Mike Lowell is "on a mission"

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Thumbnail image for Mike Lowell headshot.jpgIf I had any skills I’d create some sort of interactive bingo card for the right-hand margin on which we’d put chips every time a player is reported this spring to (a) be in the best shape of his life; (b) be working on a new pitch that he thinks will make the difference; (c) have added some muscle to help his stamina; (d) have leaned up to increase his flexibility, etc.

Don’t get me wrong — I love these stories, if for no other reason than once they start appearing it means that baseball is right around the corner.  And of course, they speak to that eternal spring optimism that makes baseball the wonderful thing that it is. But are they meaningful? Not particularly.   This morning Rod Bradford has the latest entry in this eternal game. It’s about Mike Lowell, whose agent says that “this year he has been on a mission,” and that he’s been working out four or five times a week.

I like Mike Lowell so I hope that’s true. But at the same time, I’m assuming that he and the Red Sox have a pretty well-orchestrated plan to talk up how ready he is for the season, how quickly he’s healing and all of that. Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear something from the Sox soon talking about how, you know, they may just even keep him and play him a lot he’s so darn healthy.

After all, if they don’t, how else are they going to sucker someone into trading for him?

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.