Juan Cruz signs minor-league contract with Pirates

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Juan Cruz is the latest veteran reliever forced to settle for a minor-league contract in a buyer’s market, signing with the Pirates for a deal that includes an invitation to spring training.

Cruz is 33 years old, but was plenty effective for the Rays last season with a 3.88 ERA and 46/28 K/BB ratio in 49 innings.

His career numbers are skewed by a rough beginning as a starter, but Cruz has a 3.77 ERA and 249 strikeouts in 217 innings since moving to the bullpen full time in 2007. His velocity has dipped somewhat in recent years, but he still averaged 92.8 miles per hour with his fastball last season.

Cardinals acquire Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins

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The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins. Craig Mish of Sirius XM was the first to report that the deal was done. Ozuna still has to take a physical.

There is no report yet about what the Cards had to give up to get Ozuna, but given that the Cards and Marlins put a deal together for Giancarlo Stanton, the sides certainly have discussed various Cards prospects recently.

Ozuna fills a major need for the Cardinals, who had serious weaknesses in the middle of the order in 2017. Last year their number three hitters hit a combined .246/.338/.425 and their cleanup hitters hit 270/.350/.444. Ozuna, 27, had a fantastic offensive year in 2017, hitting .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI in 159 games.

Ozuna made $3.5 million this past season and is due for arbitration this offseason. He is under contractual control through 2019.