Major League Baseball
MLB News Wire
  • Rangers LHP Perez confident he'll be ready for opener
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, January 20, 2018

    Texas Rangers left-hander Martin Perez is bullish regarding the odds of being ready for Opening Day.

    • The starting pitcher indicated Friday he is ahead of schedule in his recovery after a freak offseason accident that resulted in a broken elbow on his non-pitching arm.

      "I am not going to miss any time," Perez told the Star-Telegram. "I have conviction I will be ready the first day."

      The Rangers open March 29 against the Houston Astros.

      General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers expected Perez to miss the first month of the season because of the Dec. 11 fall at his ranch in Venezuela after a bull startled the pitcher and caused him to fall on the elbow.

      Perez underwent surgery Dec. 18 and has been rehabbing in Texas for a week. He hopes to throw a bullpen session within the next week.

      Perez, 26, went 13-12 last season with a 4.82 ERA in 32 starts. He missed significant time from 2013 to 2015, making a combined 42 starts, following Tommy John surgery in his pitching elbow.

      He is 41-42 with a 4.43 ERA in parts of six seasons in the majors, all with the Rangers.

      -- Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Mets invite Tebow to spring training
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 19, 2018

    Tim Tebow received a formal invite to spring training from the New York Mets.

    • Tebow made it to Class A with the Mets last season. He summarized his first season of professional baseball as "a lot of learning moments."

      "Almost every day there's something I've never been through before that you're learning, whether it's something on base or something in the outfield or something at the plate," said the 30-year-old Tebow, who split his time between the outfield and designated hitter spots. "Or it's getting to go over something again because of the way someone's pitching you."

      For the season, the former Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida and NFL quarterback notched a batting average of .226 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs. Tebow started the season at Columbia in the South Atlantic League. In June, he was elevated to the Florida State League to play for Class A St. Lucie.

      --Randal Grichuk, the odd man out in the St. Louis Cardinals' outfield, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed reliever Dominic Leone and pitching prospect Conner Greene.

      Grichuk became the fourth outfielder on the depth chart when the Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. Ozuna is expected to play left field with Tommy Pham in center and Dexter Fowler in right.

      Grichuk, 26, hit just .238 last season with 22 home runs. Leone, 26, posted a 2.56 ERA with 81 strikeouts over 70 1/3 innings for Toronto last season, while Greene, 22, was a seventh-round pick in 2013.

      --Free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez was offered a five-year, $125 million contract by the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Herald reported.

      Martinez is considered one of the best hitters available in free agency. The Scott Boras client is reportedly seeking a $200 million package.

      He hit .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs last season, split between the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks, who acquired Martinez before the MLB trade deadline.

      --The body of two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay showed evidence of morphine, amphetamines and traces of a sleep medication when it was examined after his fatal plane crash into the Gulf of Mexico last Nov. 7, according to an autopsy report.

      The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office report also found traces of the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) and a blood-alcohol-content level of .01. The 40-year-old former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher was found to have died of blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the report, after his single-engine crashed into the water about 10 miles off the coast of Florida near Tampa with Halladay the only passenger.

      Previous reports said the plane had flown erratically leading up to the crash, dipping within a few feet of the water before climbing steeply and turning sharply. Similar findings were released in a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is still investigating the matter.

      --Field Level Media

  • Autopsy: Halladay had morphine in system during crash
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 19, 2018

    The body of two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay showed evidence of morphine, amphetamines and traces of a sleep medication when it was examined after his fatal plane crash into the Gulf of Mexico last November 7, according to an autopsy report.

    • The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office report also found traces of the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) and a blood-alcohol-content level of .01.

      The 40-year-old former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher was found to have died of blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the report, after his single-engine crashed into the water about 10 miles off the coast of Florida near Tampa with Halladay the only passenger.

      FAA regulations forbid the use of "any drug that affects the person's faculties in any way contrary to safety." The consumption of alcohol within eight hours of piloting a private aircraft is also prohibited.

