Drew Silva

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Orioles sign Hideki Okajima to minor league deal

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As first reported by Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with veteran left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima. The deal does not come with an invitation to major league camp.

Most figured Okajima was done with baseball in the United States when he returned to his native Japan after appearing in just five games with the Oakland Athletics during the 2013 season. But the 40-year-old southpaw wants to give it another run.

Okajima posted a cool 3.09 ERA in 250 1/3 innings between the Red Sox and A’s from 2007-2013, holding left-handed batters to a .223/.281/.333 slash line.

He will operate as organizational lefty relief depth for the O’s.

Mets avoid arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia at $4.1 million

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Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Mets have avoided arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia by agreeing to a one-year, $4.1 million contract for the 2016 season.

This was Familia’s first year of arbitration eligibility, and there will be two more to follow. He requested $4.8 million and was offered $3.3 million from the Mets when figures were exchanged on January 15. It took about three weeks for the two sides to find a compromise.

Familia emerged as one of the best closers in baseball last year, posting a 1.85 ERA and 86/19 K/BB ratio in 78 regular-season innings for the eventual National League champions. He also tallied 43 regular-season saves.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that the 26-year-old right-hander is now the highest-paid reliever in history with only one full season at closer under his belt. The previous king under those parameters was Orioles closer Zach Britton, who pulled in a $3.2 million salary in 2015. It’s a record that will likely keep breaking as baseball’s basic economics explode upward and young fireballers continue to dominate the ninth-inning game.

Tigers and J.D. Martinez discussing one- and two-year deals

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Chris Iott of MLive.com reported last month that the Tigers and J.D. Martinez were working toward a long-term contract extension and Martinez acknowledged at that time that he would “love to be a Tiger for life.”

But it appears those negotiations have been scaled back with a potential arbitration hearing looming. It would be the Tigers’ first arbitration hearing since 2001.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million when figures were formally exchanged on January 15.

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says the two parties are currently discussing one- and two-year deals. Martinez is arbitration-eligible for both 2016 and 2017, so neither of the proposals currently on the table would roll into his potential free agency. A two-year deal would simply cover those final two arbitration-eligible seasons.

Martinez appears to be betting on himself here — banking that his 2014 and 2015 were no fluke. Or maybe the Tigers really low-balled him in those initial long-term talks.

The 28-year-old outfielder led Detroit with 38 home runs and 102 RBI last season.

Brewers GM David Stearns says there is no trade in the works involving Jonathan Lucroy

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Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy indicated last month to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would like to be traded at some point soon, saying, “I want to win and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future.”

Lucroy is only under contract through 2016 (with an inexpensive club option for 2017) and the Brewers are undergoing a full-on rebuild, so it’s likely that his trade request will eventually be met. But there is nothing to suggest anything is close on that front.

Brewers general manager David Stearns caught up Tuesday with Haudricourt

Lucroy struggled with injuries in 2015 and wound up batting just .264/.326/.391 with seven home runs and 43 RBI in 103 games. But he finished fourth in the National League MVP voting in 2014 with a .301/.373/.465 slash line, 53 doubles, 13 home runs, and 69 RBI. The 29-year-old backstop will make just $4 million in 2016 and his option for 2017 is only $5.25 million (with a $25,000 buyout). There should be trade offers pouring in. For now, the Nationals, Rangers, and Astros are the teams that have been connected.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that the Nationals are one of eight clubs on Lucroy’s no-trade list, but Lucroy could simply use that as leverage toward a new contract if he is close to being dealt to Washington. As he said, he wants to win. And the Nats look like one of the best teams in baseball on paper.

Giants sign ear-biting catcher Miguel Olivo to minor league contract

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The last we heard from Miguel Olivo around these parts, he was being released from the Dodgers after biting off a chunk of Alex Guerrero‘s ear during a nasty dugout brawl at Triple-A Albuquerque. That was in early-2014.

Olivo spent the 2015 season with the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League and performed quite well, slashing .281/.347/.472 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 90 games. The veteran catcher, never known for his speed, even stole 13 bases.

Now he is back with an MLB affiliate.

Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports that Olivo has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants. He’ll presumably open the 2016 campaign at Triple-A Sacramento, where he will operate as organizational depth at the catcher position. It’s doubtful he’ll get the call up at any point.

Olivo, 37, stands as a .240/.275/.417 career hitter in 1,124 major league games.