UPDATE: Cliff Lee to the Yankees "is just about done"

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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that, according to an executive involved in the talks, the Cliff Lee-to-the-Yankees deal “is just about done.”  Wow. This is actually happening.

5:42 A.M.: Joel Sherman of the New York Post dropped a bomb this morning, saying that the Yankees are “on the brink” of landing Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners.

The details are slim, but Sherman says that the deal would involve a package that includes top prospect Jesus Montero. There is no indication of who else would be involved.  Notably, Lee is scheduled to pitch against the Yankees tonight in Seattle.

The Yankees landing Lee would be a shock given that even the most overheated reports this week have them merely (altogether now) kicking the tires on the Mariners’ ace.  At best people figured that the Yankees were trying to make the price of Lee higher for, say, the Twins or the Mets.  That they may be about to swoop in and land Lee is nothing short of astounding.

And nothing short of demoralizing, frankly. Demoralizing for the Mets who, even if they themselves could not get Lee probably don’t want to see the Yankees get him, thereby stealing his thunder. Demoralizing for anyone in the AL who thought that getting Lee would help them out in a short playoff series against the Yankees.

And maybe most of all, demoralizing to sports fans in general. Indeed, a day after living through the LeBron James experience — which Will Leitch apty described as something that makes one “feel extremely stupid to be a sports fan” by virtue of the unnecessary excess involved — the idea of the richest team landing the richest trade deadline prize when they don’t even really need starting pitching isn’t going to sit well with a lot of fans.

Don’t get me wrong: the Yankees are playing by the rules here and should
not be expected to merely stand pat while their competition improves. But don’t for a minute think that their landing Cliff Lee won’t spark a fairly significant uproar.

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.