For American ballplayers in Japan: uncertainty

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The crisis in Japan is not a baseball story, but baseball is Japan’s biggest sport and this is a baseball blog so to the extent there is anything worthwhile about those two worlds intersecting, I’m inclined to link it.

The latest: a story about former Blue Jay Randy Ruiz, who plays for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who call Sendai — Japan’s hardest-hit city — home.

The Golden Eagles weren’t immediately affected by the earthquake/tsunami, as they were playing several hundred miles away at the time. But Ruiz’s account gives us at least a small glimpse into what’s going on with foreigners in Japan to play baseball.  Confusion mostly. Hard decisions about whether to stay or go.

Stuff about American ballplayers in Japan is not essential reading given how serious the situation is on the ground, but it’s interesting all the same.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.