Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds - Game Five

Good news for the Reds: Joey Votto has a quadriceps injury, not a knee injury

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UPDATE: Reds fans can exhale now. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that an MRI exam showed merely a strained left quadriceps for Votto and for now at least he’s avoided the disabled list. That could sideline him for a while, but it’s obviously much better than the assumed bad news from this morning regarding his left knee.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his left knee and is likely to be placed on the disabled list.

That’s the same knee Votto had surgery on in 2012, costing him two months of action, and according to Rosenthal the former MVP is not traveling with the Reds on their current road trip.

Votto was off to a relatively slow start, hitting .257 with six homers in 39 games, but he leads the league with 33 walks and has posted a .410 on-base percentage and .859 OPS.

Votto would join Mat Latos, Tony Cingrani, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco on the Reds’ disabled list and Cincinnati just got closer Aroldis Chapman back after he missed the first six weeks with facial fractures. All of which helps explain why the Reds are 18-21 after back-to-back 90-win seasons.

Neftali Soto could get an extended opportunity filling in for Votto at first base, but the 25-year-old former third-round draft pick has an underwhelming track record in the minors that includes a modest .410 slugging percentage in 244 games at Triple-A. A shocking number of Reds fans like to complain about Votto’s lack of power and RBIs, but he’s what makes that lineup click and replacing his incredible on-base skills is impossible.

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.