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

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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

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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.