Aaron Gleeman

Alex Presley Twins

Astros sign Alex Presley to one-year deal, avoid arbitration

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Outfielder Alex Presley and the Astros have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle says it’ll be worth $1 million.

Presley was claimed off waivers from the Twins during spring training and hit .244 with six homers and a .628 OPS in 89 games.

His career numbers aren’t a whole lot better and Presley is stretched defensively in center field, but Houston likes him as a backup outfielder for 2015.

Dodgers “aggressively pursuing” White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez

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In looking to replace free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez the Dodgers are “aggressively pursuing” White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, according to Bob Nightingale of USA Today.

Ramirez had a bounceback year offensively, hitting .273 with 15 homers and a .713 OPS in 158 games and has been one of the most durable players in baseball, but at age 33 his defense has slipped and he’s owed $10 million for 2015 plus a $10 million option or $1 million buyout for 2016.

Shaun Marcum re-signs with the Indians

Shaun Marcum
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Shaun Marcum never pitched for the Indians after signing a minor-league deal last December, but now he’s sticking with Cleveland on another minor-league contract.

For a long time Marcum was very effective and oft-injured, posting a 3.67 ERA in 830 innings from 2007-2012, but he ceased being effective in 2013 and barely pitched at all this year following thoracic outlet surgery.

Marcum is 33 years old, so as far as low-risk, low-cost fliers go he’s a worthwhile move for the Indians.

White Sox sign Zach Duke for three years, $15 million

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks

Left-hander Zach Duke, who turned his career around as a reliever and thrived in the Brewers’ bullpen this season, has signed with the White Sox according to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.

Duke came up through the Pirates’ farm system as a highly touted starter prospect, but went 47-75 with a 4.69 ERA in 169 career starts and has bounced around a lot in recent years.

However, when used out of the bullpen Duke has a 3.28 ERA and 107/39 K/BB ratio in 129 innings, including 74 strikeouts in 59 innings this season.

Duke’s track record of excellence isn’t long, but given the likely price tags for high-end relief pitching this offseason he could prove to be a shrewd pickup.

UPDATE: It’s a three-year, $15 million deal for Duke.

Blue Jays “drawing interest” in Dioner Navarro after signing Russell Martin

Casey Janssen, Dioner Navarro

Not surprisingly Toronto is shopping Dioner Navarro after signing Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract to replace him at catcher and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Blue Jays “are drawing interest.”

It makes sense, because Navarro is a veteran catcher with a reasonable $5 million salary for 2015 and hit .274 with 12 homers and a .712 OPS in 139 games this season. He’d be an upgrade behind the plate for plenty of teams and it seems unlikely that the Blue Jays would want a $5 million backup, so expect a deal to get done.