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Rays sign Dustin McGowan to minor league deal

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After re-signing Sergio Romo to a one-year deal on Friday, the Rays continued to deepen their bullpen reserves with fellow free agent right-hander Dustin McGowan. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that McGowan has agreed to a minor league deal, which includes an invitation to spring training.

McGowan, 35, completed a two-year stint with the Marlins in 2017. He didn’t have the most productive season, skidding to a 4.75 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 7.4 SO/9 and -0.3 fWAR in 77 2/3 innings, but proved capable of shouldering a heavy workload and extended an impressive four-year streak without a trip to the disabled list.

The righty is poised to enter camp with right-handed relievers Nathan Eovaldi, Chih-Wei Hu, Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz and Ryne Stanek. There’s still some uncertainty surrounding the exact configuration of the bullpen; as MLB.com’s Bill Chastain noted earlier this week, the Rays expect Eovaldi to compete for a rotation spot in 2018 and could look to righties Andrew Kittredge, Chaz Roe and Hunter Wood for additional support. While he may not be the sub-3.00 ERA hurler of years past, McGowan could provide a stabilizing veteran presence to a young bullpen, one that might be facing the departure of established closer Alex Colome later this year.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.