Cuban phenom Lazarito nearing decision

9 teams show strong interest in 16-year-old outfielder

Cuban phenom Lazarito nearing decision

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros will spend the next 24 hours pondering his future.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound outfielder is expected to make a decision on where he will sign Wednesday, about one month after Major League Baseball declared him a free agent.

More

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: White Sox land right-hander Latos

Source: White Sox land right-hander Latos

The White Sox have agreed to sign free-agent right-hander Mat Latos to a one-year, $3 million contract, a source confirmed to MLB.com

The club has not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical and was first reported by ESPN.com. 

More

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

MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

Spoils of WAR: Donaldson enjoys rapid ascent

Metrics illustrate how late-blooming slugger has joined Hall of Fame company

Spoils of WAR: Donaldson enjoys rapid ascent

Josh Donaldson is once again in the news. The 2015 American League MVP Award winner has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $29 million deal with the Blue Jays, which will effectively buy out his first two years of arbitration. This is a very lucrative deal for someone reaching arbitration for the first time, but Donaldson isn't just any other player. He's been a top-10 MVP finisher three years running, and his unusual career arc makes him arguably the most impressive late-bloomer in baseball history.

There are 24 position players since 1901 who accumulated a WAR of at least 23.0 for their age-27 through age-29 seasons. Of the two dozen, 19 are in the Hall of Fame, with the only exceptions being Barry Bonds and a quartet of active players: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley and Donaldson. This collection of ballplayers -- led by Babe Ruth -- finds Donaldson occupying the 19th slot, in between arguably the game's greatest second baseman, Joe Morgan, and two of its absolute top-of-the-line center fielders, Tris Speaker and Mickey Mantle. For this age, Josh Donaldson rubs shoulders with players like Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron, Duke Snider and Willie Mays, Ty Cobb and Mel Ott.

More

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

Still on the market, Fowler boasts a truly unique skill set

Free-agent OF could be the game's best switch-hitting OBP threat

Still on the market, Fowler boasts a truly unique skill set

The market for free-agent outfielders was particularly loaded this offseason, and as a result, one of the most unique players in the class seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

It's the second week of February, and Dexter Fowler still hasn't found a home. He's 29 years old -- younger than Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon -- and fresh off a season in which he manned center field and batted leadoff for a Cubs team that reached its first postseason in seven years.

More

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

Four-team field ready to go in Classic qualifier

Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa vying for spot in 2017 tournament

Four-team field ready to go in Classic qualifier

The first leg of the 2017 World Baseball Classic gets underway with the first of four qualifying tournaments starting on Thursday at Blacktown International Sportspark just outside Sydney. Australia, the favorite, will host New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa.

The modified double-elimination tournament is scheduled to be played over four days. Sunday's finale, however, will be a winner-take-all game rather than part of the double elimination. The team that wins on the first two days gets an off day on Saturday. Four of the six games, including the final, will be aired live on MLB Network.

More

Niall Adler is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arbitration panel rules $5M salary for Castro

Astros prevail in hearing against veteran catcher

Arbitration panel rules $5M salary for Castro

HOUSTON -- The Astros won their arbitration case against veteran catcher Jason Castro on Tuesday, when a three-person panel determined he will be paid a $5 million salary this year. Castro was seeking $5.25 million.

Castro, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, has emerged as one of the game's top defensive catchers, but he slumped offensively last season and hit .211 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs. He was the starting catcher for a pitching staff that was among the game's best.

More

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Duquette

Best of the best: Top offseason moves

Braves, Rays and Dodgers just a few to earn A's this winter

Best of the best: Top offseason moves

Of the many deals this offseason, some appear to be shrewder than others. With roughly two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, let's take a look at five moves that I believe stand above the rest.

1. Braves acquire SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Aaron Blair and OF Ender Inciarte from D-backs for RHP Shelby Miller
In dealing Miller to the D-backs, the retooling Braves managed to acquire some major building blocks. Swanson, the first overall pick of the 2015 Draft and the No. 8 prospect in MLB, could be a batting-average and on-base-percentage machine, with solid pop from the shortstop position, perhaps sooner rather than later given his advanced skill set.

