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Report: Reliever Casey Janssen Signs with Nationals

Report: Reliever Casey Janssen Signs with Nationals

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Reliever Casey Janssen signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Washington Nationals, MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Wednesday.The 33-year-old Janssen has played eight major league seasons, all with the Toronto Blue Jays. During that time he's pitched 493 innings, compiling 90 saves, a 3.52 ERA, 368 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP.Janssen served the last three seasons as the Blue Jays closer, saving 81 of his 91 opportunities.Janssen is expected to serve as a set-up man for closer Drew Storen.Janssen joins a bullpen that lost Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard to trades and Rafael Soriano to free agency this offseason.

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Reds Agree to 4-Year Contract with C Devin Mesoraco

Reds Agree to 4-Year Contract with C Devin Mesoraco

Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- The Cincinnati Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco agreed to a four-year contract extension, the club announced late on Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Reds selected Mesoraco with the 15th overall pick in the 2007 MLB amateur draft. Last season, the 26-year-old batted .273 with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs in 440 at-bats. He was named to his first All-Star team in 2014.

"This is another example of rewarding a player we drafted and developed," Cardinals president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. "We are pleased to be able to sign him for the next four years and expect him to be an integral part of the team."

Mesoraco was set for arbitration this off-season, but his new contract will keep him in Cincinnati through the 2018 season.

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Report: N.Y. Yankees Preparing to Challenge A-Rod

Report: N.Y. Yankees Preparing to Challenge A-Rod

iStockphoto(NEW YORK) -- The New York Yankees are preparing to contest the validity of a marketing contact with third baseman Alex Rodriguez, according to ESPN.

In 2007, Rodriguez entered into a deal with the Yankees that would pay the 14-time All-Star a bonus for each milestone home run he reached.

Rodriguez is six homers away from tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time home run list, which will make him eligible for a $6 million bonus. The bonus is part of the 10-year, $275 million extension he signed with New York.

The Yankees are devising legal arguments against paying the bonus, because of Rodriguez's steroid revelations and year-long ban he received from Major League Baseball.

Rodriguez will also receive an extra $6 million each if he ties Babe Ruth at 714 home runs, Hank Aaron at 755 home runs, and Barry Bonds at 762 home runs, and breaks Bonds' all-time record.

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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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Hall of Famer Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks Dies at 83

Hall of Famer Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks Dies at 83

Chicago Cubs/MLB(NEW YORK) -- Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks died on Friday night, just days before his 84th birthday, the Cubs confirmed. 

Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 after 19 seasons playing in Wrigley Field.

"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time," Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a statement released by the team. "He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.

"Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."

Banks made his debut for the Cubs in 1953, as the team's first black player, and hit 512 homers, had 1,636 RBI's, with 2,583 hits during his 19-year run with the club.

Banks ranks first in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009) and total bases (4,706); second in home runs (512), RBI (1,636) and hits (2,583); third in doubles (407); fifth in runs scored (1,305); seventh in triples (90); and eighth in walks (763). 

Banks was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.

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Braves Agree on One-Year Deal with Outfielder Jonny Gomes

Braves Agree on One-Year Deal with Outfielder Jonny Gomes

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Atlanta Braves have signed veteran free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes to a one-year deal.

ESPN.com reports the deal is worth $4 million.

The 34-year-old Gomes spent last season with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. In 112 games, Gomes hit .234 with six home runs and 37 RBIs.

During his 12-year career, Gomes has hit .244 with 155 home runs and 500 RBIs with the Tampa Bay Rays, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, Athletics, and Red Sox.

Gomes is expected to be in a platoon in left field with Zoilo Almonte. The rest of the outfield will be made up of Nick Markakis and B.J. Upton.

The Braves have remade their outfield this offseason. They traded outfielder Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres and Jason Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals.

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Max Scherzer Ready to Contend in Washington

Max Scherzer Ready to Contend in Washington

David Banks/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Max Scherzer is ready to be one of the guys in the Nationals' loaded pitching rotation.

Washington introduced Scherzer on Wednesday after he signed a seven-year deal.

"It was jaw-dropping," Scherzer said of the $210 million deal.  "You just can't even fathom it sometimes."

"You work so hard to put yourself in this position," Scherzer continued. "It's all about winning, but I don't play this game for money, but at the same time when you have an offer like that, it just makes you go, wow."

The 2013 A.L. Cy Young Award winner will join a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez."It's pretty easy, and it's one: winning," Scherzer said. "When you look at the near-term and long-term, this is an organization you want to be a part of."

The righthander was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA last season. He struck out 252 batters.

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Yovani Gallardo Excited to Be Back in Texas

Yovani Gallardo Excited to Be Back in Texas

Jason Wise/MLB Photos via Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Texas) -- The Texas Rangers introduced pitcher Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday after they acquired him in a trade with the Brewers on Tuesday.

Texas gave up three prospects for Gallardo, who grew up watching the Rangers as a kid.

"Feels great," Gallardo said. "Living in Forth Worth all my life, it's definitely a dream to have the opportunity to play for a team like the Rangers."

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

"It might be a little bit different," Gallardo said regarding adjusting to the American League batters.  "I'm still going to go out there and do the same things I've been doing in the National League."

"I'm sure I'm going to have to make some type of adjustment," Gallardo continued.  "That's part of the job, I'm looking forward to taking on that challenge."

Gallardo will be part of a pitching rotation that features Yu Darvish.

"You want to have the ball going out there with a guy that is that kind of pitcher," Gallardo said of Darvish.

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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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Cubs’ Jon Lester Against Newly-Proposed Pitch Clock

Cubs’ Jon Lester Against Newly-Proposed Pitch Clock

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- With Major League Baseball experimenting with a pitch clock for pitchers, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester thinks its a terrible idea.

