Heyman: Brian McCann to be heavily pursued by some of MLB’s richest teams

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Last week, we learned that some in the business think long time Braves catcher Brian McCann could earn as much as $100 million in free agency this off-season. That could come to fruition as many of the teams that will be in hot pursuit of McCann’s services rank among baseball’s richest teams.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, Cubs, and Angels among the many teams who could get involved in the bidding for the free agent catcher.

Heymann says that the Braves aren’t expected to jump into the fray to retain McCann’s services:

The incumbent Braves like McCann but are sure to spend their money elsewhere considering their tight budget, with a player payroll that has stayed between $90 million and $100 million six straight years, and a decent catching situation, with Evan Gattis and prospect Christian Bethancourt, a defensive whiz, as young, cost-effective alternatives.

McCann turns 30 in February, so a likely free agent contract will take him into his mid-30’s. He missed the first 30 games of the 2013 regular season recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. He had a typical above-average year, reaching 20 home runs for the sixth consecutive year while being reliable behind the plate.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.