Albert Pujols

UPDATE: Angels, mystery team make run at Albert Pujols

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2:30 a.m. EST update: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that no decision from Pujols will come in before the Winter Meetings conclude Thursday. Again, if you missed it, Pujols is believed to be deciding on similar 10-year offers from the Angels and Cardinals, as well as a possible offer from a mystery team (perhaps the Cubs). The Angels and Cardinals are both believed to be in the $200 million-$220 million range.

12:27 a.m. EST update: According to Nightengale, the Angels made a 10-year offer to Pujols on Wednesday worth more than $210 million.

10:50 p.m. EST update: Rosenthal says he can’t confirm that the Cubs are the third team in with the Cardinals and Angels. The Cards are quiet, with GM John Mozeliak saying he has “nothing to share” and declining comment on all topics.

10:40 p.m. EST update: There was a lot of truth to Bob Nightengale’s report, apparently. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and Yahoo’s Tim Brown are reporting that the Angels are “in strong” on Pujols.

Rosenthal says there’s also a third unidentified club in the mix with the Cardinals and Angels. Since he doesn’t name the Cubs, it’s possible there’s another suitor.

7:20 p.m. EST update: Jon Heyman is feeling feisty tonight. He says that Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, “might have to come up with a new ‘mystery’ team to use against the Cardinals” if C.J. Wilson signs with the Angels as expected.

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Even though the Marlins pulled their 10-year proposal after being told they were out of the mix, Albert Pujols still has three offers worth $200 million or more on the table, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports.

It contradicts a lot of the info that’s out there, but given that Nightengale has been on top of the Pujols saga since the first baseman and the Cardinals were negotiating last winter, his report is not to be taken lightly.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick is also reporting that Pujols is negotiating with clubs other than the Cardinals. And he did use the plural, so he doesn’t just mean the Cubs.

The consensus is that Pujols will return to the Cardinals, with Bill Madden reporting earlier that the two sides were merely “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. The general belief is that they’re offering $20 million-$22 million per year in their proposal. The Cubs may well be in the $25 million-$30 million range, but they weren’t wanting to commit for longer than five or six years.

If there’s a third big offer out there, it might have come from the Angels or Rangers. That’s just speculation, though.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
Associated Press
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Puerto Rico won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.