Bobby Valentine may still be a candidate for the Marlins' gig

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We haven’t gotten any official, on-the-record word from anyone about what’s going on with the Marlins’ manager hunt, so we may as well fight the unconfirmed “Bobby V. is out” fire with some contradictory fire from the Miami Herald:

On Sunday, a major-league source told The Miami Herald that Bobby
Valentine, who was believed to be the front-runner for the job that
opened when Fredi Gonzalez was fired last week, was no longer a
candidate. Other local and national media outlets reported the same
information, and baseball commissioner Bud Selig was notified of that
decision.

On Monday, though, another big-league source said not
to count out Valentine just yet.

“Everybody’s still a
candidate,” including Valentine, the source said.

Asked on
Monday if the Marlins had told him he was no longer being considered,
Valentine text-messaged a one-word reply: “No.”

This has all the stink of an internal power struggle, not a falling out between Valentine and the team. If it was the latter, both Valentine and the Marlins would have had their spin out by now, with Bobby V. surrogates talking about mixed signals from the team and team surrogates talking about Valentine being a prima donna or whatever.

We have none of that. We do have someone leaking to the Miami reporter that they’re still considering Bobby and someone else leaking to Jon Heyman — who makes his home in Miami in the winter — that the team has moved on to other candidates.

It’s all speculation on my part, if I had to guess, the Valentine-loving Loria or someone close to him is talking to the Miami Herald and someone closer to baseball operations is talking to Heyman, each side trying to create their own reality with the spin.

Which is great fun for all of us who aren’t Marlins fans.

(thanks to Old Gator for the heads up)

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

Brandon Belt
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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.