Ichiro, Kuroda the latest Japanese players to bail on the WBC

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First Yu Darvish, then Hisashi Iwakuma, then Norichika Aoki and now Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda are giving the WBC a miss:

Ichiro Suzuki has told Japanese baseball officials he has decided not to take part in next year’s World Baseball Classic. Suzuki said Monday, “I appreciate being asked to play for Japan again at the WBC, but after the second tournament in 2009 I never considered playing in the third event” … Yankees’ pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, also a free agent, also said Monday he would not play in the WBC.

It’s not like Japan has a shortage of baseball talent or anything, but it is notable just how many of the big names who went stateside aren’t playing in the WBC.

Rays trade Jake Odorizzi to Twins

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The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.

With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.

Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.