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Mets’ Matt Harvey Looking Forward to Spring Training

Mets’ Matt Harvey Looking Forward to Spring Training

Norm Hall/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey is ready to get back to work after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery.

Harvey said he plans to report early to spring training in February.

"I'm healthy," Harvey said on Wednesday.  "It's nice to have a normal offseason and prepare like a normal offseason and get ready for spring training."

"It's been great," Harvey continued.  "I've been at it for over a month now.  We're getting excited.  I think spring training can't come quick enough for me."

Harvey is "completely on board" with his innings at Citi Field being limited in hopes that he can pitch late into October 2015.

"I just want to be healthy," Harvey said. "I think after missing a whole year, coming back and just being able to pitch every five days is something I'm looking forward to."

Harvey said he has faith that the pitching staff will be one of the best in the MLB next season.

"The staff is going to be very solid," Harvey said.  "I think the pieces that we've added; winning in New York and bringing a parade back to Queens would be exactly what we want to do." 

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Twins Introduce Torii Hunter

Twins Introduce Torii Hunter

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(MINNESOTA) -- Torii Hunter is happy to be back in Minnesota.  The Twins introduced Hunter on Wednesday after they announced his $10.5 million one-year deal.

Hunter spent 11 years in Minnesota before playing five seasons with the Angels and the last two with the Tigers.

"It's always been true love," Hunter said. "I felt the love coming from you guys; this is where I needed to be."

"I'm just a little piece to the puzzle," Hunter continued.  "I'm not the guy that's going to turn it around right away, but I really think this ball club will really do some things."

"I'm here and I'm here to win," Hunter added.

Hunter batted .286 with 17 homers and 83 RBIs last year and is looking forward to playing with a lot of the young talent in Minnesota.

When asked if this would be his final season, the 39-year-old outfielder said: "If I have bullets left and I'm playing well and at the end of the season I'm playing great and having a good time and having good numbers, I'm playing again. I'm going to make sure there no bullets left."

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Markakis Agrees to 4-Year Deal with Braves

Markakis Agrees to 4-Year Deal with Braves

Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Free-agent outfielder Nick Markakis agreed to a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves Wednesday.According to ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney, the deal is worth around $45 million.The Baltimore Orioles had a $17.5 million mutual option with Markakis for the upcoming season but declined it, and instead payed him a $2 million buyout.The two-time Gold Glove Award winner will help fill a hole in the outfield that was created when the team traded Jason Heyward.The 31-year-old Markakis, who was born and grew up in the Atlanta area, has played in nine major league seasons, all with Baltimore. During that time he's compiled a .290 average with 141 home runs, 658 RBIs, and a .358 on-base percentage.

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Free Agent Reliever Jim Johnson Signs with Braves

Free Agent Reliever Jim Johnson Signs with Braves

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Braves agreed to terms with free agent reliever Jim Johnson on a one-year contract, the team announced on Wednesday. The deal is for $1.6 million with the potential for Johnson to earn another $900,000 in performance bonuses, according to ESPN.

Johnson was originally selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. From 2006-2013, he saved 122 games and had an ERA of 3.11. Johnson led the American League in saves in 2012 and 2013.

Last season in 54 appearances with the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers, Johnson went 5-2 with a 7.09 ERA.

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New Athletic Brett Lawrie Blames Toronto’s Rogers Centre Turf for Struggles

New Athletic Brett Lawrie Blames Toronto’s Rogers Centre Turf for Struggles

Abelimages/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Newly acquired Oakland Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie never quite lived up to the hype when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays. According to Lawrie, it was the artificial turf at Toronto's Rogers Centre that caused many of his problems.

"It treats my body kind of silly and throws it off," Lawrie said. "I just want to go out and be healthy, and I feel like this getting off the turf is a big step forward for me."

The Canadian-born Lawrie was expected to be the next big thing for the Blue Jays, but injuries and inconsistent play plagued his career with the team.

The most games he's played in a season was 125 back in 2012. He missed 92 games this past season, hitting .247 with 12 home runs, but feels a change of scenery will do wonders for him.

"Give me 550 at-bats. These are things I haven't had yet in the big leagues," Lawrie said. "Hopefully, getting off that turf will do my body wonders, and I really think that it will. I feel I will show my true talents."

The 24-year-old Lawrie was the centerpiece in the Blue Jays acquiring All-Star Josh Donaldson from Oakland.

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Report: Nelson Cruz Agrees to Multi-Year Deal with the Mariners

Report: Nelson Cruz Agrees to Multi-Year Deal with the MarinersBrian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In desperate need of offense, ESPN's Enrique Rojas reports that the Seattle Mariners have signed free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz to a multi-year deal. Rojas reports Cruz and the Mariners have agreed on a four...

