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.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.