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Report: Andy Van Hekken wants another shot at the majors

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press has an interesting story about former major leaguer Andy Van Hekken, who is reportedly looking to resurrect his MLB career this offseason. “I’ve been thinking about it over the last few years,” Van Hekken told Fenech. “I always wanted to come back and give it another try to get back to the big leagues and see if I could do it.”

The 38-year-old left-hander hasn’t pitched in a big league game since 2002 — his first and only foray into the majors — but he hasn’t been sitting idly by for the last 16 years, either. He pitched for the Tigers, Braves, Reds, Royals and Astros’ minor-league affiliates until 2012, when he signed on with the Nexen Heroes of KBO. Over the last six seasons in Korea, the veteran lefty held a 73-42 record in 156 starts and used a potent fastball/forkball combo to produce a cumulative 3.56 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 through 925 2/3 innings.

Were this any other offseason, it might not be impossible for Van Hekken to find a major league suitor or two. He’s healthy and shown himself to be remarkably productive given his age and lack of major league experience. Even so, Fenech adds, teams are bound to be more interested in signing one of the 120+ free agents currently available, rather than taking a flyer on a former prospect who impressed in his major league debut nearly two decades ago.

Rays acquire C.J. Cron from Angels

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The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.

Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.