Bruce Chen

Royals ace Bruce Chen placed on DL with lat strain

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And just after Aaron suggested they start printing up playoff tickets.

Bruce Chen, who is 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA in seven starts to open the year, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a left lat strain.

Vin Mazzaro will be called up to start in his place Wednesday.

Chen has been a big success with his 10th major league team, going 16-8 since the beginning of 2010.  The Royals were 6-1 when he started this year, with Chen’s lone defeat coming at the hands of the Rangers.  He had one of his better starts last time in a 9-1 win over the Orioles.

Replacing him will be Mazzaro, who was all set to be the Kansas City’s fifth starter coming out of spring training.  The Royals sent him down at the end of March because they didn’t need a No. 5 during the first week of the season, but a funny thing happened in his Triple-A tuneup, as he walked seven and allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings against Albuquerque.  The nightmare performance caused the Royals to bypass him and go to Sean O’Sullivan at the back of the rotation.

Mazzaro, though, has gotten batter lately.  Over his last three starts, he has a 3.00 ERA and a 20/3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings.  He’ll take on the Yankees on Wednesday and likely make at least one additional start before Chen return.

Report: Mark Trumbo signs three-year, $37.5 million contract with Orioles

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.

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Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.

Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.

Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.