Nationals sign Laynce Nix to a minor league contract

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For the first time in his career Laynce Nix was an above-average hitter last season, batting .291 with a .350 on-base percentage and .455 slugging percentage in a part-time role for the Reds.

Unfortunately he missed the final month of the season with an ankle injury, chose to become a free agent when the Reds dropped him from the 40-man roster in November, and has now had to settle for a minor-league deal with the Nationals.

It’s tough to know what to make of Nix’s solid 2010 campaign because he showed decent plate discipline after years of being one of the most hacktastic players in baseball, but it was only for 165 at-bats. Nix has always had good power, so if he’s actually learned to control the strike zone even a little bit he could be useful to the Nationals in a backup role.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.