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Tag:MLB Rumors
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:59 pm
 

Marlins sign Austin Kearns to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday brought us the Prince Fielder signing and -- to an obviously much lesser extent -- Francisco Cordero signing. Wednesday? How about Austin Kearns? Yeah, that's all we've got to pass along in terms of free agents signing on this day. But it is a transaction nonetheless, as the Miami Marlins have signed Kearns to a minor-league contract, which includes an invitation to spring training, the club announced Wednesday afternoon.

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Kearns was a first-round pick of the Reds back in 1998 and was then considered one of baseball's top prospects back in 2001 and 2002. Things haven't quite gone as expected, however, as Kearns will now be joining his fifth franchise. He hit .200/.302/.287 with two homers and seven RBI in just 174 plate appearances last season for the Indians. He's still not old, at age 31, so there's hope of getting him back to a 2007-type level, when Kearns was a full-time player for the Nationals and hit .266/.355/.411 with 16 homers and 35 doubles.

If Kearns does make the team, don't expect him to be a starter. Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are firmly entrenched as the Marlins' corner outfielders. This was a depth signing.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:03 pm
 

Report: Uehara blocks potential trade to Toronto

By Matt Snyder

Evidently relief pitcher Koji Uehara isn't a fan of Toronto. The Rangers had agreed to trade the right-hander to the Blue Jays, but Uehara invoked his no-trade clause and rejected the deal, according to ESPN Dallas. This wasn't a full no-trade clause, either. Uehara reportedly has a list of just six teams with which he could reject a trade, and the Blue Jays happened to be one of those six.

This means, at least for now, Uehara will remain in the Rangers' bullpen. For what it's worth, a report from Japan said that Uehara didn't want to move his family from Baltimore to Toronto. Of course, he plays in Arlington, Texas, now, so that doesn't seem to make a ton of sense. But it's certainly his right to reject the trade.

Uehara, 36, was having a great season in Baltimore before being traded to Texas last season. He had a 1.72 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 62 strikeouts in 47 innings for the Orioles. For the Rangers, though, he had a 4.00 ERA and ended up pitching his way off the World Series roster. Much of his decline could be traced to him stranding an absurd 97.6 percent of baserunners with the Orioles, so it was only natural more of those runners would start crossing the plate. Still, he did pitch worse for the Rangers.

Uehara remains in a crowded bullpen. The Rangers have Joe Nathan as closer and Mike Adams as the setup man. Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman also figure to have more prominent roles than Uehara.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 5:50 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:01 pm
 

Report: Cespedes gains Dominican residency

UPDATE: Cespedes has been granted free agency, so let the bidding begin



By Matt Snyder


Now that Prince Fielder has signed, will the pre-2012 free agent talk die a quiet death? Not likely, as we can add one last big-name position player to the mix. Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes will hit the market very soon. He wasn't eligible to be a free agent until he had established residency outside of Cuba, and MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez is reporting that Cespedes has now done so in the Dominican Republic. Cespedes will be a free agent once MLB approves him.

Cespedes, 26, is an outfielder that some scouts have said could possibly have a Bo Jackson-type power-speed combination. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 with 33 homers, 99 RBI, 11 steals and 89 runs in 90 games last season in Cuba.

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"He's a five-tool guy, built like an NFL running back," one scout told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. "He has tremendous raw power, with all the tools to be a 30-30 guy in the big leagues. His mother pitched on the Cuban national softball team, so he has athleticism in the family."

Recent reports have indicated the Cubs and Marlins are the two most likely suitors for Cespedes, though about a dozen teams have been connected to him in rumors. Considering the Fielder-to-Tigers and Pujols-to-Angels movements we've seen this offseason, all bets are off here.

Here's Cespedes hitting a home run in the Dominican Winter League:



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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:46 pm
 

Report: Blue Jays sign Francisco Cordero

By Matt Snyder

The Blue Jays have signed free agent reliever Francisco Cordero to a one-year, $4.5 million contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Cordero appeared to be the last remaining closer on the market, but apparently he wasn't even considered that. The Blue Jays will use Sergio Santos -- who they acquired from the White Sox during the Winter Meetings -- as the closer while Cordero will set up, Rosenthal reports.

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Cordero, 36, had 37 saves in 43 chances with a 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings last season for the Reds. With 327 career saves, only the great Mariano Rivera has more among active pitchers.

Still, the report states Santos is the Blue Jays' man. He's only 28 and got his first closing gig last season for the White Sox. He converted 30 of 36 save chances with a 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and an astounding 92 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings.

If nothing else, Cordero provides insurance for Santos and gives the Jays' an excellent 8th-9th inning combo. Don't underestimate the upgrade from the likes of Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch, either, as the Blue Jays tied the Angels with an AL-worst 25 blown saves last season. They finished 81-81 and 10 games behind the wild-card winning Rays.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Chalk up one more for the so-called mystery team. First it was Cliff Lee going to the Phillies, then Albert Pujols heading to the Angels. Now Prince Fielder has shocked the baseball world by signing with the Detroit Tigers, a team that hadn't even been remotely connected to him in rumors the entire offseason. The robust first baseman has signed a nine-year contract worth $214 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

The Tigers were recently dealt what appeared to be a pretty severe blow, as Victor Martinez tore his ACL and could miss the entire 2012 season. So there went Miguel Cabrera's lineup protection, right? Think again. Owner Mike Ilitch really wants to win a World Series championship and this signing indicates one of the strongest reactions one can even imagine to news like that.

