Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz likely won’t participate in the Home Run Derby

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Nelson Cruz is tied for the major league lead in home runs with Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion at 25 apiece, but the Orioles slugger says he likely will not participate in the upcoming Home Run Derby at Target Field, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

Though there has been compelling statistical evidence showing that the Home Run Derby does not have an adverse effect on hitters in the second half, Cruz is reticent to participate because he fears that the Home Run Derby could affect his swing.

“I don’t know if it would affect me, but even if it’s two or three games, that could be the difference between us making [the postseason],” Cruz said. “I don’t know if it’s worth that.”

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“It’s not like batting practice, where you’re hitting it all over the field,” Cruz said. “You’re trying to hit a homer on every swing, on every pitch.”

Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles on February 22. As a result of his slashing .284/.351/.575 with 25 home runs and 66 RBI, if his production doesn’t crater in the second half, the 33-year-old Cruz will likely be able to parlay his 2014 performance into a multi-year contract, even if he’ll once again be tied to draft pick compensation.

We learned yesterday that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton accepted National League captain Troy Tulowitzki’s invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.