Cardinals sign infielder Alex Cora to minor-league contract

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Alex Cora’s deal with the Cardinals is official, with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reporting that the veteran utility infielder agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Last week Cora announced his retirement from winter ball in Puerto Rico and Goold notes that he was thinking about going into coaching, but instead he’ll try to earn a spot on the Cardinals’ bench at age 37.

Cora has had a remarkable career, sticking around for 14 seasons despite getting more than 400 plate appearances just three times and topping a .700 OPS just three times. And none of those have come since 2004.

He hit .224 with a .562 OPS in 91 games for the Nationals last season, which was actually better than he hit in 2010 for the Mets and Rangers. His primary competition for a bench gig may be Tyler Greene, depending on if Daniel Descalso or Skip Schumaker starts at second base.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.