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MLB roundup: Nathan near deal with Tigers, Pierzynski goes to Red Sox

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Joe Nathan is on the verge of a contract with the Detroit Tigers, who listed a veteran closer near the top of their offseason needs.

FOX Sports first reported Nathan and the Tigers were wrapping up a multi-year deal. On Monday, reports that talks between Detroit and former San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers closer Brian Wilson had fizzled.

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Nathan appeared in 67 games in 2013 with the Texas Rangers and was 6-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves.

He is three years removed from Tommy John surgery and in 13 seasons with the Giants, Twins and Rangers, posted 341 saves and a 2.67 ERA.

Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras weren’t door-slamming ninth inning relievers in mixed roles with the Tigers in 2013. Detroit went to spring training in February envisioning rookie Bruce Rondon, a flame-thrower who couldn’t find the plate, would be the primary closer but he went to Toledo when the Tigers broke camp in March.

That set off a full scramble by general manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland to set a pecking order in the bullpen, including re-signing former closer Jose Valverde.

Red Sox agree

to deal with  Pierzynski

On the same day the New York Yankees officially announced the signing of free agent catcher Brian McCann, their archrival added a backstop, too.

A.J. Pierzynski agreed to a one-year, $8.25 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.

The arrival of Pierzynski almost ends the chances of free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia returning to the World Series champions.

Pierzynski will start and share catching duties with another veteran, David Ross. Both players turn 37 before Opening Day 2014, but the Red Sox have two strong catching prospects who could fight their way onto the roster by the end of next season.

Pierzynski played one season for the Texas Rangers and had a .272 batting average with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs. He threw out a career-best 33 percent of base-stealers.

The Yankees introduced McCann, who signed a five-year, $85 million contract with a vesting option for a sixth year.

The vesting option for 2019 could make the contract, which includes a no-trade clause, worth $100 million.

McCann, 29, was a seven-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He hit .256 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs in 102 games last season.

Reports: Yankees land CF Ellsbury

A center fielder helps the Boston Red Sox win the World Series, then joins the team's archrival, the New York Yankees, as a free agent.

That scenario played out when Johnny Damon switched sides in the rivalry more than a year after Boston's 2004 championship. It might be repeated on an accelerated schedule, as Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to seven-year deal with the Yankees, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday night.

According to CBSSports.com, the contract will be worth $153 million. The deal is not finalized pending a physical.

Ellsbury, 30, was a key cog in Boston's title run this year. He led the American League with 52 stolen bases in the regular season, then batted .344 in the postseason.

Curtis Granderson was the Yankees' nominal center fielder last season, but he played just 61 games in an injury-plagued year. Brett Gardner, who started 138 games in center, likely will move to left field with Ellsbury's arrival.

Ellsbury hit .298 with a .355 on-base percentage, a .426 slugging percentage, nine homers and 53 RBIs in 134 games this year. His presence in the leadoff spot set the tone for an effective Boston offense.

After winning a World Series title with the Red Sox as a rookie in 2007, Ellsbury played seven years in Boston, though he missed significant time in 2010 and 2012 due to injuries.

The news about Ellsbury emerged on the same day the Yankees officially signed free agent catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract. The Yankees also are negotiating with second baseman Robinson Cano, the top free agent on the market, but the sides are said to be far apart.

Nationals acquire Fister from Detroit

The Washington Nationals have landed starting pitcher Doug Fister in a four-player trade with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.

Washington sent infielder Steve Lombardozzi, relief pitcher Ian Krol and minor league player Robbie Ray in exchange for the experienced right-hander.

The 29-year-old Fister went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA for the Tigers last season for a team with a deep rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez.

He joins a talented Washington starting battery that includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, who won 19 games in the 2013 campaign.

The move is the second big-name trade the Tigers have made in the last two weeks after they sent slugger Prince Fielder to Texas in exchange for Ian Kinsler on November 21.

A's make three trades in succession

In the span of 24 hours, the Oakland Athletics shook up their roster by making three trades.

On Tuesday, acquired veteran outfielder Craig Gentry and right-handed pitcher Josh Lindblom from the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Michael Choice and minor league infielder Chris Bostick.

The A's then dealt outfielder Seth Smith to the San Diego Padres, receiving right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson in return.

Late Monday night, Oakland acquired closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles, sending infielder Jemile Weeks and a player to be named to Baltimore.

Gentry, 30, is a career .280 hitter, a stolen-base threat and can play any outfield spot. He hit .304 in 2012 and came back with a .280 season in 2013.

Lindblom, 26, will be pitching for his fourth team in four years. He was strictly a reliever with the Dodgers and Phillies in 2011-12, but he made five starts in eight appearances for the Rangers in 2013. He was 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA for Texas and has a career record of 5-8, 3.82.

Choice, 24, will be on the Rangers' major league roster, and Bostick, 20, will be assigned to Class A Myrtle Beach.

Earlier Monday, the A's agreed to a two-year, $22 million deal with free agent left-hander Scott Kazmir, multiple media outlets reported.

Rays pick up RHP Bell, C Hanigan

in 3-team deal

The Tampa Bay Rays acquired reliever Heath Bell and catcher Ryan Hanigan on Tuesday as part of a three-team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds.

Bell moved from Arizona, which also sent $500,000 to Tampa Bay to offset part of his salary. Hanigan joined the Rays from Cincinnati.

Arizona got minor league right-hander Justin Choate from the Tampa Bay organization, plus a player to be named or cash. Cincinnati received left-hander David Holmberg from Arizona.

Bell, 36, is headed for his fourth team in four seasons. The right-hander went 5-2 with 15 saves and a 4.11 ERA in 69 appearances during his lone year with Arizona.

Bell will receive $9 million next season, and his $9 million option for 2015 would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games in 2014.

Hanigan, 33, will compete for playing time in Tampa Bay with two other catchers, Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. Hanigan batted a career-low .198 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 77 games for Cincinnati this year.

Holmberg, 22, made his major league debut as a spot starter for Arizona on Aug. 27, allowing three runs in 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the San Diego Padres. It was his lone big-league outing. He went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Mobile.

Choate, who turns 23 this month, finished 1-3 with six saves and a 2.88 ERA in 16 relief appearances for short-season Class A Hudson Valley this year.

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