Orioles, Padres, Mariners likely to bid on Tsuyoshi Nishioka

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that the Red Sox and Twins have serious interest in 26-year-old Japanese infielder and MLB free agent Tsuyoshi Nishioka. And now other teams are looking to join the fray.

From Patrick Newman’s NPB Tracker comes a couple of updates on the highly coveted Nishioka:

The Orioles fully intend to at least make a bid.  The Mariners and Padres are also strongly considering making offers.

The Diamondbacks are out, worried that the price will be too high.  The Giants aren’t going to send in a proposal either.

Nishioka won the batting title in Nippon Professional Baseball this past year and is hoping to cash in with a move state-side.  Most MLB clubs view him as a second baseman rather than a shortstop, but that’s all case-by-case depending on individual needs.

Nishioka has expressed a desire to play on the West Coast, but he’ll probably chase the largest and most lucrative contract in the end.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.