Neal Cotts, Burke Badenhop, Franklin Morales avoid arbitration with respective teams

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There is always a lot of “avoided arbitration” news around this time, so enjoy the exciting news.

Per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers and reliever Neal Cotts avoided arbitration on a one-year deal worth $2.2 million. Cotts, soon to be 34, had a fantastic 2013 season, his first in the big leagues since 2009. He finished up the year with a 1.11 ERA in 57 innings, averaging well over a strikeout per inning and 3.6 strikeouts for every one walk.

The Red Sox and reliever Burke Badenhop agreed to a one-year non-guaranteed contract, the Red Sox reported. WEEI’s Alex Speier says Badenhop’s non-guaranteed salary is $2.15 million. Badenhop turns 31 on February 8 and is coming off of a solid 2013 campaign with the Brewers. In 62 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, the right-hander posted a 3.47 ERA with a 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Finally, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that the Rockies and Franklin Morales agreed to a one-year deal. Troy Renck of the Denver Post adds that Morales will earn $1,712,500. The Rockies recently acquired Morales, soon to be 28, from the Red Sox for infielder Jonathan Herrera. In 25 1/3 innings with the Red Sox last season, Morales posted a 4.62 ERA with a high walk rate (13 unintentional).

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.