Josh Willingham’s three-year, $21 million deal with the Twins is finally official

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Josh Willingham and the Twins went oddly silent after news broke earlier this week that he’d agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million contract, leading to speculation that Michael Cuddyer may have had second thoughts about leaving Minnesota.

I’m still not sure what the lengthy delay and secrecy was about, but the Twins have finally announced the signing officially after Willingham passed a physical exam.

Willingham will get $7 million in each of 2012, 2013, and 2014, but can add another $1 million to his 2014 salary by logging at least 525 plate appearances in 2013.

Now that Willingham to the Twins is official Cuddyer seems likely to sign with the Rockies, although the Mariners and Reds are among several other teams to express interest. He had a three-year, $25 million offer on the table from Minnesota, but went more than a week without giving them an answer to seemingly indicate he wanted to move after spending his entire career with the Twins.

And ultimately the Twins are probably better off with Willingham, a pair of draft picks, and some extra cash.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

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.