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Oscar Taveras (ankle) is expected to ramp up the intensity of his workouts on Monday in Cardinals camp.

The Cardinals have been easing their top hitting prospect into drills this spring to allow his surgically-repaired ankle extra time to heal. Taveras should be 100 percent by the start of the 2014 regular season and has an outside shot at an Opening Day roster spot. The 21-year-old outfielder is a .320/.377/.518 career hitter in the minors with a power swing that has been described as "violent."
Feb 24 - 10:56 AM

Rangers declined OF Alex Rios' $13.5 million option for 2015.

He'll receive a $1 million buyout instead. Rios batted .280/.311/.398 with just four homers over 131 games this season before being shut down in September with a thumb injury. Even with the power outage, he shouldn't have trouble finding a starting job this offseason.
Oct 31 - 4:15 PM

The Brewers have exercised their portion of Aramis Ramirez's $14 million mutual option for 2015.

Ramirez has three days to decide whether to pick up his portion, which he seems likely to do. The 36-year-old's power evaporated down the stretch, but he still hit a solid .285/.330/.427 with 15 homers and 66 RBI across 133 games this season. He should remain reasonably productive next season as long as he can stay healthy.
Oct 31 - 3:55 PM

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs plan to announce the hiring of Joe Maddon as their new manager at a press conference on Monday.

Word leaked on Wednesday that Maddon would be the Cubs' choice, and the club officially fired Rick Renteria on Friday. Some final details apparently need to be ironed out before Maddon is announced as the new skipper on Monday. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has reported that the former Rays manager's deal with the Cubs is expected to be worth about $5 million annually for at least four years.
Oct 31 - 3:39 PM

Rays exercised INF/OF Ben Zobrist's $7.5 million option for 2015.

Zobrist didn't have one of his better years at the plate with a .749 OPS, but he's still worth well more than $7.5 million, so it's a no-brainer move even for a team with a limited payroll. That said, it wouldn't be surprising if the Rays shopped him this winter, as he's slated for free agency after next season.
Oct 31 - 3:18 PM

Twins outfield prospect Byron Buxton underwent surgery Friday to repair a fractured left middle finger.

Buxton was originally diagnosed with a dislocation as a result of a dive in the Arizona Fall League, but a hand specialist discovered the fracture. The good news is that he'll be recovered well before spring training. Buxton was limited to just 31 games this season due to a variety of ailments.
Oct 31 - 3:03 PM

Blue Jays claimed OF Andy Dirks off waivers from the Tigers.

Dirks missed all of the 2014 season while rehabbing from back surgery before eventually being shut down with a strained hamstring. He's been a useful player at times in the past, though, and shouldn't have trouble cracking the Jays' Opening Day roster as long as he's healthy. Dirks is a career .276/.332/.413 hitter.
Oct 31 - 2:24 PM

Indians exercised INF Mike Aviles' $3.5 million option for 2015.

It was reported a week ago that they planned to pick it up, and now it's official. Aviles hit just .247/.273/.343 this season, but he offers plenty of value with his ability to play all over the diamond.
Oct 31 - 1:10 PM

Tigers exercised RHP Joakim Soria's $7 million option for 2015.

Soria didn't pitch very well after being acquired by the Tigers at the trade deadline, but he had a terrific year overall and the club needs all the bullpen arms it can get. As of now, Joe Nathan is expected to remain the team's closer heading into next season, though it's possible the Tigers will try to upgrade over the winter.
Oct 31 - 11:40 AM

Brewers declined 2B Rickie Weeks' $14.5 million option for 2015.

It's no surprise, of course, after Weeks lost his second base job to Scooter Gennett this season. He hit well in a part-time role, batting .274/.357/.452 with eight homers over 286 plate appearances. He's injury-prone and the big upside isn't there anymore, but Weeks is probably intriguing enough to land a starting job somewhere this winter.
Oct 31 - 10:30 AM

Sports Hochi reports that the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks plan to offer Daisuke Matsuzaka a four-year contract worth about $3.58 million per season.

He'd be crazy to turn that kind of money down, as Matsuzaka would have to take a minor league deal from a major league club. The right-hander has said previously that he'd be open to returning to Japan if they give him a chance to start. It would be shocking if Matsuzaka turns the offer down.
Oct 31 - 9:58 AM

Padres decline RHP Josh Johnson's $4 million option for 2015.

Johnson, of course, missed the 2014 campaign following Tommy John surgery and could get a late start to next season. However, he and the Padres are both interested in working out a smaller, likely incentive-laden deal. The right-hander has ample upside when healthy, which isn't terribly often.
Oct 30 - 7:57 PM




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