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Baseball notes: Nationals release Hellickson, then sign him to minor league contract

Associated Press

The Washington Nationals released former Orioles pitcher Jeremy Hellickson on Sunday to avoid paying him a retention bonus, then signed him to a minor league contract.

Hellickson is expected to replace A.J. Cole in the major league rotation once he's ready.

Cincinnati outfielder Ben Revere, St. Louis reliever Jason Motte, Kansas City pitcher Ricky Nolasco, Minnesota infielder Erick Aybar and Cubs outfielder Peter Bourjos also were released Sunday, four days before all 30 clubs play their openers.

It was the last day for teams to choose what to do with players who chose to become free agents after the World Series and later signed minor league contracts. Clubs could either opt to add them to the 25-man roster for opening day, release them or pay a $100,000 retention bonus if they agreed to begin the season in the minors.
Toronto reliever Tyler Clippard, who recently signed after working out at a camp for free agents in Florida, will begin with the Blue Jays. Outfielder Colby Rasmus, who walked away from the game last summer, returns with the Orioles.

Milwaukee starter Wade Miley and Nationals pitcher Edwin Jackson, both former Orioles, got the retention bonus.

Texas said Saturday that it had released pitcher Bartolo Colon. The Rangers are free to rework a contact with the 44-year-old righty.

Cleveland slugger Mike Napoli was cut, and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Columbus. The Indians brought the 36-year-old veteran to camp as more of a favor so he could showcase himself for other teams.

Napoli helped lead the Indians to the 2016 World Series, and manager Terry Francona said the organization's younger players can learn from Napoli.

“In my opinion, he can still be a major league player,” Francona said. “Like he said, even platooning or something. But while we have him, his influence will be much appreciated. He's one of the very best.”

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