The Indians ink Branyan

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Branyan headshot.jpgBuster Olney reports that Cleveland has signed Russell Branyan to a one year deal with an option for 2011.  This year it’s a $2 million base salary with up to $1 million in incentives.  The option is of the mutual variety for $5 million. The seal is a juuuuuuust a bit below the $20-$30 million Branyan had reportedly been seeking earlier this offseason. The option adds a bit of security for Branyan, however, inasmuch as if he’s even moderately productive this year he’ll at least have a job for next year. Which is a relatively new experience for him.

As I’ve said before, I think the Indians and Branyan are a good match.  There’s no telling how healthy Matt LaPorta is going to be at first base. Jhonny Peralta has been the subject of trade rumors off and on for a while, and while maybe the 17th time is the charm for Andy Marte, there is no reason to think that he’s the answer at either corner.  Branyan could also see some time in left field.

My guess: Branyan gets a healthy number of plate appearances, he hits his incentives and at the end of the year people will be talking about this as one of the more savvy signings of the offseason.

UPDATE:  A few words on “mutual options.”  I used to always say that mutual options were meaningless in that, given either side can veto, it really doesn’t provide any security for anyone, contrary to what I said about Branyan above.  Except every time I wrote that someone would comment and say, no, it does provide security in that it creates a framework for a deal, etc. etc.  So fine, I decided I didn’t want the fight this time and just said what I said above. And as soon as I did people started asking me what kind of security a mutual option truly gives Branyan. Ugh.

So I have decided to punt and let Google be my friend. I love Google because it almost always introduces you to smart people saying interesting things. In this case it brought me to Rich Lederer — I already knew him, so it really wasn’t an introduction — who wrote many words about mutual options a couple of years ago, with the conclusion basically being “mutual options are meaningless.”  Click and read. You’ll be happy you did.

For my part: if my employer offered me a “mutual option” I probably wouldn’t sign it, because it sounds kind of weasely and ineffective. So there’s that.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.

Reds hire Lou Pinella as a senior advisor to baseball operations

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The Reds announced on Twitter that the club has hired former manager Lou Pinella in a consultant capacity as a senior advisor to baseball operations. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds that Pinella will also spend time with the team at spring training.

Pinella, 72, was last seen with the Giants in 2011, also in a consultant capacity, but he spent only the one season there. He has 23 seasons of experience as a manager, with his most recent four coming with the Cubs between 2007-10.