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Hot Stove: Rays, David Price avoid arbitration with 1-year deal 01.02.13 at 9:40 am ET
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According to multiple reports, the Rays and left-hander David Price — the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner — avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the deal will pay Price $10.1 million in 2013. Price, who is arbitration eligible for the second time but remains three years from free agency, more than doubled his 2012 salary of $4.35 million. The 27-year-old went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 211 innings, leading the American League in wins and ERA.

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Hot Stove: LHP Francisco Liriano reportedly agrees with Pirates 12.21.12 at 1:20 pm ET
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According to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, left-hander Francisco Liriano agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with the Pirates.

Liriano spent 5½ seasons with the Twins before being traded to the White Sox in late July. The 29-year-old Dominican compiled a 6-12 record with a 5.34 ERA for the year. In his six-year career he’s 53-54 with a 4.40 ERA. His career highlight is a 1-0 no-hitter he pitched against the White Sox on May 3, 2011.

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Hot Stove: A.J. Pierzynski set to leave White Sox for Rangers at 9:22 am ET
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Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski reportedly has a one-year deal with the Rangers, pending a physical. Pierzynski, who turns 36 on Dec. 30, hit .278/.326/.501 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs in 135 games last season.

Pierzynski would seem to be a replacement for Mike Napoli, whose deal with the Red Sox has yet to be announced.

In 15 big league seasons with the Twins (1998-2003), Giants (2004) and White Sox (2005-12), Pierzynski has hit .284/.324/.429 with 155 home runs and 730 RBIs. He’s a two-time All-Star (2002, ’06) and he won a Silver Slugger in 2012.

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Hot Stove: RHP Edwin Jackson reportedly headed to Cubs at 9:14 am ET
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Pitcher Edwin Jackson, who has played for seven teams in 10 years, has a four-year deal worth $52 million with the Cubs, according to an Associated Press report.

Jackson, 29, went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA for the Nationals last season. he is 70-71 with a 4.40 ERA in his career.

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Hot Stove: R.A. Dickey reportedly finalizes extension with Blue Jays 12.17.12 at 12:49 pm ET
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The Blue Jays and pitcher R.A. Dickey agreed on a two-year, $25 million extension, according to multiple reports, allowing completion of a trade that will send the 2012 National League Cy Young winner from the Mets to Toronto.

The Mets will receive highly regarded catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud., a 23-year-old who hit .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs at Triple-A Las Vegas before tearing a knee ligament in June, requiring season-ending surgery.

New York also reportedly will receiver Single-A right-hander Noah Syndergaard and major league catcher John Buck, while sending catcher Josh Thole to Toronto.

Dickey, 38, went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA this past season. The knuckleballer is signed for $5.25 million in 2013 but could not agree on an extension with the Mets, leading to the trade.

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Hot Stove: Agent confirms Anibal Sanchez will return to Tigers for 5 years, $80M 12.14.12 at 10:56 am ET
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Right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez reached agreement to return to the Tigers on a five-year, $80 million contract, his agent told ESPN on Friday morning. Agent Gene Mato confirmed that the free agent will stay in Detroit, following reports a day earlier that Sanchez had a deal with the Cubs for six years and $147 million.

Sanchez, a former Red Sox minor leaguer who was traded by Boston to the Marlins in 2005 along with Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, was shipped from Miami to Detroit shortly before the trade deadline this past July.

In Detroit, Sanchez went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 57 strikeouts against 15 walks in 74 2/3 innings. In seven major league seasons, Sanchez has a 48-51 record with a 3.74 ERA and 733 strikeouts vs. 320 walks in 869 innings.

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The age and risk of the Josh Hamilton class, ages 32-36 12.13.12 at 4:27 pm ET
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A few days ago, we offered this column on Josh Hamilton and the likelihood of diminishing returns in the fourth year of a contract. In light of the fact that the 31-year-old (who will turn 32 early next season) signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels, it seemed appropriate to update the numbers to examine the standard performance of comparable hitters as 36-year-olds (Hamilton’s playing age in the fifth year of a deal), particularly given that, as Rob Bradford reported, the Sox were only interested in Hamilton on a deal of three or fewer years.

Hamilton is the 60th player since 1901 with an OPS+ (meaning OPS compared to league average but adjusted for park, with 100 representing 100 percent of league average, and 130 representing a player who is 30 percent better than average) of between 130 and 140 during his age 27-31 seasons and at least 100 homers during that time. As a group, his predecessors have seen their OPS+ drop from an average of 135 to 122 between ages 32-34 to 111 at age 35 before bumping back up to 114 at age 36.

