Scott Rice makes the Mets after 14 years in the minors

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Scott Rice was a first-round pick way back in 1999, going 44th overall to the Orioles out of high school. He spent the next 14 years playing in the minors, including multiple stints in independent leagues. And now he’s headed to the big leagues for the first time.

Rice has secured an Opening Day spot in the Mets’ bullpen after a solid spring training performance that saw the 6-foot-6 left-hander throw 11 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 10/3 K/BB ratio.

Rice wasn’t particularly good at Triple-A last season in the Dodgers’ farm system, posting a 4.40 ERA and 47/22 K/BB ratio in 59 innings, and his overall track record is mostly underwhelming. But he has some chance of being a decent middle reliever for the Mets and most of all a guy cracking an Opening Day roster after 14 seasons and 480 appearances in the minors is just a great story.

Outfielder Marlon Byrd and right-handers LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison also made the Mets on minor-league deals.

Two mystery teams are talking to Manny Machado

Manny Machado
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The Phillies and White Sox have dominated much of the conversation around free agent Manny Machado this winter, but Andy Martino of SNY says that they may have some stiff competition as the clock winds down to Opening Day. Two mystery teams have been recently linked to the slugger, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman adds that one of them currently has the high bid, though they’re not considered his “preferred landing spot.”

There’s little sense in putting any stock in these kinds of rumors, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see how Machado’s camp responds in the weeks to come. The 26-year-old’s father, Manuel, added some fuel to the fire on Friday after taking an interview with Z101 Digital, saying, “I believe that the team you will probably less think about is the one that’s going to sign Manny Machado.”

Whether that’s in reference to the Yankees, who are apparently still in the conversation, or a true unknown team remains to be seen. Machado has given little, if any indication that he’s leaning toward a particular club, but is generally expected to be more receptive to whichever suitor feels inclined to meet his 10-year, $300 million asking price. At the very least, Manuel’s comments may help light a fire under the Phillies and White Sox as they continue to mull over a potential deal with the four-time All-Star.