Reds lock up Mesoraco with four-year pact

Reds lock up Mesoraco with four-year pact

CINCINNATI - The Reds and All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco avoided arbitration on Monday by agreeing to a four-year, $28 million contract.

First-year arbitration-eligible after he earned $525,000 in 2014, Mesoraco filed for $3.6 million on Jan. 16 while the Reds counter-offered $2.45 million.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Speed thrills: Running down top 2B prospects

Braves' Peraza heads list, followed by White Sox's Johnson, Rockies' Wall

Speed thrills: Running down top 2B prospects

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at the Top 10 prospects at each position.

Graduations to the Major Leagues have taken a heavy toll on this list in the past year. Six of the second basemen on last year's preseason Top 10, including the top four, have lost their rookie eligibility, creating room for several newcomers.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Week Ahead: Shields still on Hot Stove menu

Right-handed ace remains biggest name on free-agent market

Week Ahead: Shields still on Hot Stove menu

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's new Commissioner, enters his first full week on the job with plenty to look forward to.

Manfred has indicated that he has lofty goals to enhance youth participation in baseball, he has bold vision for the improvement of technology throughout the game, and he will explore ways to make big league baseball better on the field for years to come.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I'd just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish -- now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.  

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Manfred has clear vision of game's future

Commissioner's plan includes umbrella approach to better engage youth

Manfred has clear vision of game's future

NEW YORK -- Rob Manfred's first day as Commissioner began with a breathtaking realization.

"It really did kind of hit me that we're through the transition period," he said Sunday afternoon. "I'm very excited. My only regret is that it's Sunday, and there's not much point in going to the office. I can't expect everyone to be front and center today."

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Snow doubt about it: MLB All-Blizzard team

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Snow doubt about it: MLB All-Blizzard team

If you're located along the East Coast, you know that there's a blizzard coming. A snowpocalypse. Snowzilla. SNOW MERCY.

In honor of the storm, we decided to put together an All-Blizzard team of MLB players. Check it out below.

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Mays man of the hour as Giants return to New York

Mays man of the hour as Giants return to New York

NEW YORK -- About 75 men, all old enough to remember John F. Kennedy's assassination or even Sputnik, gathered on Saturday in the ballroom of a midtown Manhattan hotel and lined up in two parallel rows to form a path between them. They stared expectantly at the ballroom's double doors as if they awaited a bride's entry.

All they really wanted to see was the best man.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mr. Universe? Stanton judges pageant

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Mr. Universe? Stanton judges pageant

On Sunday night, over 80 of the world's most beautiful women will compete for the title of Miss Universe. And while those of us who believe that the title is meaningless until the multi-cellular creatures of Xorig IV-9 are included, it's still a highly sought after honor.

And for this year's competition, slugger Giancarlo Stanton and boxer Manny Pacquiao were chosen to help judge the event. 

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Napoli energized, refreshed after sleep apnea surgery

First baseman overcomes condition that prevented him from feeling rested

Napoli energized, refreshed after sleep apnea surgery

LEDYARD, Conn. -- To say Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is energized for the coming season is far from the typical mantra you hear from just about every baseball player at this time of year. The slugger has the energy now that he lacked for close to a decade as he battled a severe case of sleep apnea.

To get to this point wasn't easy. Napoli had major surgery in November to treat his condition, and it might stun you to realize the kind of ordeal it was.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Presenting the official 2015 MLB baseball

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Presenting the official 2015 MLB baseball

There's a new signature on the official Major League Baseball ... well, um ... baseball.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's John Hancock will be prominently featured on every potential souvenir pitched, batted, thrown and belted over the outfield wall in 2015 and beyond.

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Garcia, Gausman, Alvarez bring intrigue to O's camp

Right-handers, outfielder could play key roles in 2015 if they step up in spring

Garcia, Gausman, Alvarez bring intrigue to O's camp

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles haven't had a busy offseason, but with Spring Training approaching, the storyline will shift from who the club should add to who is having a strong camp.

Baltimore is relying on the return of its core -- and the health of Matt Wieters and Manny Machado -- to help offset the loss of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. There's also the hope that Chris Davis, who will finish his suspension Opening Day, will have a bounceback year.

