Players News

Twins signed C Dennis Ortega to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The 24-year-old backstop spent the first eight seasons of his minor league career in the Cardinals organization. A glove-first catcher, Ortega is a career .247/.321/.314 hitter with just nine homers in 1290 career plate appearances in the minor leagues. He's nothing more than minor league catching depth for the Twins.


Twins signed OF Kennie Taylor to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

Taylor, 25, spent the 2021 campaign in the Mariners organization where he slashed .277/.350/.400 with four homers, 39 RBI and three stolen bases in 220 plate appearances in 59 games between Class-A Modesto, High-A Everett and Triple-A Tacoma. He'll add minor league outfield depth for the Twins.


Pirates signed C/OF Jakob Goldfarb to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The 25-year-old spent the 2019 season with the White Sox' Rookie League affiliate before spending the past two seasons in the independent leagues. He crushed the ball in 2021 to the tune of.342/.461/.661 with 24 homers, 90 RBI and an eye-popping 45 stolen bases in just 88 games with the Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League. He showed enough to get the Pirates attention and he could be a name to keep an eye on for the future given the power and speed combo.


Padres signed RHP Matt Swilley to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

This is a fun one. Swilley hasn't pitched professionally since he was a member of the Rays' Gulf Coast League team way back in 2013. He hadn't even pitched in the independent leagues since the 2016 season. Since then, he had undergone Tommy John surgery and had been giving pitching lessons in the San Diego area. He resurfaced with the Palm Springs Power over the summer of 2021 though -- hitting as high as 99 mph on the radar gun which drew the attention of MLB scouts. It's an extreme long shot, but if he can stay healthy there's a chance that he could work his way into the bullpen mix with the Padres at some point during the 2022 season.


Padres signed OF Thomas Milone to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The 26-year-old outfielder spent the 2021 campaign in the Yankees organization where he slashed an impressive ,280/.374/.450 with 10 homers, 38 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 96 games between Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He'll add outfield depth in the high minors for the Padres.


Giants re-signed RHP Sam Delaplane to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The right-hander was designated for assignment just before the lockout began, but he'll return to the Giants organization where he'll continue his rehab and recovery from Tommy John surgery. He's expected to be sidelined for the first half of the 2022 season.


Giants re-signed LHP Joe Palumbo to a minor league contract.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The 27-year-old southpaw was designated for assignment by the Giants at the end of November. He threw a total of 6 2/3 innings during the 2021 season, posting a 13.50 ERA for the Rangers at Triple-A Round Rock. He adds bullpen depth for the Giants.


Right-hander Dylan Covey re-signed a one-year contract with the Rakuten Monkeys in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The 30-year-old hurler did a nice job in his first season overseas, compiling a 4.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 38/17 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings in his 10 starts. Covey improved dramatically as he became more comfortable in his surroundings there, finishing with a 0.84 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over his final five starts.


Left-hander Ryan Bollinger re-signed a one-year contract with the Rakuten Monkeys in the Chinese Professional Baseball League.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The 30-year-old southpaw had his finest season overseas in 2021, posting a terrific 2.80 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 114/30 K/BB ratio over 106 innings in his 19 starts. It's unclear if he had any interest in returning stateside -- where he hasn't pitched since reaching the Triple-A level during the 2018 season.


Wladimir Balentien announced his retirement from Nippon Professional Baseball on Saturday.


Jan 23   12:09 AM

The former top prospect fizzled out stateside, hitting just .221/.281/.374 with 15 homers in 170 big league games from 2007-2009. His career took off in Japan though, as he became a prolific slugger for 11 seasons and even set the league's single-season home run record with 60 long balls with the Yakult Swallows in 2013. In his 11 seasons in Japan, Balentien slashed .266/.370/.546 with 301 home runs.


Keury Mella has signed with the Uni-Lions of Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League.


Jan 22   9:59 AM

Mella caught on with the Pirates on a minor-league deal after being released by the Diamondbacks in July. The 28-year-old former top prospect made just two relief appearances in the majors last season. He holds a lackluster 6.95 ERA, 2.02 WHIP and 25/17 K/BB ratio across 28 2/3 innings (21 appearances) in the majors since 2017. He'll look to rebuild his value overseas this upcoming season.


