Report: Braves sign Wagner to take over closer's role

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wagner red sox.jpgA source told FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal that the Braves and Billy Wagner have come to terms on a one-year, $7 million contract with a vesting option for 2011.
The Braves were expected to be in on Wagner, but it’s a curiously timed move, given that the team just offered arbitration to both Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez on Tuesday. If either accepts the offer, the Braves would find themselves in position of two relievers due in excess of $6 million in 2010.
The odds are against that happening, though, and if the Soriano and Gonzalez depart, the Braves will could gain two additional first-round picks, plus two supplemental first-rounders, to make up for the one they’re giving the Red Sox to sign Wagner.
The Red Sox are also surely pleased with this turn of events. They weren’t poised to make a strong effort to retain Wagner, and now they’re set to land the 19th pick in the draft, assuming that the Braves fail to sign a higher ranked free agent. Matt Holliday, Jose Valverde, Jason Bay, John Lackey and Marco Scutaro are the only ones who will take precedence for the pick, and it’s highly unlikely Atlanta will land any of them. The Red Sox could now go ahead and ink Scutaro, safe in the knowledge that they’d still have at least one first-rounder.
In Wagner, the Braves get perhaps the best one-year closer option on the market. $7 million is certainly a fair price to pay, and the $6.5 million vesting option only kicks in if he finishes 50 games next year. Wagner will need to be both effective and healthy to pull that off, and if he does, the Braves would most likely want him back at that price anyway.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.