MLB Offseason Briefs | Dec. 4


McCann, Yankees complete $85M, 5-year contract

NEW YORK — All-Star catcher Brian McCann completed his $85 million, five-year contract with the York Yankees on Tuesday in what the team called a “significant improvement to a key position.”

The deal includes a full no-trade provision, meaning he cannot be dealt without his consent. The seven-time All-Star is to be introduced at a news conference Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

McCann receives $17 million in each of the next five seasons, and the Yankees have a $15 million option for 2019 with no buyout. The option becomes McCann’s if he has at least 1,000 plate appearances combined in 2017 and 2018, has at least 90 starts at catcher in 2018 and does not end the 2018 season on the disabled list.

His agreement raises the Yankees’ luxury tax payroll to $116.4 million for nine players. The Yankees hope to get under the $189 million tax threshold next season, which includes about $177 million for salaries for the 40-man roster.

McCann, who turns 30 in February, hit .256 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs in 102 games this year, when he missed the first month following offseason surgery on his right shoulder. He has a .277 average in nine big league seasons with 176 homers and 661 RBIs.

Following the departure of Russell Martin last offseason, Yankees catchers combined for a .213 average, eight homers and 43 RBIs, according to STATS, down from .220, 22 and 64 in 2012.

Saltalamacchia, Marlins reach deal

MIAMI — Jarrod Saltalamacchia is taking a dramatic plunge, going from the World Series champion Boston Red Sox to the last-place Marlins. But he’ll be receiving a thick wad of cash to soften the landing.

The 28-year-old catcher and native of nearby Royal Palm Beach, Fla., agreed Tuesday to a three-year deal with the Marlins that will pay him $21 million, according to sources with knowledge of the contract. The deal is pending a physical.

The Marlins have spent the offseason in search of a catcher, and one who can supply offense to an anemic lineup, in particular. Saltalamacchia hit .273 with 14 home runs in 121 games (119 of them behind the plate) last season for Boston.

Because the deal is not yet official, the Marlins are not commenting.

But the team made it known catching was a critical need. The team’s catchers ranked last in the majors in several major hitting categories, whereas the Red Sox, with Saltalamacchia handing the bulk of the catching chores, were near the top of the charts.

Rays acquire C Hanigan, RHP Bell in 3-team trade

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds and reliever Heath Bell from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade.

The deal was announced Monday after Hanigan agreed to a $10.75 million, three-year contract that runs through 2016 an includes a club option for 2017.

Tampa Bay sent minor league pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named to the Diamondbacks. Arizona dealt left-hander David Holmberg to Cincinnati.

The 33-year-old Hanigan is expected to become Tampa Bay’s primary catcher. The trade was completed a day after free agent catcher Jose Molina was re-signed to a $4.5 million, two-year contract.

Bell will be a candidate to become the Rays’ closer.

Twins finish $49M, 4-year deal with Ricky Nolasco

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have finalized a $49 million, four-year contract with right-hander Ricky Nolasco, an expensive first step toward restoring a ragged rotation.

The deal was announced Tuesday at Target Field, six days after the 30-year-old agreed to terms. The contract includes a club option for 2018 that could become guaranteed.

Nolasco made 33 starts last season for the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 13-11 with a 3.70 ERA over 199 1-3 innings with 165 strikeouts and 46 walks. He’ll move immediately to the front of Minnesota’s starting staff, which had a majors-worst 5.26 ERA this year.

Over the last six seasons, Nolasco was tied for fourth in the NL with 77 wins.

Astros get OF Dexter Fowler in trade with Rockies

HOUSTON — Dexter Fowler is looking forward to a new beginning with the rebuilding Houston Astros while also dealing with what he calls a bittersweet ending to his time with the Colorado Rockies.

Astros acquired the outfielder and a player to be named from the Rockies on Tuesday for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-hander Jordan Lyles.

Drafted by Colorado in 2004, Fowler has spent his entire career with the Rockies. He joins a team that has posted three straight 100-plus loss seasons, including a franchise-record 111 losses in 2013 in its first year in the American League.

“There are definitely challenges, but at the same time you just got to look at the positives,” Fowler said. “And the positive is that there are young guys here and they’re eager to win and they’re eager to put their (effort) into the game … anything I can do to help, I’m just going to go out and play hard every day and I’m sure we’ll definitely see the tides turn.”

The speedy 27-year-old Fowler hit .263 with 18 doubles, 42 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 119 games last season. Fowler, a switch-hitter who primarily plays center field, hit .300 in 2012.

Red Sox nearing deal for C Pierzynski

BOSTON — Free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Tuesday.

The deal would be pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t finalized the agreement.

The lefty-hitting Pierzynski and righty David Ross, the backup, both will be 37 next season. With catching prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart making their way up the system, the Red Sox were reluctant to give a multiyear deal to free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, their starter the past three seasons.

Pierzynski hit .272 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs last season, his only one with the Texas Rangers. He walked just 11 times and doesn’t fit the Red Sox preference for patient hitters who work the count. In 2012, he had 27 homers and 28 walks, both career highs.

A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski has a .283 career average with 172 homers and 800 RBIs.

A’s acquire righty Gregerson from Padres for Smith

OAKLAND, Calif. — Keeping active in the trade market, the Oakland Athletics acquired right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson from the San Diego Padres for outfielder Seth Smith.

It marked the second swap of the day for the two-time defending AL West champion A’s and third in two days.

Gregerson will join a bullpen with new closer Jim Johnson, acquired from Baltimore on Monday night. Dealing Smith became a viable option when general manager Billy Beane acquired Craig Gentry from division rival Texas earlier Tuesday.

Gregerson went 6-8 with a 2.71 ERA and four saves in 73 relief outings for the Padres in 2013.

Smith batted .253 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs in 117 games in his second season with the A’s.

The Padres have plenty of outfielders, including Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Chris Denorfia and Alexi Amarista, who had been primarily an infielder.

Quentin and Maybin missed significant time with injuries last season.

By wire sources