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Phillies’ search for bench bat leads to John Bowker

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The desire to add a left-handed bench bat for the playoffs led the Phillies to sign and quickly release Jack Cust and now they’ve acquired John Bowker from the Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

Bowker has been at Triple-A for most of this season, hitting .306 with 15 homers and an .830 OPS in 106 games, but the 27-year-old corner outfielder/first baseman has played 228 games in the majors for the Giants and Pirates while hitting just .237 with a .679 OPS.

That includes a .248 batting average and .718 OPS versus right-handed pitching and even at 27 his solid minor-league track record suggests Bowker is capable of more if given another extended opportunity. He won’t get that down the stretch in Philadelphia because his role would be mostly pinch-hitting, but Bowker is a solid low-cost pickup.

And because he’s expected to join the roster today, Bowker will be eligible for the playoffs.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.