Beatles bootlegs headed to iTunes next week

Beatles bootlegs headed to iTunes next week

By Josh Lowensohn     on December  13, 2013 09:00 pm

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A slew of hard to find Beatles recordings are arriving on iTunes next week as part of a new album called The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963. The set includes 59 tracks, 44 of which were live from BBC radio, along with 15 outtakes recorded in the studio, reports NME. It’s a follow-up to last month’s Live at the BBC Volume 2, which compiled 63 tracks recorded during BBC performances. The arrival of the new album may be bittersweet for Beatles fans who purchased the $149 “complete” box set just a few years ago. That collection included all the studio albums, as well as live concert video and recordings, whereas this newer compilation is mostly live performances.


Mainly live tracks

It wasn’t until late into 2010 that music from The Beatles became available as digital recordings. Rights owner Apple Corps. and Apple Inc. were involved in fierce litigation with one another over trademark, logos, and naming for “Apple,” all while Apple’s iTunes business was booming. That fight was eventually settled in 2007, and was followed by a full release of the digital catalog on iTunes in November 2010. According to the BBC, the new collection may simply be a move to extend copyrights on the session tapes of those songs, while the studio sessions are protected until 2033.

 

 

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Yankees brass react to Robinson Cano’s ‘respect’ quote

Yankees brass react to Robinson Cano’s ‘respect’ quote

By                              on Dec 13 2013, 7:09p

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, President Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman respond to Robinson Cano’s Rodney Dangerfield bit.

After Robinson Cano made comments accusing the Yankees of disrespecting him in their negotiations during his introduction in Seattle on Thursday, the Yankees front office heads spoke out, as reported by Chad Jennings of the Lower Hudson Journal News.

Cano told reporters:

“I didn’t feel respect [from the Yankees]. I didn’t get respect from them and I didn’t see any effort.”

Cano’s issue with the Yankees appears to be their refusal to go more than seven years and $175 million. He signed with the Seattle Mariners for $240 million over 10 years.

Robinson Cano was the Yankees best player by fWAR and rWAR from 2008 to 2013 and owner Hal Steinbrenner, team President Randy Levine and GM Brian Cashman all acknowledge his importance to the team in their statements.

Hal Steinbrenner

“Robbie was a great Yankee. He’s a great player and we wish him all the best. He’s going to do great there and he’s going to be a big part of that organization.”

Randy Levine

“First, let me say Robbie Cano was a great Yankee. In all my years, I thought Robbie Cano was a really good person and a good guy.”

Brian Cashman

“I think Seattle and the Yankees both agree on the type of player that he is. He’s a Hall of Fame caliber guy. He’s having an amazing career that we were fortunate to have while we had him. But at the same time, business is business. Everybody has to make tough decisions, and sometimes those decisions can feel personal, but there’s nothing personal about it. We all agree he’s a tremendous player, he’s a great person. We’d rather have him here than there..”

However, the team felt that anything greater than the seven-year, $175 million offer commitment would be too great a risk. Levine expressed that sentiment clearly:

“We just don’t believe our policy is for players over 30 years old, we don’t believe in 10-year contracts. They just have not worked out for us, they have not worked out – I believe – for the industry. When we signed Derek Jeter to a 10-year contract I believe he was 26. In that context it makes sense. If Mike Trout was here, I’d recommend the 10-year contract. But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense. I don’t think Hal thinks it makes sense. We’re very clear about that.”

Both Steinbrenner and Levine expressed their belief that the team showed Cano respect in the negotiations.

Hal Steinbrenner

“There was nothing disrespectful about the last offer that was on the table, which was $25 for seven. I’m not quite sure why he feels that way, but it is what it is. … If I had to pick a word, I guess I would be able to pick surprised.”

Randy Levine

“We treated him with the utmost respect. We respect him to this day. We tried very hard to re-sign him. As I said the other day, we offered him $175 million for seven years, $25 million a year. If that’s not trying hard, I don’t know what trying hard is. To put it in context, an average annual value of $25 million, except for Alex Rodriguez and Justin Verlander, that’s the highest average annual salary in baseball. At $175 million, that’s right up there as one of the most lucrative contracts in all of baseball history.”

While Cashman didn’t suggest any disrespect on the Yankees part, he did at least acknowledge that Seattle may have shown him just a bit more respect where it matters most.

“Sometimes, the business of baseball can create some hard emotions I guess, but we loved Robbie and he’s a great player. We made an offer that we were comfortable with making, and it fell far short of where Seattle was.

