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Yankees hit with $28M luxury tax

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POSTED December 17, 2013 11:16 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees were hit with a $28 million luxury tax bill, pushing their total past the $250 million mark since the penalty began in 2003.

According to Major League Baseball calculations sent to teams Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers were the only other team that exceeded the tax threshold this year and must pay $11.4 million. Boston finished just under for the second straight year, coming in $225,666 shy of the $178 million mark.

Figures include average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters, earned bonuses and escalators, adjustments for cash in trades and $10.8 million per team in benefits.

Tanaka says he wants to pursue career in MLB

TOKYO (AP) — Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka wants to move to Major League Baseball next season but his Japanese team doesn’t want to let him go.

MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball’s new posting system caps the fee for players at $20 million, less than half what Japanese teams received for pitchers Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

“I informed my team that I would like them to allow me to test my abilities in Major League Baseball next season,” Tanaka said at a news conference on Tuesday after a meeting with Rakuten Eagles President Yozo Tachibana. Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League during the regular season. He will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season and can move to MLB only if the Eagles agree to post him.

The Eagles, who won the Japan Series, voted against the new posting agreement in balloting by Japan’s 12 teams on Monday and say they want Tanaka to remain with them for next season.

Roberts, Thornton agree with Yankees

NEW YORK (AP) — Making a pair of thrifty deals to fill holes on their roster, the New York Yankees agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract with second baseman Brian Roberts and a $7 million, two-year deal with left-hander Matt Thornton.

The deals are contingent on the players passing physicals, a person familiar with the agreements told The Associated Press on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the contracts were not final.

RHP Shunsuke Watanabe agrees with Red Sox

BOSTON (AP) — Right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe has agreed to a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Boston says he will report to minor league spring training as a reliever.

The two-time All-Star in Japan is a submarine-style pitcher with a 87-82 record and a 3.65 ERA. He spent 13 years with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Pacific League and pitched on Japan’s World Baseball Classic championship teams in 2006 and 2009.

Royals introduce new 2B Omar Infante at Kauffman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Omar Infante walked past the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium, where he dressed so many times as a member of the Detroit Tigers, and slipped on a crisp, new Kansas City Royals jersey.

It was the latest sign of that the Royals intend to compete for the AL Central this season.

The Royals introduced their new second baseman Tuesday, one day after announcing they had agreed to a $30.25 million, four-year contract that includes a club option for 2018.

“I really got to see this team up close and I was very impressed by what they did last year,” Infante said, “and I think they’re close to taking the next step.”

Infante will make $5 million next season, $7.5 million in 2015, $7.75 million in 2016 and $8 million in 2017. His option is $10 million with a $2 million buyout, and if Infante wins Silver Slugger or is picked for the All-Star game, his salary increases by $250,000 for each remaining season.

Orioles, Balfour agree
to 2-year deal

BALTIMORE (AP) — Two weeks after trading their closer to Oakland, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with former Athletics closer Grant Balfour on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the deal.

Balfour’s contract will not be completed until the right-hander passes a physical, the person told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the transaction had not been announced by the Orioles.

Balfour fills the vacancy left by the trade of closer Jim Johnson, who was dealt to Oakland because Baltimore didn’t want to pay him about $10 million a season. Johnson had 50 saves in each of the past two seasons but was in line for a huge raise.

“It’s really about the allocation of resources and to have a competitive team,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said at the time. “You have to have proper balance.”

Cubs, Jose Veras near $4M contract

CHICAGO (AP) — A person familiar with the situation says the Chicago Cubs and reliever Jose Veras were closing in on a $4 million, one-year contract.

The person spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because the deal with the 33-year-old right-hander was pending a physical.

Veras would get $3.85 million next season, and the Cubs have a $5.5 million option for 2014 with a $150,000 buyout. He can make an additional $750,000 annually in performance bonuses based on games finished.

Veras was 0-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 67 games last season for the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers, who acquired him on July 29.

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