Source: O's making progress with Gallardo

Source: O's making progress with Gallardo

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are moving closer to landing the best free-agent starter still available: Yovani Gallardo.

An industry source confirmed to MLB.com Wednesday afternoon that Gallardo and Baltimore were in serious contract discussions on a three-year deal that would give the O's a key rotation piece. Gallardo -- who has been on the Orioles' radar all offseason -- has reportedly dropped his desired contract length with Spring Training approaching, and the O's have ramped up their efforts.

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

Qualifier Dundee: WBC competition starts tonight

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

Qualifier Dundee: WBC competition starts tonight

The first leg of the 2017 World Baseball Classic gets underway with the first of four qualifying tournaments starting at Blacktown International Sportspark just outside Sydney on Thursday (9 p.m. ET Wednesday). 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, and all of the games will stream live on MLB.com and WorldBaseballClassic.com. ESPN Pac-Rim will broadcast games across the Oceania region, and the games will also appear on Solar Sports in the Philippines.

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

Champs load up truck for trip to spring home

Royals open Cactus League schedule March 2

Champs load up truck for trip to spring home

KANSAS CITY -- Yet another sign that Spring Training is almost here: It was Royals Truck Day at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday.

Royals clubhouse personnel packed almost 60,000 pounds worth of bats, balls, luggage, video equipment, medical supplies, strength and training equipment, jackets, pine tar, bubble gum, sunflower seeds and much more into an 18-wheeler headed for Surprise, Ariz., in preparation for the beginning of Spring Training next week.

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

Homers' odyssey: Statcast explains epic blasts

These balls managed to leave the yard despite having a high or low launch angle

Homers' odyssey: Statcast explains epic blasts

To hit a home run, a batter must accomplish two main goals.

First, he has to hit the ball hard. Or, in the parlance of Statcast™, he has to generate a high exit velocity. The second piece of the puzzle is perhaps less sexy but, as we have learned, no less important. The batter also must strike the pitch at the proper angle.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Fantasy's top pick: Harper, Trout, Goldy or others?

Fantasy's top pick: Harper, Trout, Goldy or others?

The collective efforts of your rabbit's foot, horseshoe and four-leaf clover have paid off -- you have been tabbed to pick first in your upcoming fantasy draft. But now the real fun begins. Because three players -- Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt -- each present a compelling case to anchor your 2016 squad, the dilemma at the top of the draft is unusually difficult this year. Making the best choice could be the difference between a narrow victory and an agonizing defeat.

Reasons to choose Harper

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Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The clubs that will dictate the int'l market

Padres, Braves, Nationals, Brewers, Cards, Phils, Rangers most aggressive

The clubs that will dictate the int'l market

The start of the international signing period is months away, but teams have been hard at work scouting prospects across Latin America and the Caribbean since last summer in search of future stars.

The Padres, Braves and Nationals have been very aggressive on the international market, and each team expects to have a solid class of prospects for the next international signing period that starts July 2. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Texas have also been very busy and expect to sign a good crop of teenagers.

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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.

Closer Chapman headlines group of newcomers for Yanks

Castro, Hicks, Yates also among fresh faces in New York

Closer Chapman headlines group of newcomers for Yanks

The countdown to Feb. 18, the official report date of Yankees pitchers and catchers, is underway. Activity has already started at the team complex in Tampa, Fla., and anticipation is kicking into high gear for the upcoming season.

In the second installment of our Spring Training preview package, "The New Guys," MLB.com will take a quick glance at some of the players who will be showing up to try on their pinstripes for the first time.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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, one of the most dynamic young talents to come out of Cuba in recent memory, is close to deciding on 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.

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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

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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.

Tigers hope new faces help them return to postseason

Upton, Zimmermann, K-Rod among additions for Detroit

Tigers hope new faces help them return to postseason

DETROIT -- The Tigers head to Spring Training with more prominent new faces than they've brought in over any offseason since 2009, the year after their previous last-place finish. GM Al Avila was part of that offseason, serving as then-general manager Dave Dombrowski's top assistant. This offseason was different.

With a heavy payroll and a difficult economy, the big names acquired that 2008-09 offseason were Edwin Jackson, Gerald Laird, Brandon Lyon and Adam Everett, all brought in on short-term deals. This offseason, the names range from All-Stars like Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Rodriguez, to role players Mike Aviles and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

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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.

