The Diamondbacks think about locking up Upton, Reynolds

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Justin Upton 2.jpgThe Diamondbacks are thinking long term:

Their arbitration-eligible players all taken care of thanks to the
Valentine’s Day signing of right-hander Edwin Jackson, the D-backs
front office will turn its attention to signing players with less than
three years of big league service. That typically involves one-year deals, but in the case of
third baseman Mark Reynolds and right fielder Justin Upton, it appears
the D-backs have at least begun to explore multiyear pacts.

We’ve heard this before regarding Reynolds. My take on him was, for his own sake, he should do his best to get a long-term deal while the gettin’s good. If I’m Arizona, however, I’m wary of going overboard, for the same reason that I’d want to sign a deal if I were Reynolds: his market is not going to be scintillating in the coming years. There will be teams that steer away from him due to his age, his strikeouts or both.  If Adam Dunn has to go year-to-year through his 30s, than Reynolds will have to as well.  So sure, if you’re Arizona you explore locking him up for the sake of certainty, but don’t go crazy.

Upton is a different story of course. To quote the Rotoworld annual that just arrived at my door (and which you should totally buy) you’d be hard-pressed to find a ballplayer with more promise than Upton. He’s young and progressing in ways that Hall-of-Fame caliber players have progressed in the past. Lock him up and throw away the key, I say.

But for how much? FanGraph’s Joe Pawlikowski ran some numbers today. His verdict: a five-year $58 million deal which balances the team and player risks and allows Upton to still hit free agency at age 28 when he can make top-shelf money.  If I’m the team I probably offer that right now.

If I’m Upton I may be wary to accept it, because if I take the next predictable step forward, I may very well shatter Ryan Howard’s record come arbitration time next year, which could set the stage for an even bigger deal. Of course, saying no to $58 million guaranteed dollars is a much easier thing to do when you’re just pretending to be Justin Upton. It might take a second’s more deliberation for the real Justin Upton.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

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.