Astros welcome back Jed Lowrie; Dodgers drop Brian Wilson _lowres

Associated Press photo by PAT SULLIVAN -- New Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie, center, stands between General Manager Jeff Luhnow, left, and Manager A.J. Hinch as he holds up his new jersey at a press conference Tuesday in Houston. Lowrie is returning to the Astros after two seasons in Oakland.

HOUSTON — One of the Houston Astros’ top priorities this offseason was to improve their infield, and the return of shortstop Jed Lowrie does just that.

Lowrie played for the Astros in 2012 before he was traded to Oakland and spent two seasons with the Athletics. He rejoined the Astros on Monday when he agreed to a $23 million, three-year contract.

“We wanted to improve our infield particularly the output of our infield offensively,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Tuesday when Lowrie was re-introduced in Houston.

Jonathan Villar started 78 games at shortstop for Houston last season and hit just .209 with 18 errors. Marwin Gonzalez also saw time at the position, starting 64 games and batting .277.

Lowrie said he felt he had some unfinished business with the Astros. He added he was excited to be part of a team that’s been boosted by talented prospects who have reached the majors.

The switch-hitter batted .249 with six homers and 50 RBIs last season. His best season came in 2013 when he played a career-high 154 games and hit .290 with 75 RBIs — both career bests.


CASHMAN SAYS A-ROD IS FULLTIME DH: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Alex Rodriguez’s days as an everyday fielder are over and he hopes A-Rod will be their fulltime designated hitter.

Chase Headley will be the Yankees’ starting third baseman after agreeing to a $52 million, four-year deal.

“I can’t expect Alex to be anything,” Cashman said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Rodriguez is coming off a season-long suspension for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract and is owed $61 million over the final three seasons of his contract.


TEAM GETS JOYCE IN EXCHANGE FOR RHP JEPSEN: The Angels acquired outfielder Matt Joyce from the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday in exchange for right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen.

The Angels have big plans for Joyce, envisioning him as their primary designated hitter and possible No. 2 hitter, which would allow AL MVP Mike Trout to hit third in front of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.


MORSE AGREES TO TWO-YEAR CONTRACT: First baseman Mike Morse agreed to a two-year contract with the Miami Marlins pending a physical, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Last season Morse hit .279 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 131 games for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. He batted .300 in the postseason and had four RBIs in the World Series.


WILSON REASSIGNED: Brian Wilson’s time with the Dodgers came to an abrupt end Tuesday when the ex-LSU reliever was designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster to accommodate newly signed starter Brandon McCarthy.

The Dodgers are responsible for all of Wilson’s $9.5-million salary, a small portion of which they could unload by trading the former All-Star relief pitcher in the next 10 days. If the Dodgers fail to move Wilson, they almost certainly would release him.

Around the majors

Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa signed a $1.1 million, one-year deal Tuesday with the Rangers that includes a club option for 2016. ... The Dodgers sent minor-league outfielder Noel Cuevas to the Rockies to complete their trade for right-hander Juan Nicasio last month. ... Infielder Daniel Descalso agreed to a $3.6 million, two-year contract with the Colorado Rockies.