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MLB notes: Michael Brantley, Indians sign $25m deal

Outfielder Michael Brantley was all smiles after signing a four-year deal to remain with the Indians.

Paul Sancya/AP

Outfielder Michael Brantley was all smiles after signing a four-year deal to remain with the Indians.

Michael Brantley was smoothly sidestepping a question about whether he should have won the Gold Glove for going an entire season in the outfield without an error. His boss interrupted him in midsentence.

‘‘He should have won the Gold Glove,’’ Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said.

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Brantley’s response matched his ‘‘Dr. Smooth’’ nickname. He kept right on going, talking about everyone except himself.

‘‘It’s about winning baseball games,’’ Brantley said.

His devotion to that answer helped him get a $25 million, four-year contract Thursday as the Indians opened spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. A player who was the last piece in the deal for pitcher CC Sabathia in 2008 is now recognized as one of the Indians’ core players.

Brantley batted a team-leading .284 last season, when Cleveland ended a five-year playoff drought. The Indians lost to Tampa Bay, 4-0, in the wild-card game.

The challenge is to keep getting better. The Indians decided that the 26-year-old can be instrumental that way. He avoided arbitration by agreeing to the deal, which he signed after passing a physical.

Brantley gets a $3.5 million signing bonus and salaries of $1.5 million this year, $5 million in 2015, $6.5 million in 2016, and $7.5 million in 2017. Cleveland has an $11.5 million option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2017 salary would increase by $1 million if he’s among the top five in MVP voting in any year from 2014-16 and would go up by $500,000 if he finishes sixth to 10th. The option price would be boosted by $1 million if he’s among the top five from 2014-17 and by $500,000 if he finishes sixth to 10th.

‘‘He is a complete player,’’ Antonetti said. ‘‘He is a tireless worker, a great teammate, a complete professional in every sense of the word. When you’re making investments of this magnitude, those are the things you look for. He embodies everything we look for in our players.

‘‘His entire focus is on the team. A lot of guys talk about that and will give the surface, ‘Hey, I'm a team player.’ Michael lives that every day.’’

He proved it last season. Brantley was slotted as the leadoff hitter and center fielder until the Indians signed Michael Bourn. He agreed to move to left field and floated around in the batting order, hitting everywhere from first through eighth as manager Terry Francona rested regulars.

Brantley set career highs with 26 doubles, 10 homers, 73 RBIs, and 66 runs.

Gutierrez out

Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has told the team that he will not play this season because of a recurring illness. The Mariners said Gutierrez, 30, won’t be reporting to spring training after a relapse of the gastrointestinal problem that slowed him last season. Position players are due to report next Monday. Gutierrez told the team that he didn’t think it was fair to come to spring training if he couldn’t fully compete for a spot on the major league club. He signed a one-year contract for $1 million plus incentives last December and figured to get a good shot at winning the No. 1 center fielder job in camp. The Mariners put the 2010 Gold Glove winner on the restricted list and took him off the 40-man roster . . . Seattle officially announced it signed righthanded reliever Fernando Rodney to a $14 million, two-year deal. Rodney, 36, was 5-4 with 37 saves and a 3.38 ERA for the Rays in 2013. He ranked second in the American League in saves and ERA over the past two seasons, with a combined 85 saves and a 1.91 ERA.

On the move

The Nationals filled the last clear-cut need on their roster on the opening day of spring training, acquiring catcher Jose Lobaton and two prospects from the Rays for pitcher Nathan Karns. Lobaton gives the Nationals insurance behind fellow Venezuelan Wilson Ramos, who has never played in more than 108 games in a season because of various injuries. ‘‘He’s a capable backup,’’ GM Mike Rizzo said, ‘‘in case something does happen with Wilson.’’ Lobaton, 29, started 76 games for the Rays last season and batted .249 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. He was expendable because the Rays re-signed catcher Jose Molina and traded for Ryan Hanigan. Rizzo said Lobaton has above average metrics on defense. A notable exception is a 16 percent success rate throwing out would-be base-stealers. The Nationals are giving up a top prospect in the 26-year-old righthander Karns, who three made starts in his first taste of the major leagues last season, but they’re adding a pair of 22-year-olds from the Jays’ pool of talent: outfielder Drew Vettleson and lefthanded pitcher Felipe Rivero . . . Taiwanese lefthander Yao-Hsun Yang and the Pirates agreed to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to big league spring training camp. Yang, 31, made nine appearances while pitching in Japan’s minor leagues last season . . . The Cubs have agreed to one-year contracts with pitchers Jason Hammel and James McDonald. Hammel is set to earn $6 million next season while McDonald, whose deal is not guaranteed, is due $1 million plus performance bonuses. The 6-foot-6-inch Hammel was Baltimore’s Opening Day starter last season but went 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA. Shoulder problems limited McDonald to six starts with Pittsburgh a year ago.

Fregosi ailing

Former major league manager and All-Star Jim Fregosi is hospitalized in Miami after suffering an apparent stroke while on a cruise for baseball fans. A spokeswoman for MSC Cruises said the 71-year-old Fregosi became ill Tuesday as the MSC Divina was headed from Grand Cayman to Mexico. The ship returned to Grand Cayman and Fregosi was later taken to a hospital in Florida. He works as an executive for the Braves . . . The Yankees will play exhibition games against the Miami Marlins in Panama City March 15-16 to honor retired New York reliever Mariano Rivera, the first visit of Major League Baseball to the Central American nation since 1947.

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