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Blue Jays avoid arbitration with J.A. Happ, Emilio Bonifacio

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Toronto avoided arbitration with left-hander J.A. Happ and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, handing out one-year deals that pay $3.7 million to Happ and $2.6 million to Bonifacio.

It’s not clear how Happ fits into the Blue Jays’ plans, as they have five established starters in the rotation and aren’t exactly hurting for bullpen arms either, but the $3.7 million salary seemingly makes it unlikely that they’d stash him at Triple-A. Acquired from the Astros at midseason, he was arbitration eligible for the second time after making $2.35 million last season.

Bonifacio came over from the Marlins as part of the blockbuster deal for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle. He played all over defensively in Miami, but figures to the Blue Jays’ primary second baseman this season. His offense has been inconsistent and Bonifacio was hurt for much of 2012, but he has tremendous speed and has gotten on base at a .345 clip during the past three years.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.