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Mariners nearing deal with Chris Iannetta

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This hot stove is already heating up.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners are nearing a contract agreement with free agent catcher Chris Iannetta. The club has also been tied this week to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Iannetta carries a poor reputation defensively and he batted just .188/.293/.335 for the Angels in 2015, but the 32-year-old has mashed left-handed pitching in the past and would give Seattle an alternative to former top prospect Mike Zunino, who has struggled to find his footing in the major leagues.

The big fish in this year’s free agent market for catchers is Matt Wieters, but the lower-tier guys are not waiting for that domino to fall. A.J. Pierzynski just re-upped with the Braves on a one-year deal and Saltalamacchia appears close to finding a new home. John Ryan Murphy was traded from the Yankees to the Twins on Monday in exchange for outfielder Aaron Hicks.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.