Dodgers reach deal with Kuo, avoid arbitration

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From MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick comes word that the Dodgers avoided arbitration Wednesday with left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo by agreeing to a one-year, $2.725 million contract.  The deal also includes $700,000 in performance-based incentives.

Kuo requested a $3.075 million salary and was offered $2.55 million when arbitration figures were exchanged in mid-January.  It took only a handful of weeks for the two sides to find a common ground.

The southpaw finished with a gorgeous 1.20 ERA and 0.78 WHIP across 60 innings last season for the Dodgers, fanning 73 batters and walking only 18.  He also picked up 12 saves in 13 opportunities as a makeshift closer when primary ninth inning man Jonathan Broxton struggled down the stretch.

Kuo is expected to serve in a familiar setup role behind Broxton to kick off the 2011 season.

Texas Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister

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The Texas Rangers just announced that they have fired Jeff Banister as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season.

Banister was in the last year of his contract with the club, but there was an option for 2019. Rangers brass, obviously, has decided to go in a different direction following what will be the club’s worst finish in Banister’s tenure. At the moment the Rangers are 64-88 and are assured of last place in the AL West.

Banister was hired before the 2015 season and led the Rangers to first place finishes in each of his first two seasons. The club fell to a disappointing third place and a 78-84 record last season, however, and this season the descent has continued. Injuries and under achievement has been the order of the day for the past two years and, with the career of Adrian Beltre nearing its end and the Rangers having been passed up by the Astros as the class of the division, a rebuild is in the club’s future.

Banister ends his reign as the Rangers’ skipper with a record of 325-313.