The Royals get a national TV game

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Kansas City hasn’t been on Sunday Night Baseball for since 1996, but ESPN is going to televise their Sunday night game against the Angels on the Fourth of July.

Your non-mutually-exclusive conspiracy theories of the day: (1) Since it’s the Fourth of July, and everyone will be out watching fireworks and stuff, ESPN figures that the ratings will be awful anyway, so why not throw a small-market team a bone; (2) ESPN has an under-the-table deal with the Royals in which the team agrees to rig it to ensure that Zack Greinke starts.

The rest of the Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the first half of the season is here. Lots of Mets, Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox as usual, of course, but hey, given that there will be no Steve Phillips this year, I’d watch anyone they threw on there.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.