Journeyman catcher Wil Nieves has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Padres, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com.
Nieves spent last season backing up Carlos Ruiz with the Phillies, hitting .254 with one homer and a .614 OPS in 36 games. He has a .598 career OPS and has topped a .700 OPS just once, in 2012, so at age 37 expectations should be very modest.
He’ll compete with Tim Federowicz to back up Derek Norris in San Diego.
Veteran reliever John Axford has signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies, according to MLB.com.
Axford was tabbed as the Indians’ closer to begin last season, but quickly lost the job and eventually wound up with the Pirates. Overall he threw 55 innings with a 3.92 ERA and 63/36 K/BB ratio.
Axford still has the raw stuff to rack up strikeouts, but his control is very shaky and he has a tendency to give up too many homers. Coors Field may not be the best fit for him, but he should be decent enough setting up for closer LaTroy Hawkins.
Thomas Harding of MLB.com says the deal will be worth $2.6 million plus incentives if Axford makes the Opening Day roster.
Arizona has done little to address its catching depth since trading Miguel Montero, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Diamondbacks are bringing in journeyman catcher Gerald Laird on a minor-league deal.
Laird spent the past two seasons in Atlanta, hitting well in 2013 and poorly in 2014 while playing 2-3 times per week in both years. At age 35 he’d be stretched in a full-time job, but Laird has generally been productive in a backup role.
He’ll compete for a roster spot with the likes of Tuffy Gosewisch, Oscar Hernandez, and Matt Pagnozzi.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, whose 2014 season ended on September 11 when he suffered facial fractures from a hit by pitch, will wear a protective guard on his helmet this year.
Stanton signed a $325 million contract extension in November and has been cleared for all physical activity, but the 25-year-old outfielder told Peter Gammons of MLB Network that he’s yet to regain full feeling in his lip and is planning to wear the added protection all season assuming it doesn’t hinder his vision at the plate during spring training.
Despite missing much of the season’s final month Stanton led the National League with 37 homers in 2014 and finished runner-up in the MVP voting to Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.