Author: Bill Baer

Jonathan Papelbon
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Jonathan Papelbon updated his no-trade list for 2016

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Earlier this week, we learned that Jonathan Papelbon had 17 teams to which he couldn’t have been traded without his permission during 2015. The Nationals’ closer has updated that list for the 2016 season, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports.

The list includes: the Diamondbacks, Braves, Orioles, Reds, Rockies, White Sox, Astros, Royals, Dodgers, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Pirates, Mariners, Rangers, and Blue Jays. There are five differences from last year to this year:

  • Removed: Giants, Indians, Phillies, Tigers, Yankees
  • Added: Astros, Braves, Mariners, Reds, Royals

Though Papelbon continues to rank among the game’s elite hurlers, the veteran’s age (35), lengthy no-trade list, $11 million salary, and notorious personality will make it difficult for GM Mike Rizzo to trade him.

With the Phillies and Nationals this past season, Papelbon saved 24 games with a 2.13 ERA and a 56/12 K/BB ratio in 63 1/3 innings.

Tigers sign utilityman Mike Aviles

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 10: Shortstop Mike Aviles #4 of the Cleveland Indians warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at Progressive Field on June 10, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have reached an agreement with utilityman Mike Aviles, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports. The terms of the contract are not yet known. He had completed his contract with the Indians, earning $6.5 million over three seasons.

Aviles, who will turn 35 years old in March, stepped to the plate 317 times this past season and hit .231/.282/.317 with five home runs and 17 RBI. Though the numbers are underwhelming, he provides value in his ability to play nearly anywhere on the baseball field. With the Indians, he played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions.

The Tigers’ 40-man roster is at its limit, so the club will need to remove someone in order to add Aviles.

Athletics sign Henderson Alvarez to a one-year deal

Henderson Alvarez
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Athletics have signed starter Henderson Alvarez to an incentive-laden one-year deal with a base salary of $4.25 million. Alvarez can earn an additional $1.6 million in incentives, which would push the maximum value to $5.85 million.

The Marlins non-tendered Alvarez earlier this month, ahead of his eligibility for his second year of arbitration. Alvarez made only four starts this past season due to a partially torn UCL in his right elbow and inflammation in his right shoulder. He underwent shoulder surgery in July, but it remains possible he could be ready by opening day.

In parts of five seasons between the Blue Jays and Marlins, Alvarez has a career 3.80 ERA with 296 strikeouts and 129 walks in 563 innings.

Aaron Barrett cites overuse as reason for elbow problems

Aaron Barrett
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett has had a rough 2015. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in early September, knocking him out of the 2016 season. And last week, he had surgery to remove bone chips and spurs from his left ankle. This, after finishing with a 4.60 ERA in 29 1/3 innings.

As far as the elbow problem is concerned, Barrett says his overuse contributed to the issue. Via the Associated Press:

Barrett said Sunday at Washington’s fan festival that “the bottom line was I was literally just throwing too much.”

[…]

Explained Barrett: “Just basically warming up, not going into the game, then pitching the next game, and then warming up in the sixth inning and then the seventh inning and then pitching in the eighth inning.”

MLB.com’s Andrew Simon provided more of Barrett’s thoughts on Twitter. Barrett talked about his position as a young player leading to feeling like he didn’t have any leverage with which to speak up about his workload. It’s an issue worth consideration. Barrett won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, which means another year of being paid close to the major league minimum salary, and he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. Not only are young players prone to the daily up-and-down routines in the bullpen, they’re prone to being sent back-and-forth between the minors and the majors. It’s a tough life.

Mike Leake would give D-Backs a hometown discount, but they don’t want him anymore

Mike Leake
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Free agent starter Mike Leake is willing to take “significantly less to play at home in Phoenix,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, Diamondbacks COO Tony La Rosa says it is “probably unlikely” that the club will sign the right-hander. The D-Backs were reportedly interested in Leake earlier this offseason.

The Diamondbacks have already made two big pitching acquisitions. They signed Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract last week. Then, on Tuesday, the D-Backs sent outfielder Ender Inciarte, 2015 number one overall draft pick Dansby Swanson, and pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves for starter Shelby Miller.

The Nationals also had interest in Leake but their interest reportedly cooled last week. The Giants are the only other team with reported interest, but that should pick up as more options fall off the board.

Leake, 28, posted a combined 3.70 ERA with a 119/49 K/BB ratio over 192 innings between the Reds and Giants this past season.