Keury Mellas has signed with the Uni-Lions of Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League.


Jan 22   9:28 AM

Mella caught on with the Pirates on a minor-league deal after being released by the Diamondbacks in July. The 28-year-old former top prospect made just two relief appearances in the majors last season. He holds a lackluster 6.95 ERA, 2.02 WHIP and 25/17 K/BB ratio across 28 2/3 innings (21 appearances) in the majors since 2017. He'll look to rebuild his value overseas this upcoming season.


Heston Kjerstad (heart) is expected to participate in the Orioles' hitting minicamp later this month.


Jan 22   9:28 AM

Kjerstad, selected second overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, has yet to begin his professional career, but has reportedly made a full recovery after being diagnosed with myocarditis shortly after being drafted. He turns 23 years old in February worked out at the team's fall instructional camp and is expected to participate in the organization's hitting minicamps later this month in Sarasota, Florida. It's extremely encouraging that Kjerstad is fully healthy and ready to begin his ascent to the majors this upcoming season.


Logan Ondrusek has signed with the Uni-Lions of Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League.


Jan 22   9:01 AM

Ondrusek split the 2021 campaign between Triple-A Sacramento in the Giants' minor-league system and the Leones de Yucatan in the Mexican League. The soon-to-be 37-year-old right-hander last appeared in the majors with the Orioles back in 2016.


The Mets have hired Jeremy Barnes as assistant hitting coach and Craig Bjornson as bullpen coach.


Jan 21   1:00 PM

The team announced new manager Buck Showalter's full coaching staff, with Barnes and Bjornson being the only two which hadn't been previously reported. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is the only holdover from the previous regime.


Braves signed RHP Michael Tonkin to a minor league contract.


Jan 20   6:56 AM

Tonkin last appeared in the majors with the Twins back in 2017. He split last season between the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League and Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League. The towering 32-year-old righty reliever holds an underwhelming 4.43 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 149/54 K/BB ratio across 146 1/3 innings (141 appearances) at the major-league level since 2013. He'll provide organizational relief depth for the Braves this upcoming season.


The Oakland Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to send the Howard Terminal environmental impact report to the Oakland City Council for certification.


Jan 20   6:38 AM

Martín Gallegos of MLB.com adds that a certification decision on the environmental impact report -- covering local transportation, housing and other factors -- should come in February, which would pave the way for a final binding vote on the $12 billion project later this year. This latest milestone puts Oakland one step closer to constructing a new ballpark at the Howard Terminal site. It's an extremely encouraging development that advances the project, which has crawled forward at a glacial pace for years, towards the finish line and potentially secure the Athletics long-term future in the Bay Area.


Pirates signed Dominican OF Tony Blanco Jr.


Jan 20   12:01 AM

The headliner of the Pirates' numerous international spending spree, Blanco Jr. will receive a $900,000 signing bonus. The 11th-ranked international prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, is the son of former major leaguer Tony Blanco Sr. The 16-year-old outfielder was recently described by Pirates international scouting director Junior Vizcaino as a "middle-of-the-lineup type hitter who will drive the baseball with power." He projects long-term as a prototypical, rocket-armed corner outfielder and is worth monitoring for fantasy managers in keeper and dynasty league formats.


Twins signed SS Kevin Merrell to a minor league contract.


Jan 20   12:01 AM

Merrell, a former first-round selection who was the centerpiece of the Homer Bailey trade with the Athletics back in 2019, was released by the Royals last October. The 26-year-old infielder hit hit .200/.288/.300 with three homers and seven steals across 173 plate appearances between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha last year. He'll serve as organization infield depth in Minnesota this season.


Burch Smith has signed with the Seibu Lions of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.


Jan 20   12:01 AM

Smith recorded a pedestrian 5.40 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 28/11 K/BB ratio across 43 1/3 innings (31 appearances) with the Athletics last season. The 31-year-old righty, who has made 102 appearances (13 starts) in the majors since 2013, refused a minor-league assignment last October and elected free agency after being jettisoned from Oakland's 40-man roster. He'll look to rebuild his value overseas in Japan next season.


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