Dodgers agree to one-year, $2.85 million deal with reliever J.P. Howell

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UPDATE: Olney clarifies that the deal is worth $2.85 million plus incentives.

9:08 PM: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the deal is done. Howell will make a $3 million base salary in 2013 and could earn more in performance bonuses.

8:54 PM: The Dodgers aren’t done spending yet. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the club is moving toward a one-year agreement with left-handed reliever J.P. Howell. Terms aren’t yet available, as the deal hasn’t been finalized.

Howell, who turns 30 in April, posted a 3.04 ERA and 42/22 K/BB ratio over 50 1/3 innings last season with the Rays. He has held left-handed batters to a .241/.323/.351 batting line and a .675 OPS during his career. The Nationals have also been linked to him this offseason.

The Dodgers watched Randy Choate leave for a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Cardinals earlier this winter, so if signed, Howell will give the club a second left-handed reliever to go along with Scott Elbert.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.