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Athletics sign Norge Ruiz to minor league deal

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Right-hander Norge Ruiz is set to receive a $2 million signing bonus from the Athletics, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. The club signed the 22-year-old Cuban defector to a minor league deal on Friday and could see the right-hander in the rotation sometime next season.

Per Sanchez, Ruiz is ranked No. 3 on Major League Baseball’s top 30 list of international prospects. He last appeared with the Sabuesos de Holguin and Ganaderos de Camaguey in the 2014 Cuban National Series, pitching to a combined 3.26 ERA with a 6.9 SO/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 110 1/3 innings. While he’s had difficulty with his command, he features a fastball that tops out around 94 m.p.h. and an impressive variety of off-speed pitches that should round out his repertoire when he makes it to the majors.

Athletics’ assistant general manager Dan Feinstein had positive things to say about the righty (via Slusser), who possesses the “makings of a quality major-league starter” and wields a big league change-up, another pitch that has earned Ruiz top billing among international prospects this year. Baseball America’s Ben Badler points out that the prospect comes with an actual price tag of $4 million, which could still be a steal if Ruiz lives up to the hype:

His bonus is $2 million, and since the A’s will have to pay a 100 percent overage tax for exceeding their bonus pool, the total cost for the team will be $4 million.

Report: Tigers to hire Ron Gardenhire as new manager

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The Tigers are expected to hire Ron Gardenhire as the team’s new manager upon completion of a contract, per Ken Rosenthal and Katie Strang of The Athletic. Gardenhire, 59, spent the 2017 season serving as the bench coach for the Diamondbacks.

Gardenhire managed the Twins for 13 seasons between 2002-14, amassing a 1,068-1,039 (.507) record in the regular season and reaching the playoffs six times.

According to Strang and Rosenthal, Gardenhire was one of 10 candidates to interview with the Tigers. Others included Alex Cora, Mike Redmond, Fredi Gonzalez, Joe McEwing, Hensley Meulens, Dave Clark, and Omar Vizquel. Apparently, GM Al Avila wanted a manager with previous major league managing experience.

The Tigers parted ways with previous manager Brad Ausmus at the end of the 2017 regular season, his fourth year at the helm.