The Los Angeles Angels are the "front-runners" to sign free agent pitcher Mark Mulder, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo reports that the two sides could agree to an incentive-laden deal "soon." However, the book is not closed on Mulder's free agency; his agent claims that the left-hander is evaluating multiple offers and hasn't yet made a decision on where to sign, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Fletcher does note that the Angels are "up there" among the teams that Mulder is considering.
The Angels have several starting pitchers, but another arm couldn't hurt. Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson provide a good foundation at the top of the rotation, and Garrett Richards is a solid mid-rotation option. After that, newly acquired youngsters Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs both have promise but are still unproven over a full season of starting. The team also has 33-year-old Joe Blanton, but would probably prefer not to rely on him for a lot of starts after he posted a 6.04 ERA in 2013.
The 36-year-old Mulder has not pitched in the majors since 2008 due to repeated shoulder injuries. He spent nine seasons with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, and initially retired with a 103-60 record and a 4.18 ERA (106 ERA+) in 205 games.
Royals sign two players
Donald, 29, was most recently in the Cincinnati Reds organization, but he last played in the majors for the Cleveland Indians in 2012. The versatile defender has seen time at shortstop, second base, third base, left field and center field in the majors, but he is considered to be primarily an infielder. He has batted .257/.309/.362 with seven home runs in 603 big-league plate appearances.
The Royals are set at second base with the newly signed Omar Infante, but Donald could provide depth behind shortstop Alcides Escobar (559 OPS in 2013) and third baseman Mike Moustakas (651 OPS), both of whom were disappointing at the plate last year despite solid seasons in the field.
Mesa, 26, has been in the New York Yankees organization since 2006. He has only received 16 plate appearances in the majors, but he has taken full advantage of them by going 6-for-15 with two doubles, a walk and only two strikeouts. In the minors, he has posted a 751 OPS in 703 games and displayed some pop (97 home runs, 192 isolated power). Defensively, Mesa has played mostly center field, though he has also appeared in right and gotten an occasional turn in left.
Kansas City's current outfield consists of All-Star Alex Gordon in left, Gold Glove finalist Lorenzo Cain in center, new addition Norichika Aoki in right and fourth outfielder Jason Maxwell on the bench. Mesa could replace the depth that was lost when defensive standout David Lough was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for third baseman Danny Valencia.
Padres designate Portillo for assignment
Portillo is a 22-year-old right-hander who has been in the Padres organization since 2009. He has appeared in 80 games (75 starts) and posted 4.86 ERA to go along with a 14-38 record and a rate of 5.3 walks per nine innings. He reached Double-A for the first time in 2012, but posted a 7.20 ERA at that level in eight starts. He was limited to three starts in 2013 due to injuries.