Teams face midnight deadline to offer deals
NEW YORK (AP) - As Scott Kazmir and Willie Bloomquist found new teams and other big-money free agents negotiated, dozens of players with lower profiles waited to find out whether they would be dumped on the market by their clubs Monday night.
Teams had until midnight to offer 2014 contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters. Once a player receives a contract offer, his team no longer can release him before the start of the season without giving him termination pay. That means a club would be responsible for about one-sixth of the salary, which could be a large amount if the player is eligible for arbitration.
Clubs often use the so-called tender deadline as leverage to force agreements with players they won't go to arbitration with. Among the players let loose were Boston right-hander Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Kalish, Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner and Kansas City infielder Chris Getz.
There were a pair of trades as the deadline approached. Washington obtained right-hander Doug Fister from Detroit for infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol. Fister was 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA last season for the AL Central champions, who last month traded slugging first baseman Prince Fielder to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler.
''It gives us some flexibility for some other things we want to do,'' Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said, insisting the trade wasn't made to free money for a long-term deal for AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who can leave after next season.
Fister joins a talented Nationals rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.
With an excess of catching after reaching an agreement to sign Brian McCann, the New York Yankees traded Chris Stewart to Pittsburgh for a player to be named. The Yankees also finalized a $5 million, two-year contract with shortstop Brendan Ryan, who became their starter in September when Derek Jeter went back on the disabled list.
Kazmir was closing in on a $22 million, two-year contract with Oakland. The deal is pending a physical, a person said, speaking of anonymity because the team hadn't finalized the deal. The 29-year-old left-hander went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts and 158 innings last season for Cleveland and becomes part of a rotation that includes Sonny Gray and A.J. Griffin. The Athletics probably won't pursue a new deal for 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, an 18-game winner.
Bloomquist agreed to return to Seattle pending a physical expected to take place later this week, a deal baseball official with knowledge of the deal said, also speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't final. Bloomquist spent his first seven big league seasons with Seattle and the past three with Arizona. He hit .317 for the Diamondbacks this year but had just 139 at-bats.
Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract with Toronto that pays $3 million next year and $5 million in 2015. The 29-year-old batted .300 with a career-high 13 homers and 34 RBIs in 89 games for the Chicago Cubs last season. An All-Star in 2008, he has not played more than 89 games in a season since 2009 because of injuries.
Among players eligible for arbitration getting one-year deals were Chicago White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers ($950,000), Detroit outfielder Don Kelly and Cleveland right-handers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood. In agreements announced Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers reached deals with outfielder Mike Baxter and catcher Drew Butera ($700,000 each) and left-hander Scott Elbert ($575,000).
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley and AP Sports Writers Tim Booth and Larry Lage contributed to this report.
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