"If you [use a pitch clock] you take the beauty out of the game," he said Friday night at the Cubs' fans convention. "There's such a cat-and-mouse game as far as messing up hitters' timing, messing up pitchers' timing."

"Different things that fans and people that have never played this game don't understand. I feel like if you do add a clock it just takes all the beauty away from the game. I think you're going down a path you don't want to go down," he continued.

Major League Baseball will try implementing pitch clocks at the Double-A and Triple-A this season in an effort to speed up the game.

After it was already tested in the Arizona Fall League, it could be coming to the Major League level in the upcoming years.

The penalty for exceeding 20 seconds was a ball added to the hitter's count. Games were shortened by about 10 minutes.

In 2014, the average game lasted 3 hours, 8 minutes.

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Cubs Acquire Outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Astros

Cubs Acquire Outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Astros

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Chicago Cubs continue to load up this offseason as they've acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Houston Astros.

In exchange for Fowler, the Cubs sent Houston second baseman Luis Valbuena and reliever Dan Straily.

Fowler, who is set to be a free agent following the 2015 season, brings a veteran presence at the top of the Cubs' lineup.

"Our biggest needs were left-handed hitters and guys that get on base. Fowler fits that role for us," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "He controls the strike zone really well. It gives us much needed depth in center field and in the outfield. We felt we were a little unbalanced in our depth in the outfield as opposed to the infield."

"Hopefully we get a much more grinding offense going forward," he added.

In 116 games for Houston this past season, Fowler hit .276 with eight home runs, 35 RBIs, and 61 runs scored.

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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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Cardinals’ Jason Heyward Open to Contract Extension Talks All Season

Cardinals’ Jason Heyward Open to Contract Extension Talks All Season

Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Entering his first season as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals but the last year of his current deal, outfielder Jason Heyward is willing to keep a dialog about a new contract going beyond Opening Day.

Heyward can be a free agent following the 2015 season, but while many players refuse to negotiate once the season begins, he's open to season-long discussions if necessary.

“They asked me to be here and I was traded into this situation, and it’s a good situation," Heyward told reporters at a team event, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. For me, I just feel like I need to show up and do my job, kind of follow their lead with certain things. Me, I’m going to show up every day and look to play the game the right way and have fun doing it. After that, we’ll see what happens.”

Heyward was acquired by the Cardinals during the offseason along with reliever Jordan Walden when they traded starting picher Shelby Miller to the Atlanta Braves.

One of the best defensive outfielders, the 25-year-old Heyward hit .271 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs for the Braves in 2014.

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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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Cardinals & RHP Lance Lynn Agree to Three-Year Contract

Cardinals & RHP Lance Lynn Agree to Three-Year Contract

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- The St. Louis Cardinals and starting pitcher Lance Lynn have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year contract, the team announced on Thursday. The deal is worth $22 million, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Lynn was selected out of Mississippi by the Cardinals with the 39th overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft. In 119 career games, he has compiled a record of 49-28 with a 3.46 ERA.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Lance,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. “His performance has led to much success for both he and the Cardinals organization, and we look forward to his continued growth as both a pitcher and team leader.”

Lynn’s 48 wins since 2012 are the third-highest among National League pitchers, following only teammate Adam Wainwright (53) and Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (51). He won a World Series in 2011 and was named to the National League All-Star team in 2012.

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Braves Trade Gattis to Astros

Braves Trade Gattis to Astros

Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Atlanta Braves announced Wednesday night that they have traded utility man Evan Gattis and minor league pitcher James Hoyt to the Houston Astros for three minor league prospects: pitchers Mike Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman, and third baseman Rio Ruiz.The 28-year-old Gattis can play first base, catcher, and left field. He hit .263 with 22 home runs and 52 RBIs in 108 games last season. Gattis joins Jason Heyward and Justin Upton as the latest Braves to be traded away this offseason.Gattis joins an Astros' lineup that includes second baseman Jose Altuve, designated hitter Chris Carter, and youngsters Jon Singleton and George Springer.

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K.C. Royals & Manager Ned Yost Agree to 1-Year Contract Extension

K.C. Royals & Manager Ned Yost Agree to 1-Year Contract Extension

iStockphoto(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The Kansas City Royals and manager Ned Yost agreed to a one-year contract extension on Tuesday, which will keep him on the bench through the 2016 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This past season, Yost led the Royals to their first World Series appearance since 1985, where they fell to the San Francisco Giants in seven games.

Yost took over as manager of the Royals in May 2010 for Trey Hillman. During his tenure in Kansas City, he has posted a record of 373-402.

He previously led the Milwaukee Brewers from 2003-2008, where he went 457-502.

Yost has the third-most wins in Royals history, trailing only Whitey Herzog (410) and Dick Howser (404).

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Orioles Re-Sign Reliever Tommy Hunter to a One-Year Deal

Orioles Re-Sign Reliever Tommy Hunter to a One-Year Deal

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Despite a rocky 2014 season, the Baltimore Orioles have brought back reliever Tommy Hunter on a one-year deal worth $4.65 million.

By agreeing to the deal, Hunter avoids arbitration with the club.

Hunter started out last season as the Orioles' closer, but after blowing six saves, the team turned to Zach Britton and he flourished in the role.

The 28-year-old Hunter still had a productive season despite his struggles closing out games. In 60 appearances, Hunter went 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA.

In Hunter's first two season with the Orioles, he posted ERAs over 5.00, but over the past two seasons he's posted ERAs under 3.00.

In seven seasons in Major League Baseball, Hunter is 42-31 with a 4.32 ERA to go along with 15 saves and 34 holds.

Hunter was acquired by the team back in 2011 along with first baseman Chris Davis from the Texas Rangers.

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