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Japanese reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi eyeing move to MLB

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Japanese reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi is reportedly looking to sign with an MLB team and because the 32-year-old right-hander is a free agent he won’t require a “posting fee” to negotiate with like starter Hisashi Iwakuma and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Formerly a starter, Kobayashi moved to the bullpen this season and saved 29 games with a 2.21 ERA and 53/13 K/BB ratio in 61 innings. Sunday he pitched in Game 7 of the Japan Series as his team, the Chunichi Dragons, won the championship in extra innings.

According to Kyodo News he’s “expected to begin the free agency process as early as Monday.”

Kobayashi isn’t considered an elite pitcher in Japan, but he has a strong track record in both the rotation and bullpen. He’ll likely be viewed as a relief option by MLB teams and quite a few Japanese relievers have been standouts in America, including Takashi Saito, Hideki Okajima, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Akinori Otsuka, Shingo Takatsu, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa.

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.