Jim Tracy eschews save-based managing in win

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Last night Jim Tracy did something I’ve been begging managers to do for years, which is use his best reliever in most important spot regardless of whether it involved a so-called “save situation.”
Tracy brought in closer Franklin Morales with a four-run lead, one out, and runners on the corners in the eighth inning, in part because Pablo Sandoval was due up for the Giants and in part because with the tying run on deck that was likely to be the most crucial spot in the game.
Morales successfully got out of the jam, preserving the four-run lead, at which point Tracy turned to setup man Manny Corpas in the ninth inning. Most other managers would have used Corpas (or another non-closer) in the tight eighth-inning spot against the Giants’ best hitter while holding Morales back for a save situation that may never have materialized (and may have been a lower-leverage spot even if it did).
Credit Tracy for doing something that has unfortunately become rare over the past 20 years or so. Better yet, Morales had zero problem with the shift in usage, saying afterward: “I think Jim Tracy did the best job. That was the best move to help us win.”

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.