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Carlos Zambrano is in the best shape of his life

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Our friend Nick Collias of MLBTR has been reading the Venezuelan newspapers and he passes along word from Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes that Carlos Zambrano is either (a) getting into the best shape of his life; or (b) getting ready to fight Ivan Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day:

“I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors.”

Back door out of the clubhouse in the middle of a game in which he pitched poorly, however, is another story.

In other news, apparently Zambrano participated in the Venezuelan home run derby, called the “Festival de Home Run Pepsi.” Which is great. Zambrano hit one homer and didn’t advance.  The winner was Luis Jimenez, a 10-year minor leaguer currently in the Mariners system. He beat out guys like Pablo Sandoval Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones and Miguel Montero.

I hope Zambrano sticks with the Cubs or latches on someplace. I’m gonna be bored if I can’t write about him next season.

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.