cliff lee in delivery

In which I “express interest” in Cliff Lee

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Ken Rosenthal reports that “7-8 teams” have expressed interest already in free agent left-hander Cliff Lee.  I’m interested in Cliff Lee too — he’s a good pitcher and I’m going to have to write about him for the next several years, after all — so let’s make it “7-8 teams + one blogger.”  You can play that game all day if you want to, because no one has defined what “expressed interest” really means in a baseball context.

The fact is, the “expressed interest” rumor is about as baseline as it gets during the free agency season. It’s more respectable than reports of “internal discussions” or “kicking the tires” because those things imply that the team hasn’t even made a freakin’ phone call (I’ve had internal discussions about the divorcee that moved in across the street from me last month, but sources say that’s not going to get beyond the kicking the tires stage due to roster limitations), but it’s not an offer. And really, until there are offers all of this is so much chatter.  Like I said the other day, we blog about even the chatter because we think that provides a service, but let us not go crazy about this sort of thing.

Anyway, for those of you who care about such things, Intrade currently has the Yankees as big favorites for Cliff Lee’s services, the Rangers next, the Mets and Nationals making the radar screen, and “field” doing pretty darn well.  I don’t know that, absent any news of an actual offer, any of us can do any better than that.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.