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Report: Orioles, Pirates rekindle Travis Snider trade talks


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Orioles and Pirates have revived trade talks regarding Pittsburgh outfielder Travis Snider, a source told The Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are closing in on a framework for a deal for Snider and are encouraged a trade will happen in exchange for one or two minor-league players.

The 26-year-old Snider is in his second year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2016 season. He will make $2.1 million in 2015.


Santana, Escobar to compete to be Twins' starting shortstop


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:56 pm ET) While Danny Santana is considered the front-runner to be the Twins' starting shortstop, first-year manager Paul Molitor said nothing has been decided yet. Santana will compete with Eduardo Escobar for the starting job this spring.

"It's probably been one of the more awkward things for me this winter in dealing with that situation," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "Obviously, I have to go in there open-minded about how it will play out. I can't say Santana will be the shortstop because things can change. Escobar deserves an opportunity to play and whether it's spotting around the organization or he has to go back to shortstop, I can't tell you it all will work out."

Escobar started a team-high 86 games at shortstop in 2014 for Minnesota. He made it clear he wants to play every day, but is willing to play where Molitor needs him.

"This season is important for me," Escobar said. "I'm coming in ready to play. I don't know if I'm going to be the starting shortstop or not, but I've been working hard to be ready for spring training. If Molitor wants me to play shortstop, or wherever, I'm ready for it."

Santana said he is excited he is moving back to shortstop after making a team-high 62 starts in center field last year. He's been fielding 200 grounders per day in the Dominican Republic to get ready for the season.

"I'm very happy about playing shortstop. I was waiting for that moment," Santana said. "Shortstop is my natural position. I just need to keep working and I can do the same thing as last year."


Rockies' Bridich: 'Highly unlikely' Tulo, CarGo traded before opener


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports on Tuesday that it is "highly, highly unlikely" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.

Gonzalez is under contract through the 2017 season on a seven-year, $80 million contract. He is also recovering from surgery in August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee.


Royals OF Jarrod Dyson agrees to $1.225M salary for 2015


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson avoided arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a $1.225 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. He will also receive a $25,000 bonus for 350 plate appearances.

Dyson is in his first year of arbitration. He hit .269 with one home run, 24 RBI and 36 stolen bases in 120 games in 2014.


Infield shifts have become an issue for players like Reds' Bruce


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:46 am ET) Reds outfielder Jay Bruce is not going to use infield shifts as an excuse for his low batting average, but he admits it does play a factor, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"That's definitely taken some hits away from me," Bruce said. "I don't use it as an excuse. But the bottom line is it takes hits away. You smoke a ball up the middle and you think it's a hit. But the shortstop is playing right behind second base.

"It's definitely cut down on average. You look at a player like Mark Teixiera. He was a .300, .280 hitter. You put the shift on him. He's a guy who drives the ball, pull hitter. He uses the other side of the field some. But guys like that are hitting in the .250s."

Bruce added that beating the shift is difficult. 

"Everyone's like, 'Hit a ground ball to shortstop or hit one down the line.' Like you can do whatever you want." he said. "A lot of times, pitchers pitch to the shift. And shifts are getting more sophisticated. In New York, (shortstop Derek) Jeter was playing third, in on the grass. So you can't bunt. Ideally, you want to get a hit. It's hard to do."

Reds hitting coach Don Long said eventually hitters will be taught in the minors to beat the shift.

"Not everybody's going to be the perfect hitter and be able to do everything," he said. "But I think you're going to find guys who want to have the ability to hit to both sides of the field."


Indians want Michael Bourn to get back to his base-stealing ways


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Indians want outfielder Michael Bourn to get back to his base-stealing ways, according to the Plain Dealer

Prior to joining the team, Bourn had compiled five straight seasons with at least 40 steals. Since joining the team, he's stolen 33 bases in two seasons. Injuries have played a role in his decline. Bourn admitted he had some trouble adjusting to the American League in his first season with Cleveland. He tore his hamstring on the final day of the season, and had offseason surgery, but the issue still plagued him in 2014. 

Manager Terry Francona agreed, saying "When he gets on base, he has to disrupt the game." Francona added, "he wants to do it really bad, he just wasn't in position to do it the last couple of years. Hopefully, those injuries are limited and he can use his legs because he's a huge part of what we do."

Bourn, 32, hit .257/.314/.360 over 444 at-bats last year.


Orioles bring in Parmelee, De La Rosa on minor-league deals


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) The Orioles have signed outfielder Chris Parmelee and pitcher Dane De La Rosa on minor-league deals, according to MLB.com.

The 26-year-old Parmelee spent his first four seasons in Minnesota before becoming a free-agent during the offseason. Parmelee hit .256/.307/.384 over 250 at-bats last year.

De La Rosa, 31, pitched just 2 1/3 innings with the Angels last season. He had knee surgery in September.


Mariners planning on batting Smith, Ruggiano in second spot in lineup


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he is tentatively planning to bat the right-field tandem of Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano second in the lineup, per The New Tribune.

