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McGehee heading back to MLB with Marlins

AP

With the addition of third baseman Casey McGehee, the Miami Marlins have replaced half of their punchless 2013 lineup.

The infielder, who has five MLB seasons under his belt, played in Japan last season and agreed to a $1.1 million, one-year contract Wednesday. Miami earlier acquired catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Garrett Jones and second baseman Rafael Furcal to shake up an offense that ranked last in the majors in runs and batting average.

McGehee was one of the key components for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013, helping to guide the Sendai-based franchise to its first-ever Japan Series title.

“We needed to get more production offensively,” president of baseball operations Mike Hill said. “We still have some work to do, but we’re very comfortable with the progress we’ve made this offseason.”

The Marlins’ third basemen totaled three homers and 44 RBIs in 2013, worst in the majors in both categories.

McGehee hit .289 with 27 homers for the Eagles this past season.

“It was a great learning experience for me,” he said. “I had to rely on myself a lot more as far as what I was doing at the plate. I started to realize the home runs showed up more when that wasn’t the sole purpose of my at-bat. And being humbled a little bit having to go over to Japan — all those things combined, I re-found my confidence. Now I’m excited about coming back and jump-starting my career over here.”

McGehee’s stint at third base for the Marlins might be brief. Miami took University of North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran with the sixth overall pick in the amateur draft, and he’s expected to eventually take over the job.

“Moran definitely had an influence in our decision-making process,” Hill said. “We invested a lot in him. We didn’t want to rush him, but there’s nothing we have seen that leads us not to believe he’s going to be a productive player. When he’s ready to be there, he’ll be there.”

In the meantime, the Marlins will count on the 31-year-old McGehee, who has an average of .257 in five big league seasons. He played for the Pirates and Yankees in 2012 and batted .217 with nine homers in 114 games.

The Marlins will be his fifth major league team. In addition to his base salary, he can earn $400,000 in performance bonuses: $50,000 each for 300, 350, 400, 450, 500, 525, 550 and 575 plate appearances.

Padres add Benoit

San Diego AP

The San Diego Padres have agreed with former Detroit Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit on a $15.5 million, two-year contract, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is pending Benoit passing a physical.

In his first season as Tigers closer, Benoit had 24 saves in 26 chances. But in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series, he allowed a tying grand slam by Boston’s David Ortiz that was a turning point in the series.

A starter early in his career, Benoit has been strictly a reliever since 2006 while with the Texas Rangers. He is 44-35 lifetime with a 4.11 ERA and 37 saves.

Mariners retain Gutierrez

Seattle AP

The Seattle Mariners have re-signed oft-injured outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a $1 million, one-year contract, adding needed depth to their outfield.

Seattle announced the deal Wednesday following a physical. Gutierrez became a free agent after the Mariners declined his $7.5 million option, but he chose to return for a sixth season hoping he can finally stay healthy.

Gutierrez won a Gold Glove in 2010 but has spent most of the past three seasons on the disabled list. He missed 106 games last season with hamstring problems that led to two extended stints on the DL.