Brad Penny officially signs with Japan’s Softbank Hawks

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According to the Associated Press, via the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Softbank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball announced Sunday on their team website that veteran right-hander Brad Penny has officially agreed to a contract for 2012.

Terms of the deal have not been released. Penny is expected to travel to Japan on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old struggled to find much free agent interest from major league teams this winter after registering a rough 5.30 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and 74/62 K/BB ratio across 181 2/3 innings last season for the Tigers. Once regarded as a dangerous power pitcher, his fastball averaged a nine-year low 92.6 mph in 2011. The pitch averaged 94.1 mph in 2010, when Penny posted a 3.23 ERA and 35/9 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 frames for the Cardinals before experiencing back problems.

UPDATE, 1:59 PM: According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Penny’s contract is worth $4 million. It also carries $3.5 million worth of incentives and a $4.5 million mutual option for 2013.

The Brewers have been “aggressive” in their trade talks for Justin Wilson

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I love the trade deadline. Yeah, it’s cool that players get traded, influencing pennant races and all that jazz, but I also love it for the terminology.

So many “internal discussions” and so much tire-kicking. Just today I heard that a team has “gotten some feelers” for a player. That sounds kinda dirty, but in a good wholesome PG-13 sort of way. It’s two solid weeks of euphemism, really.

Sometimes, though, it gets scary. Like the way the Brewers are said to be talking about Justin Wilson of the Tigers:

I suppose if you’re “hanging on for dear life” that even the worst behavior can be excused, but I do hope that Brewers GM David Stearns is not threatening to rough up Tigers GM Al Avila or anything. Can a trade made under duress caused by threats of physical force be vetoed by the commissioner? An interesting analysis to be sure, even if it’s only speculative for now.

As for Wilson, I suppose the Brewers would have to be aggressive. He’s probably the most sought-after pitcher on the market at the moment. The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this week that 10-12 clubs were in on the left-handed reliever. He has a 2.75 ERA in 38 appearances and is striking out 12.5 batters per nine innings. He’s textbook trade deadline fodder, and the Tigers will likely get a nice return for him.

But please, Stearnsy, don’t hurt ’em.

The Indians have expressed an interest in Asdrubal Cabrera

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Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that the Indians have expressed interest in Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cabrera, who began his career in Cleveland, would be a utility guy. Which is not exactly the Indians’ greatest need — they need a starting pitcher above all else — but improvement is improvement. Not much improvement in Cabrera’s case as he’s hitting .250/.333/.398 with nine homers in 70 games this season, but that’s useful if he’s cool with a strictly utility role. Which he’d have to be given that the Indians are solid at second, third and short.

Cabrera would come pretty cheaply of course. Partially because he’s not major piece, partially because he sort of hilariously demanded a trade last month. In large part because he wants to play shortstop which, now that I think about it, may complicate this whole “Cabrera for a utility role” idea the Indians seem to have.