Prince to Tigers
Heyman also notes that the finalists to land Fielder were the Nationals, Tigers and one other "mystery team." So it's entirely possible the Nationals would have come away with Fielder had Martinez not torn his ACL. It's funny how things work sometimes.

A Fielder-Cabrera combo in the middle of that order will dominate AL Central pitching. Throw Justin Verlander into the mix, and the Tigers have three of baseball's biggest stars.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers, 120 RBI, 95 runs and 36 doubles last season for the NL Central champion Brewers. He finished third in MVP voting and also took home the All-Star Game MVP. Though Fielder is a large man, he is as durable as they come. He hasn't played in less than 157 games in a season since becoming a regular. He played in all 162 last season, following up seasons where he appeared in 161 and 162 games, respectively.

The smart money with Fielder and Cabrera is a split at first base, with the other serving as the designated hitter. Then again, what if the Tigers got nuts and tried to shove Cabrera back across the diamond to play third base again -- where he began his career? That would mean the infield defense would be awful, but would also leave room for a better hitting DH than Brandon Inge (who, at this point, looks like the third baseman). And if Victor Martinez comes back healthy? It works even better.

The Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games last season. Even if Martinez misses all of the 2012 season, Fielder is a pretty sizeable upgrade to the offense. So it would appear the division is the Tigers' to lose.

For now, though, the only details that really matter are that Prince Fielder is heading to Detroit -- where his father once held down the middle of the order -- and he's going to make a whole lot of money.



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Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:33 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Orioles sign Wilson Betemit

By Matt Snyder

The Baltimore Orioles have signed free agent infielder Wilson Betemit to a two-year contract worth $2.75 million, according to CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. There's also a $500,000 signing bonus and a $3.25 million vesting option for the 2014 season.

Betemit began 2011 with the Royals and was then traded to the Tigers, where he hit the ball well as their most frequently started third baseman the last two months of the season. He's a journeyman, no doubt, as the Orioles will mark his seventh team in 10 seasons.

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Betemit, 30, hit .285/.343/.452 with eight homers, 46 RBI and 40 runs in 359 plate appearances last season. He was terrible in the playoffs, however, and the Tigers let him walk.

Betemit can fill many different potential needs for the Orioles. Mark Reynolds is an absolute butcher at third, so the O's could use Betemit at third and DH Reynolds. Betemit could also DH himself. And if Brian Roberts doesn't recover from his concussion symptoms, Betemit is an option there, too, along with Robert Andino. Then there's strikeout machine Chris Davis at first base, who has still yet to prove he can hit major-league pitching for large samples at a time.

Simply put: Betemit will have plenty of chances to earn playing time these next two seasons in Baltimore. The only question is where he slots.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:08 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 10:04 pm
 

Free agent Cody Ross agrees to sign with Red Sox

By Matt Snyder

Free agent outfielder Cody Ross will sign with the Red Sox, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. Heyman has learned the contract is for one year and $3 million.

Ross provides necessary insurance in the outfield for the Red Sox now that Carl Crawford had to undergo surgery on his wrist and is questionable for opening day. Plus, it's possible Ross ends up being the starter over Ryan Sweeney in right field anyway.

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Ross, 31, hit .240/.325/.405 with 14 homers and 25 doubles last season. It marked a disappointment, as this was coming on the heels of him playing postseason hero for the 2010 World Series champion Giants.

So, yeah, not exactly impressive numbers from Ross in 2011, but Sweeney's triple slash line was .265/.346/.341 and he only hit one home run. And if Crawford isn't ready to start the season, these are the starting corner outfielders. The other alternatives at this point are Mike Aviles -- who may be splitting time at shortstop with Nick Punto -- and Darnell McDonald.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:44 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 8:09 pm
 

Blue Jays sign Omar Vizquel

By Matt Snyder

Omar Vizquel's career will be extended yet another season. The now-utility infielder has signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays. He confirmed the news himself on Twitter Tuesday night. Assuming Vizquel makes it to opening day with the Jays, it will be his 24th season in the majors.

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Vizquel, 44, used to be an All-Star shortstop and routinely took home the Gold Glove while providing good offensive production, but those days are far in the rearview mirror. Now he's simply a bench player. Last season, he appeared in just 58 games for the White Sox, hitting .251/.287/.305 with 18 runs scored. He played all four infield positions at some point.

The Blue Jays will be Vizquel's sixth team.

Amazingly, Vizquel is not likely to be the oldest player in baseball -- even though he'll turn 45 in late April. Tim Wakefield has him beat and 49-year-old Jamie Moyer just signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies.

Vizquel is just 159 hits away from the coveted 3,000, but he only had 137 hits combined in the past two seasons. Still, he could very well make it there if he keeps finding work.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com