Top Cuban prospect Gurriel Jr. dreams of MLB

22-year-old playing for home country in Caribbean Series

Top Cuban prospect Gurriel Jr. dreams of MLB

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. can still recall the clothes he was wearing on the best day of his life: a white short-sleeved button-down shirt with a red stripe down the middle over the buttons, stylish black pants with rips across the knees and white high-top tennis shoes.

The aviator-style sunglasses were wiped clean, and the haircut was fresh. His big silver watch was polished.

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

Blue Jays hoping to swing deals with sluggers

Bautista, Encarnacion contracts are high priority for club

Blue Jays hoping to swing deals with sluggers

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have a lot of heavy lifting to do this spring and most of the action will be taking place away from the field, in contract negotiations with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Toronto president Mark Shapiro went on record Thursday night to confirm contract talks with two sluggers will take place during Spring Training. First things first, the Blue Jays need to settle Josh Donaldson's arbitration case but the focus will shift quickly after that.

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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.

Bryant swims with sharks, Cubs fans swallow hard

NL Rookie of the Year posts dramatic video on Instagram

Bryant swims with sharks, Cubs fans swallow hard

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant may have given manager Joe Maddon an idea for an in-season stunt -- and also given Cubs fans a scare by swimming with sharks in Hawaii.

Bryant posted a video on Instagram that features at least three sharks very close to the National League Rookie of the Year, who, thankfully, is safely in a protective cage.

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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.

Hammer timeless: On birthday, Aaron's feats still awe

Hall of Famer turns 82, same year as Milwaukee's last WS appearance

Hammer timeless: On birthday, Aaron's feats still awe

Hall of Famer Hank Aaron celebrated his birthday on Friday, providing the baseball world with another chance to marvel at his many accomplishments.

This Oct. 3 will be the 40th anniversary of Aaron's final game, for the Brewers against the Tigers at Milwaukee's County Stadium. And it just so happens that Aaron is turning 82, which is fitting since 1982 is the last year Milwaukee made it to the World Series. Over the course of his 23 seasons, Aaron played in the city for two different franchises, the Braves (1954-65) and Brewers (1975-76).

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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.

Equipment trucks head south for Spring Training

Equipment trucks head south for Spring Training

The unofficial road to Spring Training began on Friday for three clubs.

A pair of moving trucks left Progressive Field in Cleveland for a cross-country trip to Goodyear, Ariz.; one from U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side of Chicago headed to Glendale, Ariz.; and one left Coors Field in Denver, bound for Scottsdale, Ariz.

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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.

Fearsome 5: Statcast's hardest-hitting lineups

These clubs figure to pack the most punch in 2016

Fearsome 5: Statcast's hardest-hitting lineups

It may have taken a bit longer than usual, but the majority of this offseason's top free-agent sluggers have found landing spots for 2016, while some teams went to the trade market to work on their lineups. Either way, by now most teams have a pretty solid idea of what their projected starting lineups look like.

With that in mind, let's use Statcast™ to take a look at which clubs figure to boast the hardest-hitting overall lineups. Though any number of offensive statistics can be used to create a formula geared toward 2016 projections, this ranking is simply based upon each player's average exit velocity from last season.

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

Mexico tops P.R. with big 8th, moves to 4-0

Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan clinched the top seed in the semifinals with the 8-4 victory against Puerto Rico's Cangrejeros de Santurce in the first game of the Caribbean Series on Friday afternoon.

Mexico (4-0) will play the winner of Friday night's matchup between Cuba (0-3) and the Dominican Republic (0-3) on Saturday night. Puerto Rico (2-2) will face Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua (3-1) in the first semifinal game Saturday afternoon.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

Miggy's bat on par with Hammerin' Hank's

Statistical breakdown reveals similarities between greats

Miggy's bat on par with Hammerin' Hank's

Of all the players in MLB history, there is only one -- Hank Aaron -- who resides in the all-time top 10 in all of the following categories: runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits. Aaron, who turns 82 years old today, resides even closer to the top in most of these selected departments: fourth in runs; third in hits; second in home runs; and lifetime leads in RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits.

To many, Aaron's accomplishments seem unapproachable, but there is one active player who has been matching strides with Hammerin' Hank in a number of columns: Miguel Cabrera.

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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.

O's agree with closer Britton, avoid arbitration

One-year deal reportedly worth $6.75 million

O's agree with closer Britton, avoid arbitration

The Orioles and left-hander Zach Britton have agreed to a one-year, $6.75 million contract to avoid arbitration.

The club has not confirmed the deal.

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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.

Arrieta, Cubs reportedly set for arb hearing

Arrieta, Cubs reportedly set for arb hearing

CHICAGO -- National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and the Cubs are reportedly scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Tuesday.

