Jose Contreras rejoins Phillies eight months after surgery

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Jose Contreras is back in the Phillies’ bullpen eight months after undergoing elbow surgery that potentially could have ended the 40-year-old’s career last September.

It looked like Contreras’ return might be delayed when his first rehab appearance was an ugly one, but he quickly got on track in the minors and also proved that he was able to throw on back-to-back days.

Charlie Manuel told Paul Hagen of MLB.com that he plans to leave Chad Qualls in the primary right-handed setup man role for now and work Contreras back into the bullpen mix slowly, but as Contreras put it: “My health is good and my arm is good and I can help the team.”

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.