Byung-Hung Kim

Plenty of recognizable names leaving MLB for Japan in 2011

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I’ve written a lot of words this offseason about Tsuyoshi Nishioka signing with the Twins and Hisashi Iwakuma failing to sign with the A’s after their Japanese teams “posted” them, but the list of MLB players heading in the opposite direction is pretty interesting too.

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and Fan Graphs has all the details on former major leaguers going to Japan and it’s an amusing list of washed-up former stars (Chan Ho Park, Chad Tracy, Byung-Hyun Kim), top prospect busts (Bryan Bullington, Joel Guzman, Wladimir Balentien), and role players who for whatever reason never seemed to get any traction in MLB (Micah Hoffpauir, Rusty Ryal, Jonathan Albaladejo).

Newman also notes that both Kaz Matsui and Akinori Iwamura are returning to Japan after spending a combined 11 seasons in MLB.

Diamondbacks sign Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million deal

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 14:  Jeff Mathis #6 of the Miami Marlins hits a grand slam during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on June 14, 2016 in San Diego, California.   (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.

Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.

The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.

Jimmy Rollins wants to play in 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 10:  Jimmy Rollins #7 of the Chicago White Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 10, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.

Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.

Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.