Is there hope in Cleveland, Kansas City and Pittsburgh?

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Peter Gammons says there is in his latest column:

As dark as it seems, all three once-great baseball towns have hope.

“The Royals and Pirates have done what small-market teams should do with
their revenue-sharing money,” says one big-market general manager. “The
last couple of years they’ve gone over slot on Draft choices, they’ve
spent heavily in the international market and really worked hard rather
than waste revenues on mediocre veteran players.”

The Indians are probably the closest to getting back to
competitiveness. “We’ve looked back at where we started in the
rebuilding process in 2002,” says Antonetti. That season, they traded
Bartolo Colon to the Expos for Sizemore, Lee and Brandon Phillips, a
rebuilding trade rivaled only by the Mark Teixeira deal between Texas
and Atlanta, which sent five good players, including Neftali Feliz and
Elvis Andrus, to the Rangers.

“Looking at what we had then and what we have now, I think we’re probably deeper [than we’ve been in a long] time.”

This kind of rah-rah is not news coming from general managers. And in the Indians case it’s not new coming from outsiders inasmuch as they’ve done a couple of successful rebuilds since either Pittsburgh or Kansas City has been competitive.

Does it mean anything? Is it smoke?  I’ve liked a lot of what all three of these teams have done in trades over the past couple of years. I’ll say, though, that the idea of timing that window — as is discussed at length in the article — just so with no hope whatsoever of holding on to a single big money free agent ups the difficulty by orders of magnitude.

The Royals, Indians and Pirates are never going to sign guys like the Yankees can. But they have to be able to keep some people around longer than the four or so years before that trade-them-or-lose-them imperative sets in.  Otherwise, all of this is just vain hope.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.