Tigers give Santiago a two-year extension

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As if losing Roy Halladay wasn’t bad enough, another potential 2010-11 free agent went off the board on Wednesday, as the Tigers signed shortstop Ramon Santiago to a two-year, $2.5 million deal.
The 30-year-old Santiago would have been eligible for major league free agency for the next time next winter.
Santiago hit .267/.318/.386 with a career-high seven homers and 35 RBI in 262 at-bats last season. The switch-hitter has had an interesting career. Once a much-hyped prospect at the beginning of the decade, he and Omar Infante were supposed to give the Tigers the double-play combination they had been looking for since the days of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.
Santiago, though, hit .243/.306/.365 in 65 games as a 22-year-old rookie in 2002 and .225/.292/.284 in 141 games in 2003. The Tigers then sent him and a fellow young infielder named Juan Gonzalez to the Mariners for Carlos Guillen. It turned out to be one of the most lopsided deals of the decade, and that would have been the case even if Santiago hadn’t returned to the Tigers as a minor league free agent prior to the 2006 season and turned into a nifty little utilityman.
With light-hitting Adam Everett still manning shortstop and rookie Scott Sizemore taking over at second base, Santiago should again have a significant role next season. He’s not as rangy as he once was, but his glove remains adequate at both infield spots. $1.25 million per year was a fair price for his services.

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.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.