Cardinals sign veteran reliever Brian Fuentes to minor league contract

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UPDATE: The Cardinals just announced that they have signed Fuentes to a minor league contract. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the veteran reliever will report to the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate on Monday and is expected to be in the minors for no more than two weeks.

Friday, 10:33 PM: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Fuentes is now “likely” to join the Cardinals.

Friday, 10:30 PM: Brian Fuentes was granted his release by the Athletics this week after being designated for assignment, but he’s not having any trouble attracting potential suitors now that he’s a free agent.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that six teams have shown interest in Fuentes. Meanwhile, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he has interest in the veteran southpaw and hopes to hear a decision at some point this weekend.

Fuentes, 36, posted a 6.84 ERA and 18/10 K/BB ratio over 25 innings this season before getting the boot from Oakland. The Athletics are covering his remaining salary, roughly $2.5 million for the rest of this season and a $500,000 buyout on a $6.5 million option for next season, so he can sign anywhere for a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum. His closing days are over, but he figures to catch on somewhere as a middle reliever.

Report: José Ramírez diagnosed with knee contusion

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Indians third baseman José Ramírez had to be carted off the field in the top of the third inning of Sunday afternoon’s Cactus League game agaisnt the White Sox. Ramírez fouled a pitch off of his leg during an at-bat against pitcher Sean Nolin.

MLB.com’s Mandy Bell reports that Ramírez was diagnosed with a left knee contusion after he was taken for X-rays. The X-rays were negative, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Ramírez, 26, finished third in AL MVP Award voting last season, batting .270/.387/.552 with 39 home runs, 105 RBI, 110 runs scored, and 34 stolen bases across 698 plate appearances. He was worth 7.9 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. If Ramírez lands on the injured list, that would obviously be a huge loss for the Indians, despite being the overwhelming favorites in the AL Central entering the season.

The Indians will already start the season without second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor, though both are expected to return before the end of April. The infield is in rough shape at the moment.