Relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle returned Tommy John surgery last season and had a 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Dodgers. He has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Yankees. Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Reliever Tommy Kahnle rejected the Boston Red Sox to return to the New York Yankees on a two-year, $11.5 million deal, as reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Boston’s offer “was very close” to New York’s but ultimately fell short, according to a source. As of late Monday night, the Red Sox were pushing to sign Kahnle and seemed well-positioned to land him.

Instead, Kahnle – a New York native who pitched from the Yankees from 2017 to 2020 – spurned Boston for a second time. In December 2020, he chose the Dodgers over the Red Sox in free agency. He missed all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2020 but was effective for Los Angeles in 2022 with a 2.84 ERA and striking out 14 batters in 122/3 innings. He was especially effective in nine appearances after coming off the injured list in mid-September; allowing one earned run and two hits in 82/3 innings. He parlayed that into the contract he agreed to Tuesday.

The Red Sox, even after signing lefty Joely Rodríguez and agreeing to terms with righty Chris Martin, are still aggressively pursuing bullpen help. .

“We’d like to (add a reliever),” Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said. “Whether that comes through free agency or trade, I think, is too early to say. But that was something we really wanted to prioritize, to target specific relievers that we liked that we think, No. 1, are going to be able to help us win games but also bring ingredients that help the puzzle fit.”

The relief corps has been an area of focus for the Red Sox, who committed $2 million to Rodríguez and $17.5 million to Martin in recent weeks. Boston posted the fifth-worst ERA in baseball (4.59) and was 39 for 67 (58.2%) in save opportunities in 2022.

“That was obviously an area that we struggled with in ’22 and a big part of the improvement we’re hoping to see has to come from us getting more out of some of the guys who are here and helping them reach their ceilings,” Bloom said. “That’s what can really take us to the next level but we also felt like we couldn’t just sit on our hands with the group that we had. We had to go out and add to it. We’re in the middle of doing that.”


Rodríguez and Martin will join a group that is also projected to include Matt Barnes, John Schreiber and potentially Tanner Houck in 2023. Ryan Brasier and Josh Taylor are also part of the mix after being tendered contracts and Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort both impressed enough down the stretch to be considered for the Opening Day roster.

The Red Sox have made their bullpen a clear priority but have yet to add an established closer. Houck proved capable of doing that job last year (8 of 9 in save opportunities) but the Red Sox may still choose to use him as a starter. Martin, Barnes and Schreiber are theoretical candidates to close as well.

“When possible, you’d always rather have that experience. I think that’s always a plus,” Bloom said. “With that said, it doesn’t mean you have to have it to be able to do that job. As we’ve looked at our reliever candidates, we’ve looked at guys that have the talent and the mindset to be able to do it. We don’t know yet how the whole offseason will shake out. It would be great to end up with somebody who has that experience but even if not, the important thing for us is to make sure they’re capable of it because it is something we need to do well.”

PHILLIES: The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free agent contract for Philadelphia at the winter meetings after it reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.


The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s NL East rivals.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

CUBS: Former National League MVP Cody Bellinger and the Cubs agreed to a $17.5 million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, was cut by the Dodgers on Nov. 18 after the 27-year-old outfielder hit .210 with 19 homers, 150 strikeouts and a .654 OPS in 144 games.

“Got a track record of a lot of success and dynamic defense,” Cubs Manager David Ross said. “I remember when he first got in the league at first base, smooth hands, dynamic center fielder, great outfielder. Hadn’t had the success he had early on, but definitely a lot of potential for a great player.”

Bellinger figures to play center for the Cubs. He had a $17 million contract this season and likely would have received a slight raise in arbitration.


GUARDIANS: Cleveland and slugging first baseman Josh Bell agreed to a $33 million, two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Bell played for Washington and San Diego last season, batting .266 with 17 homers and 71 RBI in 156 games.

Cleveland is coming off a surprising 2022 season, going 92-70 and winning the AL Central for the first time since 2018. The addition of Bell gives the Guardians more power for their lineup after they hit just 127 homers.

ORIOLES: Right-hander Kyle Gibson and Baltimore finalized a $10 million, one-year contract.

The 35-year-old would receive a $150,000 assignment bonus if traded, payable by the receiving team. He also can earn a $25,000 bonus if he is elected or selected for the All-Star team. Gibson was an All-Star in 2021.

ATHLETICS: The Oakland Athletics will have their relocation fee waived if they decide to move to Las Vegas, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says 2023 is a big year when it comes to the future of the franchise.


Speaking at baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego, Manfred also said the Los Angeles Angels are hoping to have their sale resolved by Opening Day. He had no update on the sale process for the Washington Nationals.

The A’s have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season. After withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the team announced in November 2018 it had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to the Jack London Square neighborhood.

But the city of Oakland missed a key October deadline for finalizing an agreement with the A’s on the $12 billion project. The A’s have also been exploring a move to Las Vegas.

“We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said.

GIANTS: Mitch Haniger got a $43.5 million, three-year deal with San Francisco.

Haniger, 31, dipped to 11 home runs and 34 RBI in 57 games for Seattle last season, a year after he had 39 homers and 100 RBI for the Mariners.


RANGERS: Andrew Heaney agreed to a $25 million, two-year deal with the Texas Rangers.

JAPAN: Outfielder Masataka Yoshida will be able to negotiate with Major League Baseball teams starting Wednesday under the posting system with the Japanese big leagues.

A member of Japan’s Olympic team last year, Yoshida will be posted at 8 a.m. Wednesday and MLB teams have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 20 to reach an agreement, the commissioner’s office said.

The 29-year-old hit .335 with 21 homers and 88 RBI in 119 games this year for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League. A left-handed batter, he has a .327 average with 133 homers and 467 RBI over seven seasons in the Japanese majors.

Yoshida hit .350 with two RBI as Japan won last year’s Olympic gold medal.

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