The Royals sign Kevin Kouzmanoff

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Not a big signing, but hey, it’s somethin’ to talk about: Jerry Crasnick reports that the Kansas City Royals have signed Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal.

It includes an invitation to the big league camp. As is often the case with veterans like him on minor league deals, he has an opt-out if he’s not in the majors by May 1. If he does make the big league roster he’ll make $1 million. Incentives in the deal can bump it up to $1.3 million.

Kouzmanoff has been a starter for most of his career, but only had 257 plate appearances between Colorado and Oakland last season.  In Kansas City he would be behind Mike Moustakas. Who, while young and promising, struggled a bit when he was called up last season and could probably use a backup/mentor type to help him complete his transition to big league life.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.