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Nationals’ payroll to rise above $100 million for the first time

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By re-signing Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $24 million deal the Nationals’ payroll is all but certain to rise above $100 million for the first time in franchise history, notes Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com:

It has always been the intention of the organization, at the direction of the Lerner family, to steadily increase payroll as the club improved. The Nationals ranked near the bottom of the league in payroll through most of their first seven seasons of existence, bottoming out in 2007 with a total figure of only $37.3 million.

That number has steadily increased each of the last five years, with the Nationals’ Opening Day 2012 payroll of $92.5 million establishing a franchise record that will be broken once again in 2013.

If the Nationals do as expected and trade Michael Morse that would shed $7 million from the 2013 payroll, although general manager Mike Rizzo insisted yesterday that there’s no financially driven motivation for dealing Morse. In other words, the Nationals have plenty of money even with their first $100-plus payroll on the horizon.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.