The Mariners ranked last in the majors last season in on-base percentage (.260) from their No. 2 hitters. No other team was lower than .279.

Smith had a .367 OBP last season for San Diego, while Ruggiano had a .337 OBP in 81 games for the Cubs.


Mariners' Austin Jackson looking to bounce back in 2015


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) After being acquired by the Mariners at the trade deadline last season, outfielder Austin Jackson struggled to produce for the Mariners. In 54 games, Jackson hit .229 and Jackson said the trade affected his playing ability, reports The News Tribune.

"Not making excuses, but I think getting traded and trying to get used to the travel and the sleep - those things affect your play on the field," Jackson said.

By starting the season in Seattle, Jackson said he hopes to avoid the distractions from last season and he's looking to return to his old form.

"Hopefully, getting started here and staying here, those distractions won't be there," Jackson said.


White Sox OF Avisail Garcia dropped weight during offseason


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/26/2015) White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia dropped roughly 15 pounds during the offseason, according to MLB.com.

"I've been eating healthy, working real hard at the gym, Garcia said. "I have to be ready for spring training. I can't go there and be fat." With the weight loss, Garcia is hoping to keep his power potential. "I don't want to lose speed, I don't want to lose power," Garcia said. "I want to be in the middle. I know I can do a little bit of everything, so that's why I've been working really hard on speed, power, hitting and defense, so I can help my team win."

Garcia hit .244/.305/.413 over 172 at-bats last year.


Angels' Josh Hamilton setting lofty goals for 2015


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is ready to set some lofty goals for 2015, according to MLB.com.

Hamilton said he's aiming to hit .300, with 30 home runs and 100 RBI this year. After struggling through injuries in 2014, Hamilton said his offseason has been mostly normal. The 33-year-old hit .263/.331/.414 over 338 at-bats last year. 


Mariners sign Endy Chavez to minor-league deal


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) The Mariners have signed outfielder Endy Chavez to a minor-league deal, according to the Tacoma News Tribune

The 36-year-old has been linked to the club recently, and finally decided to return. He spent the first month of last season in the minors, but joined Seattle in late May. Chavez hit .276/.317/.371  over 232 at-bats. The deal includes an invite to spring training. 


David Murphy's role unclear for Indians heading into season


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Indians outfielder David Murphy is heading into his second season with the club and is trying to figure out what his role will be with the team.

Murphy said Sunday he got the chance to speak with general manager Chris Antonetti when the team traded for Brandon Moss in December.

"Communication is huge just in general in this game," Murphy said. "It's nice to go into the season knowing how he feels, and I'm sure he's speaking for the front office and the coaching staff. Just having an idea of how they feel about it, and giving me a chance to voice my opinion in how I feel about it, the lines of communication are open. I definitely think that's a good thing. It's kind of hard to know at this point how things are going to fall into place."

Murphy, who hit .262 with eight home runs and 58 RBI in 2014, knows being traded is one option to find playing time.

"I think everybody can logically see that there's only so many spots out there for so many players," Murphy said. "I'm prepared to lose playing time, but not to the point where I'm going to get 150 at-bats. If that's the case, and that's the best-case scenario for them and for me, I'm open to [a trade]. But I feel like this team has a great chance to win, and for that reason, I would love to be here."

Indians manager Terry Francona said recently Murphy will be the right fielder in Cleveland to open the year.

"Well, it's hard to say right now, because we don't know how healthy Swish or Moss are," Francona said. "So right now, Murph's our right fielder. I don't know if that's going to change in the next month or not."


Ryan Braun says his thumb feels 'significantly better'


by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun, who underwent a thumb procedure last October, said his thumb feels "significantly better" than at this time last year, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Braun was plagued throughout last season by a nerve issue at the base of his thumb, the paper noted.

"Knock on wood, I feel great; it feels really good," Braun told reporters.

"Everything is going well. Regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to see how it felt. So far, so good. It feels really good.

"I do everything I regularly do. I don't hit off live pitching but I take regular batting practice like we would during the season, and it feels good. I don't feel anything at all."

Added Braun: "I know it's significantly better than where it was this time last year, which I'm encouraged by. But as I told you guys the last time I saw everybody (at Thanksgiving) the real test will come in spring training, once we've played games for a couple of weeks and that everyday wear and tear. See how it recovers, see how it responds."


Report: Yelich, Hechavarria turn down offers from Marlins


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) The Marlins are no longer discussing multiyear contracts with outfielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, reports the Miami Herald.

A significant gap between Yelich and the Marlins has caused contract talks on a long-term deal to stall. Hechavarria turned down the Marlins' multiyear contract because the offer was not significant enough. He can become a free agent after the 2018 season, while Yelich can become a free agent after 2019.


Citing health, Allen Craig hopes to play well for Red Sox


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) After declaring himself healthy, Red Sox outfielder Allen Craig hopes to justify the Red Sox’s decision to trade for him, reports the Boston Herald.

