Pirates' Allen Webster: Opportunity knocks for righty
"If we can help him get back on track, he can help our team in a variety of roles," GM Neal Huntington said. The Pirates have spots available in both the rotation and bullpen, but Webster is out of minor league options, meaning he could be lost to waivers if he doesn't make the club out of spring training.
Pirates' Jacob Goebbert: Bench might be best bet
Jake Goebbert is expected to compete for a spot off the bench for Pittsburgh in 2016, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
"He's a versatile left-handed hitter who does some things we like in the batter's box," GM Neal Huntington said. "He could compete to make our club as a bat off the bench." Goebbert could also compete for time as the left-handed part of a first base platoon, especially if Pedro Alvarez is dealt, but his best bet to make the team is as a backup first baseman/outfielder. He also has three minor league options remaining, leaving Pittsburgh flexibility to start him at Triple-A if it finds better options.
Red Sox's Hanley Ramirez: Tells ESPN Deportes he's playing winter ball
Hanley Ramirez told ESPN Deportes that he plans to play winter ball for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Republic, WEEI.com reports.
Ramirez, who will be moved from left field to first base in 2016, said he'll get a jump on the new position, but will mainly serve as a designated hitter for Licey. Meanwhile, Boston general manager Dave Dombrowski said there's no plan in place for Ramirez to play this winter and that the ESPN Deportes report is only a rumor.
Red Sox's Rusney Castillo: Projects to open in left field
Rusney Castillo projects to open 2016 as Boston's starting left fielder, MLB.com reports.
Manager John Farrell indicated Castillo will be in left with Mookie Betts in right, flanking Jackie Bradley in center. Castillo signed a record-breaking $72 million contract in August of 2014, but an oblique injury and Betts' emergence pushed him to Triple-A to start 2015. He eventually came up to hit just .252/.288/.359 in 80 games with the Boston Red Sox , with a .225/.263/.292 line in September. Chances are, Castillo will have to swing his way out of a bottom-third spot in the batting order.
Red Sox's Mookie Betts: Projects to open in right field
Mookie Betts projects to open 2016 as Boston's starting right fielder, MLB.com reports.
The Boston Red Sox seemed pleased with Betts' progress in center last season, but Jackie Bradley is clearly the best defensive outfielder on the team. Bradley is expected to take over in center and push Betts to right, with Rusney Castillo set to start the year in left field. This news does not affect Betts' fantasy outlook for 2016, as his playing time and spot atop the order should be secure no matter where he plays in the outfield.
Braves' Bud Norris: One-year deal with Braves
The 30-year-old received a major-league contract but will take a steep pay cut after making $8.8 million last season. Norris was clobbered to the tune of a 7.06 ERA in 18 appearances (11 starts) for the Orioles last season before being released, and then pitched exclusively out of the bullpen after signing with the Padres in August. It's expected Norris will return to the rotation for the rebuilding Braves.
Red Sox's Jackie Bradley: Projected to open in center field
The Boston Red Sox are leaning toward going with Jackie Bradley as their primary center fielder in 2016, MLB.com reports.
Mookie Betts got better as the season progressed and proved to be a capable center fielder in 2015, but manager John Farrell rightfully acknowledged that Bradley "is the best defensive outfielder" on the team. Betts is expected to move to right, but of course, Bradley will need to continue to hit to maintain a starting role throughout the year. The 25-year-old surprised a lot of people in that regard last season, batting .249/.335/.498 with 10 homers in 74 games with Boston.
Brewers' Ryan Braun: Progressing well from back surgery
Although the initial recovery timetable is out the window, Braun remains optimistic that his offseason program will not be impacted and he will be back at 100 percent for spring training. The 32-year-old is doing physical therapy four days a week for the back, and he said there are no plans at this point for him to undergo another cryotherapy procedure on his thumb. The five-year, $105 million extension Braun signed in 2011 kicks in this season.
Daniel Nava: Elects free agency
Daniel Nava refused his outright assignment to Triple-A Durham and is now a free agent.
The Rays gave Nava a look over the final two months of 2015 after the Red Sox cut bait, but he continued to underwhelm and was ultimately a casualty at last week's Rule 5 roster deadline. While no team was willing to use a waiver claim on Nava, the 32-year-old figures to get a spring training invite from a club in need of outfield depth.
Rays' Brandon Gomes: Outrighted to Triple-A
Brandon Gomes was outrighted to Triple-A Durham on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old made 62 appearances for Tampa Bay last season, posting a 1.19 WHIP and a swinging-strike rate over 11 percent, but it was not enough to maintain his spot at last week's Rule 5 roster deadline. Gomes could still attend spring training as a non-roster invitee, but he figures to have to bide his time at Durham to start the year.