Report: Cuban umpire Diaz defects to U.S.

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El Nuevo Herald is reporting that Nelson Diaz, an umpire for 26 years in Cuba, has defected to the U.S. and arrived in Miami on Sunday.
Diaz was behind the plate when Cuba sent a team to Baltimore for an exhibition against the Orioles in 1999. He also worked in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics, but Cuba didn’t pick him for the 2009 WBC because of fears he would defect.
Based on his experience, Diaz is obviously qualified to join MLB’s umpiring roster, though it’s unclear if any spots are opening up over the winter. MLB has incredibly little turnover when it comes to umpires.

Padres sign Aaron Loup to a one-year deal

Aaron Loup
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Free agent lefty reliever Aaron Loup has been given a locker in the Padres’ clubhouse, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reported Sunday. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Loup received a one-year MLB deal with a club option for 2020. The Padres will shift right-hander Garrett Richards to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.

Loup, 31, began the 2018 season with the Blue Jays and was traded to the Phillies for minor league right-hander Jacob Waguespack at the midseason deadline. The veteran left-hander pitched just two innings in Philadelphia before hitting the injured list with a forearm strain and returned for a handful of appearances at the end of the year, bringing him up to a 4.54 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 10.0 SO/9, and 0.3 fWAR across 39 2/3 combined innings.

Assuming health issues don’t complicate his next campaign in San Diego, Loup will be added to the bullpen alongside fellow left-handers Matt Strahm and José Castillo (with the possible late addition of southpaw reliever Brad Wieck, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer earlier this year). There are worse places to be — according to FanGraphs, the Padres’ ‘pen jumped from second-worst in 2017 to second-best in the league with a cumulative 3.53 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 8.7 fWAR in 2018.