Free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt has received interest from four or five teams, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Cotillo reports that more teams are expected to join the hunt in the next two weeks, although the Marlins are out of the picture after signing Casey McGehee in December.
Betancourt hasn't registered a positive value on the Baseball-Reference version of WAR since 2007. His career batting line is .261/.285/.388 with 80 home runs, and last year those numbers sank to .212/.240/.355 with 13 long balls in 137 games for the Brewers. Betancourt has appeared at every infield position in his career, but rates as a poor defender at each one. He has been particularly brutal at his primary position of shortstop, where he has racked up negative-74 defensive runs saved over about six full seasons. He played mostly first and third base for the Brewers in 2013.
Despite his shortcomings and his impending 32nd birthday, though, Betancourt continues to find work. Although Cotillo does not mention which teams might be interested in the veteran, a quick look around the majors suggests that the Phillies and Yankees could use some extra depth at third base.
Baltimore signs Berry
Berry has played in 107 games over two seasons with the Tigers and Red Sox and appeared in the World Series in both years. During the regular season, he has batted .268/.339/.371 with three home runs; he has also stolen 24 bases without being caught. He's 5-for-26 in his postseason career (.192 average), having appeared in all six series in which his teams participated; he is a perfect 5-for-5 in postseason steals, as well.
Berry figures to battle for a bench role with the Orioles next spring. Baltimore's projected starting outfield consists of Nick Markakis in right, Adam Jones in center and Nolan Reimold in left. Last year's left fielder, Nate McLouth, signed with the Washington Nationals in December.
Relievers Marmol and Ayala seeking major league deals
Free agent relief pitcher Carlos Marmol has talked about a major league deal with three different teams and may sign with a contract sometime in January, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors.
Marmol, who is participating in the Dominican Winter Leagues during the offseason, split 2013 between the Cubs and Dodgers. Overall, he posted a 4.41 ERA in 49 innings, but his results were much better in his 21 innings with Los Angeles. The right-hander has always presented a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses, as he throws hard and misses bats (11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in his career), but also throws wildly and misses the plate (6.1 walks per nine innings). Nevertheless, he has managed to rack up 117 saves and a 3.46 ERA over eight seasons, mostly with the Cubs. The 31-year-old made two scoreless appearances in last year's NLCS for the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, Luis Ayala received interest from the Tigers, Indians and Orioles, reports Dierkes. The right-hander, who turns 36 a week from Sunday, has "received strong interest overall;" it will likely take a major league deal in order to secure his services in 2014. Ayala split last season between the Orioles and Braves and posted a 3.27 ERA in 33 innings. He has a 3.34 ERA in 534 games over a nine-season career.
Updates: Tigers minor league stadium fire, Crain, Mulder
- The fire at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the Detroit Tigers' Single-A affiliate, was started by a heater in a skybox suite, according to WoodTV.com. The heater had caught fire while being used by a work crew, but the members of the crew believed that the flames had been extinguished before they left the scene. They were mistaken, and the ensuing blaze destroyed "the majority of the first-base side and as many as 12 skyboxes," according to the report. Read more about the incident at Bless You Boys.
- Jesse Crain's one-year deal with the Houston Astros is worth $3.25 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The contract makes Crain the third-highest-paid player on Houston's roster.
- Mark Mulder, signed by the Angels on Wednesday, is throwing around 87-92 mph with "good sink and change," according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. His fastball averaged around 88-89 mph in his prime, so it sounds like his velocity is back to where it used to be. Rosenthal also reports that the 36-year-old Mulder is "in great shape" and "remains a terrific athlete."