Jeff Bagwell

Maybe the zaniest Hall of Fame ballot yet

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Here are MLB.com’s Barry Bloom’s nine picks for Cooperstown:

I voted for Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

Notice any conspicuous absences? It’s quite frankly insane that someone could pick nine players off this year’s ballot, including two tainted by steroids, yet leave off the best player of all, Jeff Bagwell.

At least Bloom does provide his “reasoning”:

And just a note on Jeff Bagwell: Rumors about possible steroid use don’t bother me. I just think he’s a very good player, but not of Hall of Fame caliber. His numbers are very similar to Steve Garvey — Bags .297 batting average to .294 for the Garv, 2,314 hits to 2,599, 449 homers to 272, 1,529 RBIs to 1,308 . But Garvey had two NL Championship Series MVPs, an NL MVP, an All-Star MVP, the longest consecutive game playing streak in NL history (1,207), one of the highest fielding percentages as a first baseman (.996) and an errorless season (1984). Garvey also played on five NL pennant winners and a World Series winner in ’81 with the Dodgers. Bagwell did almost none of this with the Astros. And Garvey didn’t get a sniff from the writers for the HOF.

Yeah, 449 homers to 272, one can hardly spot the difference there.

There have been 75 first basemen in major league history with at least 6,000 plate appearances. Among that group, Bagwell ranks ninth in homers, eighth in RBI, sixth with a .408 on-base percentage and ninth with a .540 slugging percentage. Garvey ranks 33rd in homers, 19th in RBI, 69th with a .329 OBP and 45th with a .446 slugging percentage.

I get that some writers want to leave Bagwell off the ballot because they feel he cheated. I don’t think it’s fair, but I do understand on the sentiment.

This, on the other hand, is simply crazy. To write off the steroids and then say that Bagwell doesn’t belong while McGriff and Martinez do is an exercise in some really awful logic.

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.