MLB news roundup: Brandon Lyon signs with the Angels

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Lyon, a former closer, pitched for the Mets in 2013.

Reliever Brandon Lyon signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, according to Jon Heyman. Heyman notes that Lyon will make $1 million if he makes the big league squad.

The 34-year-old veteran signed with the Mets last offseason on a similar deal. He spent the first half of the year with New York, posting an uninspiring 4.98 ERA. He eventually earned his release in July.

Lyon has had an up-and-down career since coming up with the Blue Jays in 2001. His best year was arguably 2007, when he was used largely as a set-up man for the Diamondbacks and notched a 2.68 ERA over 74 innings. He has also served as a closer in various seasons, and has 79 career saves; this experience could come in handy on a team whose bullpen was a weakness last year and whose closer (Ernesto Frieri) posted a slightly below-average ERA (3.80). On the other hand, as a pitch-to-contact hurler, Lyon has struggled at times to get hitters out. His career ERA is 4.16, which is just about what you would expect out of your average work-a-day reliever.

Royals place Bonifacio on unconditional release waivers

The Royals have washed their hands of utility man Emilio Bonafacio, according to Chris Cotillo. Other teams have 48 hours to claim him before he becomes a free agent.

Kansas City signed Bonifacio to a one-year, $3.5 million contract in January to avoid arbitration. However, he was designated for assignment a few weeks afterward in order to make room on the roster to re-sign Bruce Chen. The team apparently could not find a taker for Bonifacio and his contract, and so have requested his release. Arbitration contracts like Bonifacio's are not guaranteed, so the Royals owe him nothing.

Bonifacio came to Kansas City from Toronto in August of last season. Between the two, he hit just .243/.295/.331 while playing every position except first base, catcher and pitcher.

Dayton Moore believes Yordano Ventura can throw 200 innings this season

The Royals will be looking to replace the production of starting pitcher Ervin Santana and general manager Dayton Moore believes top prospect Yordano Ventura is just the man, according to Andy McCullough. Santana is a free agent and is unlikely to return to the team in 2014.

The Royals' rotation was much improved last season, leading the team to 86 wins. James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis are all returning, as is the recently re-signed Chen and free agent addition Jason Vargas. But the anticipated defection of Ervin Santana via free agency leaves a large hole in the starting staff. In his only season in Kansas City, he accrued a sterling 3.24 ERA and ate up 211 innings. That is a ton of production to replace, but Moore thinks the young hurler Ventura is up to it.

Ventura is ranked No. 35 by MLB.com among baseball's top prospects. The diminutive righty, who stands just 5'11 and weighs in at 180 pounds, burned through three levels last season. He laid waste to Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 3.14 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). That performance earned him a promotion to Kansas City, where he made three September starts and tossed 15⅓ innings with a 3.52 ERA, 11 strikeouts and six walks.

The size of last year's workload is what is giving some folks pause regarding Moore's comments. Ventura will not be 23 until June and, given that last year's 150 innings were the most of his young career, his small frame may not hold up to the 200 frames that Moore is looking for. It's the classic "Ginger or Mary Ann" question when it comes to pitching prospects: do you push them hard to build up their stamina, or do you take it easy on them to try to prevent injury?

Harden wants to keep pitching

Despite popular belief to the contrary, Rich Harden is not retired from baseball. Though he has not pitched in a major league game since 2011, he plans to climb the mound again this season, according to Chris Cotillo.

Harden, only 32 years old, has had a tantalizing and tragic career. He is the poster boy for talented pitchers who just cannot stay healthy. His career ERA is a respectable 3.76 and he has struck out more than a batter per inning, but he has more seasons with fewer than 100 innings pitched (five) than seasons with more than 100 innings pitched (four). He spent the 2012 season recovering from major shoulder surgery and signed a minor-league deal with the Twins for 2013. He was released in July.

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Is 20-year-old Byron Buxton baseball's next great player?

The top 300 prospects of the 2014 MLB draft

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