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We'll track today's minor moves here…
- The Mets signed outfielder Mike Baxter to a minor league contract, according to the team's official Twitter feed. The deal includes an invitation to the Major League spring training camp. Baxter, 27, was born in Queens and appeared in 22 games with the Mets last season.
- The Nationals signed Andres Blanco to a minor league deal, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson. In 82 plate appearances for the Rangers in 2011, the versatile 27-year-old posted a .224/.263/.342 line and played four positions.
- The Orioles agreed to sign outfielders Antoan Richardson and Lee Cruz to minor league deals, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Richardson, who briefly played for the Braves in 2011, is one of six players in MLB history from the Bahamas, Crasnick tweets.
- The Nationals signed outfielder Jason Michaels to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Michaels spent the 2011 season with the Astros and posted a .199/.256/.295 line in 169 plate appearances. The 11-year veteran has a career line of .263/.335/.407 and experience at all three outfield positions.
- The Rockies signed catcher Wilkin Castillo and right-handed relievers Mike Ekstrom and Zach Simons to minor league deals, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Castillo spent the 2011 season at Triple-A, where he hit .262/.285/.366 in 291 plate appearances. Ekstrom, who appeared in one game for the Rays in 2011, posted a 4.35 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 for Tampa Bay's top affiliate. The 26-year-old Simons posted a 5.46 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 61 innings in the Tigers' and Marlins' systems in 2011.
The latest players to be outrighted off 40-man rosters:
- The Indians outrighted Trevor Crowe off of their 40-man roster, according to the team. Crowe, who appeared in 15 games for the Indians in 2011, cannot elect free agency
- The Rangers outrighted pitchers Omar Beltre, Merkin Valdez and Eric Hurley and infielders Andres Blanco and Esteban German off of the 40-man roster, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Blanco, who would have been arbitration eligible, projected to earn $500K through arbitration. He posted a .605 OPS in 82 plate appearances as a utility player and was the only one of the outrighted players to pick up significant playing time in 2011.
- The Mariners outrighted infielder Luis Rodriguez, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. I named Rodriguez and David Aardsma as the Mariners' primary non-tender candidates back in September, and now both are off the 40-man roster, which stands at 36. Rodriguez has elected free agency, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns.
- The Braves outrighted catcher J.C. Boscan, reliever Stephen Marek, outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, and outfielder Antoan Richardson to Triple-A Gwinnett, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Meanwhile, starter Todd Redmond's contract was selected. Marek had Tommy John surgery in May; he was obtained from the Angels with Casey Kotchman for Mark Teixeira at the '08 trade deadline. I thought at the time that the Braves' return topped the value of a couple of draft picks. That hasn't been true if you look at who the Angels took with their two Teixeira picks: top prospect Mike Trout and lefty Tyler Skaggs, a main component in the Dan Haren trade.
Patrick Newman from NPB Tracker and MLBTR's Nick Collias relay some information from foreign sources:
- According to Newman, the Chiba Lotte Marines made a conditional agreement last offseason to allow Tsuyoshi Nishioka to move to MLB. This explains the otherwise puzzling move to post Nishioka coming off his strongest season, with three years left before he's eligible for free agency. Newman says the decision to post Nishioka will be resolved by the 17th.
- According to this article (translated by Collias), the Twins signed right-handed reliever Yorman Bazardo to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The 26-year-old has previously been with the Marlins, Tigers, Mariners, and Astros organizations. He's seen 60 1/3 innings in the big leagues, but hasn't duplicated his minor league success (3.89 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 5.4 K/9 in 1091 innings).
- In a second article translated by Collias, we hear that the Rangers have told Andres Blanco that they view him as either an outfielder or catcher, but no longer as an infielder. The 26-year-old will work out at both positions in the Venezuelan winter leagues to try to earn another spot with the Rangers. In 68 games (185 PAs) this season, Blanco hit .277/.330/.349 while backing up Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.
7:19pm: Mike Sweeney has made the Mariners' Opening Day roster, writes Morosi. The 36-year-old was set to retire if he didn't make a team's Opening Day squad. Sweeney will be in a designated hitter platoon with Ken Griffey Jr.
Meanwhile, a source tells Morosi that the Rangers' current interest level in Garko isn't high.
5:10pm: The Mariners have put Ryan Garko on waivers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Seattle signed the first baseman to a one-year, $550K deal roughly two months ago. The 29-year-old still has options remaining.
Morosi points out that the Rangers are in search of a right-handed bat, though he is unsure if they are interested in Garko. Texas is in search of a backup corner infielder and although manager Ron Washington seems willing to give middle infielder Andres Blanco a chance at third, it is unlikely that Garko is up to the task. Before he landed with the M's, the Rangers were said to be interested in Garko's services.
In 40 games (127 plate appearances) for the Giants last season, Garko hit .235/.307/.330 with 2 HRs.
Blanco, 26 in April, posted a line of .252/.303/.341 in 53 games (138 PAs) for the Cubs last season, while playing plus defense at second base, but below average at shortstop (warning: small sample sizes). Blanco's .644 OPS from last season is directly in line with his minor league numbers.
Wittenmyer writes that Blanco was out of options and out of opportunities to make the club this spring. The Rangers have been looking for a back-up infielder since having to void Khalil Greene's contract earlier this spring due to his ongoing struggles with social anxiety disorder.
Blanco is the third infielder acquired by Texas recently. On Wednesday, they traded Edwar Ramirez to the A's for Gregorio Petit, and earlier in the spring claimed Hernan Iribarren off waivers from the Brewers.