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Red Sox, Rangers Complete Pitching Swap

Red Sox, Rangers Complete Pitching Swap

Major League Baseball(NEW YORK) -- The Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers have swapped pitchers struggling to find their role.

Rangers vice president of communications John Blake announced via Twitter Tuesday that Boston has sent right-hander Anthony Ranaudo to Texas in exchange for left-hander Robbie Ross, Jr.

Ranaudo, 25, displayed fantastic play in Triple A, compiling a 14-4 record in 2014 with a 2.61 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 138 innings pitched. He made his Major League debut last season, but struggled to find the same groove as his ERA ballooned to 4.81 in 39.1 innings of work.

Ross, 25, struggled last season after a transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Posting a 6.20 ERA in 78.1 innings, Ross failed to find a role in the Rangers injury-riddled rotation.  He will likely resume his role as a left-handed reliever with Boston, a role he excelled in during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In his career, he has a 53.8 percent ground ball rate.

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Marlins Sign Ichiro

Marlins Sign Ichiro

Rich Schulz/Getty Images

(MIAMI, Fl.) -- Ichiro Suzuki will give it another go in Major League Baseball.

The Miami Marlins have signed Ichiro to a one-year deal.  The deal is for $2 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Ichiro, 41, has played 14 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. He needs 156 hits to reach the milestone of 3,000 for his career.

The Marlins outfield is set with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Ichiro will likely be utilized in a platoon and defensive replacement role. 

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Astros Sign Colby Rasmus

Astros Sign Colby Rasmus

Major League Baseball(HOUSTON, Tx.) -- The Houston Astros have added outfielder Colby Rasums into the mix to add a bit of power to their lineup.

The Astros signed Rasmus to a one-year, $8 million deal, Tuesday.

Rasmus, 28, is a talented, yet inconsistent batter.  Last season with the Blue Jays, Rasmus batted .225 with 18 home runs in 376 plate appearances. He also missed 58 games due to a hamstring injury.

After the Astros traded Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs on Monday, the Astros needed an outfielder and Rasmus seemed like a natural fit. Right-handed batter Jake Marisnick will likely platoon with Rasmus once the season gets under way.

On January 14, the Astros also acquired catcher/outfield Evan Gattis from the Atlanta Braves.

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Report: MLB Proposes Shorter Inning Breaks

Report: MLB Proposes Shorter Inning Breaks

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Major League Baseball is seeking to shorten the length of games.

The MLB has submitted a proposal that would require pitchers to, "finish their warm-up pitches and be ready to make their first pitch of an inning 30 seconds before the end of all between-inning commercial breaks," according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Hitters would also be required to be ready sooner as well.

Complaints have increased over the past decade over the length of games, as game times have consistently been over three hours. In the same period of time, ratings have seen a consistent decline.

"The average time of a Major League Baseball game this year was 12 minutes longer than just four years ago," Stark said. "So they are looking for ways to pick up the pace."

Before any changes will be made, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player's Association will explore other measures to speed up games. Pitch clocks will be installed at Double-A and Triple-A parks as a trial study, but will not be used in Major League parks. 

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Report: Rangers Acquire Gallardo from Brewers

Report: Rangers Acquire Gallardo from Brewers

Jason Wise/MLB Photos via Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Tx.) -- The Texas Rangers are taking steps to correct their starting rotation this season.

The Rangers acquired Yovani Gallardo from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for three prospects, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. 

The Brewers acquired second baseman Luis Sardinas, relief pitcher Corey Knebel, and Marcos Diplan, an 18-year-old prospect.  In addition, the Brewers cleared $13 million off their payroll by shipping off Gallardo.

Earlier this offseason, the Rangers acquired Ross Detwiler from the Washington Nationals for two minor leaguers. 

Gallardo, 28, has an 89-64 career record over eight seasons, with a 3.69 ERA.

The Rangers will team Gallardo with top pitchers Yu Darvish and Derek Holland as Texas tries to rebound from an injury-riddled season that saw the team finish last in the AL West, at 67-95. 

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Report: Nationals Sign Max Scherzer to Seven-Year Deal

Report: Nationals Sign Max Scherzer to Seven-Year Deal

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- The Washington Nationals are adding one of baseball's top pitchers to an already solid rotation.

Max Scherzer has agreed to a seven-year deal with Washington, according to Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com.  The deal is for $180 million according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

He will likely take the ace role in the Nationals rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark.

