Phillies' Maikel Franco: Focused on conditioning this offseason
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(1/20/2017) Franco said he spent the offseason focusing on his conditioning, Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice reports. "I've lost five to seven pounds right now," Franco said. "I feel better. I feel great. My body is in good shape right now."

Every year before spring training there are stories of athletes claiming they are in the best shape of their life. Improved conditioning does not necessarily equate to improved performance on the field, but it is good to see Franco, who is entering his third season, focused on making improvements to try to become a better player. Franco had a solid first half last season, hitting .269 with 18 homers, but he slumped after the All-Star break and finished with an OPS more than 100 points lower than in 2015. The Phillies have added some additional offensive firepower this offseason in Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick, which will help take some pressure off of Franco. He has the talent to reach 30 homers this season if he puts everything together.

Angels' Luis Valbuena: Agrees to multi-year deal with Angels
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(1/20/2017) Valbuena and the Angels are in agreement on a two-year deal with a club option, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports.

There's no word yet on the terms of the deal, but Valbuena figures to get rewarded for his surprise season in 2016 in which he hit a strong .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs in 342 plate appearances. It's worth noting that Valbuena was forced to undergo season-ending hamstring surgery in August, but all reports indicate he should be ready for spring training. Valbuena could end up all over the infield with the Angels, given that first and third base already have C.J. Cron and Yunel Escobar and that the 31-year-old probably doesn't have the range to regularly field second base anymore.

Athletics' Ryon Healy: Expected to play mostly first base, DH in 2017
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(1/18/2017) Athletics general manager David Forst suggested Wednesday that Healy would see most of his at-bats at first base and designated hitter in 2017,'s Jane Lee reports.

Healy wasn't viewed as a high-end prospect in the organization heading into 2016, but upon getting promoted to the big leagues in mid-July, he quickly established himself as a building block for the Athletics, finishing with a .305/.337/.524 slash line in 283 plate appearances. He's still expected to see something resembling full-time starting duties during the upcoming season, but after the Athletics officially inked Trevor Plouffe to a one-year contract Wednesday, it looks like he'll have to move to the other side of the diamond after playing primarily third base during his rookie campaign. Opposing starting pitching will likely dictate whether Healy slots in as a first base or DH option in most games, though regardless of how he's deployed, the 25-year-old looks like he could be an underrated power asset after flashing major skills in that area in his first exposure to big-league pitching.

Athletics' Trevor Plouffe: Confirmed as primary third baseman
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(1/18/2017) Athletics general manager David Forst confirmed Wednesday that Plouffe would serve as the team's primary third baseman this season, CSN Bay Area's Joe Stiglich reports.

The Athletics officially inked Plouffe to a one-year contract Wednesday after he agreed in principle to the deal a week earlier, and management immediately helped clear up any ambiguity of the 30-year-old's role with his new team. Though Ryon Healy found success as the team's everyday third baseman in the second half of last season, he's expect to split most of his time between first base and DH in 2017, opening up the hot corner for Plouffe, who had been a full-time player for the Twins for much of his seven seasons in the majors. Plouffe is coming off a season in which he hit a career-best .260 over 319 at-bats, but a 31-point drop in ISO and a variety of injuries ultimately made him a disappointment for fantasy owners. The move to Oakland probably won't aid Plouffe's power numbers, but better health alone may be enough to make him a capable corner infield option in AL-only leagues or deeper season-long formats.

Tigers' Michael Almanzar: Signs minor league contract with Tigers
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(1/17/2017) Almanzar signed a minor league contract with the Tigers on Tuesday, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports.

The 26-year-old, who has never appeared in the majors before, batted .241/.297/.380 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI across 410 at-bats with the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate last season. Although he has shown improvement across the board, Almanzar will likely stay in Triple-A another year.

Astros' Alex Bregman: Playing the WBC
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(1/16/2017) Bregman will represent the United States in the World Baseball Classic, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports.

The 22-year-old Bregman, Houston's first-round pick (second overall) in 2015, has been a quick-riser through the system. After beginning 2016 at Double-A Corpus Christi, he worked his way up to MLB, where he held his own in 49 games. He's expected to start the 2017 as the Astros' starting third baseman with a spot in the upper half of the batting order.

Padres' Yangervis Solarte: Signs extension with Padres
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(1/13/2017) Solarte and the Padres agreed to a two-year contract extension, with team options for two additional years, on Friday.

The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the contract buys out two of Solarte's arbitration year and could be extended through 2020 at the Padres' discretion. Solarte is coming off his best year with the bat, one which saw him hit .286/.341/.467 with 15 home runs and 71 RBI over just 109 games. He will head into the 2017 season as the Padres' regular third baseman, and figures to slot into a spot near the top of the Padres' batting order.

Rangers' Jurickson Profar: Avoids arbitration
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(1/13/2017) Profar and the Rangers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.005 million contract on Friday, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Profar will earn nine figures for the first time in his career in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He appeared in a career-high 90 games for the Rangers last year and came out of the gate hot after joining the big club in late May, but he struggled over the season's final months and finished with just a .660 OPS. He figures to see action at several positions in 2017, but he is likely going to have to hit more to see steady action at one spot, barring an injury to one of the Rangers' regulars.

Tigers' Nick Castellanos: Avoids arbitration
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(1/13/2017) Castellanos agreed to a one-year contract with the Tigers on Friday, avoiding arbitration.

The terms of the agreement were not announced. He posted a .285/.331/496 slash line with 18 home runs in 110 games, but a hand injury limited his availability in the second half. The batting average could regress a bit, but Castellanos could top his counting stats from last season if he can remain healthy.

Giants' Eduardo Nunez: Avoids arbitration
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(1/13/2017) Nunez agreed to a one-year, $4.2 million deal with the Giants on Friday, avoiding arbitration, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reports.

He is coming off a huge year, but as it was his first year with regular playing time since 2011, he would not have been handsomely rewarded in the arbitration process. Nunez enters 2016 as the Giants' everyday third baseman. He should hit in the back half of the lineup.

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