Cuba's Gurriel brothers believed to have defected

Yulieski has been top player on island; Lourdes a top prospect

Cuba's Gurriel brothers believed to have defected

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, are believed to have 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.

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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.

Baseball's on deck: Prepare to pick now!

Supporting cast helps boost Harper past Trout for top spot

Baseball's on deck: Prepare to pick now!

We're roughly two months away from Opening Day, when hope will spring anew at a ballpark near you.

Are you ready to swap sweater weather for fitted hats and baseball stats? If so, we have just what you need. Welcome to MLB.com's Fantasy Player Preview, your one-stop information shop for the upcoming campaign.

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Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

5 players primed for Manning-esque 'last rodeo'

5 players primed for Manning-esque 'last rodeo'

Surrounded by his comrades and confetti, Peyton Manning didn't explicitly say he was retiring after his Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night. But in saying the win was a great way "to cap it off," he certainly hinted that this was his goodbye to the game -- and what a way to go.

Whether any baseball player will make a similarly enchanted exit in 2016 is a matter as-yet-undecided -- not just by the baseball fates, but also in most cases by the players themselves. But here are five who are possibly in position to achieve the ultimate walk-off win.

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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.

D-backs talking contract with reliever Clippard

Right-hander has 2.88 ERA, 53 saves in big league career

D-backs talking contract with reliever Clippard

PHOENIX -- The D-backs have discussed the parameters of a deal with free-agent reliever Tyler Clippard.

"We have talked concepts," D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said on Monday. "We're hopeful we can get something done."

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Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Road to World Baseball Classic starts Down Under

First qualifier for 2017 tournament set for Thursday in Australia

Road to World Baseball Classic starts Down Under

First, it'll be Sydney. Soon enough, it'll be the World.

Baseball's ultimate international tournament is still more than a year away, with the fourth World Baseball Classic slated for 2017. There's a lot to look forward to, including rosters packed with Major League talent.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Finding a common thread among MLB's best teams

Top 5 clubs show player development, smart talent assessment can be key

Finding a common thread among MLB's best teams

Baseball people spend a lot of time thinking about successful organizations. Specifically, is there a common thread running through them? Can success be traced back to spending, drafting, managing or some combination of everything?

With that in mind, let's look at baseball's winningest regular-season teams the past three seasons:

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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.

Week Ahead: Teams prep for Spring Training

Sydney to host World Baseball Classic qualifier; free agents still remain

Week Ahead: Teams prep for Spring Training

The roar of dust and diesel kicks up as football is left in the national sports rearview mirror. Pitchers and catchers are straight ahead, with nothing blocking the roads to get there.

That's what's on tap for the week ahead in Major League Baseball: big rigs following a wonderful procession, carrying the precious gear and belongings of the 30 teams of the American League and the National League all the way to their spring homes in Arizona and Florida.

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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.

Mexico's walk-off HR wins Caribbean Series

Mazatlan defeats Venezuela to give nation third title in four years

Mexico's walk-off HR wins Caribbean Series

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The rhythmic chants began before the first pitch at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.

"Meh-he-co, Meh-he-co, Meh-he-co."

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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.

Indians working on Minor League deal with Stammen

Right-handed reliever to join competition for spot in bullpen

Indians working on Minor League deal with Stammen

CLEVELAND -- After spending his entire career with the Nationals, reliever Craig Stammen is starting a new chapter with the Tribe.

The Indians were in the process on Monday of finalizing a Minor League contract with Stammen, who would receive an invitation to attend Spring Training with the big league club. The veteran right-hander will come into camp with a chance at cracking Cleveland's bullpen, which has a handful of vacancies and a long list of competitors.

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Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. 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.

A's Gray stars in Super Bowl ad with zombies

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A's Gray stars in Super Bowl ad with zombies

Starring in a commercial is pretty cool. But what's cooler? If that commercial airs during the Super Bowl. And what's coolest? If that commercial airs during the Super Bowl and also has zombies in it. Sonny Gray, during Sunday's Super Bowl 50 XFINITY commercial, was the coolest.

