Rays, B.J. Upton avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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The Rays and B.J. Upton avoided arbitration today by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $4.825 million, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

The Tampa Tribune reports that he could make an additional $25,000 based on plate appearances.

The 26-year-old Upton earned $3 million in 2010 after losing an arbitration hearing in his first year of eligibility. Hearings are uncomfortable for both sides, so it’s clear they didn’t want to have to go through that process again.

Upton batted .237/.322/.424 with 18 home runs, 62 RBI, a .745 OPS and 42 stolen bases in 51 attempts last season. He hit for more power, but his contact rate suffered in the process. His production against right-handed pitching also collapsed considerably, doing little to shed his reputation as a highly talented, yet enigmatic player.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.