Former major leaguers in Japan – Hitters

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I’ll go over the pitchers tomorrow, but for now, here’s a look at how
former major and minor leaguers are currently performing in Japan.

Tuffy Rhodes – .327/.413/.655, 11 HR in 110 AB

Rhodes earlier this year became the 12th player in history and first
American to hit 450 homers in Japan. He’d be leading the Pacific League
in slugging if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

Dan Johnson – .197/.302/.415, 9 HR in 169 AB
Kevin Mench – .148/.179/.204, 0 HR in 54 AB

The two highest-profile players to cross the Pacific this winter have
both been big-time disappointments, even if Johnson is doing everything
except hitting for average. Mench has found himself banished to the
minors, where he’s hit .362/.434/.553 in 47 at-bats.

Tony Blanco – .288/.341/.575, 19 HR in 233 AB

Blanco leads the Central League in homers in his first year in
Japan. His only major league action came with the Nationals in 2005,
but he’s still just 27 years old and he appears to be well set up for a
nice run as one of Japan’s top power hitters. I don’t think he was ever
going to make it in the U.S.

Gary Burnham Jr. – .247/.333/.398, 1 HR in 81 AB
Chase Lambin – .221/.256/.430, 4 HR in 86 AB

The Chiba Lotte Marines went obscure with a couple of their newest
imports, and it hasn’t really worked out so far. Burnham spent seven of
his 11 minor league seasons in the Philly farm system before playing in
Taiwan last year. Lambin, 29, hit .300/.378/.518 with the Marlins’
Triple-A club last season.

Jose Ortiz – .301/.340/.615, 9 HR in 156 AB

Ortiz, a one-time top prospect for the A’s, attempted a major league
comeback this year, only to return to Japan after failing to make the
Rockies during spring training. I’ve always thought he could hit in the
majors, but that he’s no longer much of an option at second could
prevent him from getting another shot.

Jason Botts – .143/.250/.571, 1 HR in 7 AB

I’m assuming that there have been some injury issues here. The former Ranger has hit .300/.375/.700 in 50 minor league at-bats.

Tadahito Iguchi – .330/.439/.554, 10 HR in 197 AB

Iguchi opted to return home when it didn’t look like he’d be offered
a starting job in the U.S. Obviously, he had some baseball left in him
after all. He’s performing even better now than he did in his final
year before leaving for MLB (.333/.394/.549 in 2004).

Others

Benny Agbayani – .285/.388/.431, 3 HR in 130 AB
Chris Aguila – .095/.208/.095, 0 HR in 42 AB
Hiram Bocachica – .243/.371/.564, 12 HR in 170 AB
Alex Cabrera – .250/.290/.453, 4 HR in 69 AB
Jamie D’Antona – .237/.284/.432, 8 HR in 169 AB
Jose Fernandez – .234/.308/.389, 6 HR in 175 AB
Aaron Guiel – .301/.374/.566, 9 HR in 166 AB
Luis Jimenez – .231/.268/.397, 5 HR in 127 AB
Greg LaRocca – .303/.374/.524, 9 HR in 185 AB
Scott McClain – .235/.322/.382, 3 HR in 102 AB
Alex Ramirez – .299/.324/.488, 10 HR in 244 AB
Scott Seabol – .216/.281/.352, 4 HR in 125 AB
Fernando Seguignol – .165/.248/.320, 4 HR in 97 AB
Rick Short – .230/.279/.294, 1 HR in 126 AB
Terrmel Sledge – .259/.356/.532, 9 HR in 139 AB

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.