Blocked by Joey Votto, Reds prospect Yonder Alonso moves to left field

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Yonder Alonso has played exclusively first base in the minors since being the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft, but with Joey Votto blocking his path to Cincinnati for the next decade or so the Reds have decided to shift him to the outfield.
MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that Alonso will begin this season playing left field at Double-A, where he finished last season by hitting .295/.372/.457 with 13 extra-base hits and a 15/14 K/BB ratio in 29 games as a first baseman.
Alonso certainly could make a relatively smooth transition to left field at age 23, but it sure seems unlikely. He’s played every inning of his pro career at first base and in ranking him as the Reds’ second-best prospect Baseball America noted that “his well-below-average speed limits him to first base.”
More likely is that the Reds give him some time in left field at Double-A, determine that they probably wouldn’t want to actually stick him out there in Cincinnati, and eventually pursue a trade. Because whether he ends up being flat-out awful or merely just sub par in left field, Alonso would have more value to a team that could install him at first base long term.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.