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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L.A. Dodgers Acquire RHP Juan Nicasio from Rockies

L.A. Dodgers Acquire RHP Juan Nicasio from Rockies

iStockphoto(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio from the Colorado Rockies on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Dodgers designated infielder Ryan Jackson for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Nicasio.

In 33 games with the Rockies last season, Nicasio went 6-6 with a 5.38 ERA. He struck out 63 batters in 93 2/3 innings of work.

The Rockies originally signed Nicasio as an amateur free agent in 2006. In his big league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 28, 2011, he allowed one unearned run across seven frames.

Nicasio is 21-22 over his four-year big league career.

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Report: Red Sox Finalizing Deals with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez

Report: Red Sox Finalizing Deals with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley RamirezBananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Boston Red Sox have made quite the splash early on in free agency. Multiple outlets report that the Boston Red Sox are close to finalizing deals with free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. ESPN reports th...

Pirated Designate Ike Davis for Assignment

Pirated Designate Ike Davis for Assignment

BananaStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Once seen as a potential All-Star caliber player, first baseman Ike Davis' fall continues as the Pittsburgh Pirates have decided to designate him for assignment.

The Pirates now have 10 days to trade or release Davis.

Davis was acquired by the Pirates back in April from the New York Mets. After struggling in recent years, some felt a chance of scenery was necessary for him.

Despite the new team, Davis' struggles continued. In 131 games with the Pirates, Davis hit .235 with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs.

During his first two seasons in Major League Baseball in 2010 and 2011, Davis showed flashes of being a power-hitting player who could also hit for average. Injuries and a bout with valley fever in 2012 wound up having more long-term damage then he had hoped. He hit 32 home runs in 2012, but has only hit 19 the past two seasons combined.

Former number two overall pick Jameson Taillon was added to the 40-man roster to replace Davis.

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Red Sox in Pursuit of Jon Lester

Red Sox in Pursuit of Jon Lester

Robert Rogers/MLB Photos via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- The Boston Red Sox have offered pitcher Jon Lester a contract, reports ESPN.com, according to a major league source.

Lester met with the team's owners earlier this week and met with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

The Red Sox traded Lester at the July 31 deadline to the Oakland Athletics after he could not work out a new deal with Boston.

The Red Sox offered Lester a four-year deal worth $70 million in mid-March, but that deal was rejected.

Lester finished last season 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA.

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Athletics Sign Butler to Three Year Deal

Athletics Sign Butler to Three Year Deal

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Ca) -- The Oakland Athletics have signed Billy Butler to a three-year, $30 million contract.

Butler was a 2004 first round selection of the Kansas City Royals. This offseason, the Royals chose to pay Butler $1 million to buyout his contract.

In 2012, Butler was elected to the AL All-Star team when he hit .313 with 29 home runs and 107 RBI. Those numbers have taken a sharp dive this past season as he hit .271 with nine home runs and 66 RBI. 

Primarily a first basemen when his career began, Butler played 108 games in 2014 for the Royals as a designated hitter. He will likely continue in that role for the As. 

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Report: Blue Jays Sign Russell Martin

Report: Blue Jays Sign Russell Martin

Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Toronto Blue Jays and free agent catcher Russell Martin agreed to a five-year deal worth $82 million on Monday, pending a physical, reports ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney.

Martin is coming off a season in which he batted .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs, while being one of the key reasons for the Pirates' postseason berth.

Martin, 31, threw out 37 attempted base stealers this year, and Toronto was hoping to add a veteran at the catching position.

The Pirates gave Martin a one-year qualifying offer for $15 million next season, but he rejected it.

Toronto started four catchers in 2014, and finished in third place in the AL East, behind the Yankees and Orioles.

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Braves Trade Jason Heyward for Cardinals’ Shelby Miller

Braves Trade Jason Heyward for Cardinals’ Shelby Miller

Tony Firriolo/MLB Photos via Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Braves parted ways with outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden on Monday in return for St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller and a minor leaguer.

Heyward is coming off a season in which he hit .271 with 11 homers, 58 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.

Heyward, 27, is due $7.8 million next season and then will be a free agent at the end of the year.

Newly hired Braves general manager John Hart is looking to bolster up on young pitching, just like the Braves did with Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux in the early '90s.

The Cardinals were looking for outfield help after the tragic death of their outfielder Oscar Tavares last month.