      Previous reports said the plane had flown erratically leading up to the crash, dipping within a few feet of the water before climbing steeply and turning sharply. Similar findings were released in a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is still investigating the matter.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Red Sox offer J.D. Martinez $125 million
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 19, 2018

    Free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez was offered a five-year, $125 million contract by the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Herald reported Friday.

    • Martinez is considered one of the best hitters available in free agency. The Scott Boras client is reportedly seeking $200 million.

      He hit .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs last season, split between the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks, who acquired Martinez before the MLB trade deadline.

      Two weeks ago, team president Dave Dombrowski said the Red Sox could compete with the New York Yankees -- who acquired slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins in the offseason -- with or without a big bat added to the lineup.

      "I look for some of our own people to do better this year from an offensive perspective," Dombrowski said. "I think it's important, no matter who we add, that some of the people internally have to bounce back and have the years we think they can have. And I think they will."

      The most lucrative deal for a hitter in free agency went to former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana, who signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. That matches the three-year deal the Indians gave designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion in 2016.

      Jay Bruce, who like Martinez is a 30-year-old outfielder, signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the New York Mets.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cardinals OF Grichuk dealt to Blue Jays
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 19, 2018

    Randal Grichuk, the odd man out in the St. Louis Cardinals' outfield, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed reliever Dominic Leone and pitching prospect Conner Greene.

    • Grichuk became the fourth outfielder on the depth chart when the Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. Ozuna is expected to play left field with Tommy Pham in center and Dexter Fowler in right.

      Despite durability questions around Pham, who had a breakout season in 2017, and Fowler, the Cardinals moved Grichuk on Friday with a move that bolsters a bullpen without an established closer.

      "We've got 37 outfielders between Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues. We knew there would be a possibility," Grichuk said over the weekend of the possibility of a trade. At the time, he was discussing the move that sent Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics for a pair of middle-infield prospects.

      Grichuk, 26, has potential to be a "power bat," according to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. But one issue has been consistent contact. He has a strikeout in one out of every three at-bats in the big leagues: 383 whiffs in 1,181 at-bats. He hit just .238 last season with 22 home runs.

      Leone posted a 2.56 ERA with 81 strikeouts over 70 1/3 innings for Toronto in 2017 and has a chance to play a significant role in St. Louis. The 26-year-old had 11 holds in 65 games last season and owns a career mark of 11-8 with a 3.48 ERA in 160 outings (all in relief) with Seattle (2014-15), Arizona (2015-16) and Toronto (2017).

      Greene, 22, was a seventh-round pick in 2013.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mets invite Tebow to spring training
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 19, 2018

    Tim Tebow received a formal invite to spring training from the New York Mets.

    • Tebow made it to Class A with the Mets last season.

      He summarized his first season of professional baseball as "a lot of learning moments."

      "Almost every day there's something I've never been through before that you're learning, whether it's something on base or something in the outfield or something at the plate," said Tebow, who split his time between the outfield and designated hitter spots. "Or it's getting to go over something again because of the way someone's pitching you."

      He homered in his first game with the extended spring training team in 2017 and had 126 strikeouts.

      For the season, the former Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida and NFL quarterback notched a batting average of .226 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs.

      Tebow started the season at Columbia in the South Atlantic League. In June, he was elevated to the Florida State League to play for Class A St. Lucie.

      St. Lucie set a home attendance record with 122,000 fans last season.

      The 30-year-old Tebow maintained his role as college football analyst for SEC Network.

      --Field Level Media

  • D-backs' Tomas arrested for criminal speeding
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Yasmany Tomas was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of driving in excess of 105 mph on a metro Phoenix freeway.

    • Tomas was booked on charges of criminal speeding and reckless driving, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

      Tomas was booked in the downtown Phoenix jail, and his car, a 2015 black Mercedes S550 coupe, was impounded.

      "We are very disappointed to learn of this news," the Diamondbacks said in a statement. "We are still gathering facts, and will refrain from further comment at this time as this is a pending legal matter."

      Tomas could face up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $500 on the criminal speeding charge, while the reckless driving charge could result in his license being suspended, authorities say.

      Tomas, 27, was limited to just 47 games last season because of an injury. Though listed as out with a groin injury, Tomas underwent season-ending core surgery in August.