Gattis' surgery frees up spring at-bats for others

Duffy, White, Reed and Moran among candidates to get more opportunities at camp

Gattis' surgery frees up spring at-bats for others

HOUSTON -- The loss of designated hitter Evan Gattis, perhaps until the start of the regular season or beyond following surgery to repair a sports hernia, will free up some at-bats this spring. 

The Astros will get a better gauge on up-and-comers like Matt Duffy, Tyler White, A.J. Reed and Colin Moran.

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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.

Oh gets work visa; expected to report on time

Longtime closer in Korea, Japan will serve as Cardinals' setup man in 2016

Oh gets work visa; expected to report on time

ST. LOUIS -- Seung Hwan Oh, the South Korean reliever signed by the Cardinals last month, has received his work visa and is expected to report on Jupiter, Fla., on time for the start of Cardinals Spring Training.

Recent reports out of Oh's home country speculated that the 33-year-old may be delayed from traveling to the U.S. because of an extended visa application process. But he had his interview with South Korean officials late last week, and he has now received the necessary paperwork to travel.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Several new faces for Rays in Spring Training

Dickerson, Pearce and Conger among Tampa Bay's notable offseason additions

Several new faces for Rays in Spring Training

ST. PETERSBURG -- Checking out the new faces in camp is always a big part of the fun of Spring Training. Luckily, the Rays have plenty of offseason additions to get to know over the next two months, each of them looking for a chance to play a significant role for the team in 2015.

Here's a look at some of the new players fans will be able to watch once camp opens in Port Charlotte, Fla.:

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

Donaldson, Blue Jays finalize 2-year deal

Donaldson, Blue Jays finalize 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 $28.65 million.

Donaldson will get $11.65 million this year and $17 million in 2017, the Blue Jays said in announcing the deal on Wednesday. The agreement was initially reported on Monday.

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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.

Price, Kimbrel headline new Red Sox

Elias, Smith and Young round out list of offseason additions

Price, Kimbrel headline new Red Sox

As MLB.com's Spring Training primer continues, it's time to introduce all the new faces on the Red Sox. After a highly productive offseason by president of operations Dave Dombrowski, there are plenty of reasons to be excited.

The pitching staff has a new ace, a new closer and a new setup man. The bench has a new power bat.

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

Phils acquire Featherston from Halos for infield depth

Phils acquire Featherston from Halos for infield depth

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies added some infield depth to their system on Wednesday by acquiring Taylor Featherston from the Angels for a player to be named or cash.

Featherston, 26, hit .162 with a .459 OPS in 169 plate appearances last season. The Angels selected him from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft in 2014, and Featherston remained on the 25-man roster the entire season, despite his lack of production at the plate.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spring's in the air as Truck Day arrives in Pittsburgh

Spring's in the air as Truck Day arrives in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- Snow covered the field at PNC Park early Wednesday morning as winter weather finally settled in along the Allegheny River. But down the dugout stairs, in the tunnel underneath the stands, was one of the first signs of spring.

Wednesday was "Truck Day" for the Pirates. Clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett and his staff packed up a moving truck and sent it on its way to Bradenton, Fla., where the Pirates will begin Spring Training next week. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to work out on Feb. 19, and the first full-squad workout is set for Feb. 23.

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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.

Gattis to miss 4-6 weeks after hernia surgery

Gattis to miss 4-6 weeks after hernia surgery

HOUSTON -- Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis told MLB.com on Tuesday that he will miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia.

Gattis said via text message that he is optimistic he will be ready for the start of the regular season or shortly thereafter, and he hopes to start getting some at-bats in mid- to late March. Astros position players are scheduled to work out for the first time on Feb. 23.

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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.

Dodgers invite Hicks to spring camp

Infielder brings number of non-roster players to 21

Dodgers invite Hicks to spring camp

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have signed infielder Brandon Hicks to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, bringing the total number of invitees to 21.

Hicks, 30, has Major League experience with Atlanta, Oakland and San Francisco, most recently in 2014. He missed three months with injuries last year while at Triple-A Sacramento.

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

Cubs' Madison encourages kids to play

Director of player development calls sport important part of African-American history

Cubs' Madison encourages kids to play

CHICAGO -- Jaron Madison, the Cubs' director of player development, knows how important baseball was to him when he was growing up. He hopes other African-American kids will not only learn from the struggles past ballplayers experienced but also take advantage of what the game has to offer.

