The Italian Baseball League club Telemarket Rimini concluded the offseason with a coup. They signed former Major Leaguer Josh Phelps. The 32-year-old first baseman/designated hitter from Alaska played eight seasons in the big leagues from 2000 to 2008, wearing the jersey of the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.
His best two years were with the Blue Jays in 2002 and 2003, when Phelps hit a combined .284/.359/.507 with 35 homeruns, 98 runs and 124 RBI in 193 games. Overall he has a batting line of .273/.343/.472 with 64 homeruns in 465 games. The past two years he spent in the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians organization, playing for Minor League teams.
Phelps, who was selected by the Blue Jays in the tenth round of the 1996 amateur draft, is the ninth new player for the Pirates this offseason. They already added Dushan Ruzic, Jan Rehacek, Max De Biase, Panagiotis Sikaras, Paolo Tanesini, Daniele Santolupo and Brandon Chavez. Laidel Chapelli, Lorenzo Avagnina, Jim Brower, Daniel Gonzalez and others will not come back.
While their rivals from Rimini already have added three foreign players, UGF Fortitudo Bologna is still looking to bring in two import players besides the returning Jesus Matos. Two position players will fill these spots, one outfielder and a first baseman or two outfielders with Gabriele Ermini moving to first. According to Baseball.it two former MLB players are candidates to come to Bologna: Hiram Bocachica and Edgar Clemente, the grandson of the legendary Roberto Clemente.
The new Italian Baseball League club Novara United signed the 27-year-old Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Jean Carlos Toledo. He spent four seasons with the Angels organization, taking the mound for affiliated teams between the Rookie and High-A levels from 2002 to 2005. He had a 24-25 record with an ERA of 3.82 in 71 games (65 starts). He struck out 199 batters in 365 1/3 innings, walking 150. He pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League with an ERA of 3.76 in 23 innings this year.