MLB Notes: Mariners trade Kelley to Yankees

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MLB Notes: Mariners trade Kelley to Yankees

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees added depth to their bullpen Wednesday night, acquiring right-hander Shawn Kelley from the Seattle Mariners for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte.

The 28-year-old Kelley went 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 47 appearances for Seattle last season and figures to fill a middle-relief role with the Yankees. He was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Feb. 7 when the club signed catcher Kelly Shoppach.

About a week earlier, Kelley and the Mariners agreed to a $935,000, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration. Kelley is 10-9 with a 3.52 ERA in four big league seasons, all with Seattle.

Almonte, 23, batted .276 with four homers, 25 RBIs and 30 steals in 78 games for Double-A Trenton last season. He was an Eastern League midseason All-Star.

The Yankees and Mariners have been trading partners several times over the last couple of years, pulling off deals involving Ichiro Suzuki and Jesus Montero.

To make room for Kelley on the 40-man roster, the Yankees placed third baseman Alex Rodriguez on the 60-day disabled list. Rodriguez is recovering from hip surgery and is not expected back until at least the All-Star break.

New York's 40-man roster is now full (see full story).

Wainwright, Cards put talks on hold
JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals have put contract talks on hold, though neither side expects many obstacles to a long-term deal.

"No one has drawn any lines in the sand," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Tuesday.

Wainwright, 31, who is in the final year of a contact plus extension that will have paid him $36 million over six years, hopes talks will not become drawn out.

"There does need to be some urgency on both sides just to try to get this done if it's going to happen before the season starts, just for peace of mind for everyone," Wainwright said. He said the contract he signed during the 2008 spring training became a distraction.

Now, he says, he is in a different place.

"A player's first contact is the `I want to get settled contract, I want to get that nest egg,'" Wainwright said. "I thought about the risks every day when I went home, walking down the stairs, my bullpen sessions. I just said, `This is ridiculous.' Once you get that out of the way . financially I'm in a place where I don't have to worry about a contract as much."

Mozeliak wants to take no chances that this could linger (see full story).

Indians sign Matsuzaka to minor-league deal
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The last time a team brought Daisuke Matsuzaka into camp, it paid more than $100 million to get him.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland Indians brought him into camp to compete for the back end of their rotation with a deal that will make him just $1.5 million this season. He can earn an additional $2.5 million in performance bonuses.

A little different this time around.

"I just want him to be Daisuke," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

The Japanese right-hander and Francona have a history together, of course, while the latter was manager in Boston and Matsuzaka was a starter for the Red Sox. The two officially reunited on Wednesday here, and Francona said Matsuzaka threw 35 pitches. He described his delivery as "crisp" and it reminded him of how he looked "when he was healthy."

In 2007, Matsuzaka, 32, posted a 15-12 record with a 4.40 ERA as the Red Sox raced to a World Series title. He followed that with an 18-3 mark and a 2.90 ERA the next season (see full story).

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have a history of adding players in the Rule 5 draft. The annual event, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling minor-league talent without giving it a shot in the majors, has netted the Phillies players such as Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera over the years.

The year’s Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at the conclusion of the winter meetings, but it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be active. After adding 11 prospects to their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the Phillies are simply out of room. Selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft would first require the Phils to cut a player loose and that did not seem to be the plan as the sun set Wednesday.

While an addition is unlikely, there’s a strong possibility that the Phils will lose a player or two in the draft. Outfielder Andrew Pullin, a 2012 draft pick, is the likeliest to go. He hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016 and a number of teams are buzzing about him. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

If a team rolls the dice on Pullin, it must keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to the Phillies.

Other players who could go include first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, outfielder Carlos Tocci and pitchers Miguel Nunez and Hoby Milner.

All quiet for now
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent Wednesday meeting with agents and representatives from other clubs.

“Nothing is hot at the moment,” he said late in the day.

Klentak has brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, added relievers Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek and traded for outfielder Howie Kendrick this offseason. The biggest remaining issue/question on his plate is whether to add a veteran hitter in a corner outfield spot or keep the pathway open for young players such as Roman Quinn and eventually Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams. 

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside — that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

While it’s uncertain whether the Phils will add a hitter, they most surely will make other roster tweaks as the winter moves on. They are likely to fill their backup catcher’s spot in-house (see story), but could add a utility infielder and more bullpen depth on minor-league contracts.

“I think there will probably be another move or two before we get to Clearwater,” Klentak said. “Who and when remains to be seen.”