Report: Rangers making progress on deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams

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Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Rangers are “making progress” on a deal with free agent right-hander Jerome Williams. Talks have “intensified” since left-hander Derek Holland suffered a left knee injury which will likely keep him sidelined until midseason.

Williams was non-tendered by the Angels in December after posting a 4.57 ERA and 107/55 K/BB ratio over 169 1/3 innings over 25 starts and 12 relief appearances last season. The 32-year-old had a 4.58 ERA in 15 starts and 17 relief appearances in 2012.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said yesterday the Holland injury won’t put any pressure on the club to make a move for a “big ticket” starting pitcher, but they are obviously looking for some insurance. As of now, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch, and Tanner Scheppers are all in the mix for the final two spots in the rotation.

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.