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.

Report: Christian Yelich’s relationship with Marlins ‘irretrievably broken’

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Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.

Longo said,

They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.

The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.

He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.

This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.

Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.