With Hall of Fame season now comfortably in the rearview and spring training right around the corner, we're in one of the longer dead spots on the calendar in terms of MLB news. Still, rosters continue to sort themselves out before pitchers and catchers report, so let's check in on the latest news and rumors.
Hamels throws, apparently impresses
Cole Hamels was last a fixture in a rotation with the 2019 Cubs. He made one start in 2020, but most baseball fans probably assumed he had retired. Instead, he appears to be on the comeback trail. He threw for teams and scouts Friday, according to Jon Heyman, and looked "insanely good."
Hamels is now 39. In 27 starts in 2019, he was 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 143 strikeouts in 141 2/3 innings. He had a shoulder injury in 2020 and then again had arm problems in 2021 preventing his comeback.
Rays 'extend' Fairbanks
The Rays and reliever Pete Fairbanks have agreed to a contract extension worth three years and $14 million, according to ESPN. The contract reportedly contains a $7 million option for a fourth year or a $1 million buyout. Though it's technically phrased as an "extension," it doesn't buy the Rays extra years of control. Instead, the contract simply covers the final three years of Fairbanks in arbitration and gives both sides cost certainty in addition to the ability to avoid the annoying arbitration process.
Fairbanks returned late last season from a partial tear to his lat muscle and showed no signs of any lingering issues. In 24 innings, he pitched to a 1.13 ERA and 0.67 WHIP with 38 strikeouts against three walks.
Kennedy back with the Rangers
Right-handed reliever Ian Kennedy was the Rangers' closer in 2021 before being traded to the Phillies. He served out of the Diamondbacks' bullpen in 2022, but he announced via Instagram Thursday that he's back with Texas.
Kennedy, 38, had a 5.36 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 50 1/3 innings last season. Prior to his trade in 2021, however, he pitched to a 2.51 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings for the Rangers.
Nationals add Colomé
The Nats have signed right-handed reliever Alex Colomé to a minor-league deal, the club announced.
Colomé, 34, was an All-Star in 2016 and led the majors with 47 saves in 2017, both for the Rays. He was great for the White Sox in 2020, too, but had a mediocre season in 2021 with the Twins. Last season with the Rockies, he had a 5.74 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 47 innings.
Royals sign Duffy
Infielder Matt Duffy has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals, according to a team announcement. In 77 games for the Angels last season, Duffy hit .250/.308/.311 (77 OPS+).
Cubs sign Duffey
The Cubs have agreed to sign right-handed reliever Tyler Duffey, reports The Athletic.
Duffey, 32, has spent all eight of his previous MLB seasons with the Twins. In 40 outings last season, he posted a 4.91 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He was pretty productive from 2019-21, though.