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.

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.