Arrieta, 29, submitted a request for $13 million, while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The difference is the largest of any arbitration case this year. The right-hander made $3.63 million in 2015.

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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.

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.

Beckham rooting for good friend Cam

Rays share their Super Bowl picks and plans

Beckham rooting for good friend Cam

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will be tuning in Sunday when the Carolina Panthers play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

While some might not have an allegiance to either team, Tim Beckham does not fall into that category. The Rays infielder is solidly behind Carolina, as he noted that he would be "going with the Panthers, because Cam's my boy."

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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.

Clock ticking on locking up Donaldson

Blue Jays hope to sign AL MVP to extension before arbitration hearing

Clock ticking on locking up Donaldson

TORONTO -- The clock is ticking, but the Blue Jays apparently have not abandoned hope that 2015 American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson can be signed to a multiyear contract extension before his arbitration case is heard later this month.

Arbitration dates are expected to remain confidential until a ruling is announced, but Donaldson's case will be heard on Feb. 15, according to a report by FoxSports.com. That leaves little time for Toronto and Donaldson to reach an agreement, but the sides are talking.

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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.

Piniella returning to Reds as senior adviser

Piniella returning to Reds as senior adviser

CINCINNATI -- The last manager to win a World Series with the Reds is back with the club in a consulting role. It was announced Friday that Lou Piniella will be a senior adviser to baseball operations, and he is expected to spend some time with the team during Spring Training.

Piniella, 72, spent 23 seasons as a Major League manager following his playing career and posted a record of 1,835-1,713.

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

MLB Network ranks top 2B right now

Altuve leads Shredder's list; Kenny, Reynolds go with Cano

MLB Network ranks top 2B right now

Second base is home to some of the best defensive players in all of baseball, providing countless highlight-reel plays each season. The position also features some of the game's most steady and productive hitters.

MLB Network chronicled many of these dual threats Thursday night, unveiling its top 10 second basemen. The rankings are based on results from "The Shredder" -- an algorithm based on player performance that accounts for both offense and defense that was put together by MLB Network's research department "without emotion or bias." Host Brian Kenny and guest host Harold Reynolds also provided their top 10s.

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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.

Royals' Davis tops list of best relievers

Royals' Davis tops list of best relievers

The emphasis on having dominant arms in the bullpen has perhaps never been more important than it is today.

Take for instance the Royals, who have ridden their tremendous relief core to back-to-back World Series appearances and a championship this past fall. Or the Yankees, who already had two of the most dominant relief pitchers in the game and yet still acquired another this offseason.

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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.

Kendrick happy to be back with Dodgers

Kendrick happy to be back with Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Howie Kendrick isn't happy with the way free agency treated him, but he insists he's happy to be back with the Dodgers anyway.

Kendrick re-signed with the Dodgers this week for two years and $20 million after rejecting a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer because he expected a robust market that never materialized.

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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.

Fatcast: Kiermaier vs. 35 oz. ribeye

Don't have a cow; Rays outfielder raises money for charity

Fatcast: Kiermaier vs. 35 oz. ribeye

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Enough food to fuel a family reunion adorned the table in front of where Kevin Kiermaier sat, awaiting his charity challenge.

The Rays center fielder's task: Take down the feast prepared and served at Clearwater's Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill.

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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.

Mariners TV voice Sims talks Black History Month

Sims shares importance of recognizing African-American contributions

Mariners TV voice Sims talks Black History Month

SEATTLE -- February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in U.S. history. Veteran journalist Dave Sims, who is preparing for his 10th season as the Mariners' television play-by-play announcer, took time this week to talk about the importance of Black History Month, as well as remembering the notable accomplishments of black Americans in Major League Baseball.

Sims, 62, is a two-time Emmy Award winner who began his career as a sports writer for the New York Daily News before going on to play-by-play work on radio and television covering the NFL, college basketball and MLB.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Embarrassment of riches: MLB's deepest positions

Certain clubs have an influx of young and veteran talent

Embarrassment of riches: MLB's deepest positions

Too many bills to pay? That's always a problem. Ditto too much grass to mow or too much snow to shovel.

But too many productive players for one position? Not even a first-world problem.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. 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.

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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.

Around the Horn: Bucs' 'Dream' outfield

McCutchen, Marte, Polanco return as Trio Grande

Around the Horn: Bucs' 'Dream' outfield

With Spring Training just around the corner, it's time for an in-depth look at the Pirates' 2016 roster. This is the fourth of a six-part series checking in on each position. After covering their catchers, first basemen and infielders, let's look at the outfield.

PITTSBURGH -- This is about as simple as it gets. No new faces. No position battles. Just Andrew McCutchen flanked by Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco -- arguably the best outfield trio in the Majors.

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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.

