Rockies sign Michael Cuddyer to three-year, $31.5 million deal

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Minnesota made a $25 million offer to Michael Cuddyer at least 10 days ago and signed Josh Willingham to replace him yesterday, and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Cuddyer “is in agreement” with Colorado on a three-year, $31.5 million deal.

By avoiding any comments to the media and not giving the Twins a decision for more than a week Cuddyer made it pretty clear that he preferred not to return to Minnesota. It seems unlikely that Colorado was his first choice when the offseason began, but few teams appeared willing to give the 33-year-old right fielder a three-year commitment and obviously calling Coors Field home is a nice bonus for any hitter.

And of course $31.5 million is pretty good money, too. Cuddyer, who was the Twins’ first-round pick out of high school in 1997 and played his entire career in Minnesota, hit .284 with 20 homers and an .805 OPS in 139 games this year and has a lifetime .794 mark.

In addition to saving $10 million in the Cuddyer-for-Willingham swap the Twins also receive a pair of compensatory draft picks, although neither will be in the first round thanks to the Rockies going 73-89 in 2011.

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.