Braves sign Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract

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Last week Rodrigo Lopez was said to be “negotiating” with the Rockies, but instead the veteran right-hander has signed a minor-league contract with the Braves.

Lopez’s deal includes an invitation to spring training, but it’s tough to see how the 35-year-old could make the team. Atlanta has five starters all but locked into the rotation, with Brandon Beachy around as a sixth option, and that’s without counting Kenshin Kawakami, who’s still technically on the team and capable of being a decent fourth or fifth starter.

It’s possible Lopez could claim a long relief gig, but more likely he’ll serve as an emergency option in case injuries strike and the Braves don’t want to rush any prospects to the majors before the second half.  Lopez tossed 200 innings last season, but went 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA while leading the league in homers (37) and earned runs (111) allowed.

Report: Welington Castillo to be suspended 80 games for violating Joint Drug Agreement

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms a report from journalist Américo Celado that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will be suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Castillo was believed to have used a steroid, but according to Rosenthal, the substance was not a steroid. More details should come on Thursday.

Castillo, 31, entered Wednesday’s action batting .270/.314/.477 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 118 plate appearances. He has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate, backed up by Omar Narváez.

Castillo’s absence will likely prompt the White Sox to call up Kevan Smith from Triple-A Charlotte. Smith battled an ankle injury in March and April, so he got a late start to the season. In 102 PA at Triple-A, he has hit .283/.343/.457.