UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Casilla got a one-year, $1.7 million deal with a $3 million club option for 2014. The O’s could buy out the option for $200,000.
7:52 PM: Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with infielder Alexi Casilla, utility man Steve Pearce and catcher Taylor Teagarden. No word yet on the terms involved.
Casilla was claimed off waivers from the Twins earlier this month. The 28-year-old earned $1.325 million this past season while hitting .241/.282./.321 with one home run, 30 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .603 OPS over 326 plate appearances. With Robert Andino now in Seattle, Casilla figures to be in the mix at second base next season along with Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty.
Pearce, who turns 30 in April, batted .239/.328/.377 with four home runs, 26 RBI and a .705 OPS over 159 plate appearances this season between the Orioles, Yankees and Astros. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and should contend for a bench spot during spring training.
Teagarden only appeared in 22 games with the Orioles this past season due to a nagging lower back injury, but had a knack for getting big hits in important situations, amassing nine RBI in just 64 plate appearances. He turns 29 next month and should be the backup to Matt Wieters in 2013.
The Orioles also acquired minor league infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates for minor league right-hander Jhondaniel Medina and designated right-hander Stu Pomeranz for assignment.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.