Pirates acquire infielder Yamaico Navarro from Royals

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The Royals wanted to clear a 40-man roster spot in advance of Thursday’s Rule 5 draft and did so Wednesday night by trading infielder Yamaico Navarro to the Pirates for prospects Brooks Pounders and Diego Goris.

Navarro was the youngster the Royals picked up from the Red Sox for Mike Aviles over the summer. The 23-year-old has hit .206/.250/.265 in 102 major league at-bats, just 23 of which came with Kansas City. Stretched defensively at shortstop and offensively anywhere else, he projects as a decent utilityman but probably nothing more.

Pounders, a big right-hander drafted in the second round in 2009, finished with a 3.68 ERA and a 72/14 K/BB ratio in 66 innings for low Single-A West Virginia last season. Goris, a 2o-year-old infielder, has yet to play in the U.S. He hit .350/.387/.511 against younger competition in his fourth year in the Dominican Summer League.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.