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Franco rips through Dominican Winter League

Prospect Franco rips through Dominican Winter League

Third baseman Maikel Franco, the Phillies' No. 3 prospect, was one of the hottest hitters throughout the winter ball playoffs in his native Dominican Republic. Though he saw his hitting streak snapped at 13 games on Tuesday, Franco continued to be a driving force in the lineup for Gigantes del Cibao when the games mattered most.

Franco capped his playoff run Sunday in Game 8 of the Liga de Beisbol Domincano championship series against Estrellas de Oriente with a dominant effort, hitting two home runs and driving in seven runs as Cibao defeated Oriente, 12-5.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves sign veteran catcher Buck to Minors deal

Braves sign veteran catcher Buck to Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Attempting to strengthen their organizational depth in the catching department, the Braves have signed veteran John Buck to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Buck will be targeted to begin the upcoming season with Triple-A Gwinnett. But the 34-year-old would be the most likely option to join Atlanta's roster if anything were to happen to Christian Bethancourt or A.J. Pierzynski, who are slated to be the two catchers on the Braves' Opening Day roster.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Texas native Finnegan receives award from Rangers

Reliever named Texas Professional Baseball Player of the Year

Texas native Finnegan receives award from Rangers

DALLAS -- Royals pitcher Brandon Finnegan received a major award on Friday night from the team that originally drafted him.

No, it was not from the Royals. Finnegan was honored by the Rangers as the Texas Professional Baseball Player of the Year at their awards dinner on Friday night.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Due to concussions, Avila switching mask

Tigers backstop transitioning from traditional gear to hockey-style

Due to concussions, Avila switching mask

DETROIT -- Alex Avila is committed to making the hockey-style catching mask work for him, whether it's comfortable or not. After concussions in each of the last three seasons, the Tigers' backstop is making the switch.

"Eventually I'll feel comfortable with it," Avila said at TigerFest on Saturday. "I will be wearing it full time."

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Loup's role in 'pen amplified after offseason shuffle

With Janssen on free-agent market, left-hander could fill closer vacancy

Loup's role in 'pen amplified after offseason shuffle

TORONTO -- Aaron Loup had another effective season out of the Blue Jays' bullpen in 2014, but if there was one cause for concern, it was his occasional loss of command.

Loup walked more than twice as many batters last year as he did in 2013. The lack of control came as a surprise, but it's also something he appeared to solve during the second half of the year.

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Pivotal season looms for many

Players, managers and executives face potential make-or-break year

Pivotal season looms for many

Every season is an opportunity for everybody fortunate to participate at the Major League level. But some guys have more riding on the outcome than others.

With that in mind, here are 10 people in and around the game who have reached a particularly interesting intersection in 2015.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rodney's arrow flies all the way to South Korea

Mariners closer visits country on goodwill tour, meets with LLWS champs

Rodney's arrow flies all the way to South Korea

SEATTLE -- For Fernando Rodney, the arrow has gone international.

When the Mariners closer peers skyward as he pulls back his imaginary bow following every save, he pictures the arrow sailing far into the distance. But even Rodney seems surprised that his trademark move has become familiar to young fans in South Korea, where he visited last week on a personal goodwill tour that included one stop in a private school for deaf children.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Opening Day: Manfred takes over as Commissioner

Opening Day: Manfred takes over as Commissioner

When Rob Manfred arrives at 245 Park Ave. in New York on Monday morning, it will be almost like nothing has changed. He'll take the elevator to Major League Baseball's headquarters on the 31st floor. He'll walk to the same office he's been in for years.

Everything has changed, of course. Manfred became baseball's first new Commissioner in 23 years at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday morning when Bud Selig officially retired from the role. It was a momentous occasion for the sport.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Offseason spent in Texas agrees with Darvish

Rangers righty says strength program going well, elbow feels fine

Offseason spent in Texas agrees with Darvish

ARLINGTON -- This has been a winter of content for Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, who has spent most of it in Texas working out at the Ballpark.

Darvish has a new girlfriend. In November he tweeted to his 1.24 million followers that he was dating Seiko Yamamoto, a four-time world wrestling champion.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New Commissioner makes mark on official ball

All MLB game balls will now be stamped with Manfred's signature

New Commissioner makes mark on official ball

Now, it's official.