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Red Sox counting on rebounds from several players

Red Sox counting on rebounds from several players

MLB.com is providing a multipart Spring Training primer over the next few days that will bring you up to speed on all the key issues as the Red Sox try to bounce back from consecutive last-place finishes.

Fittingly, the first segment will feature the players who are on a mission to have a rebound season.

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

New Orleans set to host third Urban Invitational

New Orleans set to host third Urban Invitational

The Crescent City will again take center stage in Major League Baseball's annual effort to highlight baseball in the inner city. The Urban Invitational is headed back to New Orleans for the third straight season, and it will feature a few youth events as well as six colleges playing at two sites.

The University of New Orleans and the Urban Youth Academy in Pontchartrain Park will serve as the hosts for this year's tourney, which will take place Feb. 19-21. Southern University returns for the ninth straight season, and rival Grambling State will be featured for the fifth time.

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

Enjoy these 10 surprising tales of player-managers who dazzled on the field and in the dugout

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Enjoy these 10 surprising tales of player-managers who dazzled on the field and in the dugout

Winning an MVP is one thing, but doing it while also juggling managerial duties is a different beast entirely. While it's no longer en vogue (much to the chagrin of Jimmy Rollins ), player-managers used to be all the rage (are the kids still saying "all the rage?") in Major League Baseball.

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10 days until Spring Training: Get your very own Marcus Stroman motivational quote

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10 days until Spring Training: Get your very own Marcus Stroman motivational quote

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 Toronto Blue Jays.

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

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Around the Horn: First base

Bour likely to take everyday role, with Johnson as primary backup

Around the Horn: First base

Marlins pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 19 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad workouts get underway on Feb. 24. As the workout dates approach, MLB.com takes a position-by-position look at the 2016 Marlins. The latest installment: First base.

MIAMI -- When the Marlins signed Michael Morse to a two-year contract prior to the 2015 season, Justin Bour had a pretty good idea he would open last year at Triple-A New Orleans. That's how it played out initially, but by midseason, roles had changed.

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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.

Dizzy and Daffy Dean's shoes made sure everyone knew which brother was which

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Dizzy and Daffy Dean's shoes made sure everyone knew which brother was which

Dizzy and Daffy Dean were not twins. Dizzy was two years older and began his career four years before his brother. They didn't even look that similar -- the eldest Dean with a slightly rounder face than his brother, Daffy with a more prominent chin. It wouldn't be impossible to keep the two straight, in other words.

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MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

50 ways to plan for a super MLB season

50 ways to plan for a super MLB season

With a tip of the cap to Super Bowl 50, here's a checklist of 50 things to ponder, plan for, debate, celebrate and track during the 2016 baseball season. Some are on the calendar, some are almost givens, and others hopefully offer a reasonable balance between heart and head. But if any day is about high expectations and hype, it's this one. So on with the show.

Expectations

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

MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

Step into spring: 11 storylines to follow

New managers and top prospects promise plenty of intrigue

Step into spring: 11 storylines to follow

The final whistle at the Super Bowl is also the beginning of the final countdown toward Spring Training. In fact, now that football season is over, there are just 11 days until camps open across Florida and Arizona.

With that in mind, here are 11 storylines to follow during Spring Training:

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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.

Jays hold all-onesie Super Bowl party

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Jays hold all-onesie Super Bowl party

Perhaps the best part of the Super Bowl is getting to watch it with all your friends, ideally while eating enough food to make you immobile for days. Of course, after you've consumed your first mountain of wings, you want to be comfortable.

That's why Marcus Stroman and his Blue Jays crew clearly had the best Super Bowl party idea of all time

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Bryce, Joc among fans at Super Bowl

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Bryce, Joc among fans at Super Bowl

There are a lot of reasons to be jealous of Bryce Harper and Joc Pederson. First of all, they get paid to play baseball! Second, they're both really, really good at baseball. But now you can add another thing to the list -- they were both at Super Bowl 50.

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The most impactful addition in each division

The most impactful addition in each division

The most important offseason additions aren't always the most expensive ones.

A year ago, Kendrys Morales, Brett Anderson and Luke Gregerson all switched teams and were pivotal pieces on postseason-bound clubs.

