Albert Pujols

UPDATE: Albert Pujols likely to return to Cardinals, Marlins target Prince Fielder

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6:00 p.m. EST update: Agent Don Lozano called the Marlins and told them they’re out of the running for Pujols, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He also reports that Pujols “continues to negotiate with clubs other than the Cardinals.”

4:40 p.m. EST update: Sources tell Bill Madden of the New York Daily News that Pujols and the Cardinals are “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. It’s worded as more of an encouraging report, than a discouraging one. While the Marlins haven’t given up publically, most everything indicates that they’ve moved on and are now pursuing C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and maybe Prince Fielder.

3:15 p.m. EST update: Still no word from the Pujols camp, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden writes that the “Marlins have clearly moved on from Pujols.” MLB Network’s Tom Verducci says they’ve made a six-year offer to C.J. Wilson.

2:05 p.m. EST update: More from Heyman:

marlins already in pursuit of prince. Signs indicate cards likely to get pujols

1:45 p.m. EST update: While there’s still nothing official, the feeling around the lobby is that it will be St. Louis. Jon Heyman’s latest tweet sums it up:

There’s sense marlins best chance for pujols mighta been last nite. Bad sign when he gave no answer then took meeting w/ stl

///

Sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Albert Pujols is likely heading back to the Cardinals and the Marlins have started to shift their attention towards Prince Fielder.

Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post wrote minutes earlier that the Marlins think they’re still in it and that they “gave it a major best shot.” Still, the pendulum does seem to have swung back the Cardinals way after where it was leaning last night.

There are also mixed messages on whether the Marlins would really pursue Fielder if they miss out on Pujols. Most believe they’d concentrate on pitching instead, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson topping their list. Jon Heyman, though, just tweeted that the Marlins will definitely talk to Fielder if they don’t get Pujols.

Both the Cardinals and Marlins are believed to be offering Pujols about $220 million over 10 years. One big difference: the Cardinals can guarantee him no-trade protection, while the Marlins won’t break team policy to do so. The Cubs have also made Pujols an offer, which is believed to include a significantly higher salary but to be only five or six years in length.

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.