Angels claim Friedrich from Rockies

Lefty will compete for bullpen role; Featherston DFA'd

Angels claim Friedrich from Rockies

ANAHEIM -- The Angels claimed lefty reliever Christian Friedrich from the Rockies on Friday and designated infielder Taylor Featherston for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster. Friedrich, who is out of options, will compete for a bullpen role in Spring Training. Featherston could be lost to another club, 14 months after getting selected in the Rule 5 Draft.

The 28-year-old Friedrich has posted a 5.81 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 2.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 167 1/3 innings in the Majors from 2012-15, but those numbers are likely inflated by the hitter-friendly conditions of Coors Field. Left-handed hitters have posted only a .678 OPS against him, compared to .908 for righties.

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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.

Indians catch spring fever on Truck Day

Indians catch spring fever on Truck Day

CLEVELAND -- A pair of moving trucks pulled out of Progressive Field on Friday morning, beginning the annual cross-country journey from Cleveland to Goodyear, Ariz. There is no word yet whether the trucks saw their shadows, but spring is definitely arriving fast for the Indians.

"I don't know what they're talking about with this Punxsutawney Phil," quipped Marty Bokovitz, the Indians' assistant home clubhouse manager. "This is the first day of spring right here, isn't it? When the trucks roll out, everybody gets excited. Spring is starting. Baseball's back. It should be a holiday."

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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.

Close friends Betts, Bogaerts poised to lead Sox

Young stars are looking to build on excellent 2015 seasons

Close friends Betts, Bogaerts poised to lead Sox

BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts are just six days apart in age, having both been born during the first week in October 1992. And as the two ultra-talented players enter their age-23 seasons, they might be ready to take center stage for the Red Sox.

Sure, you'll hear plenty over the next few weeks about newly acquired star pitchers David Price and Craig Kimbrel. There will be a lot of talk about the great David Ortiz entering his final season. Dustin Pedroia, the gritty second baseman, will again be a focal point of Red Sox Nation.

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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.

Hoover to get $1.4M in arbitration decision

Righty reliever went 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 67 games last season

Hoover to get $1.4M in arbitration decision

CINCINNATI -- For the first time in more than a decade, the Reds on Thursday argued in an arbitration hearing against one of their players in reliever J.J. Hoover. On Friday, the arbitration panel ruled in favor of Hoover.

The right-hander will receive $1.4 million in his one-year contract for 2016. The club had submitted a figure of $1.225 million. The last time the Reds went to an arbitration hearing against a player was 2004, when they won their case against pitcher Chris Reitsma.

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

Wilson on Bonds, Black History Month

Wilson on Bonds, Black History Month

Preston Wilson, who played 10 seasons in the big leagues, was a Marlins outfielder from 1998-2002. The 41-year-old is now a Marlins analyst for FOX Sports Florida.

I'm glad Black History Month exists so the accomplishments of African-Americans in all walks of life can be acknowledged. But to me, it's a shame that many of these achievements are not just part of history.

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Spring not far away as truck heads to Arizona

White Sox pack up camp necessities for trip out west

Spring not far away as truck heads to Arizona

CHICAGO -- Special cargo was loaded on the White Sox equipment truck moving from Chicago to Glendale, Ariz., last February, as Paul Konerko's home clubhouse locker made the journey.

That delivery became possible with all of the lockers being removed during a remodel at U.S. Cellular Field. But when that truck departed Friday afternoon from the South Side of Chicago, it was business as usual.

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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.

Rumor roundup: Active O's pursuing Gallardo

Right-hander is one of biggest names left on free-agent market

Rumor roundup: Active O's pursuing Gallardo

The Baltimore Orioles accounted for much of the offseason action Thursday, announcing a trade with the Padres for righty Odrisamer Despaigne, avoiding arbitration with left-hander Brian Matusz and surfacing in free-agent rumors.

Even throughout the quiet weeks of the baseball calendar, the Hot Stove continues to burn. Here's a look at the latest developments from around the big leagues.

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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.

Top prospects among Yanks' 25 non-roster invitees

Judge, Mateo and Kaprielian set to attend Major League camp

Top prospects among Yanks' 25 non-roster invitees

NEW YORK -- The Yankees announced on Friday that they have invited 25 players to Major League Spring Training, including outfielder Aaron Judge, infielder Jorge Mateo and right-hander James Kaprielian, who have been rated as the organization's top three prospects by MLB Pipeline. Judge and Mateo also landed on MLB Pipeline's list of the Top 100 Prospects of 2016.

Judge turns 24 in April, and his appearance at the big league camp will provide the organization with another look at one of the most physically imposing prospects in baseball. He led all Yankees Minor Leaguers with 20 homers and 72 RBIs in 2015 and, though slated to begin the year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could make his big league debut this summer.

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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.