Rays give Jake Odorizzi the fifth spot in the rotation

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Rays manager Joe Maddon has named Jake Odorizzi the team’s fifth starter, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports. As a result, Cesar Ramos will contribute out of the bullpen. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish also reports that Erik Bedard also opted out of his contract with the Rays, who hoped the left-hander would go to Triple-A.

Odorizzi turns 24 years old on Thursday and is looking forward to his first full season in the big leagues. In 29 2/3 innings last year, Odorizzi posted a 3.94 ERA with 22 strikeouts and eight walks. He has consistently been rated among the game’s top-100 prospects dating back to 2011.

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.