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Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

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Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jeff Keppinger, Joe Blanton, Jason Bay and a diamond full of players wound up in different places Wednesday at the winter meetings while top contenders waited for a pair of free-agent prizes to make their decisions.

Eric Chavez, Randy Choate and Sean Burnett also joined new teams. The lone trade was minor, with Detroit sending left-hander Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh for a young catcher.

Former MVP Josh Hamilton and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke remained in play. They're the driving forces in this market and depending on where they go, more moves are likely to follow.

Texas would like to re-sign Hamilton, at the right price. The slugger was in Nashville this week but has left, and his agent met with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels on Tuesday night.

``Obviously, one of the bigger dominoes,'' Daniels said. ``Trying to get the first one to fall.''

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey keeps drawing attention. He lives near the Opryland Hotel and dropped in for a visit, though there's no change in his situation. Signed for next season, he wants a new contract while several clubs, including Boston, want to trade for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

In the meantime, some deals stayed on deck. No telling if any of them will get done before the meetings end Thursday with the Rule 5 draft for players left off 40-man rosters.

``We wondered if one of the guys went off, (if) it would speed up. We'll see,'' Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said. ``It seems like it may be moving a little bit.''

Also in the mix: Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, amid speculation Arizona is trying to get him in a multi-team swap.

All-Star third baseman David Wright of the New York Mets became the first player to step up to the brightly lit podium in the press room. Standing at the spot where trades and signings are usually announced, his appearance was expected.

Wright was in town to talk about his $138 million, eight-year contract, the largest in team history. The lifetime .301 hitter is a six-time All-Star and turns 30 in two weeks. A Mets fan growing up, Wright said he wanted to spend his entire career with the club.

``I've never pictured myself in a different uniform,'' he said.

``It just feels like there's so much unfinished business and I'd like to finish what I've started,'' he added. ``Honestly, it wouldn't mean as much to me winning somewhere else as it would obviously winning here.''

Away from the dais where Wright spoke, inside the suites at the sprawling 2,881-room hotel, several players changed jerseys.

Keppinger agreed with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no announcement.

The versatile infielder hit .325 with a career-high nine home runs and 40 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season. At 32, the well-traveled Keppinger is known for making contact and has more walks than strikeouts during his eight-year career with the Rays, San Francisco, Houston, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the Mets.

Keppinger is likely to play third base for the White Sox. Kevin Youkilis finished the season at that spot for Chicago last season, then became a free agent. The New York Yankees and Arizona also had been interested in Keppinger.

Arizona wound up with Chavez, giving the corner infielder a $3 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The 34-year-old Chavez hit .281 with 16 homers in 278 at-bats for the Yankees, seeing time at first base, third base and designated hitter. The six-time Gold Glove winner lives in the Phoenix area.

Bay and the Seattle Mariners agreed on a one-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiation said. The 34-year-old outfielder is hoping to resurrect his career with the Mariners after three disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Mets.

The Los Angeles Angels added Blanton and Burnett to their retooled pitching staff, and St. Louis signed Choate for its bullpen.

The Chicago Cubs and outfielder Nate Schierholtz closed in on a $2.25 million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations said. Baltimore kept outfielder Nate McLouth and Colorado re-signed pitcher Jeff Francis.

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AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Kevin Gausman turned on MLB Network, and immediately changed the channel

Kevin Gausman turned on MLB Network, and immediately changed the channel

By Michaela Johnson

Baseball season has been over for a while, especially for the Orioles - it's been more than two months since Baltimore lost to Toronto in the American League Wild Card game.

When O's lefty Kevin Gausman turned on MLB Network last night, he was probably hoping for some Hot Stove or Intentional Talk, but that is not what he got.

Gausman had a 3.61 ERA last season, the best on the Baltimore's starting rotation. He did give up more home runs (28) than any other O's pitcher, but he also pitched the greatest number of innings.

Fans responded very supportively to Gausman's tweet, saying things like "dude you were nasty this year. No worries," and "It's all good. We still love you Kevin. You're gonna win 20 next year, just watch."

While 20 wins is somewhat of a stretch, Gausman isn't eligible for free agency until 2021, so he has at least a few more seasons with the Orioles to continue improving and remain a key part of their starting five.

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Orioles hire two former pitchers to bolster bench staff

Orioles hire two former pitchers to bolster bench staff

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles announced former pitchers Roger McDowell and Alan Mills will be joining the team for the upcoming season. McDowell will be the Orioles new pitching coach and Mills will coach the bullpen.

Replacing Dave Wallace, who retired from major league coaching at the end of the season, McDowell spent the past 11 years as the Atlanta Braves pitching coach. While in Atlanta he oversaw the development of All-Stars Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran.

Before his coaching days, he played in the league for 11 seasons as a reliever with a 3.30 ERA and 129 career saves. His last career stop was in Baltimore.

Mills has been a member of the Orioles organization for five seasons, his most recent assignment being in Bowie. There, he served as the pitching coach for the past two seasons. 

Both players are former Orioles even played with each other in 1996. A majority of Mills 12 year career was with Baltimore, in the team's bullpen. 

Last season, Baltimore's pitching staff averaged a 4.22 ERA (19th in MLB).