The Astros have brought reliever Chad Qualls back to Houston with a two-year deal, the team announced in a press release. The contract includes a club option for 2016. Qualls, 35, was drafted by the Astros in the second round in 2000 and was a quality set-up man for the team from 2005-07. After the ’07 season he was traded to the Diamondbacks in the Jose Valverde trade, and the righty went on to pitch for the Rays, Padres, Phillies, Yankees, Pirates, and Marlins. Qualls pitched to a 2.61 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 66 outings last season for the Marlins. The well-traveled veteran hasn’t spent two consecutive seasons in the same city since 2008/09, but the multi-year pact might keep him in one place for a little while longer. For his career, Qualls owns a 3.79 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 across ten big league seasons. Qualls is represented by Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management, accoring to the MLBTR Agency Database.
Today’s minor moves.. Former MLB slugger Wily Mo Pena has signed in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The 31-year-old drew interest from Japan and in the states before agreeing to the $1.5MM pact. Pena spent parts of eight seasons playing for the Reds, Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Seattle Mariners before signing a two-year, $5MM contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks following the 2011 season. The Reds Triple-A affiliate announced that they have re-signed catcher Corky Miller. Miller saw 17 games of action for Cincinnati last season but spent the bulk of the year in Louisville where he slashed .200/.295/.333 in 157 PAs.
SATURDAY: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing Kuroda’s re-signing. FRIDAY: The Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda finalized a one-year, $16MM contract last night that will allow the right-hander to earn up to $500K worth of incentives, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Kuroda, a client of Octagon’s Steve Hilliard, will earn $250K for reaching the 190-inning and 210-inning milestones, according to Sherman. Kuroda will turn 39 years old in February and was reported to be weighing a return to Japan or a return to a Southern California team in order to be closer to his family, who currently reside in that area due to Kuroda’s days with the Dodgers. Kuroda turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees in November, getting tagged with the potential cost of a draft pick had he signed with a different MLB team. Instead, Kuroda will return to New York for a third season. Over the past two years, Kuroda has posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings in Yankee pinstripes.
The Orioles officially reached a Major League deal with outfielder Francisco Peguero, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish first connected the two sides earlier in the week (Twitter link). Peguero is represented by Dan Rosquete and Elliott Vallin of Boston Sports Counsel. Peguero, 25, was non-tendered by the Giants earlier in the week. He’s batted .200/.217/.289 in a pair of brief Major League stints (46 plate appearances) but has fared better in the minor leagues. Peguero is a career .288/.318/.399 hitter in 764 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, though those numbers are likely dampened a bit by a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery. Rosquete and Vallin did a nice job securing a Major League deal for their client given his scant MLB experience
Here are today’s minor moves and outright assignments from around the league… Eric Thames will play for the NC Dinos of the Korean Professional Baseball League in 2014, his agent tells Venezuelan reporter Ormuz Sojo (hat tip to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle). Thames posted a .799 OPS in 420 minor league PA in 2013, mostly at the Triple-A level for the Mariners’ and Orioles’ top affiliates, and was claimed off waivers by the Astros in September. Thames hit .250/.296/.431 with 21 homers in 684 PA with Toronto and Seattle in 2011-12. The White Sox have outrighted outfielder Blake Tekotte and infielder Mike McDade, reducing their 40-man roster to 37, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Tekotte hit .226/.306/.355 with one homer (his first in the Majors) in 36 PAs for the Sox in 2013. He hit .236/.319/.389 in 338 Triple-A PAs
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to move on from losing Robinson Cano. The Yankees have agreed with Carlos Beltran on a three-year deal, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter link). The contract is worth $45MM and Beltran will receive an even $15MM each season, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Beltran is represented by Dan Lozano of the MVP Sports Group. Beltran had a three-year, $48MM offer in hand earlier this week, and the Diamondbacks could also have been the mystery team, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Snakes made Beltran a three-year offer for more than $45MM. Though the Yankees were a bit reluctant to give Beltran that third year, he was known to be a top target for the Bombers this offseason. Beltran was himself keen on coming to the Bronx and is now finally wearing the pinstripes after showing similar interest in his two previous trips to free agency. Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 homers in 600 PA with St. Louis last season, and though he turns 37 in April, Beltran has thus far kept swinging a big bat deep into the late stages of his career. He’ll no doubt see some DH at-bats in New York but the more defensively-challenged Alfonso Soriano will be the Yankees’ primary DH, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports. The D’Backs were just one of several teams were linked to Beltran this offseason, with the Royals also pushing hard to reunite with the veteran slugger. This strong market pushed Beltran’s price tag to a third year, topping the two-year, $30MM deal that MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted in Beltran’s Free Agent Profile. One team that wasn’t in the mix was Beltran’s most recent club, the Cardinals, who look to go forward with younger options like star prospect Oscar Taveras in the outfield next season. Since Beltran rejected the Cards’ one-year qualifying offer, St. Louis will receive a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 amateur draft. The Yankees will sacrifice a third-round draft pick as compensation for signing Beltran. New York has now given up its first, second and third round picks in next year’s draft due to their signings of Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann (though they’ll get two picks after the first round for losing Cano and Curtis Granderson). Between those three free agent signings and re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Derek Jeter, the Yankees have spent a whopping $311MM on those five players’ services this offseason. More spending could be on the way for the Bombers if they need a third baseman to replace Alex Rodriguez, if they want to upgrade beyond Kelly Johnson as Cano’s replacement at second base, and once Masahiro Tanaka’s posting situation is resolved.
