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Cardinals sign veteran reliever Brian Fuentes to minor league contract

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UPDATE: The Cardinals just announced that they have signed Fuentes to a minor league contract. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the veteran reliever will report to the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate on Monday and is expected to be in the minors for no more than two weeks.

Friday, 10:33 PM: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Fuentes is now “likely” to join the Cardinals.

Friday, 10:30 PM: Brian Fuentes was granted his release by the Athletics this week after being designated for assignment, but he’s not having any trouble attracting potential suitors now that he’s a free agent.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that six teams have shown interest in Fuentes. Meanwhile, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he has interest in the veteran southpaw and hopes to hear a decision at some point this weekend.

Fuentes, 36, posted a 6.84 ERA and 18/10 K/BB ratio over 25 innings this season before getting the boot from Oakland. The Athletics are covering his remaining salary, roughly $2.5 million for the rest of this season and a $500,000 buyout on a $6.5 million option for next season, so he can sign anywhere for a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum. His closing days are over, but he figures to catch on somewhere as a middle reliever.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.