      The Cuban slugger broke out offensively in 2016, hitting 31 home runs in 140 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Pirates sign Rivero to four-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    Not everyone is trying to leave the rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates, as the team announced Thursday that it signed closer Felipe Rivero to a four-year, $22.5 million contract extension.

    • The agreement for the 26-year-old left-hander runs through 2021 and includes club options for 2022-23, according to multiple reports. Rivero is slated to make $2.5 million this season, $4 million next year, $5.25 million in 2020 and $7.25 million in 2021. Each club option is $10 million, with team buyout options at $1 million for 2022 and $500,000 for 2023, and the deal also includes a $2 million signing bonus.

      Rivero, who finished 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 saves last season, signed with the club after controversial trades that sent ace pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros and former National League MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants.

      --The New York Mets and Adrian Gonzalez finalized a one-year deal that will pay the veteran first baseman the major league minimum of $545,000 in 2018.

      Gonzalez was released by the Atlanta Braves last month from a contract that guaranteed him $21.5 million this year.

      The 35-year-old played just 71 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017, the first time he didn't appear in at least 156 games since 2005. He hit .242 with a .287 on-base percentage, a .355 slugging percentage, three home runs and 30 RBIs and spent most the season on the disabled list because of a herniated back disk.

      --The Washington Nationals finalized their two-year, $7 million contract with free agent utility man Howie Kendrick. A deal between the sides was reported earlier this week.

      Kendrick will make $3 million this year and $4 million in 2019 and can earn up to an additional $1.1 million each season in performance incentives based on plate appearances. The Nationals acquired Kendrick, 34, from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28 last season, and he batted. 293 in 52 regular-season games.

      --Major League Baseball is prepared to add new rules to speed up games in 2018 even if the players union doesn't sign off on the changes, ESPN reported.

      With pace-of-game talks between MLB and the players' association stalled, commissioner Rob Manfred is prepared to institute a 20-second pitch clock, sources told the network. MLB may also put a restriction on catcher mound visits in 2018.

      Any rules changes require the approval of MLB owners, who will hold their quarterly meetings Feb. 1 in Los Angeles. MLB games averaged three hours, 6 minutes last season, setting a record.

      --The Minnesota Twins hired former starting pitcher Jim Kaat as a special assistant, the team announced.

      Kaat will engage in various Twins community and business initiatives both in Minnesota as well as Southwest Florida, where the team plays its spring training ball in Fort Myers.

      The 79-year-old Kaat pitched 25 seasons in the major leagues, including 15 with the Twins/Senators franchise. He is the Twins' all-time leader in wins (189) and innings pitched (2,959 1/3) and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2001.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mets announce signing of 1B Gonzalez
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    The New York Mets and Adrian Gonzalez finalized a one-year deal on Thursday that will pay the veteran first baseman the major-league minimum of $545,000 in 2018.

    • Gonzalez was released by the Atlanta Braves last month from a contract that guaranteed him $21.5 million this year.

      The 35-year-old played just 71 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017, the first time he didn't appear in at least 156 games since 2005. He hit .242 with a .287 on-base percentage, a .355 slugging percentage, three home runs and 30 RBIs.

      Gonzalez spent most the season on the disabled list because of a herniated back disk.

      For his career, Gonzalez has a .288/.359/.488 line with 311 home runs and 1,176 RBIs in 1,875 games. He played for the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox before joining the Dodgers in midseason in 2012.

      He is a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner.

      In New York, Gonzalez will serve as a mentor for prized rookie Dominic Smith, who hit .198/.262/.395 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in 49 games last season.

      "Just kind of the mindset and tell him all my experiences and everything I've done," Gonzalez told reporters Thursday. "So I'm looking forward to that adventure, Dominic, as well, so I can help him become the best major leaguer he can be in the future."

      Also in the mix for playing time at first base are Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce, general manager Sandy Alderson said this week.

      "There is somewhat of a defined role as far as starting a good amount of games, but it's not set in stone," Gonzalez said. "I am a player that can put up great numbers, drive in runs and help the team win."

