Washington has been linked to basically every possible left-handed reliever all offseason and the Nationals finally snagged one, acquiring Jerry Blevins from the A’s for minor-league outfielder Billy Burns.
Blevins was expendable because of Oakland’s impressive bullpen depth, but he’s been much more than a strict southpaw specialist with a 2.81 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 154 innings during the past three seasons while actually faring better against righties (.205 AVG, .634 OPS) than lefties (.224 AVG, .674 OPS).
Burns was just named the Nationals’ minor league player of the year after hitting .315 with 74 steals in 121 games between high Single-A and Double-A as a 23-year-old. He’s not considered a top prospect, failing to crack Baseball America‘s recent top 10 for the Nationals’ system, but with a .421 on-base percentage and excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios it’s easy to see why the A’s targeted him.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
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.