Braden hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011, when his season was cut short after three starts as a result of a shoulder injury. He proceeded to have two separate surgeries on the shoulder and was never able to fully recover, as he told Slusser via phone:
"There is nothing left in there, it's just a shredded mess. I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum, and I'm okay with that."
Braden's signature moment as a big-leaguer came on May 9, 2011, when he pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Oakland. He was also involved in a well-publicized feud with embattled New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez a couple of weeks prior to the perfect game, in which the two exchanged words after Rodriguez took a direct path across the pitcher's mound while returning to first base following a foul ball.
In parts of five MLB seasons, Braden went 26-36 with a 4.16 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.
San Diego avoids arbitration with Smith
Smith, 31, was acquired by the Friars from the A's on Dec. 3 in exchange for reliever Luke Gregerson. The Mississippi native hit .253/.329/.391 for Oakland in 2013 and owns a career .265/.342/.456 line in 2,300 plate appearances.
Texas' Holland undergoes microfracture surgery
Rangers starter Derek Holland had microfracture surgery on his left knee earlier this week, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.
Holland injured the knee while playing with his dog, the hurler tweeted last week, and will likely miss the entire first half of the season, according to the club. A team doctor performed the operation, which consisted of making small cracks in Holland's kneecap that will help promote cartilage growth, notes Fraley.
The 27-year-old southpaw posted a career-best 3.42 ERA in 2013 with 8.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9, figures that were also better than his career averages entering the season.
Seattle agrees to deal with Buck
Buck, 33, hit .219/.285/.362 in 431 plate appearances with the Mets and Pirates in 2013. His OPS+ of 84 was well-below average, but his defense rated out at four runs above average despite ranking last among MLB catchers in pitch-framing, according to StatCorner's Catcher Report (h/t to Dave Cameron of FanGraphs).
San Francisco's Sandoval reportedly sheds some weight
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has dropped 42 pounds during offseason workouts, according to Venezuelan baseball reporter Rafael Rojas.
Sandoval's reported weight loss also passes the eye test, per Rojas. Sandoval hasn't appeared in a game for his Venezuelan League team, Navegantes del Magallanes, but has been working out with the team for the last month. Sandoval is entering his final season before becoming a free-agent and has a lifetime OPS+ of 127 despite battling weight issues for almost his entire MLB career.
Cleveland signs Morgan, avoids arbitration with Outman
Morgan last appeared in MLB in 2012, finishing with a .239/.302/.308 line with the Brewers. Prior to that, he had his best season as a big-leaguer, hitting .304/.357/.421 in 429 plate appearances for Milwaukee in 2011.