Beltram signs on dotted line
The New York Yankees beefed up their batting strength and probable postseason prowess by formally signing free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, an eight-time All-Star, to a three-year contract worth $45 million on Thursday.
The agreement was reached on Dec 6 but the signing was delayed until Beltran had passed a medical. He was to be introduced at a Yankee Stadium news conference on Friday.
Beltran, 36, has a .283 career batting average in the majors with 1,346 runs, 446 doubles, 358 home runs, 1,327 runs batted in and 308 stolen bases and earned the nickname “the new Mr October” because of his clutch hitting in the playoffs.
Hall of Famer and five- time World Series champion Reggie Jackson was the original “Mr. October” because of his postseason exploits with the Oakland A’s and the Yankees in the 1970s.
In 17 postseason games for the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals last season, including his first trip to the World Series, Beltran batted .268 with three doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.
Last month he became a free agent after declining a one- year deal with the Cardinals reportedly worth $14.1 million.
Born in Puerto Rico, Beltran was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1999 and has played for five teams in the majors — the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis.
He ranks fourth among active players in career runs scored, trailing only Alex Rodriguez (1,919), Derek Jeter ( 1,876) and Albert Pujols (1,425).
Beltran is the only player in the majors to have recorded four consecutive seasons with at least 100 runs scored, 20 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases, doing so from 2001-2004.
A three-time winner of the Gold Glove Award, he was originally selected by Kansas City in the second round of the 1995 Draft.
Beltran injured ribs in the World Series opener when he banged into Fenway Park’s right- fight fence while robbing Boston’s David Ortiz of a grand slam.
New York seems to have a logjam among outfielders on its roster, a group that now includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells.
To open a roster spot, the Yankees designated right-hander Brett Marshall for assignment. In other MLB news: The Cleveland Indians announced on Thursday the club has signed free agent right-handed closer John Axford to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.
Axford split the 2013 season between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, going a combined 7-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 75 relief appearances.
Axford, 30, was the Brewers’ closer from 2010-12, and he led the National League with 46 saves in 2011. He wound up as a middle reliever in 2013, then was dealt to St. Louis in August.
Tampa Bay Rays infielder Tim Beckham might be able to return in the middle of the 2014 season after undergoing right knee surgery this week.
The team announced the procedure was a success and said the rookie would be sidelined up to eight months.
Beckham, 23, sustained the injury during an offseason workout. The No 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, he made his major league debut in 2013, going 3-for-7 with one RBI in five September games. right-hander Wang Chien-ming on Thursday to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
The 33-year-old Wang went 8-7 with a 2.87 ERA in 18 appearances, including 17 starts, in Triple-A in 2013, but was only 1-2 with a 7.67 ERA in six major league starts for the Toronto Blue Jays before being released..
Wang pitched for the New York Yankees from 2005-08, going 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA until he suffered an injury to his foot in 2008.
Wang won 19 games in 2006 and again in 2007.
The Baltimore Orioles have reached an agreement with veteran Xavier Paul on a minor league contract, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun.
Paul, a free agent, played in 97 games for the Cincinnati Reds last season and batted .244 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.
The left- handed- hitting Paul has a .254 career batting average in parts of five major-league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Reds.