m going to retain our No. 1 pick for ourselves. Once Cliff Lee came off the board, I called Damon [Oppenheimer, the Yanks' vice president for amateur scouting] and said, ‘You’re going to have your No. 1 pick, you’re in the hunt for a first-round pick.” 
Here’s a look at other news and notes from around the league on Sunday: 
- Left-hander Scott Schoeneweis still feels he can be successful in the Majors, the Boston Globe reported. Schoeneweis saw his performance on the field dip after the tragic death of his wife in 2009. The veteran, who was released by the Red Sox in May, believes he would be a fit somewhere as a situational lefty.
- The White Sox added some pitching depth on Sunday, agreeing to Minor League deals with Josh Kinney and Shane Lindsay, according to ESPN Chicago.com. Kinney, 32, has appeared in parts of three Major League seasons with the Cardinals, compiling a 4.56 ERA. Lindsay, an Australian-born hurler, has struggled with his control over the years.
- Last month, several teams were mentioned as having interest in reliever Brian Fuentes, including the Pirates. While the Bucs could be interested in adding another veteran reliever, Fuentes’s cost would likely be prohibitive at this point, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Sunday. 
– Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Torre makes a comeback, sort of

Joe Torre‘s name re-emerged on Saturday, not in candidacy for a position as manager but executive, leading a day of otherwise smaller moves on the hot stove.

MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reported that Torre, who retired as the Dodgers manager after last season, is seriously considering joining Major League Baseball as executive vice president of baseball operations.

The 70-year-old Torre speculated during the 2010 season that he might spend the coming years in an advisory position with the Dodgers, return to broadcasting or focus on his family and charitable foundation. After three-decades worth of managing in the big leagues — and four World Series titles with the Yankees — he was adamant that he was not actively looking for a new on-field managing opportunity.

Torre has never held an executive role before, but he is a part of a committee convened by Commissioner Bud Selig to consider on-field changes.

On-the-field news Saturday carried no names as esteemed as Torre’s, but saw a few American League clubs improve:

  • MLB.com’s Scott Merkin confirmed that the White Sox signed left-hander Will Ohman to a two-year, $4 million deal, bringing the 33-year-old back to the town he began his career with on the Cubs. Ohman split last season between Baltimore and Florida, going 0-2 with a 3.21 ERA in 42 innings over 68 appearances. Left-handed hitters have a career .208 mark against him.
  • The A’s swung a deal that brought over right-hander Guillermo Moscoso from Texas and sent Minor League right-hander Ryan Kelly to the Rangers. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, the A’s waived a former third overall draft pick Phil Humber to make room on their 40-man roster. Humber’s tenure with Oakland lasted only a few weeks after he was claimed off waivers in December.
  • MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported a similar space-clearing move Saturday: the Phillies designated one southpaw, Sergio Escalona, for assignment to make way for another, J.C. Romero. Romero re-signed Thursday.
  • There are some conflicting reports about whether the Yankees are still going after Rafael Soriano. Soriano said this week he’s open to a non-closing role, but general manager Brian Cashman has told the Journal News that the Yankees won’t surrender their first-round draft pick — as is necessary to sign a Type-A free agent like Soriano — for any remaining free agents this offseason. SportsIllustrated’s Jon Heyman, however, reported on Twitter Saturday that the Yankees are still in the mix for the Rays closer.
  • The eight-player Matt Garza deal, Friday’s headliner, became official Saturday afternoon. The Cubs get Garza, outfielder Fernando Perez and left-hander Zachary Rosscup from the Rays for right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, infielder Hak-Ju Lee and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer. MLB.com’s Peter Gammons reported Friday night that the Rangers were in talks to land Garza as well.

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