Last season, Scherzer, 30, was 18-5, with a 3.15 ERA while pitching career highs in 220.1 innings and striking out 252 batters. 

Scherzer and Jon Lester were viewed as the top starting pitchers available this offseason. Lester signed with the Cubs for six-years, $155 million. 

 

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Red Sox Avoid Arbitration with Porcello

Red Sox Avoid Arbitration with Porcello

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BOSTON, Ma.) -- The Boston Red Sox and Rick Porcello avoided arbitration with a one-year $12.5 million contract. 

Porcello,26 was acquired by the Red Sox in December in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.  The Red Sox acquired Cespedes last season in a trade that saw Boston send ace pitcher Jon Lester to the Oakland A's.

Last season with the Tigers, Porcello went 15-13 with a 3.43 ERA over 204.2 innings, allowing 18 home runs while striking out 129 batters. Porcello also led the American League with 

The Red Sox also re-signed reliever Junichi Tazawa to a one-year $2.25 million deal.

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Tigers, Price, Agree to One-Year, $19.75 Million

Tigers, Price, Agree to One-Year, $19.75 Million

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT, Mi) -- The Detroit Tigers and starting pitcher David Price avoid arbitration with a record breaking contract.

Price, 29, and the Tigers set a new high for a player in their arbitration year with a one-year $19.75 million contract, according to Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com

The Tigers acquired Price from the Tampa Bay Rays last season as part of a three team trade that included the Seattle Mariners. The Tigers sent center fielder Austin Jackson to Seattle, who sent infielder Nick Franklin to Tampa Bay and in return Detroit obtained Price. 

The four-time All Star and the 2012 Cy Young Award winner posted a 15-12 record with a 3.26 ERA.  Price also hit career highs with 248.1 innings pitched, 25 home runs allowed and 271 strike outs in 2014 with the Rays and Tigers.

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Yankees Re-Sign Stephen Drew

Yankees Re-Sign Stephen Drew

NY Yankees/MLB(NEW YORK) -- The New York Yankees are bringing Stephen Drew back in a one-year deal.

Drew will earn $5 million this season, according to David Lennon of Newsday, and can earn $1.5 million in incentives, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal -- making the potential total value of the deal $6.5 million.

Last season, Drew sat out the first month and a half, hoping to earn a multi-year contract. He signed with the Red Sox in May for $10.2 million and was traded to the Yankees at the July deadline.

Viewed more for his defense (.986% fielding in 2014), Drew batted .162 with a .237 OBP in 89 games last season. 

A natural shortstop, Drew will return to second base after the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorious from the Arizona Diamondbacks last month. 

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Rays Sign Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera

Rays Sign Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera

Rich Pilling/Getty Images(TAMPA BAY, Fl.) -- The Tampa Bay Rays have signed Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year deal.

Cabrera, 29, signed for around $8 million, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Last season Cabrera was traded to the Washington Nationals from the Cleveland Indians, with whom he has spent the previous seven seasons.

Cabrera has struggled at the plate in recent years. Last season with both the Nationals and Indians, he hit .241, had an OBP of .307 and 108 strikeouts.

This has been the latest move for a Rays franchise undergoing a major overhaul.  After manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman left the franchise, the team has traded away Wil Myers, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Joyce, Joel Peralta and Sean Rodriguez.

Cabrera joins Ernesto Frieri and Michael Kohn as additions to the big league roster.

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Hiroki Kuroda To Return To Japan

Hiroki Kuroda To Return To Japan

Elsa/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Hiroki Kuroda has decided to sign with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Kuroda, 39, spent seven seasons in Major League Baseball, the last three with the New York Yankees.

After spending most of his career in the NBP, Kuroda came over to the United States at age 33 to join the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He owns a 3.45 career ERA with 6.7 K/9 in seven seasons of Major League Baseball.

The loss leaves the Yankees with more questions in their rotation as Kuroda was one of their most dependable pitchers last season.  C.C Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova are returning from injury while Michael Pineda and newly acquired Nathan Eovaldi will seek to prove their consistency.

Last season Kuroda finished 11-9 with a 3.71 ERA and a 4.17 SO/BB ratio over 199 innings.  

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Nationals Pitcher Fister Buys Everyone Free Starbucks Coffee

Nationals Pitcher Fister Buys Everyone Free Starbucks Coffee

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister creatively embraced the Christmas Spirit.

