Padres sign veteran catcher Gregg Zaun to minor league deal

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San Diego signed Gregg Zaun to a minor-league contract and the veteran catcher will get an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for the backup job with Rob Johnson.

Zaun missed most of last season following June shoulder surgery and will be 40 years old in April, but if healthy he’s a far superior option than Johnson to play behind starter Nick Hundley.

Zaun has posted an on-base percentage above .340 in seven straight seasons and the switch-hitter batted .265 with a .350 OBP in 28 games for the Brewers last season before shutting things down.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.