Pablo Sandoval won’t play in Venezuelan Winter League

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According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Francisco Chronicle, Pablo Sandoval won’t play for his hometown Navegantes de Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. While the Giants initially cleared him to play in 10 games, he will now participate in the Home Run Derby and visit for a few days with family and friends before returning to the United States.

Sandoval’s agent, Ryan Morgan, said the change of plans had nothing to do with the recent kidnapping of Wilson Ramos in Venezuela, but that his client wants to maintain focus on his training regimen with Triple Threat Performance in Arizona. Kung Fu Panda packed on some pounds over the course of the season, but his goal is to report to spring training even lighter than he did this year.

Sandoval recently underwent LASIK surgery, which successfully corrected a 20/40 impairment in his left eye. And while he was limited during the second half of the season due to a sore left shoulder, Morgan said his client is now “100 percent.” Early contender for “best shape of his life”?

Sandoval, 25, batted .315/.357/.552 with 23 home runs, 70 RBI and a .909 OPS over 466 plate appearances this season. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

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.