The Mets sign Takahashi

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The Mets have come to agreement with Hisanori Takahashi,
late of the Yomiuri Giants, on a minor league deal worth $1 million if he makes the team.  Takahashi, who turns 35 in April, was 79-66 with a 3.70 ERA in 245 career games in the NPB. He’s a soft-tossing lefty who most have said would make a better reliever in
the Majors than a starter, but Takahashi has said that he’d like a chance to start.

And New York may provide him with the best chance. Of all of his potential suitors — which have included the Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles and Padres — the Mets may have the biggest holes in the rotation. Well, maybe Baltimore would be better, but I could see him starting for the Mets.  And to the extent such things make a difference in anyone’s mind, the Mets have signed more Japanese players than anyone over the past ten years, including Ryota Igarashi, who was Takahashi’s teammate on the Giants, this year.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.