Angels sign Juan Rincon to minor league contract

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From Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com comes word that the Angels have signed veteran reliever Juan Rincon to a minor league contract. The deal does not include an invitation to spring training, meaning Rincon will be in minor league camp with little-to-no shot of cracking the Opening Day roster.

The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 2.98 ERA and 51/19 K/BB ratio across 45 1/3 innings last season in independent ball. Once a steady setup man for the Twins, he owns a 4.03 career major-league ERA.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times recalls that Angels manager Mike Scioscia was quite critical of Rincon after the reliever tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2005. At the time, the punishment for a first-time PED offender was a quick and easy 10-game suspension.

“When Juan Rincon pitches 11 days from now, are the effects from steroids deteriorated to the point where he’ll pitch at the level of his God-given talents? No,” Scioscia told reporters in the summer of ’05. “He’ll still have the benefits of whatever steroids he was taking. I guarantee in 11 days Juan Rincon will not become a mere mortal again.”

Rincon will act as organizational relief depth this season for Anaheim. He’s likely to open the year at AAA.

Mets trade Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers

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The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.

As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.

The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.

Corey Kluber exits game with right ankle sprain

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Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.

While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.