Author: Aaron Gleeman

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Cardinals sign Tony Cruz to one-year deal, avoid arbitration


Tony Cruz will remain in his role as the Cardinals’ backup catcher next season, avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract.

Cruz has been Yadier Molina’s primary understudy since 2012, hitting just .225 with three homers and a .580 OPS in 482 plate appearances during that time.

Obviously the Cardinals value his defense a lot and, if healthy, they want Molina playing almost every game anyway.

Blue Jays sign Andy Dirks

Andy Dirks

Ken Rosenthal of reports that the Blue Jays have agreed to a minor-league contract with veteran outfielder Andy Dirks, whom they claimed off waivers from the Tigers on October 31 only to non-tender him last month.

By non-tendering Dirks and then re-signing him to a minor-league deal the Blue Jays avoid paying him any guaranteed money. Instead he gets an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for a part-time role.

Dirks had a rough 2013 for Detroit and then missed all of 2014 following back surgery, but he’s a 27-year-old career .276 hitter with a .745 OPS in 297 games as a big leaguer.

Indians sign Anthony Swarzak

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Non-tendered by the Twins last month, right-hander Anthony Swarzak has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Indians that includes an invitation to spring training.

Swarzak’s durability was an asset to the Twins in a long relief and occasional spot starter role, but they were deathly afraid of using him in anything resembling a close game and his miniscule strikeout rate limits his upside beyond low-leverage work.

Swarzak has a 4.48 ERA and .280 opponents’ batting average in 440 career innings as a big leaguer through age 28.

Cardinals sign Lance Lynn to three-year, $22 million deal

Lance Lynn Getty

Lance Lynn, who was arbitration eligible this offseason for the first time, has agreed to a three-year contract with the Cardinals that covers the entirety of his arbitration eligibility. Jon Heyman says it’s worth $22 million.

Lynn joined St. Louis’ rotation full-time as a 25-year-old in 2012 and has gone 48-26 with a 3.48 ERA in 97 starts while proving to be very durable. This past season he logged a career-high 204 innings with a career-best 2.74 ERA, striking out 181 batters and allowing just 13 home runs.

Now the 2008 first-round draft pick is signed through age 30, although the contract does not change the length of the Cardinals’ pre-free agency team control. If he continues to perform at his 2012-2014 levels Lynn will be a tremendous bargain to the Cardinals in 2016 and 2017, but in the meantime he gets enough money to be set for life and guard against injury.