Bryce Harper cleared to begin rehab assignment

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Bryce Harper has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. He’ll begin his road back to the majors with Single-A Potomac. Harper has been out since April 26 when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb sliding head-first into third base.

Harper, 21, went on the DL with a .289/.352/.422 slash line along with one home run and nine runs batted in. His goal has been to rejoin the Nationals by the start of July. The Nationals intend to move Ryan Zimmerman back to third base when Harper returns.

Rays trade Jake Odorizzi to Twins

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The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.

With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.

Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.