Phillies sign Ronnie Belliard to a minor league contract

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One day after releasing Luis Castillo, the Phillies have signed infielder Ronnie Belliard to a minor league contract, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. He’ll report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Belliard, who turns 36 next week, was released by the Yankees earlier this week after batting just .136 with one double and one RBI over 22 at-bats as a non-roster invitee this spring. He batted just .216/.295/.327 with two homers, 19 RBI and a .622 OPS over 185 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season before being designated for assignment in early September.

The Phillies could certainly use the depth for their infield given Chase Utley’s knee injury and the recent scare with Placido Polanco’s surgically-repaired left elbow, but if Belliard plays even semi-regularly this season, chances are things aren’t going according to plan.

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.