Brett Jackson

Cubs in no hurry to call up top prospects Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

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First baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Brett Jackson are off to strong starts at Triple-A, but team president Theo Epstein said yesterday that the Cubs have no immediate plans to call them up to the big leagues.

Epstein explained to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times that “it’s a little bit early to be thinking about those kind of moves, specifically with your better prospects” and “those guys are continuing their development at Triple-A and things that they’re working on they need to continue to improve.”

Epstein is right, of course, because there’s no good reason to dramatically change the team’s plans 13 games into the season. And while Rizzo is hitting .393 at Triple-A it’s worth noting that he had similarly gaudy numbers there last season before struggling mightily in the majors and the guy he’d be replacing, Bryan LaHair, is hitting .357 with a 1.113 OPS. So first base production isn’t exactly the Cubs’ problem.

Jackson is a different story in that not everyone in the Cubs’ outfield is thriving, but he’s also hitting just .254 with 20 strikeouts in 14 games at Triple-A. So while his overall production is strong with an .871 OPS, it’s not hard to see where Jackson has to make improvements before a call-up is a must.

Jake Diekman will miss at least half of the 2017 season

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman #41 of the Texas Rangers works against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Rangers reliever Jake Diekman will have surgery on January 25 to help alleviate ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the lefty will miss at least half of the 2017 regular season, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Diekman was diagnosed with the illness when he was 11 years old. He has brought awareness to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America with a “Gut It Out” campaign.

Diekman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.40 ERA and a 59/26 K/BB ratio in 53 innings. He came to the Rangers from the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade on July 31, 2015.

The Rangers and Diekman avoided arbitration last Friday, agreeing to a $2.55 million salary for the 2017 season.

The Blue Jays and Bautista have reached a one year deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on during batting practice prior to game five of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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It’s been on the verge of happening for a few days now, but now it’s official: the Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista have reached a one-year deal with a mutual option. The deal is pending physical. An announcement making the deal official is expected later in week.

The exact financial figures have not been disclosed, but Jon Heyman reports that it will be in excess of the $17.2 million Bautista turned down when he turned down the Jays’ qualifying offer.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.