Brandon Belt will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic despite initially not being very excited about the possibility, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.
Belt was apparently convinced it would be a good thing following a conversation with manager Bruce Bochy, saying: “After talking with him, I really think it’s going to make me a better player.”
It’ll also give Belt a chance for some regular playing time after the Giants have repeatedly refused to make the 23-year-old top prospect an everyday player.
He’s hit just .217 with a .714 OPS in 29 games since returning to the majors in mid-July and with Aubrey Huff under contract for $10 million next season (and $10 million or a $2 million buyout for 2013) Belt may want to work on his outfield defense as much as his hitting.
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.
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.