<span class="vcard">Aaron Gleeman</span>

Russell Martin

Cubs expected to target Russell Martin

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This time last year Welington Castillo was viewed as a potential long-term building block for the Cubs, but he struggled this season and now Chicago is apparently looking to make an upgrade at catcher.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Cubs “are going to target” free agent Russell Martin, who’s expected to turn down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Pirates.

Martin figures to have plenty of suitors after hitting .290 with a .402 on-base percentage and .832 OPS in 111 games for the Pirates, but unlike most interested teams the Cubs wouldn’t have to forfeit a first-round draft pick because theirs is protected. They’d lose a second-rounder instead.

Rockies hire Steve Foster as pitching coach

Steve Foster Royals
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Being the pitching coach for the Rockies is basically impossible job, but the latest to take on the challenge is Steve Foster.

Colorado hired Foster away from Kansas City, where he’s been a special assistant and pitching coordinator for the past three seasons and previously served as bullpen coach.

He replaces Jim Wright, who was fired last month after the Rockies’ pitching staff allowed the most runs in baseball.

Prior to going to into coaching Foster was a reliever for the Reds from 1991-1993, throwing 90 innings with a 2.41 ERA.

Astros hire Alan Zinter as assistant hitting coach

astros logo
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Alan Zinter is joining the Astros as assistant hitting coach after serving as the Indians’ minor league hitting coordinator for the past three seasons.

Zinter was a first-round draft pick way back in 1989 and played 19 seasons in the minors while also getting a couple brief stints in the majors for the Astros and Diamondbacks.

He’ll work with Dave Hudgens, who was hired as the Astros’ hitting coach after being fired from the same job by the Mets in the middle of the season.

Angels sign Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin for $8 million

cuba hat
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Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that Cuban middle infielder Roberto Baldoquin has signed with the Angels for a bonus of $8 million.

Baldoquin defected from Cuba in February and has been staying in the Dominican Republic. Because he’s only 20 years old with limited professional experience Baldoquin’s signing falls under the international spending limits–as opposed to, say, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, who could sign for any amount–which means the Angels will be tapped out in that regard for the next two years.

He’s likely to begin his America career in the minors, but could emerge as a potential replacement for second baseman Howie Kendrick in 2016.

Cardinals expected to target Andrew Miller

Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox
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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that he’s “been told a few times” the Cardinals will pursue reliever Andrew Miller in free agency.

Trying to upgrade over the likes of Randy Choate as late-inning southpaw bullpen options makes sense, but Miller is much more than a left-handed specialist and ranks among the elite relievers in baseball. In other words, he’s going to cost a ton.

This season Miller threw 62 innings with a 2.02 ERA and 103/17 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .153 batting average and .456 OPS. And he has the dominant raw stuff to match those great numbers.