Miller went 10-9 with a 3.74 ERA for the Cardinals this year and was one of the reasons St. Louis made it all the way to the NLCS.  He was 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA in his rookie year in 2013.

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Diamondbacks Acquire Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Rays

Diamondbacks Acquire Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Rays

BananaStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Dave Stewart's first major move as the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks is official as he has acquired starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Tampa Bay Rays.

In exchange, the Diamondbacks are sending two minor league prospects, infielder Andrew Velazquez and outfielder Justin Williams.

"I'm definitely excited to get over there to Arizona and get back to the pitcher I was," Hellickson told the Tampa Bay Times. "I'd heard enough rumors so you kind of expect something, but I'm definitely kind of shocked. I'm definitely going to miss a lot of people over there."

This ends Hellickson's tenure with the only team he's ever known during his five-year Major League career. He started off great as he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. Despite his initial success, he's struggled to regain his ROY form the past two seasons.

In 2013, he posted a 5.17 ERA while going 12-10. He spent time on the disabled list in 2014 while going 1-5 with a 4.52 ERA.

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Rangers Reward GM Jon Daniels with Contract Extension

Rangers Reward GM Jon Daniels with Contract Extension

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Despite a rough 2014 season, the Texas Rangers have agreed on a contract extension with general manager Jon Daniels as well as assistant general manager Thad Levine.

ESPN is reporting both deal will run through the 2018 season.

The Rangers lost 95 games in 2014, their worst mark since 2008, and was also the last time the club finished a season with a losing record.

"I think it's really a tremendous statement by ownership for all of our people, players they want to keep the group together," Daniels said in a conference call. "Thad and I are in the press release but there are a lot of other people that are going to be impacted positively through this process."

Daniels has been with the Rangers since 2005, and was named Baseball America's Major League Executive of the Year in 2010. Levin has also been with the team since 2005.

The Rangers made it to the World Series in 2010 as well as 2011.

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Angels’ Mike Trout Named AL MVP, Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw Wins NL MVP

Angels’ Mike Trout Named AL MVP, Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw Wins NL MVP

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two of the best players in Major League Baseball earned their due on Thursday. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout won the American League MVP, while Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the National League MVP.

The 22-year-old Trout finished second in the MVP voting the past two years, but has finally won the award in just his third full season, and in unanimous fashion. He's the third youngest A.L. player ever to win the award.

Trout batted .287 with 36 home runs, 111 RBIs, and 115 runs scored in 2014.

Kershaw had won his third National League Cy Young Award on Wednesday. He becomes the first player to win the N.L. Cy Young and MVP awards in the same season since Bob Gibson for the St. Louis Cardinals back in 1968.

Despite missing all of April, the 26-year-old Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, and 239 strikeouts in 198.1 innings pitched.

The Dodgers went 21-4 in Kershaw's 27 starts, and were only three games over .500 when anyone else pitched.

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ESPN: Martinez Agrees to 4-Year Deal with Tigers

ESPN: Martinez Agrees to 4-Year Deal with Tigers

Leon Halip/Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- The Detroit Tigers and Victor Martinez have agreed to a four-year deal that comes with an average annual salary of $17 million, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.The Tigers originally offered Martinez a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer that the veteran designated hitter rejected. But Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski proceeded to declare re-signing Martinez was the team's top priority.The 35-year-old switch-hitting Martinez has been with Detroit since 2011 and missed the 2012 season with a knee injury. In his his three seasons on the field, Martinez hit .321 with a .381 on-base percentage, 58 home runs, and 289 RBIs.Martinez arguably had his best offensive season in 2014, hitting .335 with 32 home runs, 103 RBIs, and an American League-leading .409 on-base percentage.

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Kershaw and Kluber Take Home NL, AL Cy Young Awards

Kershaw and Kluber Take Home NL, AL Cy Young Awards

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Cleveland Indians right-hander Corey Kluber were named, respectively, the National League and American League Cy Young Award winners Wednesday.Kershaw has now won the award three times in the last four seasons, joining Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Jim Palmer, and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers to achieve that feat.The 26-year-old Kershaw was dominating after missing the first part of the season with a back injury. He threw his first career no-hitter and led the majors in wins (21), ERA (1.77), and WHIP (0.86), while striking out 239 batters in 198.1 innings.Kershaw received all 30 first-place votes that were cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto came in second and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright came in third.As for Kluber, he narrowly beat out Seattle's Felix Hernandez for the award. Kluber finished with 169 points, while Hernandez received 159 points.The 28-year-old Kluber, who was only in his second full season as a starter, pitched 235 2/3 innings, striking out 269 batters, while compiling an 18-9 record with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.095 WHIP.

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