Future Hall of Famer Vizquel joins White Sox

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vizquel bunt.jpgSatisfied with his role but not with the idea of spending another year in Texas, Omar Vizquel became the first major league free agent to sign with a different team Monday, joining the White Sox on a one-year, $1.375 million contract.
In Chicago, Vizquel will be counted on to play behind youngsters Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham and could serve as a defensive replacement at third base.
The 42-year-old Vizquel hit .266/.316/.345 in 177 at-bats for Texas last season, making it his best offensive season since 2006. The Rangers probably would have asked him back even if he didn’t hit at all. He was certainly a factor in helping rookie Elvis Andrus adjust, and despite never having played third base and rarely having played second, he appeared comfortable there last season.
2010 will be Vizquel’s 22nd year as a major leaguer. In 2008, he broke Luis Aparicio’s major league record for games played at shortstop. He hasn’t added to his Hall of Fame resume since, but the native of Venezuela has strong support from the writers based on his 11 Gold Gloves and longevity.
That’s the case even though those very same writers have given him MVP votes just once in his career, that coming when he finished 16th in the balloting in 1999. Aside from 1999, he’s never hit .300 or posted an 800 OPS. He’s appeared in just three All-Star Games, starting none of them. He’s also hit a disappointing .250/.327/.316 in 228 postseason at-bats. His Indians teams never won a World Series in six postseason appearances.
So, does a player who has never been rated as one of the top 10 performers in his league really deserve induction into Cooperstown?

Report: Arquimedes Caminero likely to sign with Yomiuri Giants

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 21: Arquimedes Caminero #48 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Brewers won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.

The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.

Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.