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Report: Dodgers close to minor league deal with Jose Miguel Fernandez

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Cuban infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez is reportedly nearing a minor league deal with the Dodgers, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The 28-year-old was granted free agency in April 2016 after defecting from Cuba in December 2015.

Fernandez played for the Matanzas of La Serie Nacional from 2007 – 2014, slashing .319/.403/.423 with 37 home runs and an .826 OPS while filling in at second base. He was suspended in October 2014 after his first unsuccessful attempt to defect from Cuba, and did not appear in Cuban or international competition in 2015 as a result. Despite his hiatus from professional ball, his high contact rate and exemplary plate discipline drew considerable interest upon his arrival in the United States. Bill Plunkett of the OC Register points out that the infielder made a switch from second to third base in winter ball, though it seems more likely that the Dodgers would utilize him as a second base option going forward.

The club has yet to confirm the deal, but Fernandez’s age and tenure with the Matanzas should exclude him from standard international signing bonus limits (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen). Sanchez reports that the signing bonus for the second baseman is around $200,000.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.

Report: Rangers agree to six-year extension with Rougned Odor

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The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.

It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.