In search of some middle infield depth, the Indians have signed Michael Martinez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Martinez ranks as one of the worst hitters of all time, batting .181 with five homers and a .482 OPS in 188 career games as a big leaguer for the Phillies and Pirates.
His numbers in the minors are better, but still far from impressive, and at age 32 he’s strictly a utility infielder fallback option.
Ivan Nova, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last April, has progressed to throwing from flat ground and is hoping to get back on a mound soon.
Here’s what Nova told Chad Jennings of the New York Journal News about his status:
To be honest, I feel like nothing happened. I don’t feel any pain. I don’t feel any tightness. Everything is going well so far.
Nova avoided arbitration with the Yankees by agreeing to a one-year, $3.3 million deal that matches his 2014 salary and is also under team control for next season. He has a 4.20 ERA in 538 innings for the Yankees since debuting in 2010 and, once healthy, will rejoin the starting rotation.
Left-hander Jerry Blevins will earn $2.4 million this season after defeating the Nationals in an arbitration hearing.
Washington’s counter offer was $2.2 million, so it’s strange that the two sides couldn’t come to a compromise over a gap of just $200,000 and avoid going through with a hearing.
Acquired from the A’s last offseason, Blevins posted an ugly-looking 4.87 ERA in 64 appearances for the Nationals but also had 66 strikeouts in 57 innings and held left-handers to a .160 batting average.
Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles “have expressed interest” in free agent right-hander Dustin McGowan.
Once a top prospect and young building block in the Blue Jays’ rotation, McGowan’s career was derailed by numerous injuries and last season he logged more than 25 innings in the majors for the first time since way back in 2008.
McGowan split time between the rotation and bullpen last year, but it sounds like the Orioles are pursuing the 33-year-old strictly as a reliever. Combined during the past two seasons McGowan has a 3.01 ERA and 62/28 K/BB ratio in 69 innings out of the bullpen.
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with what the team is calling a mild right hamstring strain.
Lucroy was fantastic last season, starting 133 games at catcher and hitting .301 with 13 homers, a league-leading 53 doubles, and an .837 OPS on the way to finishing fourth in the MVP balloting behind Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton, and Andrew McCutchen.
Even missing the full six weeks would give Lucroy enough time to recover before Opening Day, but he’d be starting the season with basically zero spring training action and any setbacks in his rehab could lead to missed regular season games.
Martin Maldonado is the backup catcher and the Brewers liked him enough in that limited role to give him a two-year, $1.95 million deal in January, but he’s a 28-year-old career .225 hitter with a .651 OPS and logged just 126 plate appearances in 2014.