      --Field Level Media

  • Twins bring back Kaat as special assistant
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    The Minnesota Twins have hired former starting pitcher Jim Kaat as a special assistant, the team announced Thursday.

    • Per the release, Kaat will engage in various Twins community and business initiatives both in Minnesota as well as Southwest Florida, where the team plays its spring training ball in Fort Myers.

      The 79-year-old Kaat pitched 25 seasons in the major leagues, including 15 with the Twins/Senators franchise. He is the Twins' all-time leader in wins (189) and innings pitched (2,959.1) and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2001.

      "The Twins organization is thrilled to have Jim Kaat back on board," Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said in a statement. "Jim's history with this franchise as well as our game is rich and legendary. It's special to have this opportunity to bring him back home to the community and region he loves so much."

      Fellow Twins legends Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek, Tom Kelly and Tony Oliva all have similar roles similar to Kaat's with the franchise. Meanwhile, Justin Morneau's hiring as a special assistant announced Wednesday adds to a group of recent former Twins working for the club that includes Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nationals finalize 2-year deal with Kendrick
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    The Washington Nationals finalized their two-year, $7 million contract with free-agent utility man Howie Kendrick on Thursday. A deal between the two sides had been reported earlier this week.

    • Kendrick will make $3 million this year and $4 million in 2019 and can earn up to an additional $1.1 million each season in performance incentives based on plate appearances.

      The Nationals acquired Kendrick, 34, from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28 last season. In 52 regular-season games with the team, he hit .293 with an .837 OPS -- both higher than his career averages. He filled a variety of roles in Washington's lineup, playing first base, second base and outfield and also serving as the team's top right-handed bat off the bench.

      During the Winter Meetings in December, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo noted Kendrick's value in the clubhouse, as well. And with starting second baseman Daniel Murphy still recovering from offseason microfracture surgery in his right knee, Kendrick could serve as valuable insurance should Murphy not be ready by Opening Day.

      Kendrick is a career .291 hitter with 104 home runs, 636 RBIs and 123 stolen bases in 12 seasons. He spent his first nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, making the 2011 American League All-Star team.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: MLB ready to institute pitch clock
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    Major League Baseball is prepared to add new rules to speed up games in 2018 even if the players union doesn't sign off on the changes, ESPN reported Thursday.

    • With pace-of-game talks between MLB and the players' association stalled, commissioner Rob Manfred is prepared to institute a 20-second pitch clock, sources told the network. MLB may also put a restriction on catcher mound visits in 2018.

      Manfred said late last year he preferred to negotiate a deal with the players before proceeding, "but if we can't get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.''

      Any rules changes require the approval of MLB owners, who will hold their quarterly meetings Feb. 1 in Los Angeles.

      MLB games averaged three hours, 6 minutes last season to set a record.

      Players union representatives are contending that games can be shortened through revisions in instant replay, stricter monitoring of the down time between innings and even bringing back bullpen carts for pitching changes.

      The proposed 20-second clock would add a ball to the count for violations by a pitcher or a strike for an infraction by the batter.

      -- Field Level Media

  • Pirates sign closer Rivero to 4-year extension
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 18, 2018

    Not everyone is trying to leave the rebuilding Pirates.

    • Amid a franchise-changing week that has included a pair of blockbuster deals sending away star players -- and a trade demand from another -- Pittsburgh announced Thursday that it signed closer Felipe Rivero to a four-year, $22.5 million contract extension.

      The agreement for the 26-year-old left-hander runs through 2021 and includes club options for 2022-23, according to multiple reports.

      "We are pleased to make this long-term commitment to Felipe Rivero and are humbled that he has made a long-term commitment to the Pirates organization and our community," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Felipe quickly established himself as one of the best young relief pitchers in Major League Baseball last season and we look forward to working with him to help us win games for potentially the next six seasons."

      Rivero is slated to make $2.5 million this season, $4 million next year, $5.25 million in 2020 and $7.25 million in 2021. Each club option is $10 million, with team buyout options at $1 million for 2022 and $500,000 for 2023. The deal also includes a $2 million signing bonus.