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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.

Yanks announcer Sterling calls Kitten Bowl III

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Yanks announcer Sterling calls Kitten Bowl III

Perhaps the greatest thing about the Super Bowl isn't the game itself, nor the commercials, nor even the excuse to get together with your friends and revel in gluttony and excess. 

No, it may just be the counterprogramming. After years of having only the Puppy Bowl to watch for football-themed-animal-cuteness, the Hallmark Channel added the Kitten Bowl three years ago. Naturally, it would be announced by Yankees broadcaster John Sterling. 

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Beyonce to perform concert at Citi Field

Singer's Formation tour set for New York on June 7

Beyonce to perform concert at Citi Field

Beyonce is headed to Citi Field.

Just moments after performing in the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, Beyonce announced a new world tour in a television ad spot.

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

Gibbons weighs in on Blue Jays' 2016 outlook

Manager gives updates on bullpen roles, injured players and more to season-ticket holders

Gibbons weighs in on Blue Jays' 2016 outlook

TORONTO -- The success of 2015 apparently has earned Blue Jays manager John Gibbons some goodwill in Toronto, as he was treated to a standing ovation at Thursday night's annual season-ticket holder event, The Leadoff.

"What a difference a year makes," Gibbons said in his typical sense of humor.

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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.

Cardinals in Asia: Oh just first step

Signing of reliever signals long-term commitment to market

Cardinals in Asia: Oh just first step

On the heels of South Korean reliever Seung Hwan Oh signing with the Cardinals, MLB.com began an examination of the organization's decade-long journey back into the Asian market. Earlier installments of this three-part series included a look at the foundation the organization built in Asia, and an inspection of the nuances of scouting there. In this final installment, MLB.com will trace the road to signing Oh and examine what that signing could mean for the organization's future in this market.

ST. LOUIS -- Almost seven years before they would make him the organization's first Asian-born signee since So Taguchi in 2002, the Cardinals laid eyes on a then-26-year-old South Korean reliever pitching inside San Diego's Petco Park in March 2009.

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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.

Angels coloring book will help you relax

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Angels coloring book will help you relax

Spring Training is so, so close. Before you know it, you'll be watching Albert Pujols and Mike Trout smash homers into the lower rungs of the atmosphere. Seriously, we know you're excited, but stop jumping up and down so much! Here, to help you calm down in these last few days before pitchers and catchers begin workouts, we made you these Angels coloring pages. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Scout reminisces about signing Elway, Lynch

Veteran baseball executive renowned for signing multisport athletes

Scout reminisces about signing Elway, Lynch

Gary Hughes was the left fielder on a Serra (Calif.) High School team in the late 1950s that featured future All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi. In addition to being a star shortstop, Fregosi was the star quarterback on Serra's football team, as well as a standout in basketball who also set the California high school record in the triple jump.

Hughes never forgot. As one of the higher-profile scouts in baseball, Hughes always had Fregosi in his mind when he evaluated players, and has become known over the years for his willingness to take a chance on multisport stars.

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

Caribbean Series has place in Cooperstown

Hall of Fame president bringing artifacts back from this year's event

Caribbean Series has place in Cooperstown

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- This year's Caribbean Series has found a home in Cooperstown, N.Y.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum president Jeff Idelson and Jean Fruth, the Hall of Fame's traveling photographer, are on the island this week gathering items and documenting the annual tournament between the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Cuba, an original member of the Caribbean Confederation, is participating in the tournament as a special guest for the third consecutive year.

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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.

Goldy always looking to improve routine

Star first baseman makes small tweaks to offseason program to continue progressing

Goldy always looking to improve routine

PHOENIX -- Given the results from each of his first four full seasons in the big leagues, it is clear that not much, if anything, is lacking in Paul Goldschmidt's offseason workout program. But that doesn't mean the D-backs' first baseman is not always looking for ways to make even the slightest of improvements.

"I have my base program that I've been doing really since the year before I got called up five years ago, and it's basically the same," Goldschmidt said. "Every year, I sit down with Nate Shaw, our strength and conditioning coordinator, and we kind of tweak the program a little bit."

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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.