Aaron Gleeman

Brett Cecil;

Blue Jays sign Brett Cecil to one-year deal, avoid arbitration

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Toronto has avoided arbitration with Brett Cecil, signing the left-hander to a one-year, $2.475 million deal.

After struggling as a starter Cecil shifted to the bullpen full time in 2013 and made the All-Star team. He posted nearly identical numbers in 2014–without the All-Star appearance–and the 28-year-old has a 3.01 ERA with 155 strikeouts in 126 innings out of the bullpen for his career.

Rangers, Neftali Feliz avoid arbitration for $4.125 million

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Right-hander Neftali Feliz and the Rangers have avoided arbitration with a one-year contract worth $4.125 million.

Feliz posted a great-looking 1.99 ERA in 30 appearances returning from Tommy John elbow surgery, but his 21/11 K/BB ratio in 32 innings was far less impressive and he struggled to find the same type of velocity he regularly showed before going under the knife.

He enters his age-27 season with a 2.53 ERA in 242 career innings dating back to his impressive 2009 debut as a 21-year-old.

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

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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
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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com 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.