      Rivero essentially gives up his arbitration years in the extension, which could prove crafty by the Pirates. Their closer enjoyed a dominant 2017 season, winning the job in June in his first full season with Pittsburgh as he finished 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 saves.

      The news comes during a tumultuous week for the franchise after the team has already traded ace Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros and former National League MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants. Those moves signaled the Pirates were starting from scratch after several playoff runs in recent years, resulting in a public trade demand by All-Star Josh Harrison.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mutiny: Pirates fans want owner Nutting to sell team
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    Pittsburgh Pirates fans are not responding well to the team's decision to trade star outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants.

    • A day after the deal went through, fans launched a petition on Change.org imploring Major League Baseball to force Pirates owner Bob Nutting to sell the team. The petition was seeking 50,000 signatures as of Wednesday evening -- more than 36,000 people had signed as of 8:30 p.m. ET.

      "Pittsburgh is a baseball town that is being destroyed by a greedy owner. There are so many loyal fans who truly care and support this team through thick and thin. We deserve better," the petition reads. "Bob Nutting needs to sell this team, so that we can see a competitive baseball team year in and year out. It is obvious that he doesn't want to spend the money to make that happen. We need an owner who has a competitive spirit and loves the game of baseball!"

      For his part, Nutting described trading McCutchen as "one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure." Nutting took over as the team's principal owner in January 2007.

      In addition to dealing the 2013 National League MVP, Pittsburgh sent its best pitcher, Gerrit Cole, to the Houston Astros on Saturday.

      Players also have spoken out against the Pirates' moves, with veteran Josh Harrison saying Tuesday he would prefer to be traded if the team is headed toward a rebuild.

      "If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded," Harrison said in a statement to The Athletic. "I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer."

      The Pirates finished 75-87 last season, failing to make the postseason for the second consecutive year after reaching the playoffs each season from 2013-15.

      --Field Level Media

  • Tigers, SS Iglesias avoid arbitration with 1-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    The Detroit Tigers and shortstop Jose Iglesias agreed to terms on a one-year contract for 2018 to avoid arbitration, the team announced Wednesday.

    • Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though a report from the Detroit Free Press has Iglesias earning $6.275 million. The 28-year-old is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

      Iglesias appeared in 130 games for the Tigers last season, recording career highs with six home runs and 54 RBIs to go with a .255 batting average. He was an All-Star for Detroit in 2015.

      Known primarily for his glove at shortstop, Iglesias was acquired by the Tigers from the Boston Red Sox during the 2013 season and missed all of 2014 with stress fractures in both his shins.

      By reaching a deal with Iglesias, the Tigers have avoided arbitration with all their eligible players.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Cubs re-sign LHP Duensing
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal with left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

    • The finalized deal is pending a physical.

      Duensing, 34, went 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances with the Cubs last season and is 43-38 with a 4.01 ERA in 436 major league appearances. Duensing spent his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins and was in the minors for much of 2016 before being called up by the Baltimore Orioles late in the season.

      Duensing is a former third-round draft pick by the Twins in 2005 and made his major league debut in 2009.

      --The New York Mets are likely to begin the season without All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto, as general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters that the 24-year-old is on track to return from shoulder surgery in early May.

      "Conforto probably will not be ready," Alderson said. "Everything's going as planned. There have been no setbacks. But his schedule is such that I don't expect him back until the first of May."

      Conforto had surgery in September after dislocating his left shoulder on a swing during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 24. The injury ended what was a breakout season for Conforto, who hit .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs and 68 RBIs in earning his first career All-Star selection.

      --Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Jeremy Jeffress pleaded guilty to a driving while intoxicated charge in Dallas earlier this week.

      Jeffress was sentenced to three days in jail, according to Dallas County District Court, after pleading guilty on Tuesday. He was credited with time served and will do no further jail time.

      Jeffress was arrested by Dallas police on Aug. 26, 2016, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. Texas traded Jeffress back to the Brewers last July 31 at the trading deadline. The Rangers had acquired him from Milwaukee at the 2016 trading deadline.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mets don't expect OF Conforto back until May
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    The New York Mets are likely to begin the season without All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto, as general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters Wednesday that the 24-year-old is on track to return from shoulder surgery in early May.

