Pirates release veteran reliever Juan Cruz

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Juan Cruz was plenty useful for the Pirates on a one-year, $1.25 million deal, throwing 36 innings with a 2.78 ERA and 33/19 K/BB ratio, but today they released the 33-year-old reliever.

Cruz was designated for assignment after blowing a save in Sunday’s marathon game against the Cardinals and cleared waivers, at which point he elected to become a free agent rather than reporting to Triple-A.

Cruz didn’t pitched as well as his 2.78 ERA would suggest, but he’s generally been a pretty solid middle reliever over the years and has a 3.42 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 84 innings since the beginning of last season.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.