Aaron Gleeman

heath bell getty

Nationals sign Heath Bell

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Heath Bell, who got knocked around for the Rays to begin this year and then spent most of the season at Triple-A for the Yankees’ affiliate, has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Nationals.

Bell was an All-Star closer as recently as 2011 and struck out 72 batters in 66 innings in 2013, but he was a mess for Tampa Bay this year and wasn’t any better in the minors.

At age 37 he looks done, but on a minor-league contract there’s no risk involved for the Nationals and perhaps Bell still has another 50 decent innings in him as a middle reliever.

Troy Tulowitzki gets trade rumor updates from the Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki
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I’m always curious how much players know about trade rumors surrounding them and how they respond to them. Thomas Harding of MLB.com checked in with Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, whose name continues to swirl around as being available for the right price:

I’m keeping up but I’m not worrying about it. I’m just doing my rehab and want to get back on the field. That’s my main focus. … You see what’s going on, but I think it’s smart to focus on my main issue–working on my rehab and getting back on the field. I just want to play and help win games.

Harding says Tulowitzki has checked in with Rockies officials 3-4 times because they “promised to keep him informed if there is any movement.”

And presumably he subscribes to the HardballTalk RSS feed and has NBC’s SportsTalk app on his phone.

Two months later, the Yankees still don’t have a hitting coach

Don Mattingly, Jeff Pentland
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It’s been two-and-a-half months since the Yankees fired longtime hitting coach Kevin Long and they still haven’t named a replacement.

Long was quickly snatched up by the Mets for the same gig, but the Yankees apparently did not have a clear-cut choice in mind to take his spot. According to Kevin Davidoff of the New York Post they’ve “discussed internally the possibility of hiring veteran hitting coach Jeff Pentland.”

Pentland is 68 years old and hasn’t been a hitting coach since 2011, when the Dodgers fired him. However, he has a lengthy track record as a hitting coach with numerous teams, including coaching Yankees manager Joe Girardi when he was a catcher for the Cubs.

Angels acquire Johnny Giavotella from Royals

Johnny Giavotella
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Yesterday when the Royals designated Johnny Giavotella for assignment I wrote that other teams figured to be interested in the 26-year-old second baseman considering his solid hitting in the minors.

Sure enough the Angels have acquired Giavotella from the Royals in exchange for right-hander Brian Broderick, who was signed to a minor-league deal last month and represents a marginal return.

Giavotella has struggled so far in the majors, but that amounts to fewer than 500 total plate appearances and he’s a career .315 hitter with as many walks as strikeouts in four seasons at Triple-A. He should get a look as Howie Kendrick’s replacement at second base.

A’s release Nick Punto, eat $2.75 million

Nick Punto
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Last offseason the A’s signed career-long utility infielder Nick Punto to a two-year, $5.5 million contract at age 36. He went on to play more or less exactly like you’d expect him to play, posting a .589 OPS in a part-time role, yet today the A’s released him.

Oakland needed the 40-man roster space, but in letting Punto go they’ll eat $2.75 million. He figures to latch on somewhere as a minimum-salaried bench player and it’s unclear why the A’s ever needed to give him a multi-year commitment in the first place.