Monday evening signings: Blue Jays, Marlins, A's

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*MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Blue Jays and Ramon Castro have come to terms on a one-year deal worth about $1 million.
The Blue Jays will get nice pop from their $3 million catching duo of John Buck and Castro. The two combined for 15 homers and 61 RBI in 341 at-bats last season. Of course, defense is a question mark, though both have decent enough arms. Castro should have been a starter in his prime, but he was never all that motivated to make it happen. He turns 34 in March, and he hasn’t started more than 40 games in a season since 2005. The Jays will want more from him, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he comes to play.
*The Marlins added RHP Clay Hensley, RHP Scott Strickland, RHP Matt Peterson, INF Brian Barden and INF Donnie Murphy on minor league deals.
All rather familiar names here. Getting Hensley re-signed was something of a priority. The former Padre had a nice 3.24 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque last season, and he should have a real chance of making the Marlins as a middle reliever. The other candidate to make the team is Barden. He served as a utiltyman for the Cardinals early last season, and he’d make sense as a replacement for Alfredo Amezga next year. The Marlins, though, might go with Emilio Bonifacio as a reserve and decide not to carry a true backup shortstop.
*The A’s signed five minor league free agents: LHP Cedrick Bowers, RHP Fernando Hernandez, RHP Marcus McBeth. RHP Matt Wright and 1B Matt Whitney
McBeth is the pride of this group and the only one to see major league action last season, as he pitched briefly for the Red Sox. The former outfielder was originally an A’s prospect, but he was traded to the Reds for Chris Denorfia in 2007. He had a .269 ERA and a .189 average against as a Triple-A reliever last season, and he’ll probably see some time in the Oakland bullpen next year.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.