More

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

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Ziegler remains baseball's unlikeliest closer

Submariner has 5-year streak of most downward fastball movement

Ziegler remains baseball's unlikeliest closer

When the D-backs signed veteran reliever Tyler Clippard to a two-year deal on Monday, general manager Dave Stewart made it clear that Clippard was brought in to support closer Brad Ziegler, not supplant him. For those of us who like oddities in our world, this is good news: Ziegler will remain baseball's most unexpected closer.

No, really. There's no one working the ninth inning in baseball like Ziegler right now, and there hasn't been for years. In an era where flamethrowers like Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are lighting up radar guns, Arizona's closer averages 84.6 mph on his primary pitch and has a near pathological aversion to strikeouts, finishing in the bottom 30 (of the 268 pitchers with a minimum 60 innings thrown) in both K/9 (4.76) and K% (13.7).

More

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Post Cuba: O' Brothers, Where Start Thou?

Yulieski Gurriel said to be MLB-ready; Lourdes a highly regarded prospect

Post Cuba: O' Brothers, Where Start Thou?

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Two top players from the most famous baseball family in Cuba are not expected to return to the island.

Brothers Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 22, and Yulieski Gurriel, 31, defected from Cuba's Ciego de Avila team following the Caribbean Series that concluded Sunday in order to seek contracts with Major League teams, according to sources. Lourdes is considered the top prospect in Cuba while his brother is considered the country's best player.

More

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New, cooler spring jerseys, caps available

MLB shows off on-field Flex Base designs for all 30 clubs

New, cooler spring jerseys, caps available

It is almost time for Zack Greinke to suit up for the D-backs, Todd Frazier for the White Sox, David Price for the Red Sox, Justin Upton for the Tigers, Johnny Cueto for the Giants, Jason Heyward for the Cubs, and all those other new faces in new places.

Shop now for new Flex Base Spring Training gear

More

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Daniel Murphy got into a 'dizzy baseball' contest with Tottenham Hotspur player Eric Dier

|
Daniel Murphy got into a 'dizzy baseball' contest with Tottenham Hotspur player Eric Dier

Though soccer players seem to love baseball as much as baseball players love soccer, it's not always easy to switch from playing one sport to the other. Remember when Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart gave batting practice a try?

That's probably why, when Daniel Murphy and Tottenham Hotspur player Eric Dier got together, Murphy made sure they were playing an entirely new game. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Bernie Sanders shows off baseball skills

|
Bernie Sanders shows off baseball skills

This election year, every candidate will be trying to get your attention with their snazzy campaign ads in which they're acting just like normal people, doing stuff that normal people love. And then, there's this collection of clips released by CCTV, the public-access channel in Burlington, Vt., depicting Vermont Sen. and four-sport star, Bernie Sanders. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Source: Donaldson, Blue Jays reach 2-year deal

Source: Donaldson, Blue Jays reach 2-year deal

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have avoided a potentially contentious arbitration hearing by signing reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson to a two-year contract worth $29 million, a source has told MLB.com.

The agreement was first reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Toronto has yet to comment on the deal, while Donaldson tweeted a rather cryptic message that said, "Mood right now" with a photo of him celebrating after a home run at Rogers Centre.

More

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

Clippard embraces setup role

Newest D-back eager to pitch in 'on any level' team needs

Clippard embraces setup role

PHOENIX -- It may have taken longer than he wanted, but in the end, Tyler Clippard said, he wound up where he wanted to be -- with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The D-backs signed Clippard to a two-year, $12.25 million deal, which includes a $4 million signing bonus, a $4.1 million salary this year and a $4.15 million salary in 2017.

More

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

Healthy Stanton, Jose critical to Marlins' success

Healthy Stanton, Jose critical to Marlins' success

MIAMI -- What could have been never materialized for the Marlins in 2015 for a variety of reasons -- ranging from instability on the coaching staff to inconsistencies of the players, along with a slew of injuries. The season never gained traction, and the team dealt with uncertainties after Mike Redmond was replaced as manager in mid-May by Dan Jennings, who had had no previous professional coaching or managing experience.

