Orioles sign Pat Neshek, Ronny Paulino to minors deals

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Baltimore added some depth for spring training, signing right-hander Pat Neshek and catcher Ronny Paulino to minor-league deals with camp invites.

Neshek was an excellent setup man for the Twins in 2006 and 2007, but underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in mid-2008 and hasn’t been the same since. He threw 25 innings for the Padres last season and had a decent-looking 4.01 ERA, but that came with more walks (22) than strikeouts (20) and the side-armer struggled to crack 90 miles per hour. He does, however, remain an elite tweeter.

Paulino was non-tendered by the Mets after hitting just .268 with a .312 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage in 248 plate appearances last season and seems unlikely to unseat Taylor Teagarden as starting catcher Matt Wieters’ backup. He’s cracked a .700 OPS just once in the past four seasons.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.