    • "Conforto probably will not be ready," Alderson said. "Everything's going as planned. There have been no setbacks. But his schedule is such that I don't expect him back until the first of May."

      Conforto had surgery in September after dislocating his left shoulder on a swing during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 24. The injury ended what was a breakout season for Conforto, who hit .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs and 68 RBIs in earning his first career All-Star selection.

      Conforto primarily played left field last season but was expected to move from the position with Yoenis Cespedes healthy. New addition Jay Bruce, who rejoined the team on a three-year, $39 million deal after being traded by the Mets last season, will likely man right field while Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares split time in center.

      When Conforto returns, he could take over in center, where he appeared in 43 games last season, or right field, shifting Bruce to first base. Bruce told reporters Wednesday he's willing to play the position, though "first base is not my first choice."

      The Mets are expected to finalize a deal with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez soon that could add another name to the position mix.

      --Field Level Media

  • Brewers RHP Jeffress guilty of DWI
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Jeremy Jeffress pleaded guilty to a driving while intoxicated charge in Dallas earlier this week.

    • Jeffress was sentenced to three days in jail, according to Dallas County District Court, after pleading guilty on Tuesday. He was credited with time served and will do no further jail time.

      Jeffress was arrested by Dallas police on Aug. 26, 2016, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers.

      Texas traded Jeffress back to the Brewers last July 31 at the trading deadline. The Rangers had acquired him from Milwaukee at the 2016 trading deadline.

      Jeffress, 30, was 5-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 61 appearances between the two teams last season. He had a career-best 27 saves for the Brewers in 2016 prior to the trade to Texas.

      Overall, Jeffress is 17-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 271 career appearances (one start) over eight big league campaigns.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cubs, LHP Duensing agree to 2-year, $7M deal
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal with left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, according to multiple reports.

    • The finalized deal is pending a physical.

      Duensing, 34, went 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 68 appearances last season and is 43-38 with a 4.01 ERA in 436 major league appearances. Duensing spent his first seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins and was in the minors for much of 2016 before being called up by the Baltimore Orioles late in the season.

      Duensing is a former third-round draft pick by the Twins in 2005, and made his major league debut in 2009.

      FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reported that Duensing was offered "significantly" more money elsewhere, but wanted to return to the Cubs. He earned $2 million in 2017, when he walked only 18 batters in 62 1/3 innings pitched. Duensing also went longer than an inning in 15 appearances last season, making him a valuable veteran arm in long relief.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Ichiro considering return to Japan
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Receiving little interest from Major League Baseball teams as a free agent this offseason, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki could end up returning to Japan to finish his career.

    • "I don't really like to think about that," Ichiro's agent, John Boggs, told MLB.com on Tuesday. "As every day goes by, I keep holding out hope that somebody will realize that he would be a tremendous asset for any organization."

      Ichiro, 44, wants to continue playing baseball in some form. With the Miami Marlins last season, he hit .255 with a .318 on-base percentage, a .332 slugging percentage, three home runs and 20 RBIs in 196 at-bats across 136 games as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter. He had 27 pinch hits, falling one short of tying the single-season record set by John Vander Wal in 1995.

      The Marlins' new ownership paid $500,000 to buy Ichiro out of his $2 million club option for 2018, thus making him a free agent. Boggs told MLB.com that he has had extensive conversations with the Seattle Mariners, where Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, and the San Diego Padres, but both teams have moved on.

      "We had great hopes at the beginning of all this that the Mariners would bring him back," Boggs said. "I wish there was more activities with clubs. I understand there are a lot of outfielders still out there."

      Ichiro said last year that he hopes to play baseball until he is at least 50 years old. He was asked about the possibility of returning to play in Japan when speaking with Japanese reporters last week.

      "When you use the word possibility, there are many things ... it means anything is possible as long as it's not zero." Suzuki said, per the Kyodo news agency.

      "I feel like a big dog at a pet shop that hasn't been sold. Of course, I want to play baseball next year."

