Braves Bolster Bullpen

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Bolstering the Bullpen

Just days after making a splash on the free agent market by bringing in former Giants’ southpaw Will Smith, the Braves further bolstered their bullpen on Tuesday by agreeing to a two-year, $14 million contract to bring back Chris Martin.

Martin, 33, registered a sharp 3.40 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 65/5 K/BB ratio across 55 2/3 innings of relief this past season between Texas and Atlanta. 

As a whole, the Braves’ bullpen logged 577 ⅔ innings during the 2019 season, registering a 4.18 ERA — the 11th best mark in all of baseball.

In bringing back Martin — as well as Darren O’Day who was re-signed earlier in the month — the Braves have fortified what looks to be one of the strongest bullpens in the National League.

Mark Melancon is currently being earmarked as the team’s primary closer. Martin and O’day will slot in somewhere behind him — along with former closers Will Smith, Shane Greene and Luke Jackson.

As long as the Braves’ starting pitchers can consistently get through five innings with a lead in 2020, the bullpen should be able to handle it from there on most nights.

 

 

Let the Bidding Begin

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Monday that the Yokohama BayStars officially informed MLB teams that Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is available via the posting process.

There had been reports that Tsutsugo was officially posted on Friday, but Monday will be the official date which means that the deadline for negotiations will be at 5:00 PM (ET) on December 19. 

The Marlins and Blue Jays have already been linked as possible suitors for the 28-year-old who hit .272/.388/.511 with 29 homers in 131 games during the 2019 season.

In addition, Japan’s Yomiuri Giants have confirmed that they will post Shun Yamaguchi this offseason.

It’s the first time the Giants have ever posted a player, but Nikkan Sports reports that the agreement was part of the team’s negotiations with Yamaguchi when he was a free agent. The 32-year-old went 16-4 with a 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 194 strikeouts in 181 innings for Yomiuri this past season and should draw a good amount of interest from major league clubs.

Yamaguchi could be an interesting alternative for teams that don’t want to wade into the Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg depths. 

 

Baby Shark Goes Far East

Gerardo Parra, who was one of the catalysts and fan favorites during the Washington Nationals’ run to their first World Series Championship this season, has signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.

The deal comes with a $2 million guaranteed salary, $500,000 in performance bonuses, and a $3 million vesting option for 2021.

Had he remained stateside, he would have likely had to settle for a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training — with far less guaranteed money than he’ll get in Japan.

The 32-year-old outfielder slashed .234/.293/.391 with nine homers and 48 RBI in 119 games between the Giants and Nationals in 2019.

 

Astros work out deal with Gurriel

The Astros signed Yuli Gurriel to a one-year, $8.3 million contract on Monday. 

Gurriel was set to earn $8 million for 2020, though he had the ability to opt out and go to arbitration had he not agreed to a guaranteed deal.

The deal also includes an additional $250,000 in incentives and gives the 35-year-old slugger the right to declare free agency following the 2020 season.

Gurriel had a huge year at the plate for the Astros in 2019, slashing .298/.343/.541 with 31 home runs and 104 RBI.

American League Quick Hits: The Red Sox signed Taiwanese right-hander Chih-Jung Liu for a $750,000 signing bonus. The 20-year-old was a two-way star in Taiwan, but is expected to pitch for the Red Sox. He’ll likely begin the season in Double-A… White Sox’ right-hander Ryan Burr has resumed throwing as he continues to work his way back following Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to miss most — if not all — of the 2020 season… Japan’s Yomiuri Giants have confirmed that they will post Shun Yamaguchi this offseason…

National League Quick Hits: Twins infield prospect Ryan Costello passed away over the weekend at the age of 23…Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the Mets have expressed interest in free agent backstop Robinson Chirinos… Former Pirates’ closer Felipe Vazquez is facing 21 new charges by prosecutors based on child pornography found on devices he owned… Mark Feinsand of MLB.com believes that Stephen Strasburg could re-sign with the Nationals before the Winter Meetings… Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post writes that Carter Kieboom could be an internal replacement for Anthony Rendon… Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters that they’re unsure on whether or not Nico Hoerner will open the 2020 season with the Cubs… The Giants signed Drew Robinson to a minor league contract… Steven Souza (knee) said Monday that he is back to running at 100 percent… Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Joey Cora has emerged as a candidate for the Mets’ bench coach job…Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Steve Karsay will interview for the Mets’ pitching coach job…



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