Pre-winter meetings notes: Dodgers, Yankees, Rockies

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– The Nationals are talking to free agent Jon Garland, says ESPN.com’s Peter Gammons in his blog.

Garland is surely hoping for some multiyear security this time around after settling for a one-year deal last winter. There’d be little reason for him to take a short-term deal with the Nats when there will probably a contender or two interested in him as a fourth starter.

– Yahoo! Sports’ Steve Henson report the Dodgers are exploring a three-team deal involving Juan Pierre that would net them a starter with a similarly bad deal.

He goes on to say that the Braves and Derek Lowe are not involved. Would the Dodgers take on a contract as bad as Carlos Silva’s to get rid of Pierre? It seems unlikely.

– Sources told FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi that the Rays and Reds have inquired about the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz.

Several other teams likely have as well, but there’s very little reason to think the Rangers would deal Cruz. They’re looking to add right-handed power, not subtract it.

– While Tracy Ringolsby thinks it’s a done deal, the Denver Post’s Troy Renck believes Rafael Betancourt is still weighing whether to take arbitration from the Rockies.

Betancourt likely will accept the offer, as his status as a Type A free agent has really cut into his market. Rafael Soriano appears to be the only other free agent considering accepting arbitration.

– Newsday’s Ken Davidoff tweets that it’s a forgone conclusion that the Yankees will non-tender Chien-Ming Wang and that the Mets are considering Rod Barajas as an alternative to Bengie Molina behind the plate.

Davidoff thinks the Dodgers will be after Wang once he hits the market, but given that he’s unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, Wang probably won’t sign anytime soon.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.