      Ichiro has 3,080 hits across his 17-year major league career, which began as American League MVP and Rookie of the Year with the Mariners in 2001. In his Japanese career, spent with the then-Orix BlueWave of the Japan Pacific League from 1992-2000, he registered 1,278 hits, giving him an all-time professional record of 4,358 hits.

      "We're just waiting for the next shoe to drop," Boggs said. "We keep being told, 'Check back, check back,' and I can say that with a half-dozen teams."

      --Field Level Media

  • Yelich's agent: Relationship with Marlins 'irretrievably broken'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich was "unhappy" with the team following several big trades earlier this offseason and wished to receive an explanation from the front office.

    • Now, whether that meeting happened or not, Yelich's agent, Joe Longo, tells ESPN that the relationship between his client and the Marlins is "irretrievably broken."

      "They have a plan," Longo said Tuesday. "I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn't include Christian at this point in his career. He's in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.

      "The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It's soured. He's part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he's got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.

      Since October under the new ownership group that includes CEO Derek Jeter, the Marlins traded National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, two-time All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon and All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna to reduce payroll.

      As a result, Yelich, catcher J.T. Realmuto and second baseman Starlin Castro have all reportedly requested to be traded.

      Marlins general manager Michael Hill has been fielding trade offers for Yelich in recent weeks, according to the ESPN report, and the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies have at least inquired about the 26-year-old.

      Yelich has won a Gold Glove (2014) and Silver Slugger (2016). The outfielder hit .282 with 18 home runs, 81 RBIs and 16 stolen bases this year. He owns a .290/.369/.432 across five seasons in Miami.

      Yelich has four years left on a team-friendly multiyear contract that will pay him a guaranteed $44.5 million through 2021.

      "It was a completely different climate at the time," Longo said of when Yelich signed his extension. "They were built to win immediately. And that's something Christian wanted to be a part of. The climate there when he signed was to win -- with a long-term vision. It's completely changed now, and I don't see him buying into the new business plan.

      "Each of the players [traded] was a good friend of his off the field. He understands this is a business. But with the depth of the talent that was traded off -- he was very shocked and saddened to see these people leave."

      Longo added that Yelich might be ready to speak publicly on the matter "soon." Yelich has been invited to the team's FanFest on Feb. 10 but has yet to say if he will attend.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Cardinals C Molina to retire after 2020 season
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said he plans to play out the three years remaining on his contract and retire from baseball at the end of the 2020 season.

    • "Three more years, that's it," Molina said at the Cardinals' Winter Warmup Fanfest.

      Molina, who evolved into the face of the St. Louis franchise as a defensive pillar and All-Star, signed a three-year extension worth $20 million per season last March. Molina, 35, previously said it would be his final contract.

      The eight-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner is working closely with his heir apparent, Carson Kelly, and is expected to gradually shift to a shared or platoon role. Molina is entering his 15th season with the Cardinals. He will be 38 when his current contract ends.

      --Former American League MVP Justin Morneau will make his retirement official during a news conference with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Wednesday and join the team's front office as a special assistant.

      Morneau spent 11 of his 14 MLB seasons with the Twins, where his big league career began in 2003. He won the MVP in 2006 and was a four-time All-Star as a member of the team from 2007-10. In his career, Morneau hit .281/.348/.481 with 247 home runs and 985 RBIs. He hit .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs during his 2006 MVP campaign.

      Following his time with the Twins, Morneau found success with the Colorado Rockies, with whom he won the National League batting title in 2014. He also spent a short stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 and Chicago White Sox in 2016, the last MLB team he played for.

      --Kansas City Royals ace Danny Duffy has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in a Kansas City suburb and has been placed on one-year probation.

      Duffy entered the plea last week and will pay $1,220 in fines and court fees, said Sean Reilly, a spokesman for the city of Overland Park, Kan. Duffy must report to a probation officer once a month, abstain from using drugs and alcohol and will be subject to random breath, urine or blood screenings.

      Duffy was cited for a DUI in Overload Park in late August after returning to Kansas City to undergo an MRI on his pitching elbow while the team was in Cleveland facing the Indians. The left-hander was the Royals' Opening Day starter last season and went 9-10 with a 3.81 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 146.1 innings.

