Diamondbacks release Russell Branyan to make room for Micah Owings

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The Diamondbacks released Russell Branyan following last night’s win over the Twins. The move clears room on the roster for Saturday’s starter Micah Owings.

Branyan, who was signed to a minor league deal in February, began the season in a timeshare with Juan Miranda at first base, but his playing time dropped off considerably this month. The veteran slugger batted .210/.290/.339 with one home run and two RBI over 69 plate appearances during his time with the D-Backs. Things didn’t work out in Arizona, but he shouldn’t have a tough time finding a new opportunity.

Owings will replace Armando Galarraga in the starting rotation, who was designated for assignment earlier this week. The 28-year-old was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2005 and posted a 4.97 ERA over two seasons with the club before being traded to the Reds in 2008 as part of the Adam Dunn deal. He had a 4.85 ERA and 27/9 K/BB ratio over his first seven starts with Triple-A Reno this season.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.