If Miami is to contend under new manager Don Mattingly, the organization is banking on its talented core staying healthy. There simply isn't enough depth to withstand any significant injuries to key players. Last season, All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon was the only starter from Opening Day to appear in more than 130 games (145).

More

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

The Internet gets to help Savannah name its new Coastal Plain League team

|
The Internet gets to help Savannah name its new Coastal Plain League team

Like the New Britain Rock Cats before them, a new baseball team in Savannah has resorted to crowdsourcing to find its new identity. (The Rock Cats famously asked the Internet for help in rebranding, and subsequently became the Hartford Yard Goats.)

Continue Reading on Cut4

Source: Tigers, J.D. come to 2-year agreement

Contract valued at $18.5M, covers arbitration seasons

Source: Tigers, J.D. come to 2-year agreement

DETROIT -- The Tigers' streak of settling arbitration cases before a hearing rolls on. The team has reached an agreement with outfielder J.D. Martinez on a two-year contract worth $18.5 million, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Monday.

The club has not confirmed the agreement, which is pending a physical. Robert Murray of Baseball Essential first reported the agreement.

More

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

Baker recalls lessons from Aaron, Gilliam

Nats' new skipper looks back on mentors during Black History Month

Baker recalls lessons from Aaron, Gilliam

WASHINGTON -- When Nationals manager Dusty Baker looks at the wall in his house in California, he is reminded that black history is celebrated every day, not just during Black History Month in February.

There are photos of former player and coach Jim Gilliam, Baker's former coach with the Dodgers; Hall of Famer Hank Aaron; and former Braves farm director and general manager Bill Lucas and his father, Johnnie B. Baker Sr. Baker said he has been successful for more than 50 years in professional baseball because of those people.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pollock, D-backs agree on two-year deal

Pollock, D-backs agree on two-year deal

PHOENIX -- The D-backs on Monday reached agreement with outfielder A.J. Pollock on a two-year contract, which avoids a salary arbitration hearing.

The deal is worth $10.25 million, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

More

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

MLB Showcase puts spotlight on international talent

59 players from 7 countries to participate in 2-day event

MLB Showcase puts spotlight on international talent

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Venezuela's Kevin Maitan, considered by many to be top player available during the upcoming international signing period that starts July 2, is expected to be there.

Outfielder Tirso Ornelas, the best teenage prospect in Mexico, will to be there, too. Right-handed Edisson Gonzalez will take the mound as the best teen pitcher Panama has to offer and outfielder Jeisson Rosario, one of the top outfielders from the Dominican Republic, will roam the grass at Estadio Quisqueya.

More

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Which Yankee would look best with a beard?

|
Which Yankee would look best with a beard?

Spring Training is less than a month away! Let us keep you company until the first pitcher-and-catcher workouts on Feb. 18 with a team-by-team countdown of reasons to get excited for the 2016 MLB season. Today: The New York Yankees.

Previously: PHI | OAK | ATL | DET | CIN | SEA | COL | CWS | MIL | BOS | TB | ARI | MIA | BAL | SD | MIN | SF | CLE | PIT  | LAA | TOR 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Peralta signs Minor League deal with Mariners

Veteran reliever, most recently with Dodgers, gets invite to Spring Training

Peralta signs Minor League deal with Mariners

SEATTLE -- General manager Jerry Dipoto added another contender to the Mariners' rebuilt bullpen on Tuesday, signing veteran right-hander Joel Peralta to a one-year Minor League deal with an invitation to big league camp.

The 39-year-old went 3-1 with three saves and a 4.34 ERA in 29 innings for the Dodgers last year while spending nearly half the season on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder from April through June and a neck sprain in August. He allowed just two runs with 11 strikeouts and no walks over his final nine innings after rejoining the club for the final month and threw a perfect inning in his lone appearance in the National League Division Series.

