Jed Lowrie, Astros avoid arbitration with one-year contract

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Jed Lowrie and the Astros agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million deal, avoiding a hearing in the infielder’s first season of arbitration eligibility.

Lowrie, who was acquired from the Red Sox for Mark Melancon in December, filed for $1.5 million while the Astros countered at $900,000.

They settled $150,000 below the midpoint, but Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that the deal includes some incentives that could add to his $1.15 million salary.

Lowrie is expected to replace Clint Barmes as the Astros’ everyday shortstop, but his health and defense there are both question marks.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.