Braves sign Craig Kimbrel to four-year, $42M extension

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The Braves have signed closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year contract extension, avoiding salary arbitration for the next three seasons and locking him up through at least his first year of free agency. This according to the club’s official Twitter account.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says the deal also carries a club option for the 2018 season, which would be Kimbrel’s second year of free agency.

The total potential value of the four-year contract and club option is $58 million, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. It has $42 million guaranteed.

Kimbrel, 25, owns a ridiculous 1.39 ERA and 15.1 K/9 in 227 1/3 career major league innings. He saved a league-high 50 games last year for the Braves, who finished 10 games up in the National League East.

Atlanta has also inked first baseman Freddie Freeman and starting pitcher Julio Teheran to long-term extensions this winter, and outfielder Jason Heyward avoided arbitration earlier this month on a two-year, $13.3 million deal.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.