More

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

Harrison, Kang lead Bucs' comeback candidates

Pirates' infield looking for stability, health in 2016

Harrison, Kang lead Bucs' comeback candidates

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have had a busy offseason, overhauling a quarter of their 40-man roster. They revamped the bottom of their rotation, swapped Pedro Alvarez for John Jaso at first base and continued to add depth to the bullpen.

Still, some of Pittsburgh's biggest improvements in 2016 may come from within. While general manager Neal Huntington acquired several players looking to bounce back from injuries or down years, six returning Pirates also have room to improve this season.

More

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

Network to honor Negro Leagues star Stearns

If you think Ichiro Suzuki's batting stance is unorthodox, you should have seen Norman "Turkey" Stearnes when he stepped into the batter's box in the Negro Leagues. Stearnes was a left-handed hitter who had an open stance with his right heel twisted and his big toe pointed straight up.

But Stearnes' stance at the plate didn't stop him from being one of the best power and leadoff hitters in Negro Leagues history. Stearnes will be spotlighted at 8 p.m. ET tonight on MLB Tonight as MLB Network continues its Black History Month series on prominent players from the Negro Leagues.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baez among Cubs looking to rebound in 2016

Baez among Cubs looking to rebound in 2016

Which Cubs players are looking to bounce back in 2016? As the Cubs count down to Spring Training, MLB.com takes a look at some hot topics, including which players are on the rebound.

After a 97-win season, it would seem that the Cubs didn't have anyone struggle last year, but here are a few players to watch in '16:

More

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.

Strasburg among Nationals on rebound for '16?

Strasburg among Nationals on rebound for '16?

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals need to stay healthy in 2016 if they want to return to the postseason. Last season, 17 players went on the disabled list -- mostly for lengthy periods.

MLB.com takes a look at Nationals players who could be "On the rebound" in 2016. Four of the six players listed below missed time in '15 because of injuries.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rebounds could give Angels boost in 2016

Weaver, Pujols among players looking to bounce back

Rebounds could give Angels boost in 2016

There are two distinct ways you can choose to look at this upcoming Angels team, though the best approach usually resides somewhere in the middle. You can be pessimistic and lament the fact that they didn't attain the marquee bat they needed to keep pace in an ever-improving American League West, or you can be optimistic and consider that they fell one game shy of the postseason last year despite a rough August and underperformances throughout the roster.

A bevy of players -- players with good track records, in fact -- are coming off down years and are in need of a rebound. If they do bounce back, perhaps the Angels will find out that they didn't really need that shiny new left fielder or that accomplished new second baseman.

More

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

3 Brewers in need of a comeback

Veterans Lucroy, Garza and Peralta seek better results in 2016

3 Brewers in need of a comeback

This is the first of a series of stories previewing the 2016 Brewers, beginning with their bounce-back candidates. The series will also look at newcomers to the club, prospects who could contribute, lineup and bullpen possibilities as well as details for fans planning their own visits to Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix. It culminates on Feb. 19, when pitchers and catchers formally report for the start of Spring Training.

MILWAUKEE -- Bounce-back candidates are a good place to begin, since they represent some of the few returning players from a 2015 team that struggled and prompted an organizational rebuild. Here are three players who would love to find themselves bandied about for Comeback Player of the Year by season's end:

More

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays pack for Spring Training on Truck Day

Clubhouse manager prepares gear for transport to Port Charlotte

Rays pack for Spring Training on Truck Day

ST. PETERSBURG -- Under the watchful eye of home clubhouse manager Jose Fernandez, the Rays' clubhouse staff executed "Truck Day" Tuesday morning at Tropicana Field. That translates to Spring Training being just around the corner.

"We're ready to get to Port Charlotte to get started," Fernandez said.

More

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

TV schedule set for Classic's Sydney qualifier

World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) today announced the broadcast schedule for the Sydney, Australia Qualifier, which will be played February 11th-14th at Blacktown International Sportspark. The winner of the Qualifier, which features Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa, will advance to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the fourth installment of the premier international baseball tournament featuring many of the world's greatest players.

Fans in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico will be able to watch the Final of the Qualifier on MLB Network live at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 14th as well as three additional games, including the first game of the host team Australia.

More