In terms of respect, they showed a lot more respect financially than we did.”

These comments might not do much to ease Cano’s brused ego, but at least one statement from the Yankee brass might have some lasting effect, though presumably not the effect that the organization would want. The inclusion of Mike Trout’s name in Levine’s comment above could result in the league looking into tampering by the Yankee president, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, though it appears unlikely at this point. Levine told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he apologized to Angels‘ owner Art Moreno and he believes “the matter is over.”

LOVELY PHOTO OF A LOVELY MAN

Mets News
Bartolo Colon
The New York Mets today announced the club has signed righthanded pitcher Bartolo Colon to a two-year contract.
Colon, 40, is a three-time All-Star, including last season and the 2005 American League Cy Young winner. He has won double-digit games 10 times during his 16-year major league career with the Cleveland Indians, Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics.
The 5-11, 265-pounder made 30 starts in 2013 and finished second in the AL in wins (18), ERA (2.65) and walks per nine innings (1.37). He was tied for the major league lead with three shutouts and was tied for third in the AL with three complete games. He worked 6.0 or more innings in 24 of his 30 starts, going 18-1 in those games. He surrendered two or fewer runs 20 times while issuing one or no walks 23 times.  Colon finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting.

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Marlins interested in Casey McGehee and Wilson Betemit to play third base

Marlins interested in Casey McGehee and Wilson Betemit to play third base

Dec 14, 2013, 2:20 PM EST

marlins logo

The Marlins have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for free agent Juan Uribe in recent days, but Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the club continues to look at other options to play third base:

Seeking a third baseman, the Marlins are intrigued by free agent Casey McGehee, 31, who played in Japan this year and led his team to a championship by hitting .298 with 28 homers and 93 RBI.

He hit .217 with nine homers and 41 RBI for the Pirates and Yankees in 2012 but drove in 104 runs in 2010 and 67 in 2011. Wilson Betemit (.261, 12 homers in 2012, injured in 2013) also has been discussed as an option.

The Marlins want a third baseman with versatility, and McGehee and Betemit can play multiple positions.

While McGehee has enjoyed success since his move overseas, his agent told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca back in October that his client would consider a return to MLB if the right opportunity came along. As for Betemit, a knee injury limited him to just six games with the Orioles this past season before he was designated for assignment in September, but he owns an .819 career OPS against right-handed pitchers. His defense could be an issue, though. Both players would be low-cost alternatives to Uribe, who is coming off arguably the best season of his 13-year major league career.

 

Jacoby Ellsbury Uses Full-Page Ad In Boston Globe To Thank Red Sox Fans

Jacoby Ellsbury Uses Full-Page Ad In Boston Globe To Thank Red Sox Fans

                                                                                    Posted: 12/14/2013  2:36 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/14/2013  2:36 pm EST

Jacoby Ellsbury ad

Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury puts on his jersey during his introductory press conference at Yankee Stadium on December 13, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) | Maddie Meyer via Getty Images

            

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On the same day that the Yankees introduced their expensive new outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury used a full-age ad in the Boston Globe to thank Red Sox fans.

The ad on Friday showed an image of Ellsbury holding the World Series trophy.
Not long after winning the World Series with the Red Sox, Ellsbury signed a seven-year deal worth $153 million with Boston’s biggest rival.

 

ALDERSON, METS TRY TO REBUILD TEAM WITHOUT BLOATED PAYROLL

By

Jared Diamond

Updated Dec. 13, 2013 9:33 p.m. ET

The Mets have tried to balance inexpensive youngsters like Matt Harvey, left, with expensive veterans like David Wright, middle, and Curtis Granderson.                      Getty Images

Questions about money continue to plague the Mets, enveloping every aspect of the team’s operations. Their payroll, which ranked among the highest in baseball as recently as 2011, now falls closer to smaller-market franchises from Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

This seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Even after the expensive additions of outfielder Curtis Granderson and pitcher Bartolo Colon, the Mets’ budget in 2014 likely won’t climb much higher than $90 million.

Taken by itself, that figure doesn’t present a problem. Franchises, such as Tampa Bay and Oakland, spend much less and still contend, while others that invest considerably more fail. Cash alone can’t predict results.

In other words, success isn’t built from how much a team pays for its players, but rather how it allocates those resources.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson knows this. He cited “payroll concentration” as the reason the Mets wouldn’t pursue a $100 million player. With third baseman David Wright already locked into an eight-year, $138 million deal, Alderson argued that it would hurt the Mets to enter that stratosphere again with somebody else. He called this “a historical fact.”

