Orioles sign relief pitcher Evan Meek and outfielder Jack Cust to minor league contracts

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According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have signed right-handed reliever Evan Meek to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. And outfielder Jack Cust got the same deal, reports Roch Kubatko at MASN.

Meek will try to revitalize his major league career with the O’s after spending the last two seasons battling shoulder issues. The 30-year-old will be fighting for a middle relief job this spring in camp.

Cust, 35, did not play MLB-affiliated ball in 2013 and spent the entire 2012 season at Triple-A. He batted just .213/.344/.329 in 270 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2011 and will be a longshot to make the Opening Day roster this year in Baltimore.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.