      --Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Josh Harrison said he would rather be traded than play for a rebuilding team in the wake of the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen trades.

      "While I love this game, the reality is that I just lost two of my closest friends in the game," Harrison said in a statement to The Athletic. "Cole and Cutch were not just friends, they were the best pitcher and best position player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, I am the most tenured member of the Pirates, I want to win, I want to contend, I want to win championships in 2018, 2019 and beyond. ... If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded. I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer."

      Harrison, 30, is due $10.25 million in the final guaranteed season of a four-year extension he signed in 2015. A two-time All-Star, including last season, Harrison hit .272/.339/.432 with 16 home runs, 47 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 128 games for the Pirates in 2017.

      --The New York Yankees and left-hander Wade LeBlanc agreed to a minor league contract.

      The deal calls for LeBlanc to receive an invitation to spring training. If LeBlanc is added to the 40-man roster, he will receive a one-year, $1 million contract.

      The 33-year-old LeBlanc was 5-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 50 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Pittsburgh declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pirates' Harrison prefers trade over rebuild
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Josh Harrison said he would rather be traded than play for a rebuilding team in the wake of the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen trades.

    • Harrison released a statement to The Athletic on Tuesday, one day after McCutchen was dealt to the San Francisco Giants. Cole was shipped to the Houston Astros on Saturday.

      "While I love this game, the reality is that I just lost two of my closest friends in the game," Harrison said. "Cole and Cutch were not just friends, they were the best pitcher and best position player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, I am the most tenured member of the Pirates, I want to win, I want to contend, I want to win championships in 2018, 2019 and beyond.

      "If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded. I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer."

      Harrison, 30, is due $10.25 million in the final guaranteed season of a four-year extension he signed in 2015. His contract includes club options for 2019 ($10.5 million) and 2020 ($11.5 million).

      A two-time All-Star, including last season, Harrison hit .272/.339/.432 with 16 home runs, 47 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 128 games for the Pirates in 2017. He primarily plays second base for Pittsburgh, though he has seen time at every position except first base, center field and catcher during his major league career.

      Harrison made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 2011 and has been with the team since.

      "My passion for Pittsburgh, what it has MEANT to me, what it MEANS to me, can never be questioned," Harrison said in his statement. "I love this city, I love the fans, I love my teammates."

      The New York Mets, New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers are among teams to reportedly have interest in Harrison.

      The small-market Pirates finished 75-87 last season, failing to make the postseason for the second consecutive year after doing so from 2013-15.

      --Field Level Media

  • Yankees sign LHP LeBlanc to minor league deal
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    The New York Yankees and left-hander Wade LeBlanc agreed to a minor league contract on Tuesday.

    • The deal calls for LeBlanc to receive an invitation to spring training.

      If LeBlanc is added to the 40-man roster, he will receive a one-year, $1 million contract.

      The 33-year-old LeBlanc was 5-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 50 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Pittsburgh declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

      LeBlanc is 30-35 with a 4.40 ERA in 176 appearances (79 starts) over nine big-league campaigns. He has spent time with the San Diego Padres (2008-11), Miami Marlins (2012-13), Houston Astros (2013), Yankees (2014), Los Angeles Angels (2014), Seattle Mariners (2016) and Pittsburgh.

      --Field Level Media

  • Royals' Duffy pleads guilty to DUI
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Kansas City Royals ace Danny Duffy has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in a Kansas City suburb and has been placed on one-year probation.

    • Duffy entered the plea last week and will pay $1,220 in fines and court fees, Sean Reilly, a spokesman for the city of Overland Park, Kan., said Tuesday.

      Duffy must report to a probation officer once a month, abstain from using drugs and alcohol and will be subject to random breath, urine or blood screenings.

      Duffy was cited for a DUI in Overload Park in late August after returning to Kansas City to undergo an MRI on his pitching elbow while the team was in Cleveland facing the Indians. He was sent to the disabled list, returned for three starts in September and went on to have surgery on the elbow in early October. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

      Duffy, 29, was the Royals' Opening Day starter last season. The left-hander went 9-10 with a 3.81 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 146.1 innings.

      --Field Level Media