D'Backs fire manager A.J. Hinch, GM Josh Byrnes

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11:20 PM:  This just keeps getting better.  According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, bench coach and World Series legend Kirk Gibson will take over as skipper.

11:01 PM:  Nightengale adds that general manager Josh Byrnes has also been let go.  He was hired in 2005 and given an eight-year extension in 2008.  But, uh, so much for that.

10:47 PM: According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Diamondbacks have fired manager A.J. Hinch.

Hinch was named Arizona’s skipper in May of 2009, at the age of 34, after Bob Melvin was fired.   At the time, many questioned whether he was the right man for the job, given his lack of experience in the coaching profession.  Those doubters can crack a small grin tonight.

Managers often have very little to do with the outcome of games, let alone seasons, but it’s most definitely worth noting that Hinch led the D’Backs to an 89-123 record during his short tenure in Arizona.

General manager Josh Byrnes is also believed to be on the hot seat, but has not yet been canned.

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.