Author: D.J. Short

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Indians' Gavin Floyd warms up during a spring training baseball practice in Goodyear, Ariz. Indians right-hander Gavin Floyd has reinjured his pitching right elbow and may need surgery. The Indians said in a statement Tuesday, March 10, 2015,  "he is out for the foreseeable future" and surgery is an option.(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
AP Photo/John Locher, File

Report: Blue Jays agree to deal with right-hander Gavin Floyd

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The Orioles expressed interest in Maryland native Gavin Floyd earlier this month, but Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the veteran right-hander has agreed to a deal with the Blue Jays, pending a physical. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman previously reported that the two sides were closing in on a deal.

No word yet on the terms involved, but we might be talking about a minor league deal. Floyd was a solid mid-rotation starter with the White Sox for a long stretch, posting a 4.20 ERA (106 ERA+) from 2007-2012, but elbow issues have limited him to just 92 innings in the majors over the past three seasons. The 33-year-old required surgery last March to repair a re-fracture of the right olecranon bone in his throwing elbow. He spent 2015 with the Indians, so this is a reunion of sorts with Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro now in Toronto’s front office.

The Blue Jays already have plenty of options for their rotation going into spring training, so Floyd will have to earn his way back on the radar.

Diamondbacks haven’t ruled out pursuing Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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After trading for infielder Jean Segura from the Brewers over the weekend, Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said that he was open to acquiring another closer or high-leverage reliever. There’s a high asking price in the trade market, so Stewart acknowledged to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic on Thursday that he’ll likely have to look to the dwindling group of free agent relievers.

The most accomplished reliever remaining on the market is Tyler Clippard, who posted a 2.92 ERA and 64/31 K/BB ratio over 71 innings last season between the Athletics and Mets. He served as the closer during his time in Oakland and saved 17 games. While there haven’t been any talks between the two sides, Stewart says they’ll likely be in touch.

“We have not talked to his people, (but) that is a good name,” Stewart said when asked about Clippard. “I know we talked about it internally, so I think there’s a pretty good possibility we will (reach out), at least just to see.”

Clippard was shaky down the stretch last season and continued to see his velocity decline. He has always induced his fair share of infield fly balls, but an overall increase in fly ball rate isn’t ideal when talking about a potential match with Arizona.

We can likely rule out a reunion with the Mets, as general manager Sandy Alderson said on Wednesday that the club is done giving out major league deals.

Report: The Orioles remain interested in free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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After losing left-hander Wei-Yin Chen in free agency, the Orioles’ starting rotation is a big question mark. As of now, they could be looking at a group including Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Vance Worley. Doesn’t exactly scream AL East favorites. The club picked up some depth today by acquiring Odrisamer Despaigne from the Padres, but they might not be done making moves.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles still have interest in free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo. The market hasn’t been kind to him, as he’s attached to draft pick compensation. And this is a big deal for Baltimore, who are set to pick 14th overall in this year’s draft. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has gone on record saying he’s reluctant to give up the pick, but Rosenthal writes that Gallardo’s price tag could drop to a point where they’d be willing to make a deal.

Gallardo, who turns 30 later this month, is coming off a career-low 3.42 ERA over 33 starts with the Rangers. That’s an impressive accomplishment considering the hitter-friendly environment, but his declining strikeout rate is surely another factor in why he’s still looking for a home in early February.

Strikeout percentage:

2012: 23.7 percent
2013: 18.6 percent
2014: 17.9 percent
2015: 15.3 percent

The Astros and Rockies were mentioned as possibilities for Gallardo last month, but it’s safe to say the Doug Fister signing takes Houston out of the mix.

Orioles and reliever Brian Matusz avoid arbitration at $3.9 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Brian Matusz throws against the Miami Marlins during the 12th inning during a baseball game in Miami, Saturday, May 23, 2015. Matusz left the game after his forearm was inspected by umpires. The Marlins won 1-0. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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The Orioles and reliever Brian Matusz have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.9 million contract, as first reported by Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports.

Matusz requested $4.4 million and was offered $3.5 million by the Orioles when figures were exchanged last month. The two sides ultimately settled for a little under the midpoint.

A former starter, Matusz has found his niche in Baltimore’s bullpen over the past three seasons. He had a 2.94 ERA over 58 appearances in 2015 while averaging a career-high 10.3 K/9. He’s due to be a free agent after this season.

With Matusz out of the way, closer Zach Britton is now the last arbitration case remaining for the Orioles. While it’s possible the two sides could settle, they have an arbitration hearing scheduled for February 17. There’s a bit of a gap here, as Britton requested a $7.9 million salary and was offered $5.6 million. If it does go to a hearing, the three-person arbitration panel will choose one salary or the other.

The Royals unveiled an awesome billboard

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Kansas City Royals on Twitter
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The Royals have had some creative billboards in the past, but their latest effort takes the cake.

If you have followed the defending World Series champions at all, you know that catcher Salvador Perez likes to douse his teammates with the water cooler after a big win. He got to do that a lot last season. This tradition inspired the awesome, new design:

There’s an interactive aspect to this, as fans are encouraged to pose for pictures in front of the billboard and tag them with #SalvySplash on Instagram and Twitter for the chance to win some prizes. Well done, Royals.