Rays sign outfielder Jeff Salazar to minor league deal

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Marc Topkin, beat writer for the freshly-branded Tampa Bay Times, reports that the Rays inked outfielder Jeff Salazar to a minor league contract.

The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, though Salazar is doubtful to earn a spot on the Rays’ Opening Day roster. The 31-year-old has not appeared in a major league game since the 2009 season and he batted just .228/.355/.374 with nine home runs and 39 RBI in 344 plate appearances last year between the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

Tampa Bay also agreed to a minor league contract Tuesday with Brad Coon, a career minor-leaguer.

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.