MLB In Full Bloom 1/24/2014

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22 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

69 – Number of days until Opening Day

Happy Friday to everyone! Hard to believe that January is flying by as quickly as it is right now. But, you won't hear me complaining as we're just another day closer to pitchers and catchers reporting. As expected, now that Masahiro Tanaka is off the market, the pace is heating up in the hot stove as other free agents are beginning to find new homes. Thursday brought some interesting headlines so let's get right to it!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report that on Thursday that Matt Garza had agreed to a 4-year $52 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers pending a physical. However, shortly after those reports surfaced, the Brewers posted on their Twitter account that talks were "ongoing" and there is "no deal yet". This is an unusual situation because that physical was scheduled in Milwaukee followed by a press conference at Miller Park. Well, that press conference never took place. The Brewers are saying that there is no issue with Garza's physical, but they are hammering out the final details of the deal. That certainly could be the case, but it also could be that an issue did arise during the physical and the Brewers are adjusting the contract similar to what the Red Sox did with Mike Napoli a year ago. It's unknown where this is going so stay tuned.
  • Grant Balfour and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed on 2-year $12 million deal. He did sign for less money than the Orioles had agreed with him on which was 2-years for $15 million. Balfour said that he had better offers elsewhere. Reportedly the Mets were that team and the Nationals were also in the mix for the right-hander. So clearly other teams took a different view on Balfour than the Orioles. He is in a good situation. He is going back to Tampa Bay and he has a great relationship with Rays manager Joe Maddon. He lives in Clearwater in the offseason, no state taxes in Florida, and he is on a contending team. While he did lose some money, he ended up OK.
  • Stuart Sternberg, Rays principal owner, said on Thursday that the Rays are not actively trying to trade David Price this year. Sternberg said that his expectation is that Price will be in Tampa. The Rays feel they have a team that will contend the AL East. For all the financial challenges the Rays have they have made several moves to improve their chances this year. They are certainly not punting. Despite Sternberg's comment, my honest belief is that Price will not make it through the season.
  • Miguel Cabrera said at the Tigers' Winter Caravan Thursday that he's been fully recovered from October sports hernia surgery for about two weeks. Cabrera shouldn't have any restrictions when spring training begins in a few weeks.
  • David Robertson will be the Yankees closer in 2014 according to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday. Robertson has huge shoes to fill as he takes over for the great Mariano Rivera. Robertson has posted a 1.91 ERA over the past three seasons and has made progress with his control. He has the potential to be a top-10 closer in fantasy leagues.
  • Jon Lester said he'd be willing to take a discount in order to get an extended contract from Boston. After the Dodgers inked left-hander Clayton Kershaw to a lucrative deal, baseball watchers in Boston have speculated about the kind of deal it would take to keep Lester in a Red Sox uniform beyond 2014. Apparently, Lester is motivated to stay in Boston and may not hit the free-agent market.
  • Matt Harvey (elbow) is hoping to begin playing catch by the end of February. Harvey has progressed from rehabbing his arm to regular upper-body workouts. He is even hopeful of returning at some point in late 2014, but he understands that the Mets aren't going to let that happen.

MLB In Full Bloom 1/23/2014

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23 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

70 – Number of days until Opening Day

All the buildup that came with the Masahiro Tanaka signing ended pretty anticlimactic early yesterday morning when Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report that Tanaka and the New York Yankees had agreed on a seven-year $155 million deal with an opt out clause after the fourth year of the contract. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year with the Golden Eagles who won the Japan Series title. Arizona, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Houston Astros were among the failed bidders. Tanaka joins catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on a re-vamped roster that lost Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Robinson Cano.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Masahiro Tanaka not only got that seven-year $155 million contract that averages out to $22.14 million per year, he also received additional allowances. He got $35,000 for moving allowance, $100,000 for housing allowance. Tanaka will also receive $85,000 for an interpreter, and four first class round trip tickets to Japan. So, not only are the Yankees going to pay him his salary, but Tanaka will also get all these allowances.
  • Grady Sizemore agreed to a one-year contract with the Red Sox on Wednesday. Sizemore had a deal fall through with the Reds earlier in the week, but he will be making his comeback to baseball in Boston. Sizemore has not played since 2011 with all his knee issues. It is an incentive-laden major league deal that guarantees him less than $1 million but can increase to $6 million if he performs well and stays healthy. The three time All- Star with the Indians, Sizemore will try to re-establish his career with the Red Sox. The Sox did lose Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason, so Sizemore will provide depth in the outfield and could certainly get some playing time if Jackie Bradley struggles in centerfield or if often injured Shane Victorino gets hurt.
  • Eric O'Flaherty (elbow) and the Oakland A's agreed to a two-year deal on Wednesday. O'Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery last May, but says that he feels 100% and will pitch this year. He is targeting a return as soon as May and seems confident that he be back in the first half. A lefty specialist, he will look to fill the bullpen spot left by Jerry Blevins, who was traded to the Nationals in the offseason.
  • Lucas Duda and the New York Mets avoided arbitration on Wednesday when they agreed to a one-year deal for just over $1.6 million. Ike Davis is still with the Mets despite being mentioned in trade rumors this offseason, so Duda projects to begin the season as a backup first baseman/corner outfielder and left-handed bench bat.Fantasy owners in NL-Only league should consider Duda in the later rounds of drafts as a nice source of power as he hit 15 home runs in each of the last two seasons.
  • Chone Figgins and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training on Wednesday. Figgins was unable to make the Marlins out of spring last year, but don't be surprised if Figgins is used in a utility role with the Dodgers to start the season.
  • Ian Stewart and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training on Wednesday. Stewart, 29 years-old, has struggled mightily  to produce at the major league level. His latest stint was with the Cubs in 2012. Stewart was one a highly touted prospect, but he now owns a .232 batting average and will provide the Angels with organization depth. He has zero fantasy value.
  • SportsNet LA, the new exclusive television channel of the Los Angeles Dodgers will officially launch February 25th. SportsNet LA will televise Dodgers content 24/7 including live and classic games and a variety or additional Dodger programming. The network will be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers in Southern California, but the network is working on negotiations with DirectTV, Dish Network, and Verizon FiOS. All the programming will be lead with expert commentary led by the network's on-air talent team of Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, Charley Steiner, Jerry Hairston, Alanna Rizzo and John Hartung.

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