The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Mike Napoli, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (Twitter link). The contract is a two-year deal worth $32MM, according to CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam (via Twitter). The slugger confirmed his return on his own Twitter feed, saying “The beard is coming back to Boston!!!” Napoli is represented by Brian Grieper. Napoli’s contact falls short of the three-year, $42MM deal that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted he would receive this winter, though obviously Napoli’s clear desire to remain with the World Series champions impacted his decision. Counting his $13MM salary from 2013 (in both base salary and incentives), Napoli will end up receiving $45MM between 2013-15 — well above the $39MM he was originally set to earn from Boston before he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips, which caused the Sox to pull their multiyear offer and extend just the one-year pact. The 32-year-old silenced all questions about his health by hitting .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers in 578 PA for the Sox last season, also posting big numbers in the ALCS during Boston’s championship run. Napoli turned down a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox earlier this winter and thus would’ve netted the club a compensation draft pick had he signed elsewhere, but now the club will have its starting first baseman back in the fold after already losing Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency this offseason. Earlier today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that Napoli had received an offer from another club but his preference was to remain in Boston. The Marlins, Rangers, and Mariners were all rumored to be interested in Napoli’s services, and Texas was believed to have made Napoli a larger offer, Bradford and Alex Speier report. Napoli also turned down at least one three-year offer, according to Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, but Napoli preferred to remain with the Sox and accepted their smaller deal. Photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images
The Yankees have signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract, the team announced today. Terms of the deal weren’t made public but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the deal is for exactly $3MM (Twitter link), giving Johnson a small raise from the $2.45MM he earned with Tampa Bay in 2013. Johnson is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX Baseball), according to the MLBTR Agency Database. Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013. He currently stands as the Yankees’ top option to replace Robinson Cano at second base, and if New York signs another second baseman, Johnson also serves as an insurance policy for Alex Rodriguez at third. Johnson, 32 in February, owns a career slash line of .253/.335/.427 across eight seasons with the Braves, D’Backs, Blue Jays, and Rays. Over the last three seasons, however, he has slashed just .226/.307/.395. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the agreement had been reached and that Johnson would be paid in the $3MM-range, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal. MLBTR’s Zach Links contributed to this post.
3:58pm: The Nationals and McLouth agreed to a two-year, $10.75MM contract with a third-year option, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). 3:45pm: The Nationals have agreed to a two-year pact with free agent outfielder Nate McLouth, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). McLouth is represented by The Sparta Group. Rosenthal goes on to note that while McLouth will technically be the Nats’ fourth outfielder behind Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth, but he will get “significant” at-bats. McLouth will serve as insurance for all three outfield positions, but he could also see a more regular role if recent rumors that Span could be available prove to be true. The 32-year-old McLouth batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 homers and a career-best 30 stolen bases for the Orioles last season. Curiously, McLouth swiped 24 bases in 28 attempts in the season’s first half but only attempted nine steals in the entire second half. He’s significantly better against right-handed pitching, as he batted just .209/.283/.357 against fellow lefties in 2013. McLouth’s career looked to be on a downward trajectory after he struggled in Atlanta and was released midseason upon his return to the Pirates organization
Though several of their starters turned in a strong finish to the 2013 campaign, the Astros’ rotation still ranked 28th in ERA and 27th in innings pitched. Looking to add an experienced arm to help solidify an unstable group of starters, Houston announced a three-year deal for right-hander Scott Feldman that is reportedly worth $30MM. It’s been a busy few days for Feldman’s agent, Matt Brown, as he also represents Curtis Granderson, who just agreed to a four-year, $60MM deal with the Mets. Feldman rebounded from a series of injuries with the Rangers to post a solid season between the Cubs and Orioles in 2013. The 30-year-old posted a 3.86 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 49.6 percent ground-ball rate in 181 2/3 innings