Big Unit doesn't think he'll be the last to 300

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Despite some pretty spiffy arguments to the contrary,
so many writers seem to want to say that Randy Johnson will be the last
pitcher to win 300 that a certain conventional wisdom to that effect
has come into being. That’s fine, but even the guy whose legacy might
benefit the most from the end of the attainability of that milestone isn’t having any of it:

With his next win, he’ll be the 24th pitcher in major league history
to join the 300-victory club. And it’s fashionable to suggest he’ll be
the last of his kind. But if you make that suggestion to Johnson, don’t
expect a polite nod. Johnson’s own fossil record suggests that the next
300-game winner could be among us right now, not necessarily ticketed
for greatness but toiling to throw strikes.

“I’m not going to say I’ll be the last because everyone overlooked
me . . . That was the talk when (Tom) Glavine got there (in 2007). I
wasn’t given a chance because of my back surgeries. So I’m not one to
say who could or couldn’t. Anything’s possible. Look at me.”

Given the rarity of guys who stink until they’re 26 and then turn into perennial Cy Young candidates, we certainly shouldn’t expect
another pitcher with Randy Johnson’s career arc any time soon, but he’s
right: if one guy can start late, pitch his entire career in the
five-man rotation era and still make it to 300, another one can too.

The rest of the article attempts to profile the next 300 winner.
I’ve talked about durability and playing for a good team as being the
primary attributes, but I hadn’t considered this one:

He’ll probably spend significant time in the American League. Like
most pitchers switching to the National League, Barry Zito was happy to
leave the designated hitter behind and face lineups that had fewer
power hitters. But Zito soon discovered one of the N.L.’s pitfalls: If
you’re trailing 2-1 and you’re due to hit in the sixth inning, you’re
probably not going near the bat rack.

In the A.L., an effective starting pitcher can stick around longer
and perhaps benefit from a late rally. That might lead to a few extra
victories each season.

The A.L. can wear a guy out, but wins are every bit a function of
opportunity as they are excellence, and the D.H. league simply gives a
guy more opportunities.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.