MLB notebook: Nationals close to 2-year, $28 million deal with reliever Soriano
Reliever Rafael Soriano and the Washington Nationals were working to finalize a $28 million, two-year contract Tuesday, said a person familiar with the negotiations.
The person said Soriano's deal would contain a $14 million option for 2015 that would become guaranteed if he has 120 games finished over 2013 and '14 combined. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been signed.
Soriano, who turned 33 in December, would join a Nationals bullpen that already includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Both of those right-handers closed games for the NL East champions last season.
The Soriano-Nationals negotiations were first reported by Yahoo Sports.
A one-time All-Star, Soriano had 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA for the AL East champion New York Yankees last year while filling in for injured closer Mariano Rivera, who plans to return from a knee injury in 2013.
Soriano decided in October to decline a $14 million option for 2013, taking a $1.5 million buyout from the Yankees and entering free agency instead.
Washington will lose its first-round draft pick in this year's amateur draft, while the Yankees will gain an extra pick after the first round as compensation for losing Soriano.
Francona's new BoSox book
Owners of the Boston Red Sox thought the team wasn't marketable after the 2010 season and needed to add “sexy players,” former general manager Theo Epstein said in a new book co-written by former manager Terry Francona.
Epstein said owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino made the team's image a priority, according to excerpts released Tuesday by Sports Illustrated. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” is co-written by the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy and is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Jan. 22.
“They told us we didn't have any marketable players. We need some sexy guys,” Epstein was quoted as saying.
Francona said of the ownership group: “I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. ... It's still more of a toy or hobby for them.”
Francona worked for ESPN in 2012. Cleveland hired him in October as its manager.
133 players file for arbitration cases
San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward and Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury are among 133 players who filed for salary arbitration.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza and Giants outfielder Hunter Pence also are among those who filed Tuesday.
Six extra players filed because of a change to baseball's labor contract: Washington reliever Drew Storen, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Toronto catcher Josh Thole, Tampa Bay outfielder Sam Fuld, Colorado outfielder Tyler Colvin and Arizona third baseman Chris Johnson.
Under the latest labor deal, the top 22 percent of players by service time with at least two years but less than three are eligible for arbitration. From 1991 through last year, the top 17 percent in the 2-to-3-year group could file.
Players and teams are scheduled to swap proposed salaries Friday, with hearings before three-arbitrator panels next month in Phoenix. Most cases settle before they go to hearings.
Grace accepts blame for firing
Former Arizona Diamondbacks television analyst Mark Grace said he blames himself, not the team, for firing him last season.
The former first baseman with the Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs was fired after he was arrested last August in Scottsdale — his second drunken driving arrest in 15 months.
Grace has pleaded not guilty in October to four felony counts of aggravated DUI. His trial is scheduled for March 19.
Ichiro's renewed determination
Ichiro Suzuki is looking forward to starting the baseball season the way he ended last season: as a member of the New York Yankees.
The Yankees and Suzuki finalized a $13 million, two-year contract in December that kept the 10-time All-Star in the Bronx after he was obtained in a trade with Seattle last July.
“Signing with the Yankees has given me a new sense of determination,” the 39-year-old outfielder said Tuesday after a workout in Kobe. “This is a unique team — a team that can have a player like Alex Rodriguez as a pinch hitter is special, and to be part of that is exciting.”
Suzuki, who'll make $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons, revived his career and quickly became a fan favorite in New York. His batting average jumped from .261 with the Mariners to .322 with the Yankees, with five homers, 27 RBI and 14 steals.
The Texas Rangers signed right-hander Kyle McClellan to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
McClellan, who pitched the last five seasons for St. Louis, had surgery on his right elbow and shoulder July 10. He is already throwing and expected to ready for the start of spring training. He went on the disabled list May 18 and waived by the Cardinals on Nov. 13.
The 28-year-old McClellan has a career record of 19-23 with a 3.69 ERA in 261 games from 2008-12. He wasn't on the World Series roster for the Cardinals in 2011 against Texas.
Texas announced the move Tuesday, when left-hander Ryan Feierabend and right-hander Kevin Pucetas signed minor league deals. Both will be in the minor league camp.