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John Farrell likely to be named Blue Jays’ next manager

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Peter Gammons, now working for the MLB Network, MLB.com and NESN, heard from three MLB general managers Thursday that Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell is going to be named the Blue Jays’ next skipper.

Legendary Toronto manager Cito Gaston stepped down at the end of the 2010 season and the Jays went on an extensive search for his replacement.

A variety of candidates were interviewed, including Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and the Blue Jays’ own third base coach Brian Butterfield.  ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine was even linked to the opening for a time.

So why Farrell?

Well, he’s been a member of Boston’s coaching staff since 2006 and was the Indians’ Director of Player Development when Cleveland was named “Organization of the Year” by Baseball America in 2003 and 2004.  The experience is there, especially in the ever-tough American League East, and Farrell has been a part of winning clubs for most of his non-playing career.  The Blue Jays will never have the kind of payroll that Farrell worked with in Boston, but Toronto does have several young aces-in-the-making.

An official announcement should come sometime before or after the World Series.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.