Dodgers agree to one-year, $2.85 million deal with reliever J.P. Howell

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UPDATE: Olney clarifies that the deal is worth $2.85 million plus incentives.

9:08 PM: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the deal is done. Howell will make a $3 million base salary in 2013 and could earn more in performance bonuses.

8:54 PM: The Dodgers aren’t done spending yet. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, the club is moving toward a one-year agreement with left-handed reliever J.P. Howell. Terms aren’t yet available, as the deal hasn’t been finalized.

Howell, who turns 30 in April, posted a 3.04 ERA and 42/22 K/BB ratio over 50 1/3 innings last season with the Rays. He has held left-handed batters to a .241/.323/.351 batting line and a .675 OPS during his career. The Nationals have also been linked to him this offseason.

The Dodgers watched Randy Choate leave for a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Cardinals earlier this winter, so if signed, Howell will give the club a second left-handed reliever to go along with Scott Elbert.

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.