Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen was shut down at the beginning of March because of soreness in his throwing shoulder, but the 32-year-old right-hander is pretty much back on track now.
According to MLB.com’s Adam Berry, Janssen tossed a round of live batting practice on Tuesday in Blue Jays camp and reported no issues with his right shoulder. He will take two days off before making his Grapefruit League debut on Friday.
“Another step in the right direction,” Janssen told MLB.com on Tuesday afternoon. “Got the heart pumping a little bit, which was nice. I’m sure Friday’s going to be more of the same, hopefully a little bit more in the velocity department, just because there will be defenders behind me.”
Janssen dealt with a similar shoulder issue last spring and went to post an oustanding 2.56 ERA and 0.987 WHIP in 52 2/3 innings while racking up 34 saves. He is fully expected to be ready for Opening Day 2014.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.