The Giants lose their Merkin

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Look kids, a trade:  Reliever Merkin Valdez was just sent to Toronto for cash considerations. The Giants had DFA’d him to make room for Aubrey Huff.

Hard to believe that he’s only 28, because Valdez — who used to go by the name Manny Mateo — feels like he’s been around for years. I mean, the Braves traded him for Russ Ortiz back when people did things like trade for Russ Ortiz, if that tells you anything. Of course he hadn’t even really pitched yet at that point and the only reason his name sticks out to me — either name — is that I’m a Braves fans and there was a time when I obsessed on Braves prospects even more than I do now. Well, yeah, it also sticks out to me because I’m a man who is a fan of both juvenile humor and Stanley Kubrick movies.

And he was a decent prospect once upon a time. He played in the Futures Game between 2003 and 2005. Reportedly still has a live fastball. If he’s going to stick anywhere it’ll be on a team that is willing to try anything, which is more or less what the Blue Jays are these days.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.