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D’Backs, A’s and Marlins pull off three-way deal: Heath Bell to Arizona, Chris Young to Oakland

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Here’s doozy of a trade to break up an otherwise quiet day around major league baseball.

Per announcements from the clubs involved, the Diamondbacks, Athletics and Marlins have pulled off a three-way trade which will send Heath Bell to Arizona and Chris Young to Oakland.

Here are the specifics as we have them right now:

The Diamondbacks dealt outfielder Chris Young and cash considerations to the Athletics for infielder Cliff Pennington and prospect infielder Yordy Cabrera. The Diamondbacks then sent Cabrera to the Marlins in exchange for reliever Heath Bell to complete the three-team deal.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Diamondbacks will cover $13 million of the $21 million remaining on Bell’s contract. It’s clear that something had to be done with the disgruntled reliever after his disastrous first season in Miami, where he clashed with manager Ozzie Guillen and even some teammates. With that in mind, the Marlins have to be thrilled that they were able to not only get rid of Bell, but somehow convince the Diamondbacks to cover the majority of his remaining salary.

We knew the Diamondbacks would likely deal at least one of their outfielders this winter, but it’s hard to believe Kevin Towers couldn’t do better than this as a return for Young, especially considering the money they will now owe to a declining reliever. And in a poor environment for a bounceback, to boot. Towers must really like Pennington, but it’s hard to understand the rush. The Diamondbacks picked up the option on J.J. Putz’s contract for 2013 this morning, so Bell will be asked to pitch in a set-up role with his new club.

This looks like an excellent deal for the Athletics, even though Young is a bit of a curious fit with Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick set in the corner outfield spots and Coco Crisp under contract for $7 million for next season. Still, hard to pass up a deal for a talented center fielder at this price. They likely got a bit of a discount because of Young’s shoulder injury from this season.

Young, 29, is owed $8.5 million in 2013 while his contract includes an $11 million club option for 2014 or a $1.5 million buyout. Per Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the Diamondbacks are sending $500,000 to Oakland as part of the deal.

Given the surplus of outfield talent with the A’s, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see some more wheeling and dealing from Billy Beane soon, possibly with a deal involving Crisp or Seth Smith. It’s also worth noting that by dealing Pennington to the Diamondbacks, the A’s are more likely to exercise their portion of the $10 million player option Stephen Drew’s contract for next season.

Cabrera was ranked as the No. 15 prospect in the Athletics’ organization by Baseball America coming into this season, but his numbers have been pretty underwhelming as a pro. The 22-year-old has a .230/.297/.351 batting line and a .648 OPS over three seasons and has yet to play above High-A. This was mostly about the Marlins getting out from under Bell’s contract. And they certainly accomplished that goal.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.