Mets close to signing Japanese reliever Igarashi

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David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that the Mets are close to signing Japanese pitcher Ryota Igarashi to a two-year contract.
Igarashi is a 30-year-old right-handed reliever who has pitched for the Yakult Swallows since 1999. He saved 37 games in 2004, but has primarily been a setup man since, posting a 2.87 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 97.1 innings over the past two seasons after missing all of 2007 following Tommy John surgery.
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker put together a detailed scouting report on Igarashi, including the fact that he’s one of Japan’s hardest throwers with a fastball that reaches the upper-90s. According to Newman he also features a hard splitter with the occasional slider, but has spotty control. No word yet on the monetary details, but based on his track record, stuff, and the two-year deal it looks like the Mets view Igarashi as a late-inning setup option in front of closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.