Astros, Hunter Pence avoid arbitration

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The Astros have reached a middle ground with outfielder Hunter Pence, agreeing Saturday on a one-year, $3.5 million contract for 2010.  The talented 26-year-old requested $4.1 million and was offered $3.1 million when arbitration figures were exchanged on Tuesday.  He hit .282/.346/.472 last season with 25 home runs, 26 doubles, 72 RBI and 14 stolen bases.

The deal leaves the Astros with only two remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players: left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak and left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez.  AOL Fanhouse’s Ed Price “tweeted” Friday that Houston management is “said to be unwilling to do multi-year deals with any of their
arbitration-eligible” players.  You know, just in case the fellas were wondering.  Fight on, Drayton McLane.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.