Sidelined since mid-March with a strained pectoral muscle, Frank Francisco has been activated from the disabled list and figures to take over as the Blue Jays’ closer fairly soon.
Much like he did stepping for Joe Nathan with the Twins last season Jon Rauch has done a solid job in place of Francisco, converting all three of his save chances while posting a 2.70 ERA and 5/2 K/BB ratio in 6.2 innings.
Rauch may hang onto the job until Francisco puts together a good outing or two in a lower-leverage role, but Toronto acquired Francisco to be the closer after he lost that job to Neftali Feliz in Texas last season.
To make room on the 25-man roster for Francisco’s return the Blue Jays optioned Jesse Litsch to Triple-A, which also paves the way for Brandon Morrow to come off the DL and take his spot in the rotation back from Litsch on Friday.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.
Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.
Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.
Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”