"Robert D. Manfred Jr." is the cursive stamped signature as of today on all Rawlings game balls to be used in Major League Baseball, representing Manfred's first day as MLB 's 10th Commissioner, succeeding Bud Selig, who retired and is now Commissioner Emeritus.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. MLB.com national columnist Paul Hagen and MLB Official Historian John Thorn contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gillaspie open to whatever role team needs

Third baseman will likely be part of a platoon with Bonifacio at hot corner

Gillaspie open to whatever role team needs

CHICAGO -- Conor Gillaspie has spent the past two seasons as the White Sox primary third baseman, but that appears likely to change in 2015.

The last of Chicago's major deals this offseason was inking super utility man Emilio Bonifacio, who -- along with playing all over the diamond -- could form a platoon with Gillaspie at the hot corner.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Halos' Hamilton expects big season at plate

Halos' Hamilton expects big season at plate

ANAHEIM -- Josh Hamilton's personal goals haven't changed, even though expectations from the outside have plunged.

"I'm gonna say .300, 30 and 100," Hamilton said Sunday night, referencing his batting average, home run and RBI totals when asked about his own expectations for 2015. "Keep it simple. Those are very obtainable."

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Finding at-bats for Ichiro a good problem for Marlins

Finding at-bats for Ichiro a good problem for Marlins

MIAMI -- The Marlins believe Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton form the best outfield trio in the National League. Add Ichiro Suzuki to the roster, and the club now feels it has the top fourth outfielder in the league.

One of manager Mike Redmond's challenges will be finding enough playing time for everyone, particularly Suzuki.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker is 81 today

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Legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker is 81 today

Try saying "Brewers' broadcaster Bob Uecker's birthday" five times, fast.

Brewers' broadcaster Bob Uecker's birthday

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Chicago to host public memorial for Banks at Daley Plaza

Hall of Famer's bronze statue on display Wednesday until Saturday

Chicago to host public memorial for Banks at Daley Plaza

CHICAGO -- The bronze statue of Ernie Banks will be installed in Daley Plaza from Wednesday until Saturday as a public memorial for fans who want to celebrate the Hall of Famer's life, the Cubs and the City of Chicago announced Sunday. The outdoor plaza is at 50 W. Washington Street.

Banks, who played his entire career with the Cubs from 1953-71, passed away Friday at the age of 83.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Torii returns to open arms at TwinsFest

Popular outfielder commands long autograph lines, admiration from fans

Torii returns to open arms at TwinsFest

MINNEAPOLIS -- For Torii Hunter, it felt like he never left.

Hunter, who signed a one-year deal worth $10.5 million this offseason to rejoin the Twins after leaving Minnesota following the 2007 season, was perhaps the most popular player at TwinsFest this weekend, as he commanded long lines for his autograph and had his name chanted by fans as he walked from each event to the next.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Banks' passing leaves void in heart of baseball

Mr. Cub was larger than life figure on and off the diamond

Banks' passing leaves void in heart of baseball

There I was, speaking on the phone Friday night around 10 p.m. (ET) to Lamond Pope, one of my closest pals in sports media, and the conversation was winding to a close. Pope lives near his native Chicago, which only makes sense. He is the most fervent Cubs fan this side of the guy who just took a graceful home run trot from earth to that ivy-covered place in the sky.

Lamond and I were discussing "DeflateGate." Then, between my thoughts on pounds per square inch in a football and whether it's time for us to move on with the rest of our lives, he cut me off.

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Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Busch Stadium set to host U.S. Women's soccer

National Team to take on New Zealand as primer for World Cup

Busch Stadium set to host U.S. Women's soccer

Busch Stadium will play host to the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team in its first domestic game of 2015, when the American club takes on the New Zealand National Soccer Team on April 4.

The game, to be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1, will serve a warmup for the U.S. team's run for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada in June.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Network deems Hanley top left fielder in a tight race

Network deems Hanley top left fielder in a tight race

Entering the 2015 season, Major League Baseball is stacked with great left fielders. Some are well known, others are under the radar and one has yet to even play the position.

Who's the top left fielder in baseball right now? MLB Network's response may surprise you.

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Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.