Right on cue, the Blue Jays just announced via their Twitter feed that they have avoided arbitration with reliever Frank Francisco by agreeing to a one-year, $4 million contract.
Francisco, who was acquired from the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli earlier this week, requested $4.875 million and was offered $3.5 million from the Rangers when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month, so he ultimately settled for a little below the midpoint. He accepted arbitration from the Rangers in November due to his Type A free agent status.
The 31-year-old Francisco lost his closer job to Neftali Feliz last April and his season was eventually cut short due to a strained muscle in his side, but he still managed to compile a 3.76 ERA and 60/18 K/BB ratio over 52 2/3 innings. He should have the advantage over Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch for the closer role in Toronto this season.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.