However, the availability of those players into their mid-30s has seen considerable declines. While there were 60 players in the initial “Hamilton class” between ages 27-31, there were just 38 players who remained active at age 36. Meanwhile, of those who did play at age 36, those 38 players averaged 391 plate appearances, broken down as follows:

500-plus plate appearances: 12

400-499 plate appearances: 9

300-399 plate appearances: 4

200-299 plate appearances: 7

100-199 plate appearances: 3

1-99 plate appearances: 3

So, of the 60 original members of the Hamilton group, and excluding the six who remain active but younger than 36, just 38.9 percent have been healthy and productive enough to claim as many as 400 plate appearances at age 36. Players who are elite in their primes tend to remain productive (albeit considerably less so, and with far less power) as they age into their mid-30s, but their ability to stay on the field at age 35 and 36 tends to drop precipitously, to the point of creating the possibility of a very expensive contract albatross.

Here’s the breakdown of hitters in the Hamilton class:

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Hot Stove: Angels reach five-year agreement with Josh Hamilton at 2:44 pm ET
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According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com (via twitter), the Angels have reached a five-year agreement with free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.ESPNDallas.com reports that Hamilton will receive $125 million ($25 million per year).

Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, hit .285 with a .354 OBP, .577 slugging mark, .930 OPS and a career-high 43 homers for the Rangers in 2012. In his six-year big league career, the top overall pick in the 1999 draft has hit .304/.363/.549/.913 with 161 homers while averaging 123 games per year.

His AL West defection from the Rangers to the Angels represents an impactful shift for 2013, although with the Halos committing to Hamilton between ages 32-36, along with the remaining nine years on the contract of first baseman Albert Pujols, the Angels have committed considerable resources to a pair of players who are in the post-prime phases of their careers. Even so, the idea of a lineup loaded with Mike Trout, Hamilton, Pujols and Mike Trumbo will likely terrify plenty of opposing pitchers.

The Sox talked with Hamilton throughout the offseason, with GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell having met Hamilton and his agent, Mike Moye, during last week’s winter meetings in Nashville. However, the Sox’ tolerance for the risks of a deal of longer than a few years was always in question. For a look at the risks associated with commitments of more than three years with Hamilton, click here.

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Ben Cherington on Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Jerry Sands and the market for pitching 12.05.12 at 8:19 pm ET
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been a relatively quiet day on the trade rumor front for the Red Sox, to the point where the most interesting items to come out of GM Ben Cherington‘s nightly media session at the winter meetings related to activity of the first couple of days.

Foremost, while Cherington did not discuss the agreement that the team reached on Tuesday with outfielder Shane Victorino, he did make clear that in the aftermath of a signing that gives the Sox a second potential center fielder, he is not looking to trade Jacoby Ellsbury.

“You answer the phone and take the calls and listen to ideas. Our expectation is Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder,” said Cherington. “[Dealing Ellsbury] is not our intent. We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing.”

As for the level of interest in his center fielder, Cherington said, “I wouldn’€™t comment specifically. We have a number of guys who are really valued by other teams, so weve been asked about a number of guys. We’€™re not looking to move guys off our roster. We’€™re looking to add talent to the roster, not move guys off at this point. We’€™ll see. You’€™ve got to listen and learn and have the conversation. We wouldn’€™t be doing our jobs if we didn’€™t at least have the dialogue and gather the information and see what other teams are interested in doing.”

Secondly, Cherington said that he met with a player during team meetings. Colleague Rob Bradford confirmed that Cherington and manager John Farrell met with outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday.

A few other notes:

— Though Cherington said that he hasn’t talked to outfielder Cody Ross since signing Victorino, he didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back the corner outfielder who performed so well in Boston last year on a one-year, $3 million deal.

“We’€™re open-minded about it. See where it goes,” the GM said. “I guess that any time you potentially add a player of sort of significant commitment dollar-wise, it makes it a little bit tougher to add more, but I don’€™t want to rule anything out. We’€™re still looking to improve the team.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot Stove: Eric Chavez to sign with Diamondbacks at 2:42 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Diamondbacks and infielder Eric Chavez have agreed to terms, with Jack Magruder of FoxSportsArizona.com tweeting that the contract is for one year and $3 million.

The Red Sox were believed to have interest in the soon-to-be 35-year-old, who hit .281/.348/.496 with 16 homers and 37 RBI last season for the Yankees.

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