Orioles considered darkhorse for Yoenis Cespedes

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From Nick Cafardo’s Sunday notes column in the Boston Globe, a must-read every weekend:

Yoenis Cespedes, CF, free agent – There was a lot of talk late in the week that the Orioles were the sleeper team for him. The Marlins, Tigers, and Cubs are also interested, but the Orioles are very aggressive in their pursuit of foreign-born players.

Cespedes paid a visit to Miami last week to meet with Marlins officials and was reportedly made a six-year offer worth a little under $40 million. If the O’s can top that proposal and the ones made by other interested clubs, they’ll obviously have a shot.

Cespedes, 26, batted .333/.424/.667 with 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games last year in Cuba.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.