On Christmas Eve, Fister posted a barcode on his Twitter page offering his followers a free cup of coffee from Starbucks -- his treat. 

He also requested that people not rob from Santa's Sleigh, so to speak, and use the barcode only once. 

Fister earned $7.2 million in 2014 with Washington. He also has over 24,000 Twitter followers. 

There's no word on how many coffees ended up on his bill.

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Yankees and Marlins Swap Prado and Eovaldi

Yankees and Marlins Swap Prado and Eovaldi

Major League Baseball(NEW YORK) -- The Yankees and Marlins have completed a five-player trade that will send Martin Prado to Miami and Nathan Eovaldi to New York.

Friday, the Yankees sent Prado and relief pitcher David Phelps to Miami, in exchange for the 24-year-old right handed fireballer Eovaldi, utility player Garrett Jones and minor league pitcher Domingo German.

Eovaldi, was 6-14 last season with a 4.37 ERA while also surrendering the most hits in the National League with 223.

The Yankees have made similar moves in the past; buying low on young inconsistent talent.

Last season, the team acquired pitcher Brandon McCarthy in a low risk move.  After a few tweaks to his mechanics and pitching tendencies McCarthy lowered his ERA from 4.53 in 2013 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, to 2.89 over 14 games for the Yankees last season.  McCarthy signed with the Dodgers this offseason for $48 million over four years.

According to Marc Craig of Newsday, the Yankees are also including $6 million in the trade to cover the salary of Prado. 

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Reports: Royals to Sign SP Edinson Volquez

Reports: Royals to Sign SP Edinson Volquez

Major League Baseball(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The American League pennant winners are adding to their rotation.

Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez will join the Kansas City Royals rotation on a two-year, $20 million deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. 

The right-handed pitcher spent 2014 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a bounce back season as he posted a 3.04 ERA, 140 strikeouts and a 3.3 BB/ 9 over 192.2 innings pitched.

Volquez, 31, had struggled after Tommy John Surgery in 2009. He was suspended for 50 games in 2010 after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He was then traded to the Padres and had a brief stint with the the Dodgers. In that span, he never posted an ERA better than 4.14.

He will likely replace James Sheilds in the Royals rotation as he is expected to leave via free agency. 

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Report: Cubs Sign Jon Lester

Report: Cubs Sign Jon Lester

Robert Rogers/MLB Photos via Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Ca) -- The biggest pitching prize in baseball signed with the Chicago Cubs, Wednesday.

According to FoxSports.com and ESPN, Jon Lester has agreed to a 6 year, $155 million contract as part of a new look, new attitude club that hasn't won a World Series in over 100 years.

Lester joins new Chicago manager Joe Maddon, who recently came over from the Tampa Bay Rays, in what many are expecting to be an aggressive push towards contending in 2015.

The Cubs have also recently signed starting pitcher Jason Hammel, as well as catcher Miguel Montero.

"We have a nice ball club," Maddon said. "The pitching staff needed to be solidified, Jason Hammel helped do that. Now all of a sudden you get Jon Lester in there, beyond his pitching ability, what it does within the clubhouse among the other guys, when you talk about playoffs and World Series', it becomes more believable."

While the big name, high-priced acquisitions are capturing the headlines, the Cubs future is dependent upon the young talent the team has been developing. The list of players soon to join The Show include infielder Addison Russell, who the team acquired from the A's last season in the Jeff Samardzija deal, slugger Javier Baez, third basemen Kris Bryant and outfielder Jorge Soler.

"Primarily, I think every young Cub, sitting wherever they are sitting tonight, has a stronger believability in what we are doing next year," said Maddon to ESPN after the announcement of the Lester signing.

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Chicago Cubs Acquire Montero from Diamondbacks

Chicago Cubs Acquire Montero from Diamondbacks

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO, Ca.) -- The Chicago Cubs have made the latest move in the MLB offseason, trading for catcher Miguel Montero.

The Cubs traded two prospects to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tuesday to acquire what many within baseball consider the top catcher at framing pitches.

"It really gives us a solid presence in the catching position," manager Joe Maddon said.

In addition, Chicago will assume most of the $40 million left on the remaining three years of Montero's contract.

"I want to say thank you to the Diamondbacks for 14 years in the organization. I made a lot of great friends and I’m going to miss them all. Excited for the next chapter in my career with a team with so much history and a bright future. See you soon Windy City!" Montero tweeted after the trade was announced.

