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Cubs finally open the wallet to spend in Latin America

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Maybe Starlin Castro’s emergence has something to do with it, but after often sitting out the early-July spending spree in Latin America in recent years, the Cubs have invested in three significant prospects these last few days.

The most notable of the bunch is 16-year-old shortstop Enrique Acosta, who received $1.1 million to sign out of the Dominican Republic.  He’s expected to outgrow his current position, but he had one of the most promising bats of this summer’s class of 16-year-olds.

The Cubs also added two 16-year-olds out of Venezuela in catcher Mark Malave and third baseman Ricardo Marcano.

Castro’s emergence likely has opened some eyes and showed the Cubs brass that it’s worth buying a few lottery tickets.  Castro, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic without any fanfare in 2006, just made his first All-Star team as a 21-year-old.

For some quotes and more info on the prospects, check out David Kaplan’s article on CSNChicago.com.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.