Twins dump Nick Blackburn and his 6.53 ERA from rotation

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After another poor start Sunday raised his ERA to an MLB-worst 6.53 the Twins have decided to bump Nick Blackburn from the rotation and replace him with Brian Duensing.
Blackburn’s situation is made more complicated by the fact that the Twins misguidedly signed him to a four-year, $14 million contract this offseason instead of simply going year-to-year with a player they controlled through 2013 anyway.
Blackburn’s incredibly low strikeout rate and mediocre ground-ball percentage always made him a poor long-term investment, but that ship has obviously sailed and now the Twins are locked into paying him $13.25 million over the next three seasons.
Duensing has posted a 1.67 ERA in 43 innings as a reliever this season and pitched very well in nine starts down the stretch last season, but his secondary numbers and minor-league track record suggest his upside is fairly limited. With that said, it won’t take much for Duensing to provide a huge upgrade over Blackburn, who has allowed a .337 batting average and .561 slugging percentage overall this season and is 1-6 with a 9.88 ERA since June 1.

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.