Montero, 31, has struggled at the plate in recent years. Last season he batted .243 with an OBP of .329. The Cubs will hope he can return to his 2011 form when he was an All-Star, who batted .286 with 15 home runs and 88 RBI.

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White Sox Land Samardzija and Robertson

White Sox Land Samardzija and Robertson

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO, Il) -- The Chicago White Sox brought their pots and pans to MLB's Hot Stove.

The White Sox traded for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and signed free agent closer David Robertson to the up-and-coming team. Samardzija owned a 2.99 ERA last season as a member of both the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics.

Samardzija was acquired from the Athletics in exchange for infielder Marcus Semien and pitcher Chris Bassit, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Robertson, a free agent from the New York Yankees, signed with the White Sox for a four-year, $46 million deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

The White Sox will now boast a formidable rotation including ace Chris Sale, Samardzija, and 25-year-old left-hander Jose Quintana, who posted a 3.32 ERA last season. Robertson will resume his role as a closer to shore up a bullpen that put up a poor 4.28 ERA last season.

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A’s Trade Josh Donaldson to Blue Jays

A’s Trade Josh Donaldson to Blue Jays

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Ca.) -- Friday, the Oakland Athletics traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays for third baseman Brett Lawrie.

Donaldson, 29, is considered one of the best players in baseball.  He has a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) rating second only to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout.

The A's also acquired right-hander Kendall Graveman, left-hander Sean Nolin and minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto.

"We addressed a lot of areas we thought we needed filled from our organizational standpoint," said Billy Beane, general manager of the Athletics.

Lawrie, 24, is considered a promising talent, but has been unable to remain healthy. A player with plus power, average and on-base skills, Lawrie has played in only 345 games the last four seasons, with a high of 125 in 2012. 

Oakland appears to be in a rebuilding phase after going all-in last season by acquiring pitchers Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzjia and Jason Hammel.  The team fell flat in the playoffs losing in the Wild Card to the Kansas City Royals.

The A's have also acquired designated hitter Billy Butler and first baseman Ike Davis this offseason.

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Diamondbacks Sign Yasmany Tomas

Diamondbacks Sign Yasmany Tomas

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Major League Baseball (MLB) hot stove continues to heat up as a report from MLB.com indicates that the Arizona Diamondbacks have reached a deal with Yasmany Tomas.

The Cuban slugger will reportedly sign a six-year contract worth $68.5 million dollars. According to the report, Tomas will have an opt-out clause after the fourth year of the deal.

The 24-year-old outfielder joins a team that had the worst record in baseball last season, 64-98, and struggled with injuries at the position. Both Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock missed almost half the season with different injuries in 2014. 

Tomas has spent the last seven years playing for the Havana Industriales and hit .375 with two home runs and five RBIs in the World Baseball Classic.

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2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Announced

2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Announced

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Monday, baseball's 2015 Hall of Fame ballot was released and features 44 players, including 27 newcomers. 

Three of the best pitchers of their era highlight the list of first-timers up for induction. Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and John Smoltz join a bevy of others looking to be enshrined among the games greats in Cooperstown next summer.

Martinez owns the sixth-best win percentage of all-time at .687, while Johnson became the last 300-game winner in his final season of 2009. Smoltz, who racked up 231 wins and 121 saves in 21 seasons, will be looking to join former Atlanta Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine who were selected to the Hall in 2014.

Carlos Delgado, Nomar Garciappara, Gary Sheffield and Tony Clark, the current head of the players' association, are also among those appearing on the ballot for the first time. 

Among the 17 players making a return to the ballot, Craig Biggio seems to be a favorite for enshrinement. The former Houston Astros infielder missed induction by two votes last year, receiving 74.8 percent of the vote.

Also on the list are Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens. Piazza, who earned 62.2 percent of the 75 percent needed, has hit more home runs than any other catcher ever (396). Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell are among the others back on the ballot while Don Mattingly enters his 15th, and final, year of eligibility.

In order to be inducted, a player must receive 75% of the vote on a ballot. Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) are only allowed to put 10 names on a singular ballot. Enshrined along with those from the BBWAA ballot is anyone elected by the 16-person Golden Era Committee, which will make its announcement on Dec. 8. Results of the BBWAA ballot will be revealed on Jan. 6, 2015.

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