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RHP Thad Weber was granted his release and signed with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball League and that opened up a spot on the 40-man roster on the eve of the Rule 5 draft. After starting the season with the Padres organization, the Blue Jays claimed Weber on waivers in May. He was 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five relief outings with Toronto and was 8-5 with a 2.61 ERA in 18 games, including 15 starts, with Triple-A Buffalo.
RHP Masahiro Tanaka of the Japanese League Rakuten Golden Eagles is among the free-agent pitchers that the D-backs have an interest in toward their stated goal of beefing up the front end of the rotation. Rakuten has not decided whether to post Tanaka, however, because of a new rule agreed upon Tuesday that caps a major league team's posting bid at $20 million. "I think there are 29 teams in addition to us who would take a shot at him," D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall said. "The playing field has changed. We've had scouts over there watching him. When the time comes, we're all going to post, and let's see." In the former free-market model, the Rangers paid a $51.7 million posting fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2011 just to secure the negotiating rights to RHP Yu Darvish before signing him to a six-year, $56 million bid.
RHP Ervin Santana has drawn interest from the D-backs, according to reports. Free agent Santana is 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA in a nine-year career, all in the American League, which skews his ERA slightly. He has won at least 11 games five times and his peripherals indicated he could have done it last year, when he was 9-10 with 3.24 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He made $13 million last year and was said to be seeking a five-year, $100 million contract, although that may be too high considering the early free-agent market moves.
RHP Jeff Niemann is hoping to resume pitching by midseason following a year-plus recovery from right shoulder surgery, but it may be for a team other than the Rays. Niemann, who was arbitration eligible after making $3 million last season, was dropped from the 40-man roster and elected free agency.
RHP Nick Blackburn's days as a Twin may be over. Blackburn, who underwent surgery in August to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, may have to sit out a large chunk of the 2014 season. He missed the 2013 season due to several injuries, and the Twins made the decision to decline his $8 million option in October. Several teams were showing interest in the 31-year-old free agent.
OF Chris Coghlan and RHP Ryan Webb were non-tendered by the Marlins, who let both become free agents. Money was the reason. Coghlan was in line to make about $1 million in arbitration. Webb could have received $1.5 million in arbitration. Instead, he signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Orioles.
RHP Mitchell Boggs was not tendered a contract after going 0-0 with a 3.12 ERA in nine games with five walks and five strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings after St. Louis let him go earlier in the season when Boggs faltered badly when trying to replace injured Jason Motte as the Cardinals closer. The Rockies acquired Boggs from the Cardinals for cash -- an international signing bonus slot worth $206,000 -- on July 9, after Boggs went 0-3 with an 11.05 ERA in 18 games for the Cardinals and had been demoted to Triple-A Memphis. Boggs made $1.475 million last season in arbitration and is projected to make about $1.5 million next season.