Valverde seems Detroit-bound
A report by FoxSports.com said the D-backs' interest in Jose Valverde "has waned," which means the Tigers look like the most likely destination for the free-agent closer. Valverde, the top closer left in the market, has been reportedly looking for an annual salary of $8 million -- the same he made with the Astros in 2009 -- as part of a multiyear deal. FoxSports.com reported that the Tigers have indeed made an offer to the 30-year-old right-hander and look to have the greatest need for a closer after losing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon to the free-agent market. The Web site added, however, that it's not likely that the Tigers met Valverde's asking price -- not even on a one-year deal. Last week, Yahoo! Sports reported that four offers have come in for the National League's '07 and '08 saves leader.
Pirates, Church agree to deal
The Pirates added some depth in their outfield by agreeing to deal with Ryan Church, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The deal is still pending a physical which is more than just a formality because Church battled back injuries last year that limited to him to only 111 games. Church hit .273 with four homers and 40 RBIs for the Mets and Braves in 2009, then was non-tendered by Atlanta in December. In Pittsburgh, he figures to be in the mix with Garrett Jones and Brandon Moss to play right field. The 31-year-old left-handed hitter's only full season as an everyday player was with the Nats in '07, when he hit .272 with 15 homers and 70 RBIs in 144 games.
Dodgers, Mets suitors for Pineiro?
Right-hander Joel Pineiro's top two suitors are reportedly the Dodgers and Mets, as AOL Sports reported the Mets are talking with Pineiro about a two-year deal worth $15 million while Yahoo Sports reported the Dodgers are trying to work on a deal with the free agent pitcher despite their financial limitations this offseason. Pineiro was reportedly looking for a deal similar to the three-year, $29.75 million contract Randy Wolf received from the Brewers. A noted groundball pitcher, Pineiro went 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA with just 27 walks in 214 innings in 2009.
Cubs making a run at Sheets?
Right-hander Ben Sheets, who missed the entire 2009 season because of elbow surgery, is being looked at by the Cubs, according to the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper reported that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry talked to Sheets' representatives at the Winter Meetings and that the club is interested in signing the former ace to an incentive-laden deal.
Chapman sweepstakes yield surprise winner
It turns out the Aroldis Chapman saga had a last-minute twist: The Reds wound up being his first Major League team.
In a surprise move on Sunday, Cincinnati swooped in and grabbed the heralded Cuban defector, signing him to a six-year, $30.25 million deal, Major League sources told MLB.com. The Red Sox (at about $15.5 million) were the first to reportedly bid on Chapman, and the Marlins (in the $13 million to $16 million range) reportedly staked their claim, too. But through the weekend, it was the Blue Jays and Angels that were said to be leading the race, as El Nuevo Herald -- a Spanish-based newspaper in South Florida affiliated with The Miami Herald -- reported that Toronto offered $23 million and the Angels were somewhere close to that figure.
But the Reds crept in unnoticed and finished on top. Cincinnati hadn't made a splash this offseason, non-tendering Jonny Gomes and restructuring Scott Rolen's contract. But that didn't shy them away from Chapman, who throws a triple-digit fastball, but likely needs seasoning in the Minor Leagues. The 21-year-old left-hander could form a dynamic starting staff with Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang.
Vlad in Texas; so is Greene
The Rangers signed Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011 on Monday. The salary is expected to be between $5.5 million and $6 million with a $1 million buyout for the option. In Guerrero, the Rangers get their much-desired right-handed-hitting middle-of-the-order threat. Guerrero, 35 on Feb. 9, is expected to be the team's designated hitter, as Texas is set in the outfield with Josh Hamilton in left, Julio Borbon in center, Nelson Cruz in right and Daniel Murphy as the fourth outfielder. Guerrero, who has compiled a .321 batting average and 407 home runs in 14 seasons in the big leagues, could bat cleanup behind Hamilton.
While inking Guerrero, Texas was able to work out a one-year deal with free-agent shortstop Khalil Greene, who is expected to be the club's utility player. By signing to a one-year, $750,000 contract, the 30-year-old fills the role held by Omar Vizquel in 2009.
Giants sign Huff
The Giants found their left-handed hitter on Sunday, when they signed Aubrey Huff to a one-year contract. The 33-year-old will likely occupy first base, meaning Pablo Sandoval will play third base and the newly acquired Mark DeRosa will man left field. The club now has several players who can play multiple positions, including DeRosa, Juan Uribe and Huff, who has also spent plenty of time at third base and right field. As of now, Huff might be the No. 5 hitter in San Francisco's lineup. He made $8 million in 2009, when he hit for a career-low .241 batting average while with the Orioles and Tigers, but likely got a more modest figure from the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft wrote.
Davis would like to pitch in DC
Free-agent left-hander Doug Davis told MLB.com's Bill Ladson on Sunday night that he would like to pitch for the Nationals, but he's been informed the team had to address other needs, such as finding a second baseman, so it's unlikely that the two sides convene. Davis, 34, admitted, "Things are going slow for me [in the free-agent market] because I'm fifth or sixth down the line [when it comes to] starting pitching." The Nats already added Jason Marquis to the rotation, and Davis said that perhaps "when they find a second baseman, they can come back around to their starting pitching." Washington has reportedly been interested in Orlando Hudson.
Washburn says 'no' to Twins' offer
ESPN.com confirmed a report from last week stating that free-agent starter Jarrod Washburn turned down a one-year, $5-million offer from the Twins. Washburn was solid with the Mariners at the start of the 2009 season, going 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA in his 20 starts, but struggled to a 7.33 ERA in eight starts after being traded to the Tigers while dealing with a knee injury. The 35-year-old left-hander had knee surgery early in the offseason and is expected to be ready by Spring Training. In an interview with MLB.com's Kelly Thesier on Wednesday, Washburn said Minnesota is "definitely one of the teams at the top of my list of places I'd like to end up." But The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Friday that talks between the Twins and the Wisconsin product are ""pretty much dead" since the initial offer was turned down a week before.