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Indians pull out stops for free agent Nick Swisher

Indians pull out stops for free agent Nick Swisher

CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians called upon a proven recruiter to land free agent outfielder Nick Swisher.

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was among a group who had lunch on Tuesday at Progressive Field with Swisher, who is considering a multiyear contract offer from the Indians. Swisher would immediately fill a hole in right field for Cleveland, which traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati last week and has been trying to improve a team that collapsed in August and finished 68-94.

The 32-year-old Swisher, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Yankees, arrived in Cleveland on Tuesday night and went to dinner with new manager Terry Francona, team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti. Last week, Antonetti said he intended to add a ``corner'' outfielder and the Indians are pulling out all the stops to add Swisher.

He and his wife, actress JoAnna Garcia, who is expecting the couple's first child in May, arrived at Progressive Field at 10:15 a.m. and toured the club's family room. They were shown a suite and the team's clubhouse before the Indians tugged at Swisher's Ohio State connections to convince him Cleveland should be his next baseball home. Swisher played baseball for the Buckeyes.

The Indians played a video on their scoreboard that featured current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and basketball coach Thad Matta, who encouraged Swisher to join the Indians. Swisher was moved by the gesture and didn't expect to see Tressel at lunch in the stadium's Terrace Club.

Tressel won a national title at Ohio State but was forced to resign amid a scandal. His new position is Akron's vice president of strategic engagement.

Following the lunch, which also included Francona, Swisher met with Shapiro and members of the club's marketing department. He left at 2:45 p.m. without giving the Indians an answer. Swisher is expected to visit with other teams before making a decision. Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco are among the teams who have shown interest in him.

``It was great to connect,'' Antonetti said. ``We had a chance to share our thoughts on the organization and where we are, and were able to answer any questions he may have had.''

A switch-hitter, Swisher batted .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in 148 games last season, his fourth with the New York Yankees.

The Indians have been in the market for an outfielder throughout the offseason. They offered Shane Victorino a four-year contract worth a reported $44 million before he signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Boston.

Also, Cleveland officially signed free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds to a one-year, $6 million deal. He spent the past two seasons with Baltimore, batting .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games last season.

``We feel Mark provides a great balance to our lineup, a right-handed hitter with some power, with the ability to get on base,'' Antonetti said. ``We feel he will help our offense.''

Reynolds passed a physical last week but his signing couldn't be announced until the Indians made a 40-man roster move. The club designated infielder Russ Canzler for assignment.

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Orioles starting rotation ranked near the bottom of MLB

Orioles starting rotation ranked near the bottom of MLB

BY TYLER BYRUM

Coming into the 2017 season, the Baltimore Orioles are looking to build off a Wild Card appearance last year that ended in disappointment. 

In the off-season the team needed to address numerous issues along their roster, especially the team’s starting pitching.  Without any major moves during the winter, the Orioles will start the season with the 24th best starting rotation in the majors according to USA Today.

Last year the team’s rotation was not that great and a majority of them are returning to the squad this season. Behind Kevin Gausman (3.61 ERA) and Chris Tillman (3.77), the remaining six regular starters averaged a 5.35 ERA. Only one of those pitchers had a sub 5.00 ERA and that was right-hander Dylan Bundy (4.02).

He started the season primarily as a reliever but towards the end of the year he was consistently in the five-man rotation. In the games he started, the right-handed pitcher finished with a 8-5 record. None of the other starters, excluding Chris Tillman, finished the season with a winning record. 

Based on essentially no pitching moves by the organization, it appears that the 24-year-old Bundy will be called on to be the third man in the rotation.

READ ALSO: Orioles projected to have a down season

The next rotation spot is lining up for Wade Miley, a starting pitcher the Orioles acquired last season from the Seattle Mariners. Starting in 11 games for Baltimore he only registered two wins.

Leaving only one rotation slot open, returner’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright will be fighting for the spot. Jimenez, who gave up the homerun that ended the 2016 campaign against the Toronto Blue Jays, initially looks to be one of the pitchers to fill in.

While the free agent class was not stellar this off-season, it included two World Series champions Jason Hammel and Edinson Volquez. Other notable free agents were Ivan Nova, R.A. Dickey, and Rich Hill.

Of all the minor transactions the team made in the past three months only one pitcher, Tomo Ohka, has notable experience as a starting pitcher. He turns 41 in March.

RELATED: Manny Machado ranks high among third basemen

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Where does Orioles star Manny Machado rank among MLB third basemen?

Where does Orioles star Manny Machado rank among MLB third basemen?

With the 2017 MLB season just around the corner, several positional rankings have made their rounds. The most tightly contested rankings are of those who man the hot corner because third base is arguably the deepest position in all of baseball. 

Manny Machado is one of the best in the game, but where did he rank with regards to other stars such as Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson and Nolan Arenado? 

Here's how Machado ranks according to several publications:

Tied for first with Kris Bryant according to CBS Sports.

Third accoring to MLB.com

Second according to FOX Sports

Second according to ESPN

It's mostly a three-man race for best third baseman in baseball between Bryant, Arenado and Machado. Over the last two season's Machado has accumulated  13.3 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs, while Bryant has 15 wins above replacement and Arenado has a 9.7 WAR. 

While all three players are similar in their offensive prowess, Machado and Arenado have been significantly better than Bryant when it comes to defensive runs saved over the course of the last two seasons. 

It's hard to go wrong with any of these players at the hot corner, especially with each one capable of hoisting an MVP trophy the end of the year. 

Related: Orioles picked to finish last in AL East in 2017