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Curtis Granderson puts on a jersey after being introduced during a news conference Tuesday.                      Associated Press

But here’s the problem: It may be too late. As long as the Mets are paying Wright as much as they are—$20 million in each of the next five years—history suggests it will be difficult for them to construct a competitive roster without expanding their payroll.

The Journal examined every contract in baseball history with a total value of at least $100 million, to see how teams who signed those costly players typically fared. The research indicated that, in general, teams win in one of two ways: with a massive payroll and the ability to load up on stars, or with a relatively small payroll dispersed among young, talented players, usually from within the organization. (In most cases, players don’t make much more than the league minimum in their first three years in the majors.)

Teams like the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers belong in the first category. Last season, the Dodgers had four players with contracts worth more than $140 million. But with a total payroll of more than $216 million, those players made only a small dent. The team’s highest-paid player, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, made up about 10% of the overall payroll, and the Dodgers finished with a record of 92-70.

The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays belong in the second group. The Rays contend for the playoffs every year with a payroll that usually falls under $65 million. Their best player, third baseman Evan Longoria, made $6 million last season.

Right now, the Mets don’t fit in either group. They have a medium-size payroll focused on one player. If their payroll settles at $90 million next season, Wright’s $20 million would represent more than 22% of it.

That would spell bad news, if history is any indication: Teams with a $100 million player taking up more than 20% of the overall payroll have a cumulative winning percentage of just .455.

For example, $100 million outfielder Carlos Lee accounted for more than 20% of the Houston Astros’ payroll from 2010 to 2012, during which time the team went 187-299 (.385). After three consecutive winning seasons, the Minnesota Twins have gone just 195-291 (.401) since Joe Mauer’s $184 million deal kicked in. This year, he represented 28% of the team’s payroll.

Meanwhile, teams with one $100 million player making less than 15% of the budget have generally done well, posting a .524 winning percentage. Take the 2006 Mets: That year, $119 million outfielder Carlos Beltran made up just 13.8% of a $101 million payroll. They went 97-65 and reached the NLCS.

On the whole, teams that decide to sign a $100 million player do well. Since the Dodgers made pitcher Kevin Brown the sport’s first $100 million man prior to the 1999 season, teams with at least one of these players have compiled a winning percentage of .511. Teams with more than one $100 million player have a .540 winning percentage. (This figure includes teams that paid a sizable portion of a departed $100 million player. The Angels, for instance, paid outfielder Vernon Wells $9.5 million last season even after trading him to the Yankees.)

So what does this all mean for the Mets? Alderson said in an interview this week that payroll concentration “is something we’re consciously aware of,” adding that the team has done its own research on the subject.

Nonetheless, the Mets felt that it made sense to offer Wright such a large contract, even with their payroll constraints. Wright came up with the Mets, established himself as their biggest star and last spring was named captain. When he retires, he’ll go down as one of the greatest Mets of all time. Letting him leave would have been a devastating blow to the fan base.

“There’s an exception to every rule,” Alderson said. “We’re very happy with the fact that David’s with us. We don’t have any misgivings about it.”

Now the Mets must find a way to build around him.

The key to breaking the trend, it seems, is player development. Homegrown talent is cheap. Matt Harvey made less than $500,000 last season and emerged as one of baseball’s best pitchers. With enough of these kinds of players, teams can work through a skewed payroll concentration.

Consider the 2010 San Francisco Giants. Despite more than 19% of their roughly $96 million payroll going to disappointing pitcher Barry Zito, they won the World Series. How? Their best players didn’t make much: Catcher Buster Posey and pitcher Madison Bumgarner had just reached the majors, while key pitchers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain made less than $15 million combined.

The Mets hope to follow that model. Harvey, along with fellow pitching prospects Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, won’t cost much for the next few years. Neither will catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud. Will they be enough? Either way, as long as the Mets’ payroll hovers around $90 million, it’s hard to blame Alderson for shying away from another major contract.

At least until the Mets raise the payroll.

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Picture of the Day: Max Scherzer and his WWE championship belt

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Picture of the Day: Max Scherzer and his WWE championship belt

Dec 14, 2013, 3:30 PM EST

We told you last month that WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon was planning to send championship belts to 2013 Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Well, Scherzer has received his and decided to show it off on his Twitter account this afternoon:

Pretty snazzy. Now if Scherzer starts wearing a robe to the mound and yells “woo” after every strikeout, I’ll be really impressed. Gotta play the part, you know.

