Author: Aaron Gleeman

Brendan Ryan Getty

Cubs release Brendan Ryan one week after trading for him

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Last week the Yankees traded Brendan Ryan to the Cubs as the player to be named later in the Starlin Castro-for-Adam Warren swap and today they released the veteran infielder.

Ryan already exercised his $1 million player option for 2016, so the Cubs will be on the hook for that and presumably his inclusion in the trade was simply intended to balance the salaries a bit given Castro’s much larger contract.

Ryan has long been one of the majors’ best defensive shortstops, but he’s a career .234 hitter with a paltry .610 OPS and basically matched those numbers for the Yankees in 2015. He should be able to find another gig as a utility infielder, but may have to do so on a minor-league contract.

Alexi Ogando signs with the Braves

Alexi Ogando
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Alexi Ogando, who spent 2015 in a middle relief role for the Red Sox, has signed a minor-league deal with the Braves that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ogando posted a 3.99 ERA and 53/28 K/BB ratio in 65 innings for the Red Sox, but served up 12 homers to avoid being trusted in key spots. When healthy he’s generally been an impact arm and the 32-year-old right-hander has a 3.44 ERA in 471 innings as a big leaguer spent mostly with the Rangers, but clearly teams have doubts about his remaining upside.

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation says the deal would pay $2 million plus incentives if Ogando makes the Opening Day roster and includes an opt-out clause.

Alex Gordon tells Royals they have “no chance” to re-sign him at current offer

Alex Gordon
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Kansas City seemingly never had much hope of re-signing Alex Gordon and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the free agent outfielder has informed the Royals they have “no chance” of bringing him back based on their current offer.

Jim Bowden of ESPN.com says the Royals’ offer was four years and around $50 million, which would barely be better than not making any offer given than he’s likely to sign for at least twice that much.

Gordon is a Gold Glove-caliber corner outfielder with a good but not great bat and on a four- or five-year deal it wouldn’t be surprising to see him surpass $20 million per season. During the past five years he’s hit .281 with an .809 OPS while consistently rating among the best all-around outfielders in baseball.

Kansas City will receive a first-round draft pick as compensation for Gordon signing elsewhere after a decade in the organization and the Royals figure to pursue mid-level veteran free agents to replace him. That is, unless Gordon’s stance leaking to the media motivates the team to significantly increase their offer.

Indians release Chris Johnson with $17 million remaining on contract

Chris Johnson Getty
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Cleveland acquired infielder Chris Johnson is an August swap of bad contracts that sent outfielders Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to Atlanta. He played 27 games for the Indians down the stretch and now, rather than keep Johnson around for 2016, they’ve released him.

Johnson is still owed $7.5 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017, and a $1 million buyout in 2018, but the Indians viewed the 31-year-old as a sunk cost and decided they had better ways to use his roster spot. Plus, taking on the remainder of his contract was part of getting Swisher and Bourn off the books, so the deal was never really about actually using Johnson.

Johnson had back-to-back productive seasons in 2012 and 2013, but his success was always built on high batting averages on balls in play and the combination of terrible plate discipline and modest power left him without much value when the singles stopped falling in. He’ll probably latch on somewhere as a part-time player, but may have to do so on a minor-league contract.

Mets sign outfielder Alejandro De Aza for $4.5 million

Alejandro De Aza AP
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UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that it’s a one-year, $4.5 million deal for De Aza, who made $5 million in 2015.

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Free agent outfielder Alejandro De Aza is “close” to signing with the Mets, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

De Aza isn’t a household name and has bounced around a lot, but his production has consistently been very solid and compares well to some other free agent outfielders likely to get significantly more money.

He’s a good defensive corner outfielder capable of playing center field in a pinch and is a career .267 hitter with a .736 OPS in 680 games through age 31, including hitting .262 with seven homers and a .755 OPS in 114 games for the Orioles, Red Sox, and Giants in 2015.

Much of what the Mets have done–or haven’t done–this offseason suggests a focus on adding quality depth following a year in which they were left short-handed by injuries in several key instances and De Aza certainly fits that same mold. He’s not a headline-grabber, but he’s a decent left-handed hitter with some defensive versatility and the price tag figures to be reasonable.