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World Baseball Classic rosters announced for all countries

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All of the rosters for the World Baseball Classic have been released. They are subject to change, but they can all be read here by clicking on each country’s flag.  The highlights, per MLB’s press release:

Venezuela’s roster currently features 11 All-Stars, including Triple Crown-winning 2012 A.L. MVP Miguel Cabrera, 2012 World Series Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet Pablo Sandoval, 2010 A.L. Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and 2012 N.L. All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.  The Dominican Republic’s roster is highlighted by 10 All-Stars, including infielders Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and 2002 A.L. MVP Miguel Tejada.  Also participating is 2006 A.L. MVP Justin Morneau of Canada.

Seven-time All-Star Carlos Beltran and two-time World Series Champion Yadier Molina, both of Team Puerto Rico, will participate in their third World Baseball Classic.  Another third-time participant is Adrian Gonzalez of Team Mexico, which will have All-Star right-hander Yovani Gallardo.  Free agent right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will represent Chinese Taipei for the first time in the World Baseball Classic, while left-hander Bruce Chen will become the first Major Leaguer to represent China in the event.

So I guess Bruce Chen got his grandparents’ Chinese birth certificate issue figured out.

The WBC begins March 2 and goes through March 19. The pools:

  • Pool A:  Brazil, China, Cuba and Japan, playing at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome
  • Pool B: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands, playing at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan
  • Pool C: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela, playing at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Pool D: Canada, Italy, Mexico and the United States, playing at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in ArizonaSalt River Fields at Talking Stick in Arizona.

The First Round will feature a round-robin format with the top two teams at each venue advancing to one of two Second Round pools. The Second Round, which will be a modified double-elimination format, will be played at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The Championship Round at AT&T Park in San Francisco from Sunday, March 17th–Tuesday, March 19th.

Gentlemen, start your international baseball.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

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.