"Baseball was a way for young kids to learn teamwork and leadership," Madison said. "That was the biggest thing you took out of it. My dad encouraged us to play all the sports because we learned leadership, teamwork, how to get along with different people, how to be competitive and work toward team goals. I think that part of it gets left out of the big picture. That's such an important part of the development of not only the player but also the person."

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

Happ highlights Blue Jays' newcomers in 2016

Left-handed starter acquired to bolster Toronto's rotation

Happ highlights Blue Jays' newcomers in 2016

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays entered the offseason knowing they would retain one of the best lineups in baseball, but there were plenty of question marks about whether there will be enough pitching to repeat as American League East champions.

No. 1 starter David Price is gone, but his departure created just one of several holes on the pitching staff that needed to be filled. The club had to get better not only in the starting rotation, but also in the bullpen. After several moves, the Blue Jays feel the mission was accomplished.

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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.

Puig tops Dodgers' rebound wish list

Ryu, Grandal, Utley, Crawford among others eyeing '16 bouncebacks

Puig tops Dodgers' rebound wish list

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next week. In anticipation, Dodgers.com presents a series of articles previewing preparations for the 2016 season.

The first installment is "On the Rebound," covering players coming off injuries or disappointing 2015 seasons.

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

Rehabbing Tanaka throws off mound

Yankees right-hander had bone spur removed from elbow in October

Rehabbing Tanaka throws off mound

Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a mound Tuesday, his first time doing so since having arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow in October, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Rothschild told The Associated Press that Tanaka's throwing session took place in New York and that Tanaka's rehab is on schedule. The Yankees have said that the injury dates back to when the 27-year-old pitched in Japan.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Darvish getting stronger physically, mentally

Darvish getting stronger physically, mentally

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish said he is feeling stronger physically than he did before having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last March 17. More importantly, Darvish said he is feeling much better mentally as well.

Darvish, speaking with the media after his rehabilitation workout on Wednesday, admitted that the game started becoming a grind over the past few years, and he wasn't enjoying it as much. The time off has made a difference.

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

Get hyped for the 2017 WBC Qualifiers

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Get hyped for the 2017 WBC Qualifiers

Play in the 2017 World Baseball Classic technically begins this year, 2016, on Thursday in Sydney, Australia. The first qualifying matchup between South Africa and New Zealand starts at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night and will be streamed live on MLB.com. Then, the Philippines will take on Australia on Thursday at 3:30 a.m. ET -- which you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com:

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MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

5 bats could shape how NL West is won

5 bats could shape how NL West is won

The Dodgers and Giants have ruled the National League West in recent seasons with dominant pitching, but the division also houses some serious offense. The Rockies and D-backs scored the most runs in the league in 2015, with the Giants coming in fifth.

Let's zero in on five pivotal NL West bats heading into Spring Training.

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Lyle Spencer is a columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers, Moreland avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

Rangers, Moreland avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers avoided an arbitration hearing with first baseman Mitch Moreland almost at the last hour on Wednesday by agreeing on a contract for 2016. The deal is for $5.7 million, according to a source.

The agreement came after midnight, hours before Moreland was to have his arbitration hearing in Phoenix.

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

McCann gushes over 'pen trio at Munson Awards

Yanks catcher honored at dinner alongside Miller, Familia, Orosco, Abbott

McCann gushes over 'pen trio at Munson Awards

NEW YORK -- Brian McCann can't stop thinking about the possibilities.

Dellin Betances in the seventh inning, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

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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.

White Sox sign righty Latos to 1-year deal

White Sox sign righty Latos to 1-year deal

CHICAGO -- The White Sox strengthened the back end of their starting rotation by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with right-hander Mat Latos, the club announced on Tuesday.

If the White Sox get the Latos who pitched from 2010-13 with the Padres and Reds, then they might have done more than just strengthen the fourth or fifth starter's spot. Latos posted a 51-35 record with a 3.27 ERA during that four-year-stretch, making at least 31 starts and pitching at least 184 innings in each of those four seasons.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Around the Horn: Shortstop

Marlins can expect Gold Glove-caliber defense from Hechavarria

Around the Horn: Shortstop

Pitchers and catchers begin Spring Training for the Marlins on Feb. 19 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad workouts get underway on Feb. 23. As the workout dates approach, MLB.com takes a position-by-position look at the 2016 Marlins. The latest installment: Shortstop.

MIAMI -- For five months in 2015, Adeiny Hechavarria was a model of consistency. The flashy Marlins shortstop was enjoying his finest all-around big league season -- productive at the plate while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

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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 and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.