Torii Hunter eager to extend his playing career past 2014

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Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter is through year one of his two-year deal signed in November last year. He’ll turn 39 years old on July 18, so the thought was that the contract would create a clear path into retirement, but Hunter sounds eager to continue playing beyond that. Via MLB.com:

Asked Friday, prior to his team’s American League Championship Series workout at Fenway Park, if he plans on retiring after the 2014 season, Hunter said: “Nope. I think I’m going to play five more years. I’m 28, man!”

The last part was a joke, and the media contingent laughed, but Hunter wants to stay with the Tigers a little longer and is certain that next season won’t be his last in the big leagues.

“No, it won’t be. It won’t be,” Hunter said. “I want to play past that contract.”

Hunter had a renaissance season of sorts, hitting .304 with an even .800 OPS and 17 home runs. He is only a year removed from a 5.8 WAR season with the Angels, per Baseball Reference, and he finished the regular season with 2.1 in 2013, so he certainly has something left in the tank.

Whether Hunter will prolong his career with the Tigers or with another club is another conversation entirely. They will still have their core players in 2015, including Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez, but it’s hard to tell if they’ll produce at such a high level that the TIgers will continue to be a powerhouse.

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.