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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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Starting Pitcher Johan Santana Attempting Another Comeback

Starting Pitcher Johan Santana Attempting Another Comeback

Elliot J. Schecther/MLB Photos(NEW YORK) -- Former All-Star starting pitcher Johan Santana isn't ready to call it a career just yet as he will make yet another attempt to reach the Majors again.

While attempting a comeback last season with Baltimore Orioles, Santana tore his left Achilles tendon in June. He will participate in the Venezuelan Winter League.

"Johan wants to go out on his own terms," said Peter Greenberg, Santana's agent. "He doesn't want to go out because an injury put him out. He's worked very hard and kept himself in shape, and he's never thought about retiring.

"It's not about the money or anything like that. He's said he wants to draw his own ending. He wants to go out on his own terms. He's told me, 'I want to add to my legacy.' I think anybody who knows him is going to bet on him."

Santana was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball 2003-2010 during his time with the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets.

During his 12-year career, the 35-year-old Santana went 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA. He also won two American League Cy Young Awards in 2004 and 2006.

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Athletics Acquire Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Rays

Athletics Acquire Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Rays

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Oakland Athletics make over continues this offseason as they've acquired infielder Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays.

In exchange for the two players, the A's sent back catcher John Jaso as well as minor league prospects Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell.

Zobrist is a two-time All Star who had spent his entire nine-year career with the Rays. He is a valuable piece to any team due to his versatility. This past season he saw time at second base, shortstop, and all three outfield spots.

In 2014, the 33-year-old hit .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs.

Escobar bring a veteran presence to the Athletics as well as a solid bat. In 2014, Escobar hit .258 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs.

After a quick exit in the 2014 postseason, the Athletics have made a slew of moves including trading away Josh Donaldson and Jeff Samardzija.

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Nationals’ Jayson Werth Expected to Miss 3-4 Months After Shoulder Surgery

Nationals’ Jayson Werth Expected to Miss 3-4 Months After Shoulder Surgery

Eliot Schechter/MLB Photos via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is expected to undergo shoulder surgery on Friday and will miss around 2-3 months.

The 35-year-old Werth will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint of his right shoulder. He had battled some shoulder issues back in August, even missing about a week as a result.

Because of the surgery, it is unknown just when Werth will be ready to resume baseball activities, but the hope is that he'll be ready to join the team once the regular season starts in April.

In his 12th Major League season, Werth is still a very productive all-around outfielder for the Nationals. In 147 games this past season, Werth hit .292 with 16 home runs, 82 RBIs, and a .394 on base percentage.

Werth still has three years left remaining on his seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Nationals back in 2011.

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Detroit Tigers Sign Free Agent LHP Tom Gorzelanny

Detroit Tigers Sign Free Agent LHP Tom Gorzelanny

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- The Detroit Tigers have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny, the club announced on Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In 23 appearances with the Milwaukee Brewers last season, the 32-year-old Gorzelanny had an ERA of 0.86 and struck out 23 batters in 21 innings of work. He missed the beginning of the year, recovering from offseason surgery on his left-shoulder.

"We are pleased to add a veteran pitcher like Tom to our ballclub," said Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski in a statement. "Tom is an established reliever who can help solidify the bullpen on the left side and will be a nice addition to our roster."

Gorzelanny was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round of the 2003 MLB draft. In 10 big league seasons with the Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Brewers, he has posted a record of 47-51 along with a 4.27 ERA.

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Report: White Sox Sign OF/INF Emilio Bonifacio

Report: White Sox Sign OF/INF Emilio Bonifacio

Tom Szcaerbowski/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago White Sox and veteran utilityman Emilio Bonifacio agreed to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $4 million, according to ESPN.

Bonifacio will earn $3 million guaranteed this season. The deal includes a club option for the 2016 season worth $4 million and a buyout at $1 million.

In 110 games with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs last season, Bonifacio batted .259 with three homers and 24 RBIs. He also had 26 stolen bases and scored 47 runs.

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Royals Agree on Minor League Deal with Reliever Ryan Madson

Royals Agree on Minor League Deal with Reliever Ryan Madson

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former Philadelphia Phillies reliever/closer Ryan Madson hasn't given up on pitching in the Major Leagues as he's agreed on a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals.

The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training camp.

The 34-year-old Madson hasn't thrown a pitch in a Major League game since 2011 when he went 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA to go along with a career-high 32 saves.

That offseason, Madson hit the free agent market as he signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds worth $8.5 million. He wound up never pitching for the Reds as he underwent Tommy John Surgery in spring training.

He tried to make a comeback in 2013 with the Los Angeles Angels, but nothing materialized. He wound up sitting out the entire 2014 season in an attempt to get healthy.

Mike Arbuckle, who is now a senior advisor for the Royals, was the Phillies' scouting director in 1998 when the Phillies drafted Madson.

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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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Royals Finalize Two-Year Deal with Edinson Volquez

Royals Finalize Two-Year Deal with Edinson Volquez

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The defending American League Champions have taken a step to bolster their starting rotation, finalizing a two-year deal with free agent starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.

Volquez' deal will pay him $20 million during the course of his deal and includes a mutual option for the 2017 season.

"I want to be here and help the team win some games, the way they did last year," Volquez told reporters. "We did in Pittsburgh, too, but Kansas City went a little bit farther. They almost won the World Series. Why not do it here?"

The 31-year-old Volquez is coming off arguably one of the best seasons of his career. In 32 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014, he went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA.

"I was really aggressive, attacking the hitter in the strike zone, getting ahead of the count," Volquez explained. "And I controlled a little more my emotions."

Volquez will take over the spot recently vacated by free agent James Shields.

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