Third baseman Josh Donaldson, the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2015, has signed a two-year, $28.65 million contract extension with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Major League Baseball team said on Wednesday.

Donaldson, 30, will earn $11.65 million in 2016 and $17 million in 2017, the Blue Jays said in a statement.

Traded to Toronto by the Oakland Athletics before the start of the 2015 season, Donaldson thrived with his new team and helped them end a 22-year absence in the postseason by claiming the American League East crown.

He clouted 41 home runs, drove in an AL-leading 123 runs for the high-powered Toronto attack, and batted .297.

Donaldson was named as a starter to the 2015 MLB All-Star Game after earning the most fan votes, received the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s best hitter and won his first Silver Slugger award at third base.

Tigers, Martinez finalize $18.5M deal

The Detroit Tigers and outfielder J.D. Martinez finalized their $18.5 million, two-year contract on Wednesday that avoided salary arbitration.

The agreement, initially reported Monday and was pending a physical, was officially announced by the team Wednesday.

Martinez, 28, will earn $6.75 million this year and $11.75 million in 2017. He can become a free agent after the 2017 World Series.

The two sides exchanged contract figures on Jan. 15. The Tigers had offered $6 million per year and Martinez filed for a raise from $3 million to $8 million for this season.

In 2015, Martinez hit .282 with 38 home runs and 102 RBIs. He was an All-Star for the first time last season and won the American League Silver Slugger Award in right field. He was also a finalist for a Gold Glove Award.

In five seasons at the major league level with the Houston Astros (2011-13) and Tigers (2014-15), Martinez has a .275 career batting average with 85 home runs and 304 RBIs in 533 games.

Belt stays with Giants for $6.2M

The San Francisco Giants and first baseman Brandon Belt agreed to a $6.2 million, one-year contract just before Wednesday’s arbitration hearing.

Belt had asked for $7.5 million and the Giants offered $5.3 million when figures were exchanged last month. The agreement was $200,000 below the midpoint.

The 27-year-old Belt, who made $3.6 million last year, batted .280 with 18 home runs and 68 RBIs in 2015 as the Giants missed the playoffs. In 2014, Belt returned from concussions to help lead the Giants to their third World Series in five years.

Over five major league seasons, all with the Giants, Belt has hit .271 with 63 homers and 263 RBIs.

Astros’ Gattis has hernia surgery

Houston designated hitter Evan Gattis is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks after having surgery on Tuesday to repair a sports hernia.

Gattis will join the team in Florida for rehabilitation but will miss most of spring training and possibly the first few weeks of the regular season. The Astros’ first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 23.

In Gattis’ first year with the Astros in 2015, he led the team in home runs with 27 and in RBIs with 88 while batting .247. Both were career highs. The Astros reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

The 29-year-old is eligible for arbitration and is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 16 that will set his salary for 2016. He is seeking $3.8 million and the team has offered $3 million.

Rangers, 1B Moreland avoid arbitration

The Texas Rangers and first baseman Mitch Moreland agreed to a $5.7 million, one-year contract Wednesday, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing.

Moreland, who made $2.975 million last season, will be eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series.

Moreland, 30, had proposed a salary of $4.675 million while Moreland countered at $6 million for Wednesday’s arbitration hearing now canceled.

Moreland hit .278 with 23 home runs and 85 RBIs in 132 games last season, starting 110 at first base, in his best major league season.

In six years in the majors, all with the Rangers, Moreland has hit .258 with 88 homers and 294 RBIs in 626 games.

Orioles sign Thayer

The Baltimore Orioles signed right-handed relief pitcher Dale Thayer to a minor league contract on Wednesday with an invitation to spring training.

Thayer, 35, will be trying to rebound from a 2015 season when he posted a 4.06 ERA in 38 games for the San Diego Padres. He went 9-12 with a 3.02 ERA in 203 games for San Diego from 2012-14 before struggling last season.

Thayer has an 11-17 record and a 3.47 ERA in 264 big-league appearances over parts of seven seasons.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...