 

Report: Dodgers re-sign Juan Uribe to two-year deal

Report: Dodgers re-sign Juan Uribe to two-year deal

Dec 14, 2013, 5:07 PM EST

Juan Uribe GettyGetty Images

Fortunately for Dodgers fans, the idea of the team using Michael Young as their starting third baseman in 2014 was short-lived.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers and Juan Uribe have reached agreement on a two-year deal to keep him in Los Angeles. No word yet on the terms involved.

Such a scenario would have been considered a longshot back in March, as Uribe contributed very little in the first two years of his three-year, $21 million deal with the Dodgers, but he came out of nowhere in 2013 with the best season of his career. The 34-year-old hit .278/.331/.438 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI over 132 games while playing excellent defense at third base. Well-liked in the clubhouse, Uribe also came up big during the postseason, including a go-ahead homer during the NLDS against the Braves that pushed the Dodgers to the NLCS.

The Marlins, White Sox and Rays were among the other teams who reportedly showed interest in Uribe this winter. The Dodgers were said to be considering Young as an alternative at third base if Uribe signed elsewhere, but they were able to convince him to stick around.

Bound for Tigers, Joba says Yankees memories ‘are all good’

Bound for Tigers, Joba says Yankees memories ‘are all good’

By George A. King III

December 14, 2013 | 12:55am

It was time to go and everybody knew it. The buzz of 2007 had turned into boos, and all involved needed a new beginning.

On Friday, Joba Chamberlain got it.

Even though the Yankees need late-inning bullpen arms, bringing Chamberlain back wasn’t seriously considered.

“I talk to Brian [Cashman] all the time and I can’t recall a specific conversation about Joba,’’ Chamberlain’s agent, Jim Murray, said. “I wasn’t expecting one, Brian wasn’t expecting one and Joba wasn’t expecting one. He will miss New York and loved the New York fans but it was time to move on.’’

Chamberlain has no ax to grind with the Yankees.

“The memories are all good, even through the good and the bad, it’s all good,” Chamberlain told The Post in a phone interview Friday. “I was part of a World Series winner, the fans were great and the support unbelievable. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity. Seven years went fast. Obviously I’m looking forward to this opportunity, but without the [Yankees] opportunity I wouldn’t have this one.’’

After meeting with Tigers brass Wednesday night at the Winter Meetings at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Chamberlain slid over to nearby Lakeland for a physical Thursday and a one-year deal for $2.5 million was announced by the Tigers on Friday.

If Chamberlain appears in 55 games in 2014, he will get a $500,000 bump. Chamberlain, who made $1.8 million last season, is expected to start the year as a seventh-inning arm, but could move into the eighth if 23-year-old Bruce Rondon struggles or has health issues. Rondon missed the postseason with a right flexor muscle problem.

Chamberlain, 27, has worked more than 55 games once, having made 73 appearances in 2010. Due to injuries that included Tommy John surgery in 2011 and a dislocated ankle the following spring, Chamberlain has pitched 94 games in the past three seasons. He was 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in 45 games this past season, when he was a mop-up man in the second half and booed often at Yankee Stadium late in the year.

“It was tough to find a rhythm; it was one of those years you learn from it. As a competitor it gets you frustrated,’’ said Chamberlain, whose velocity climbed into the mid-90s in the second half, though the teeth of his slider rarely surfaced and there were concerns about his fitness. “The slider is the last to come and they say it takes two full years [after surgery] for it to come.’’

With the Yankees signing Brian McCann, Hiroki Kuroda, Jacoby Ellsbury and having agreed to a deal with Carlos Beltran that hasn’t been announced, Cashman’s priorities weren’t with the bullpen.

“I talked to Jim Murray but we didn’t make an offer. We haven’t signed relievers. Boone Logan was productive for us last season and left for Colorado,’’ Cashman said of the lefty who received a three-year deal for $16.5 million from the Rockies. “We talked, but we didn’t make an offer.’’

The Yankees are looking for another starting pitcher via trade or free agency, but bullpen help eventually will be addressed.

They likely will concentrate on adding a lefty to the pen to help replace Logan, who appeared in 61 games in 2013 after making a career high 80 appearances in 2012. Following this past season, Logan had a bone spur removed from his left elbow.