Craig suffered a ligament tear in his left foot in 2013 and struggled throughout 2014, hitting .215 with eight home runs and 46 RBI.

"I'm just going to go to spring training and compete wherever I'm at and just play the game like I always have," Craig said. "The Red Sox traded for me because they believe in me, so I want to go out there and play well."


Braves encouraged B.J. Upton can bounce back in 2015


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer recently worked with outfielder B.J. Upton and said he's encouraged on the progress Upton has made on his swing, reports MLB.com.

"I feel really, really good about it, because [Upton] was very open to everything that I suggested," Seitzer said. "We had a really good three days together -- three pretty intense days together. I think he feels pretty good about what I'm going to bring, and I feel good about the adjustments he has made."

Upton struggled throughout 2014, hitting .208 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI. With no teams willing to absorb the more than $46 million left on Upton's contract, the Braves have no choice, but to hope Upton can improve his hitting numbers.

"He did great [this week]," Seitzer said. "He made great adjustments, and I'm very encouraged that he's going to be able to come back and play the way he wants to play."

Seitzer added that he worked on Upton's mechanics and approach at the plate and he wants Upton to shorten his swing.

"Any hitter that has a tendency to be long [with their swing], where their hands get away from the body, is going to have a tough time catching up to fastballs," Seitzer said. "They will also be vulnerable to offspeed pitches and inside pitches."


Twins OF Byron Buxton seeking bounce-back 2015 campaign


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Although Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is likely to start the year in Double-A, general manager Terry Ryan said that seeing both Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano debut this season "would be a realistic point of view," according to the Associated Press.

Sano was sidelined in 2014 after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last March. Buxton endured a frustrating injury-riddled 2014 campaign. He has been recovering from a broken index finger and was recently cleared to resume baseball activities.

"We've got to knock off some of the rust that's built up on him, because he hasn't played all that much," Ryan said. "I don't anticipate anything that went on with him last year really affecting him in a negative way. He just didn't get enough at-bats or enough playing time to say it was a developmental year. We lost basically a year with him, and that's not what you like."


Tigers manager Ausmus: Cespedes will hit in heart of the order


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will hit in the heart of the order this season, per the Detroit Free-Press.

Cespedes, 29, was acquired in a December trade with Boston. He batted cleanup in 235 of his 416 career games in the majors. He hit .260 with 100 RBI last season between Oakland and Boston. He owns a .263 average, .464 slugging percentage and .780 OPS in 416 games over three MLB seasons.


Mariners GM: We've had some discussions with Franklin Gutierrez


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Mariners assistant general manager Jeff Kingston indicated that free agent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez is still on the team's radar, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. Gutierrez spent the 2014 season on the restricted list due to ongoing gastrointestinal issues.

"He wants to give it a shot," Kingston said. "Full disclosure, there are some veteran non-roster players we're still talking to, and we probably will add a few more here before the start of camp.

"He is somebody we've had some discussions with. So it is a possibility."


Nationals sign Derrick Robinson to minor-league deal


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Nationals have signed outfielder Derrick Robinson to a minor-league contract, the team announced Friday. 

Robinson played in 102 games for the Reds in 2013, hitting .255 with seven doubles and three triples for the club. He was unable to play in 2014 after injuring his left shoulder, which required surgery.


Twins outfielder Byron Buxton cleared to resume activity


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton has been cleared to resume activity and is hoping to get all of his injuries out of the way, foxsportsnorth.com reports.

Buxton, who is heading into his second season in Minnesota, suffered a broken index finger, which required surgery in October. He is expected to be ready for spring training.


Report: Indians, Orioles showing interest in Nolan Reimold


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Indians are reportedly showing a lot of interest in outfielder Nolan Reimold , according to MASNSports.com. Cleveland is trying to sign the six-year veteran to a minor-league contract with the Orioles still showing interest as well.

The outfielder hit .232 in 69 plate appearances in 2014 with 13 RBI.


Report: Angels no longer in play for Gordon Beckham


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Angels are no longer in play for second baseman Gordon Beckham, reports MLB.com on Friday. The team is now set on having Josh Rutledge, Johnny Giavotella, Grant Green and Taylor Featherston compete for second base/utility at-bats moving forward.

Beckham was non-tendered by the Angels on Dec. 2. He managed a slash line of .227/.271/.348 in 2014.


Braves claim OF Eury Perez off waivers


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Braves announced they have claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees, according to the club's official website

Perez hit .311 with one home run and 20 steals in 212 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse before he was claimed by the Yankees in late-September. He had two hits in 10 at-bats for the Yankees during the final stretch of the 2014 season.


 
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Fan Poll

Which of these third basemen would you want on your teams for the second half?

Nolan Arenado, Rockies
17%
Manny Machado, Orioles
25%
Todd Frazier, Reds
33%
Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
4%
Kyle Seager, Mariners
17%
Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
4%

Total Votes: 3,689