The Astros sign Ryan Rowland-Smith

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We interrupt the crazy Cliff Lee/Carl Crawford/Adrian Beltre chatter to tell you that the Astros have signed pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith. That from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Yes, we realize that this isn’t an Earth-shattering signing, but it’s nice to have a transaction that doesn’t invoke the name of large, monied east coast teams.

Rowland-Smith had a couple of good years in Seattle, working out of the pen exclusively his first year, and then transitioning into a swingman (though usually a starter).  He hit a wall last year, however, culminating in a late July start in which he allowed 11 runs to the White Sox.  After a stint on the disabled list — which some of us thought was questionable — he returned for four more games in which he was at least serviceable.

If he can return to his pre-2010 form — he had a 4.57 ERA in 362 career innings — he’ll be a cheap and useful pickup for the Astros. If not, well, he’ll still be cheap.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.