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.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.