Casey Blake’s latest rehab assignment begins tonight

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Casey Blake’s latest attempt to get over season-long back problems will begin tonight with a rehab assignment at Single-A.

Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Blake will start slow, debuting as a designated hitter, which likely means the 38-year-old is at least another week away from potentially coming off the disabled list.

This is Blake’s third stint on the DL this season and in between injuries the impending free agent has hit just .243 with four homers and a .731 OPS in 44 games during the final season of a three-year, $17.5 million deal that came after the Dodgers gave up Carlos Santana to get him from the Indians in mid-2008.

If he gets healthy and puts together a productive couple weeks in August perhaps they can get a low-level prospect for him prior to the secondary August 31 trade deadline, but probably not.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.