Reds pick up outfield help in Balentien

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I sort of called this one on the old twitter feed a couple of days ago. At least I was hoping that the reason the Reds weren’t calling up Chris Heisey was because they were getting ready to pick up an outfielder.
This actually looks like a Jim Bowden move for Cincinnati. Balentien isn’t a five-tools guy, but he does have 30-homer power and a terrific arm. His career line is sitting at .209/.260/.359 in 401 at-bats, but he’s going to a smaller ballpark now, which should help. He’ll probably never hit for average because he swings and misses so often, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn into an adequate regular anyway. How he performs over the rest of this year will determine whether the Reds keep him in their plans for 2010. Heisey, Drew Stubbs and Todd Frazier could all factor into the outfield mix next year, so Balentien may have only a small window to establish himself.
The Mariners did pretty well here in getting Manuel, a reliever who broke through with a 1.25 ERA and a 103/18 K/BB ratio in 86 2/3 innings at three levels of the minors last season. The 26-year-old had a 2.70 ERA for Triple-A Louisville this season, and he pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings during his brief time in the majors. While he doesn’t impress scouts with his 88-92 mph fastball, he has a deceptive delivery and excellent command. He could prove pretty useful in the middle innings, and the Mariners will almost certainly give him an opportunity soon.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.