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.

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.