Matsui, Angels agree on 1-year deal

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Craig noted earlier that the Angels were in “serious discussions” with World Series MVP Hideki Matsui.

It turns out that the serious discussions will result in a serious relationship, as the New York Times reports that the sides have agreed on a one-year deal that will be announced as soon as Matsui passes his physical.

Matsui decided to take the Angels’ offer rather than wait and see if the Yankees would bring him back. It was probably a wise move by Matsui, because while the Yankees never closed the door to his return, they have been very wary of making a commitment. Matsui will receive $6.5 million from the Angels, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

This isn’t going to bother the Yankees at all. They clearly prefer Johnny Damon to Matsui, and with Curtis Granderson added to the mix that already included Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner (if he isn’t traded), and probably Damon, Matsui was smart enough to see the writing on the wall.

As for the Angels, it looks like they’ve found an OF/DH replacement for Vladimir Guerrero. Matsui is no spring chicken – he’s actually about eight months older than Guerrero. But he did manage 28 home runs last year, and with Guerrero seemingly aging faster than the Thanksgiving leftovers still sitting in my fridge, they must like Matsui’s upside better in a short-term deal.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

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.