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Athletics, Jake Smolinski avoid arbitration

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The Athletics and outfielder Jake Smolinski have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal worth $775,000, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports.

Smolinski, 28, was eligible for arbitration for the first of three years. He missed most of the 2017 season after undergoing shoulder surgery and hit a meager .259/.310/.296 in 29 trips to the plate.

Smolinksi has a career .682 OPS but hits lefties well, owning a career .877 OPS against them. He can also play all three spots in the outfield, making him a flexible platoon option.

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.