Orioles set to fill closer's role with Gonzalez

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The Orioles and Mike Gonzalez are close to an agreement on a two-year, $12 million contract that could be worth $8 million per year through incentives, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown.
The move would seem to bring an end to Baltimore’s search for a closer and eliminate the team as a suitor for Jose Valverde, who could be left out in the cold this winter. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Orioles could add another possible ninth-inning guy — after all, Gonzalez will be making the same amount as Danys Baez did when Baltimore signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract to serve as a setup man — but the club should be satisfied with the setup work that Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara will provide.
The deal qualifies as more bad news for the Braves, who were hoping to get two first-round picks and two sandwich picks after offering arbitration to Rafael Soriano and Gonzalez. Soriano, of course, accepted the arbitration offer and was traded for a mediocre reliever in Jesse Chavez. Now Gonzalez is signing with a team with a protected first-round pick, meaning the Braves will have to settle for a second-rounder in addition to their supplemental first-round pick. Atlanta will be without a true first-round pick after giving up its own to land Billy Wagner.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.