Hot Stove Roundup: Crazy Logan deal leads 10 under-the-radar moves of note

Boone Logan, Rockies

Boone Logan got a three-year deal from the Rockies. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

After a wild week leading up to the winter meetings, the meetings themselves saw relatively little action. Including the Rockies’ signing of lefty reliever Boone Logan, which wasn’t confirmed until Friday morning after the meetings ended, there were just 17 transactions completed this week in which a free agent agreed to a contract with an average annual value of $1 million or more or saw a team trade for a player likely to be on its 25-man Opening Day roster.

 

There were more than twice as many moves last week with those contracts totaling nearly half a billion dollars over 34 player seasons. This week’s free agent agreements have totaled $82 million over 16 player seasons. Bartolo Colon‘s two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets is the richest of the bunch, and Logan’s three-year deal is the longest.

We’ve already broken down the most significant moves of this week, but with so few going down, here’s a recap of the others, starting with the free agent signings in order of total guaranteed dollars.

Boone Logan, LHP, Rockies: $16.5 million, 3 years

Logan’s three-year deal surpasses the total value of the three-year, $13 million deal fellow LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy) Javier Lopez signed with the Giants last month and more than doubles the three-year, $7.5 million deal LOOGY Randy Choate signed with the Cardinals a year ago. That’s a ridiculous contract for a pitcher who is limited to matchup situations. Logan isn’t a bad pitcher, having held lefties to a .228/.297/.365 line over the last four seasons, but he’s still susceptible to righties, who have hit .257/.351/.424 against him over that time. That’s not a disastrous split, but it was enough for the Yankees to limit him to two-thirds of an inning per appearance over the last four years.

Logan has a higher release point than sidearming LOOGYs like Lopez, and over the last couple of years, he has ditched his changeup in favor of increased reliance on his slider. That’s the out-pitch in his sinker/slider combo and it features a significant change of speed between his mid-90s fastball and low-80s slider. As a result, he has seen his strikeout rate jump up to 11.3 men per nine innings over those two seasons. Logan also increased his previously weak ground ball rate in 2013, an important factor for a pitcher moving to Coors Field (or one tasked with facing lefties in the new Yankee Stadium). His home run rate spiked with it, but that was more likely to have been a fluke.

So it’s not so much Logan that is the problem here as the fact that the Rockies committed $16.5 million to add a LOOGY to a bullpen that already features lefties Rex Brothers and Josh Outman coming off strong seasons. It’s difficult to see this contract as anything other than a serious misallocation of resources.

Rajai Davis, OF, Tigers: $10 million, 2 years

The righthanded Davis had hit .303/.363/.438 against lefthanded pitching over the last five years while averaging 43 stolen bases per season at an 80 percent success rate over that span. A centerfielder by trade, he can play all three pastures and will likely share leftfield with the lefthanded Andy Dirks in 2014 while playing his home games in one of the best triples-hitting ballparks in baseball. Given that $5 million per year is a part-time salary these days, Davis is a nice fit for the suddenly cost-conscious Tigers.

Garrett Jones, 1B, Marlins: $7.75 million, 2 years

Jones had a lousy 2013 and was non-tendered by the Pirates last week. Still, he’s a nice bounce-back candidate for a Marlins team with nothing to lose given that some of his poor 2013 season could be blamed on bad luck on balls in play. That said, Jones’s value is largely tied up in his home run stroke, and Marlins Park is the worst place in the majors for lefthanded home run hitters according to the park factors in the 2014 Bill James Handbook. That doesn’t bode well for Jones, who will be 34 when this contract expires, but he’s still a nice buy-low move for Miami.

The addition of Jones should prompt another move by the Marlins given that Jones is a career .193/.234/.344 hitter against lefties and is thus in serious need of a platoon partner. One intriguing rumor this week had Miami interested in lefty-killer Delmon Young, who is reportedly working out at first base this winter.

Edinson Volquez, RHP, Pirates: $5 million, 1 year

Volquez is not guaranteed a rotation spot in Pittsburgh. Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Wandy Rodriguez and the recently-extended Charlie Morton (three-years, $21 million) are all vying for a place on the staff, and the Pirates are still interested in bringing back A.J. Burnett, who has said he’ll either return to the Bucs or retire.

So while no one should be surprised if Volquez ends up in the bullpen, he could also add depth to a rotation that has some question marks, among them: Can Liriano repeat his sensational 2013? Was Locke’s success last season mostly luck given his opponents’ .597 OPS with runners in scoring position? Is Rodriguez’s arm healthy?

Furthermore, Volquez is an affordable up-side play for the team and pitching coach Ray Searage coming off their success with Liriano. After all, Volquez is only 30, throws in the mid-90s and has had solid strikeout rates in the past.

