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The Boston Globe


MLB notes: Yankees agree to deal with Brian Roberts

Ex-Sox Thornton also going to N.Y.

Brian Roberts, an All-Star in 2005 and 2007, had spent his entire 13-year major league career with Baltimore.


Brian Roberts, an All-Star in 2005 and 2007, had spent his entire 13-year major league career with Baltimore.

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 former Red Sox lefthander Matt Thornton.

Both agreements are contingent on the players passing physicals.

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Thornton, 37, replaces Boone Logan, who left for a $16.5 million, three-year contract with Colorado. A 10-year big league veteran, Thornton was 0-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 60 relief appearances this year for the White Sox and Red Sox, who acquired him in July for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs.

Thornton made $5.5 million in each of the last two seasons, and the Red Sox declined a $6 million option, which included a $1 million buyout.

Roberts, an All-Star in 2005 and 2007, had spent his entire 13-year major league career with Baltimore. However, he has not played a full season since 2009 because of injuries.

Roberts, 36, is among the options at second base to replace Robinson Cano, who left the Yankees for a $240 million, 10-year contract with Seattle. Kelly Johnson, signed to a $3 million deal, is another possibility.

Roberts signed a $48 million, five-year contract before the 2009 season, then hit .283 with 16 homers, 79 RBIs and a big league-high 56 doubles.

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His injury problems started the following year, when he missed most of spring training with a herniated disk in his back, then strained an abdominal muscle in the fourth game of the season while stealing second base against Toronto on April 9.

Roberts came down with pneumonia and didn’t return until July 23. Then he missed the final six games of the season after sustaining a concussion when he knocked himself on the batting helmet with his bat after striking out in the ninth inning at Tampa Bay that Sept. 27.

Roberts had another concussion while sliding into first base against the Red Sox on May 16, 2011, and didn’t return until June 12 the following year. He appeared in just 17 games due to season-ending hip surgery in August, and he had another operation for a sports hernia in December.

His total of 77 games last season was his highest in four years, and he hit .249 with eight homers and 39 RBIs.

Minor addition

The Red Sox signed 37-year-old Japan League veteran Shunsuke Watanabe to a minor league contract. He will report to minor league spring training in March and work as a reliever.

Watanabe was primarily a starter for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, going 87-82 with a 3.65 earned run average over 12 seasons. He also played for Japan twice in the World Baseball Classic. Watanabe was 0-4, 4.62 in six starts last season.

Watanabe has a severe submarine-stye delivery that finishes with him releasing the ball a few inches above the mound.

The Red Sox also released righthander Chris Carpenter so he could sign with the Yakult Swallow of the Japanese Central League. Carpenter, 27, was obtained from the Cubs in 2012 as compensation for the departure of general manager Theo Epstein to Chicago.

Carpenter appeared in eight games for the Sox in 2012, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and 10 walks over six innings. He was 0-2, 4.62 in 34 minor league games last season.

The Sox also received righthander Aaron Kurcz from the Cubs in that compensation deal. Kurcz had a 3.04 ERA with Double A Portland last season.

Tanaka staying put?

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 the Red Sox paid the Seibo Lions for 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 Tuesday after a meeting with Rakuten Eagles president Yozo Tachibana.

Tanaka, a 25-year-old righthander, 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.

‘‘We told him he is very important to us and we'd like him to stay,’’ Tachibana said.

Under the rules of the three-year agreement, a Japanese club may make players available between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1 and may set a price of up to $20 million.

The Red Sox obtained Matsuzaka before the 2007 season for $51,111,111.11, and agreed to a $52 million, six-year contract.

Under the cap

The Red Sox finished just under the luxury-tax threshold in 2013 for the second straight year, coming in $225,666 shy of the $178 million mark. The Yankees were hit with a $28 million tax bill, pushing their total past the $250 million mark since the penalty began in 2003. According to MLB calculations sent to teams Tuesday, the Dodgers are the only other team that exceeded the tax threshold this year and must pay $11.4 million.

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.

Because the Yankees have been over the tax threshold at least four consecutive times, they pay at a 50 percent rate on the overage, and their $28,113,945 bill was second only to their $34.1 million payment following the 2005 season. New York’s total since MLB and the players’ union instituted the tax is $252.7 million.

Orioles get Balfour

Two weeks after trading their closer to Oakland, the Orioles agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with former Athletics closer Grant Balfour. The contract will not be completed until the righthander passes a physical. 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. Balfour is the first significant addition this offseason by the Orioles, who went 85-77 in 2013 but came up short in their bid to reach the postseason for a second straight year. Balfour, who turns 36 on Dec. 30, went 1-3 with 38 saves in 41 opportunities with Oakland last season He made $4.5 million with the Athletics in 2013 . . . The Cubs and reliever Jose Veras have agreed on a $4 million, one-year contract. The deal with the 33-year-old righthander is pending a physical . . . Outfielder Michael Morse finalized a $6 million, one-year contract with the Giants after passing his physical.

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