The Cubs sign Cuban defector Serrano

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RHP Juan Serrano defected from Cuba last year, and today the Cubs signed himBruce Levine of ESPN reports that it’s a $250,000 deal, which makes it a minor league thing unless teams are giving out half-season contracts now.  The team has yet to confirm, as physicals need to be passed and all of that stuff.

Serrano isn’t a terribly electrifying prospect.  He’ supposedly has high-80s/low-90s velocity and a decent breaking ball. This assessment, from Cuban baseball watcher Peter Bjarkman, is pretty withering:

The
stark truth (known by all close followers of Cuban baseball) is that
Juan Yasser Serrano was a rather mediocre Cuban Leaguer whose 2007-2008
record was a below average 2-7 won-lost mark, further diminished by an
elevated 6.46 ERA and a hefty .312 opponents’ batting average against
his deliveries. And this, while hurling for one of the league’s very
best teams, Villa Clara. Serrano’s three-year lifetime mark entering
the current campaign was 14-16, with a 4.40 ERA for a club that
captured division titles in all three seasons he labored there.

Bjarkman says to ignore all of the hype spewed by Serrano’s agent, Jaime Torres, saying that Torres is known for spreading “outrageous falsehoods” about his clients. I have no idea — maybe people say bad things about Bjarkman too — but those stats were complied in a league where pitchers tend to get huge strike zones, so if they’re accurate Serrano really is no great shakes.

For what it’s worth, Levine says the Cubs will start him out at A or AA.  If we ever see him in the majors, I assume it will be in middle relief. 

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.