Indians demote former stud setup man Vinnie Pestano to Triple-A

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Not so long ago Indians right-hander Vinnie Pestano was one of the best relievers in baseball, throwing 132 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 160 strikeouts between 2011 and 2012, but he struggled with elbow problems last season and is now headed back to the minors at age 29.

Pestano allowed six runs in three appearances to begin this season and his fastball averaged just 88.7 miles per hour, compared to a career average of 92.0 mph. Clearly something still isn’t right with his arm, but he’ll go to Triple-A instead of the disabled list.

Cody Allen has taken over for Pestano as the Indians’ primary setup man for closer John Axford, but getting Pestano healthy and anywhere close to his old self would be a huge boost to Cleveland’s chances in the AL Central.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.