Russell Branyan joins Yankees on minor-league contract

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Russell Branyan has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Yankees, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post.

He’ll compete for a bench spot in spring training after hitting just .197 in 68 games for the Diamondbacks and Angels last season.

Branyan’s low batting averages and high strikeout totals have often masked otherwise solid production, as his .814 career OPS is higher than guys like Raul Ibanez, Aubrey Huff, Michael Young, Torii Hunter, Adrian Beltre, Michael Cuddyer, Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, and Johnny Damon.

However, given how poorly he hit in limited action last season and the fact that he’s now 36 years old it’s possible Branyan is just about finished. On the other hand, he’s certainly a worthwhile pickup on a no-risk deal and did smack 56 homers between 2009 and 2010.

Astros assistant GM Mike Elias reported to be next Orioles general manager

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Astros assistant GM Mike Elias will be the new general manager of the Orioles “barring a change of heart.”

Elias, 35, has been the Astros’ assistant general manager since August 2016. He had previously served as Houston’s scouting director and, before that, as a scout for the Cardinals. He was part of the team that came over from the Cardinals when Jeff Luhnow joined the Astros.

If he does take the O’s job his work will certainly be cut out for him. Baltimore was historically bad in 2018, finishing 47-115 thanks to a roster full of expensive, past-their-prime players and an underdeveloped farm system. He’ll have to hit the ground running too, as he’ll not join the team until nearly two months into the club’s offseason, having had no time to assess its needs and personnel. Oh, and the Winter Meetings begin in a little over three weeks.