■ BLUE JAYS
Clement agrees to contract
Former All-Star pitcher Matt Clement agreed to a minor league contract with Toronto on Friday as he attempts a comeback from long-term injury. Clement, 34, has not pitched in the majors since 2006 because of shoulder problems. He went 13-6 in his All-Star season in 2005 with the Boston Red Sox. He has also played in the majors with San Diego, Florida and the Chicago Cubs. Clement signed a one-year deal with St Louis for this year but was released after 16 minor league appearances, including four starts. Clement believes he can get back to the majors and contribute for the Blue Jays, who have invited him to spring training.
Ibanez to sign for US$31.5m
Philadelphia have reached a preliminary agreement with outfielder Raul Ibanez on a US$31.5 million, three-year contract. Ibanez will receive a US$2 million signing bonus, payable this year, a US$6.5 million salary next season and US$11.5 million each in 2010 and 2011. The agreement is subject to Ibanez passing a physical, two people familiar with negotiations said on Friday. The 36-year-old, who takes over in left field from Pat Burrell, batted .293 last season for Seattle with 43 doubles, 23 homers and 110 RBIs. Ibanez drove in 100 or more runs in each of the past three seasons in Seattle. Philadelphia also agreed to one-year contracts with infielder Eric Bruntlett (US$800,000) and pitcher Clay Condrey (US$650,000).
Johnson, Gaudin, Cotts join
Outfielder Reed Johnson and pitchers Chad Gaudin and Neal Cotts agreed to one-year contracts with Chicago in the hours leading up to Friday night’s signing deadline. Johnson gets US$3 million, Gaudin US$2 million and Cotts US$1.1 million. Players on rosters who weren’t offered contracts by Friday become free agents. Johnson, signed by the Cubs after Toronto released him, batted .303 with six homers and 50 RBIs last season. The 32-year-old can make an additional $800,000 in performance bonuses. Gaudin was acquired from Oakland as part of a six-player deal that also brought Rich Harden to Chicago.
Vazquez bounces again
Utility infielder Ramon Vazquez agreed to a US$4 million, two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday after batting a career-high .290 for the Texas Rangers last season. Vazquez, who can play all four infield positions, has bounced around from Seattle to San Diego, Boston, Cleveland, Texas and now Pittsburgh. General manager Neal Huntington said Vazquez “provides us depth and protection at all positions in the infield. His ability, versatility and veteran presence is a quality addition to our organization.”
■ WHITE SOX
Chicago signs defector
Chicago have signed Cuban defector Dayan Viciedo to a four-year, US$10 million contract, Major League Baseball said on its Web site on Friday. The 19-year-old third baseman, whose deal included a US$4 million signing bonus, played three seasons with Villa Clara in the Cuban League, batting .296 with 32 home runs and 123 RBI in 233 games. At the age of 15, Viciedo was named Most Valuable Player of the world junior championships in Villahermosa, Mexico. He is likely to start the season in the minor leagues behind expected Chicago regular Josh Fields. Viciedo joins infielder Alexei Ramirez and pitcher Jose Contreras as part of the Cuban contingent on the White Sox roster. The third baseman left his homeland in May.