Michael Bourn-to-Phillies possibility heating up

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Things are no longer quiet with Michael Bourn’s market; Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that the Phillies are “past the tire-kicking stage” with the speedy center fielder.

Bourn to the Phillies became a popular rumor as soon as Shane Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers during the season, opening up a big hole in center field. Bourn opened his career with the Phillies before being dealt to Houston for Brad Lidge five years ago.

The Mariners appear to be the other team in on Bourn at the moment. Expectations are that he’ll want a deal bigger than the five-year, $75.25 million contract that B.J. Upton received from the Braves last month. The Phillies were one of the teams trying for Upton, but it’s believed they were offering less than $12 million per year.

Bourn, who turns 30 this month, hit .274/.348/.391 with nine homers and 42 steals for the Braves last season. He’s won two Gold Gloves for his play in center field, and he was deserving of another this year.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.