Roberto Hernandez, RHP, Phillies: $4.5 million, 1 year

The former Fausto Carmona has a clearer path to a rotation spot in Philadelphia than Volquez has in Pittsburgh despite their similar contracts and the fact that Hernandez was occasionally bounced from the Rays’ stacked rotation in 2013. Hernandez still has the extreme groundball rates he was known for under his alias, but despite that tendency, he has proven homer-prone in recent seasons. That’s not a good characteristic for a hurler moving from pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field to homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park. That and his 5.19 ERA over 59 starts and 18 relief appearances over the last three seasons inspires little confidence that this move will pay off for the Phillies.

Clint Barmes, SS, Pirates: $2 million, 1 year

Sophomore Jordy Mercer is expected to be the Pirates’ starting shortstop in 2014, but bringing the good-field/no-hit Barmes back as his caddy for one more year won’t hurt, provided manager Clint Hurdle has sufficient patience with Mercer.

Felipe Paulino, RHP, White Sox: $1.75 million, 1 year

Paulino missed all of 2013 following July 2012 Tommy John surgery and had a second surgery in September to clean up the rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder. Prior to those surgeries, Paulino threw in the upper 90s with strikeout stuff, but was never able to turn that ability into major league success due to in large part to injury issues. A starter for most of his career, Paulino could thrive in a relief role if healthy, but this is a roll of the dice by the White Sox on a player who seemed destined for a minor league contract this winter.

Trades

Cubs acquire CF Justin Ruggiano from the Marlins for OF Brian Bogusevic

This is an oddly compelling trade of journeymen fourth outfielders. Ruggiano is a centerfielder who will be 32 in April and followed a breakout 2012 season (.313/.374/.535 in 320 plate appearances) with a poor 2013 (.222/.298/.396, albeit with 18 home runs). Bogusevic was lousy as the Astros’ primary rightfielder in 2012 but put up solid numbers as a part-timer in 2011 and with the Cubs this past season (.280/.336/.459 in 337 combined PA).

The secret for Bogusevic is keeping him away from lefthanded pitching, against which he has hit .147/.206/.200 in 102 major league plate appearances. Given the Marlins’ crowded outfield, that shouldn’t be a problem, as he’s unlikely to be more than a lefty off the bench for them. By comparison, Ruggiano, a career .296/.378/.490 hitter in the minors, has a chance to win a significant share of the Cubs’ centerfield job, be it as a platoon partner for Ryan Sweeney or in an even larger role.

Nationals acquire LHP Jerry Blevins to from the A’s for OF Billy Burns

As a lefty reliever, Blevins has had inconsistent platoon splits, which over the course of his career have worked out to him being equally effective against both righties and lefties. Thus he’s not really a match-up reliever, both because he can handle righties and because he doesn’t dominate lefties. Having previously acquired lefty Fernando Abad from the Nationals in a minor trade in late November and kept Sean Doolittle out of the closer’s role with the addition of Jim Johnson, the A’s could spare Blevins. Washington, meanwhile, had Xavier Cedeño coming off an awful season as the only lefty in their ‘pen prior to this trade.

Burns is a compelling centerfield prospect who has hit .312/.421/.379 two-plus seasons since being drafted way down in the 32nd round out of Mercer University by the Nationals in 2011. This past season, he echoed that slash line in High A and 138 plate appearances in Double A, stealing 74 bases at a 91 percent success rate along the way. He’s already 24 and has yet to spend a full year above A-ball, which is why Oakland was able to get him for a middle reliever like Blevins, but he certainly bears watching in 2014.

Astros acquire RHP Anthony Bass from the Padres for Rule 5 pick LHP Patrick Schuster

Bass is a fairly generic fifth-starter/middle-reliever type righty. He’s not big, he doesn’t throw exceptionally hard, none of his secondary pitches are worth mentioning and the control that was his calling card in the minors hasn’t carried over to the majors. He’s filler for a Houston bullpen that needed some.

Schuster was taken in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft by the Astros out of the Diamondbacks’ system and shipped over to the Padres. He’s a 23-year-old lefty with solid strikeout numbers but some control issues who has never pitched above High A, a level he repeated in 2013. He posted a sparkling ERA there (1.83) thanks to a lot of luck on balls in play (.248 BABIP). As a Rule 5 pick, San Diego will have to keep him on the 25-man roster or disabled list throughout 2014 in order to keep him beyond that, which would seem extremely unlikely if not for the fact that Schuster is now the only lefty reliever on the team’s 40-man roster.