Indians get Talbot as PTBNL in Shoppach trade

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Three weeks ago the Rays acquired Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for a player to be named later and this afternoon Mitch Talbot was announced as the mystery man heading to Cleveland.
Talbot and Ben Zobrist were the Astros prospects who went to the then-Devil Rays in the mid-2006 trade for Aubrey Huff. Zobrist has since emerged as one of the AL’s best players, putting together an MVP-caliber 2009 campaign, but Talbot has yet to stick in the majors and missed much of the season with elbow problems.
He pitched well when healthy, posting a 3.89 ERA and 67/18 K/BB ratio in 68.1 innings at Triple-A, and because he’s out of minor-league options the Indians seemingly acquired him with an eye toward giving him a big-league job in 2010. Talbot’s upside is limited because he doesn’t have great raw stuff and is already 26 years old, but he throws strikes, misses a fair number of bats, and potentially could be a back-of-the-rotation starter if healthy.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?