MLB news roundup: Rays sign Oviedo, Dodgers avoid arbitration with 3

USA TODAY Sports

Oviedo hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011.

The Tampa Bay Rays have re-signed relief pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Terms of the deal have not yet been announced. The right-hander will have a base salary of $1.5 million in 2014, but can earn up to $1.4 million more by reaching certain performance benchmarks.

Oviedo, who played under the assumed name Leo Nunez through the 2011 season, missed all of 2013 while recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. He had been under contract with the Rays last season, but the team declined his $2 million option prior to this signing.

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The 31-year-old Oviedo last pitched in the majors in 2011. He missed a substantial amount of the 2012 season due to visa issues after the discovery of his fake identity, coupled with the elbow problems that led to his surgery in September of 2012. The right-hander has appeared in 317 games during his career, posting a 4.34 ERA in 357 innings of work. From 2009-11, he served as the closer for the then-Florida Marlins, racking up 92 saves during that time. It is expected that Oviedo will be ready for Spring Training in 2014.

Dodgers avoid arbitration with three players

The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to one-year contracts with three players, thus avoiding arbitration with them. The team agreed to a $700,000 deal with outfielder Mike Baxter, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, as well as a $700,000 contract with catcher Drew Butera and a $575,000 pact with lefthanded pitcher Scott Elbert, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. All three deals are non-guaranteed, according to Hernandez.

Butera is the only one of the three who played in the majors for the Dodgers in 2013. He was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in a minor deadline deal, and finished the season 1-for-10 with five strikeouts between the two teams; his minor league career includes a 607 OPS in 502 games.

Elbert was a first-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2004, and has spent his entire career with the organization. He last pitched in the majors in 2012, when he posted a 2.20 ERA in 32⅔ innings; he appeared in eight games in the minors in 2013 before missing the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery.

Baxter spent the last three seasons with the New York Mets, but was claimed off of waivers by the Dodgers in October. He appeared in 74 games for the Mets in 2013, batting .189/.303/.250; for his career, his line is .229/.335/.348 with four home runs in 415 plate appearances.

Yankees exploring options with catcher Chris Stewart

Now that they have signed All-Star catcher Brian McCann to a five-year contract, the New York Yankees must decide what to do with incumbent catcher Chris Stewart, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Stewart is eligible for arbitration, so the team must decide if it wants to tender him a contract; if they do come to an agreement with him, they will need to determine whether to keep him as a backup to McCann or trade him. Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley reports that the Twins, White Sox, Rangers, Mariners and Cubs could all be interested in the 31-year-old. The Yankees also have Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine as options behind the plate for 2014.

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