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MLB draft picks 21-31: Blue Jays land potential impact reliever

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No. 21 – Atlanta Braves – High school right-hander Lucas Sims

The Braves taking a local product? Get outta here. Sims is highly-regarded for his velocity, topping out at 97 mph on his heater, but his breaking ball is considered one of the best of from this year’s high school crop of talent.

No. 22 – Toronto Blue Jays – Duke right-hander Marcus Stroman

Here’s someone we were hearing about much earlier in mock drafts, so it’s a bit of surprise to see him fall this far. Despite standing at just 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Stroman has one of the most electric arms in the entire draft, earning comparisons to Tom Gordon. Many believe he could make it the majors this year as reliever.

No. 23 – St. Louis Cardinals – Florida State outfielder James Ramsey

Ramsey doesn’t blow scouts away with plus-tools, he has a pretty well-rounded game and could be used at either second base or center field as a pro. The Cardinals already chose Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha at No. 19, so there was likely some strategy involved in picking a college senior, as he should be a pretty easy sign.

No. 24 – Boston Red Sox – Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero

Another name we saw pretty high on mock drafts, Marrero was considered one of the top college position players available. Scouts like him most for his defensive abilities and he should be able to stick at shortstop as a pro. Just how much he’ll hit is the question. One side bonus is that he should be pretty popular with second baseman Dustin Pedroia, also an ASU alum.

No. 25 – Tampa Bay Rays – Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer

Standing at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Shaffer is considered one of the top power hitters in the entire draft. Evan Longoria obviously blocks him at the major league level, but the Rays will worry about that later. Some think he could be destined for first base or right field, anyway.

No. 26 – Arizona Diamondbacks – High school catcher Stryker Trahan

Now that’s a baseball name. Scouts love Trahan’s pop from the left side, so it would obviously be ideal if he sticks behind the plate, but he’ll likely end up as a corner outfielder in the long term.

No. 27 – Milwaukee Brewers – High school catcher Clint Coulter

This is one pick most draft experts got right, as Coulter has been linked to the Brewers for a while now. Coulter checks in at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds and has good pop from the right side. He has some work to do to stick behind the plate in the long-term, though.

No. 28 – Milwaukee Brewers – Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache

We would have seen Roache go much higher if he didn’t break his left wrist attempting to make a diving catch in February. Assuming he can bounce back from the injury, the Brewers may have landed the top power bat in this draft.

No. 29 – Texas Rangers – High school outfielder Lewis Brinson

Brinson was a bit of a surprise pick this early, but he has some intriguing tools. With above average speed and a strong arm, he could be a plus-defender in center field. Long and lanky (6-foot-4 and 185 pounds), he’s still considered quite raw with the bat, though.

No. 30 – New York Yankees – High school right-hander Ty Hensley

Hensley was projected to go much higher, so this is quite a coup for the Yankees. While he has good velocity on his fastball, some scouts think his curveball might end up being his best pitch.

No. 31 – Boston Red Sox – University of Florida left-hander Brian Johnson

The Red Sox wrapped up the first round with their second college pick. Johnson doesn’t throw all that hard or possess front-end starter upside, but he has four average or better pitches in his arsenal and should move pretty quickly.

 

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino at No. 3           .

Picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall                              .

Picks 11-15: A’s, Mets select high school shortstops                .

Picks 16-20: Nationals roll the dice on RHP Giolito                .

 

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.