White Sox sign Andruw Jones to one-year deal

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Andruw Jones and the White Sox have agreed to a one-year deal worth $500,000 in guarantees and another $1 million in potential incentives, with general manager Ken Williams making it very clear that the five-time All-Star is being brought in as a bench player:

This is an opportunity to add a power bat to the roster while improving our outfield depth. With the addition of Andruw, Mark Kotsay and Omar Vizquel, we feel our bench is taking shape to be a strong asset heading into the 2010 season.

Jones, Vizquel, and Kotsay have combined for 48 seasons, 6,177 games, and 25,290 plate appearances in the big leagues, so if nothing else the White Sox will have the most experienced bench in baseball next year.
Released by the Dodgers last winter despite still being owed $15 million, Jones latched on with the Rangers, made the team out of spring training, and turned heads by hitting .344/.523/.781 in April as a part-time player.
Unfortunately that was basically the extent of his comeback, as Jones batted just .197/.293/.418 in 287 plate appearances from May 1 through the end of the season. He still has plenty of power, but the 10-time Gold Glover can no longer play center field regularly and has hit just .207/.304/.393 over the past three seasons.
Taking a flier on Jones isn’t a bad idea for just $500,000 and he has some uses as a bench player, but don’t expect a return to form following one of the most sudden collapses in baseball history. He looked like a potential Hall of Famer through age 29 and is now just trying to hang onto a roster spot at age 32.

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.