Projecting the AL All-Star roster

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Following yesterday’s attempt at the guessing the NL roster, here’s a preview of the potential AL All-Star roster.

Catchers

Starter: Joe Mauer
Backups: Victor Martinez

Martinez is listed as a catcher on the ballot, so he’s the obvious
choice to back up Mauer. If the AL goes with three catchers, then Jason
Varitek and Mike Napoli would enter the mix. It wouldn’t surprise me to
see Varitek end up as the 32nd player on the team by virtue of the Fan
Vote.

First basemen

Starter: Kevin Youkilis
Backups: Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira

Youkilis currently has 600k votes to 506k for Teixeira and 483k for
Morneau. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Pena are also awfully deserving, but
there’s only going to be room for three with the game in an NL park and
no DH available.

Second basemen

Starter: Ian Kinsler
Backup: Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia

Kinsler currently has a 146,000-vote lead on last year’s AL MVP.
Pedroia isn’t playing quite as well now as he did last year, but he
still deserves to go. I’m guessing three second basemen will be carried
at the expense of a third shortstop. If not, then perhaps Pedroia will
win the Fan Vote.

Third basemen

Starter: Evan Longoria
Backup: Brandon Inge

I’d actually be in favor of carrying just the one third baseman and
letting Longoria play the whole game if it meant that Cabrera would
make the team. Actually, the best-case scenario would have Morneau
overtaking Youkilis at first, so Youkilis could replace Longoria at
third during the contest.

Of course, there will be an actual backup at third. Inge, Mike Lowell
and Michael Young all look like rather equivalent candidates, and Mark
DeRosa could be the token Indian if Victor Martinez somehow gets passed
over. I don’t think Alex Rodriguez will be rewarded with a spot.

Shortstops

Starter: Derek Jeter
Backup: Jason Bartlett

Jeter is just behind Longoria for the overall lead in votes. Both
Bartlett and Marco Scutaro have built really strong cases for making
the team, but I think there’s only room for one. Bartlett would seem to
have the edge unless he spends more time than expected on the disabled
list.

Outfielders

Starters: Jason Bay, Josh Hamilton, Ichiro Suzuki
Backups: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Adam Jones, Johnny Damon

Ichiro has 28,000 votes on Ken Griffey Jr. and 41,000 on Crawford
for the third outfield spot. It’d be quite a surprise if he’s
overtaken, especially with the way he’s heating up.

Jones gets the nod over Nick Markakis as the token Oriole. Nelson
Cruz and Jermaine Dye look like the top alternates now, though Curtis
Granderson would still be a possibility if he keeps hitting homers.

Pitchers

Starters: Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Edwin Jackson, Joe Saunders
Relievers: Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Frank Francisco, Andrew Bailey, Joe Nathan, Scott Downs

Greinke and Halladay should be definites, but the rest of the
pitchers will partly depend on who works the Sunday before the game and
who doesn’t. I expect that either Buehrle or Bobby Jenks will go as the
lone member of the White Sox, though Dye would be an option in the
outfield. Andrew Bailey makes sense as the only Athletic.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.