Cubs' Pierce Johnson: Developed changeup in 2015
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/7/2016) Johnson took advantage of his time off with injuries to work on his changeup in 2015, the Cubs' official site reports. "I was able to throw it for strikes, and that was huge," he said of the pitch. "Just having the confidence in that pitch made it that much better."

The Cubs have been trying to get Johnson to develop a third pitch ever since he was drafted in 2012, and he finally looks like he has one to go with fastball and slider. He's already one of the better pitching prospect in the system, but his rise to the majors has been stalled a bit. Don't be surprised to hear his name a bit more in 2016.

Padres' Fernando Rodney: Dealing with leg tightness
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/6/2016) Rodney was taken out of a Caribbean Series game earlier this week as a precautionary measure after feeling some leg tightness,'s Jesse Sanchez reports.

This came a day after the Padres agreed to terms with Rodney to presumably get the first crack at closing for them this year. In three games this month for the Dominican Republic he has allowed three runs (one earned) and struck out five. There is no reason to believe the injury is anything serious, but it's worth noting as spring training approaches.

Reds' J.J. Hoover: Wins arbitration case, signs one-year deal with Reds
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/5/2016) Hoover won his arbitration case and signed a one-year, $1.4 million contract with the Reds on Friday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.

The Reds were hoping to only pay Hoover $1.225 million, but the arbitrators ruled in favor of the pitcher. Now that his case is over, Hoover can get back to focusing on locking down the closer job for the Reds.

Padres' Ryan Butler: Suspended 50 games for second positive drug test
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/4/2016) Butler has been suspended for 50 games following a second positive test for a drug of abuse, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Butler is one of the Padres' better pitching prospects, as he already reached the Double-A level in his second professional season. Butler moved up quickly thanks to his ability to keep the ball in the park (two home runs allowed in two years), but his progression will have to wait until his suspension is completed in late May.

Padres' Fernando Rodney: Named favorite to close
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/4/2016) Manager A.J. Preller indicated Thursday that Rodney continues to display velocity consistent with previous seasons, and currently appears to be the favorite for the closer job, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The 38-year-old reliever struggled in the role with the Mariners last season, but was eventually moved to the Cubs and finished the season strong (0.75 ERA, 1.00 WHIP with 15 strikeouts in 12 innings). Preller said that there's been "nothing promised" to Rodney, indicating he'll still likely need to earn the job in spring training. However, it appears he'll enter camp in the driver's spot for the role, with Kevin Quackenbush considered the top alternate to serve in that capacity should Rodney fail to impress in spring training.

Mets' Jeurys Familia: Agrees to one-year deal with Mets, avoids arbitration
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/3/2016) Familia agreed to a one-year, $4.1 million deal with the Mets on Wednesday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.

The 26-year-old righty took advantage of his opportunity as the Mets' closer last season, notching 43 saves to become the third-most prolific closer in baseball for the 2015 campaign. He'll enjoy a significant pay raise based on the merits of his impressive effort in 2015, going up to $4.1 million from $523,925. Familia figures to enter spring training with a strong hold on the closer's role.

Phillies' Yoervis Medina: Traded to Phillies on Wednesday
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/3/2016) Medina was traded to the Phillies on Wednesday.

There was speculation that the return for former-first rounder Jesse Biddle was not just a player to be named later, and that speculation proved to be correct. Medina is the piece headed to Philadelphia, where he'll try to compete for a spot in the very youthful Phillies bullpen, although could very likely spend most of 2016 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Reds' J.J. Hoover: Not locked in as the closer
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/1/2016) Hoover might be the front-runner to win the Reds' open closer job, but he's not a sure-thing, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Hoover's component stats didn't track along with his improved ERA in 2015, and skill set doesn't scream out lock-solid closer. Opportunity is the most important factor in evaluating potential closers, but ultimately Hoover will have to perform well enough to hold the job. Bid cautiously when it comes to Hoover.

Giants' George Kontos: Avoids arbitration
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/1/2016) Kontos agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the Giants on Monday to avoid arbitration, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.

Kontos appeared to have his best season in 2015 with career-highs in ERA (2.33) and innings (73.1). Advanced statistics told a different story for the right-handed middle reliever, however, a low strikeout rate and high percentage of men left on base indicate that fantasy owners should be hesitant to expect similar results in 2016.

Carlos Torres: Clears waivers, elects free agency Monday
by RotoWire Staff | Special to
(2/1/2016) Torres cleared waivers Monday and has elected free agency, Adam Rubin of ESPN reports.

The veteran hurler reached an agreement with the Mets to avoid arbitration, but Torres did not want to spend his 2016 season in the minors, so he'll head into free agency. His numbers from last year aren't great (4.68 ERA, 7.5 K/9), but some teams seeking a veteran reliever could be candidates for the 33-year-old.

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