Drew Silva

Bruce Rondon, Clint Fagan
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Bruce Rondon involved in ugly brawl in Venezuelan Winter League

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Bruce Rondon was sent home early from Detroit back in September for what Tigers manager Brad Ausmus called “effort level” issues. Once labeled the Tigers’ closer of the future, Rondon finished the 2015 major league season with a rough 5.81 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 31 innings.

The trouble has now followed the hard-throwing 25-year-old into winter ball back in his native country.

Rondon entered a game Saturday in the seventh inning for Navegantes del Magallanes and promptly struck Bravos de Margarita outfielder Jose Osuna with a 1-0 pitch. Rondon then threw over to first base and began challenging Osuna, a prospect in the Pirates’ system, to meet him at the mound. You can probably guess what happened next

Royals have some interest in Braves outfielder Nick Markakis

Nick Markakis, Nick Swisher
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson
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The defending World Series-champion Royals would love to re-sign Alex Gordon, but it’s very possible that his price tag will ultimately climb beyond their comfort zone. So let’s line up some alternatives.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says Kansas City has expressed some interest in trading for Braves outfielder Nick Markakis. The 32-year-old just signed a four-year, $44 million free agent contract with Atlanta last offseason, but anyone and everyone seems to be available on that rapidly-rebuilding team.

Markakis batted .296/.370/.376 with three home runs over 156 games in 2015.

Gordon, 31, hit .271/.377/.432 with 13 home runs in 104 games.

Scott Boras on Nationals extending Bryce Harper: “When they have a plan, we’ll let you know”

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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From our friend Mark Zuckerman of CSNMidAtlantic.com’s Nats Insider

If the Nationals harbor any hopes of keeping Bryce Harper in D.C. long-term, the onus will be on them to initiate negotiations, agent Scott Boras said Wednesday.

“I think with each player like that, you have generational players, I think each organization is going to have its own philosophy about how they handle him and what they do,” Boras said during his annual scrum with reporters at this week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. “So that’s really something I’m sure the brain trust of the Nationals have to sit down and look at. And when they have a plan, we’ll let you know.”

In other words, Boras won’t be doing any pitching to the Nationals’ braintrust.

Harper isn’t due to hit free agency until after the 2018 season, so there’s no real rush to get something done this winter. But it’s a pretty safe bet that his price will rise as the years tick by.

The 23-year-old superstar outfielder earned National League MVP honors in 2015 after batting .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs, 99 RBI, and 118 runs scored in 153 games.

Could we be looking at a $500 million commitment when all is said and done?

Nationals sign reliever Shawn Kelley

Shawn Kelley
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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As many reporters have speculated throughout the day, the Nationals have reached agreement on a contract with free agent reliever Shawn Kelley. MLB.com’s William Ladson says a pre-signing physical is scheduled for later this week.

Kelley posted an outstanding 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 63/15 K/BB ratio across 51 1/3 innings of relief this past season for the Padres. The 31-year-old right-hander will likely operate as a setup man in Washington for Drew Storen and closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Oliver Perez has also been added to the Nats’ bullpen this winter, and the club signed Giants castoff Yusmeiro Petit to a one-year contract on Wednesday evening.

Reds shopping Todd Frazier “heavily”

Todd Frazier
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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It’s probably going to be impossible for the Reds to move Aroldis Chapman at any point in the near future given the October domestic-assault incident that came to light on Monday night as the Dodgers were closing in on a blockbuster trade for the fireballing closer.

But the rebuild must go on — and will go on — this winter Cincinnati …

Frazier posted an .806 OPS with 35 home runs and 89 RBI in 157 games this past season for the Reds, earning his second straight National League All-Star nod. The 29-year-old third baseman is due just $7.5 million in 2016 and will have one more year of arbitration-eligibility in 2017 before he can hit free agency.

He’d make sense for any team with a hole at the hot corner.