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Bud Selig’s official statement on the passing of Marvin Miller

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The Commissioner’s Office just released the following statement from Bud Selig regarding Marvin Miller’s passing:

“Marvin Miller was a highly accomplished executive and a very influential figure in baseball history.  He made a distinct impact on this sport, which is reflected in the state of the game today, and surely the Major League players of the last half-century have greatly benefited from his contributions.  On behalf of Major League Baseball and the 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Marvin’s family, friends and colleagues.”

That’s nice enough, but contrast it with the warm statement Selig gave about another 95 year-old who recently passed away:

“Lee MacPhail was one of the great executives in Baseball history and a Hall of Famer in every sense, both personally and professionally.  I had great admiration for Lee as American League President, and he was respected and liked by everyone with whom he came in contact. His hallmarks were dignity, common sense and humility. He was not only a remarkable league executive, but was a true Baseball man as is evidenced by his brilliant leadership of the storied New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles franchises.  Lee always put the interests of the sport first and through his love of the game taught all of us to cherish it in every way.  Major League Baseball and all of our Clubs feel a great sense of loss today, and I send my deepest condolences to one of the first families of the national pastime.”

Obviously it’s not a competition and I in no way wish to make some rigorous comparison between Miller and MacPhail as human beings. Apart from a single phone call with Miller a couple of years ago I did not know either of them from Adam. But there’s a definitely chilly feel to the Miller statement, no? And a brevity? Moose Skowron got 55 more words from the commissioner than the guy who freakin’ transformed baseball.

To be fair, one is understandably more likely to say warm things about someone one knows better and with whom one has had more personal interaction like Selig had with MacPhail. And the fact that there is some personal reaction evident in these statements is evidence that guys like Selig put themselves into their work fully and with no small amount of emotion. Which is nothing but admirable in my view. Certainly beats a boilerplate tribute.

But even 30 years after Miller left the scene as active union chief, one gets the impression that Selig — or whoever at Major League Baseball actually wrote the Miller statement — has some hard feelings over years of battle with the MLBPA.  And even if that’s understandable, it’s still fascinating all the same. If, for no other reason, than it makes you realize that even if the wars between the owners and the union feel like ancient history to some of us, it’s not so ancient history to many of the men who still rule this game.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.