The Mets have increased their offer to R.A. Dickey

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After agreeing to an eight-year, $138 million extension with third baseman David Wright earlier this week, the Mets have turned their attention to 2012 Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. Talks have progressed slowly until now, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Mets have increased their offer.

No word on the specifics of the new offer, but Dickey is said to be willing to accept a two-year extension which would run through 2015. Olney notes that the Mets were “stunned” by Andy Pettitte’s one-year, $12 million contract with the Yankees and it’s possible the deal could be used as a comparable for Dickey because of his age. Some have speculated that the 38-year-old knuckleballer could be looking at a deal similar to Jake Peavy’s recent two-year, $29 million extension with the White Sox.

The Mets have also discussed trade possibilities involving Dickey in case the two sides fail to come to an agreement. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that the Royals have expressed interest, though they aren’t willing to give up catcher Salvador Perez or top prospect outfielder Wil Myers.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.