Aaron Gleeman

Garrett Richards

Angels “optimistic” Garrett Richards will be ready for April

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As of six weeks ago Angels manager Mike Scioscia was telling reporters that the team didn’t expect Garrett Richards back from knee surgery until May, but apparently that return timetable has changed.

General manager Jerry Dipoto told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that the Angels are “optimistic” about Richards’ progress and believe he may be ready by Opening Day. And if not, early April is now the targeted return date.

Richards had a breakout 2014 season before tearing his left patellar tendon, logging 169 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 164/51 K/BB ratio at age 26. His rehab has advanced to throwing from 150 feet.

Orioles, Bud Norris avoid arbitration for $8.8 million

Bud Norris AP
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Bud Norris and the Orioles have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $8.8 million contract.

Norris asked for $10.25 million and the Orioles countered at $7.5 million in his final season of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market as a free agent next winter.

Norris posted a 3.65 ERA in 28 starts for Baltimore last season, logging 165 innings with a 139/52 K/BB ratio at age 29. He has a 3.92 ERA in 216 total innings for the Orioles since they acquired him from the Astros in mid-2013.

More catching depth: Braves sign John Buck

John Buck
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Veteran catcher John Buck has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Braves that includes an invitation to spring training.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that the 34-year-old Buck is slated to begin the season at Triple-A, as the Braves go with Christian Bethancourt and 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate.

Buck hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2010, when he made the All-Star game with the Blue Jays. Since then he’s hit just .216 with a .656 OPS in 388 games for five different teams, including the Mariners and Angels last season.

Orioles sign Chris Parmelee

Chris Parmelee Getty
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Chris Parmelee, who was dropped by the Twins last month, has signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles that includes an invitation to spring training.

Parmelee was the Twins’ first-round draft pick 2006 and had a huge September debut in 2011, but then hit just .238 with 20 homers and a .675 OPS in 252 games from 2012-2014.

He has enough power and plate discipline to potentially be useful as a part-time first baseman or corner outfielder, but at age 27 there isn’t a ton of upside beyond that.

Reds sign four-year contract extension with Devin Mesoraco

Devin Mesoraco
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UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says it’s a four-year, $28 million deal, so the Reds pre-pay for all three arbitration seasons and buy out his first year of free agency.

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Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports that the Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco are “nearing a multi-year extension.”

Mesoraco is arbitration eligible for the first time at age 26 and filed for $3.6 million, while the Reds countered at $2.45 million.

After struggling early in his career Mesoraco had a breakout 2014 season, hitting .273 with 25 homers and an .893 OPS in 114 games while making his first All-Star game. He led all MLB catchers in homers, slugging percentage, and OPS.

He’s under team control through 2017, so to buy out any of his free agent seasons the Reds would have to sign Mesoraco for at least four years.