Astros release struggling second baseman Bill Hall

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The Astros announced following last night’s game that they have decided to release struggling second baseman Bill Hall.

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Hall will be placed on unconditional release waivers, clearing the way for Jason Bourgeois to return from the disabled list.

While Hall thrived as a utility player with the Red Sox last season, he has struggled miserably as the regular second baseman with the Astros. The 33-year-old has batted just .224/.272/.340 with two home runs, 13 RBI and an ugly 55/8 K/BB ratio over 158 plate appearances. Jeff Keppinger recently took away his starting job, so this is essentially Ed Wade’s way of saying “my bad.”

“I don’t know that he’s going to be able to get that opportunity here with Keppinger coming back and playing real well and Sanchez needing some time too,” Mills said. “We hope that this is an opportunity to go out and get some time and play someplace.”

It’s pretty refreshing, really. Assuming Hall passes through waivers as expected, the Astros will be responsible for his entire $3 million salary this season and the $250,000 buyout on his mutual option for 2012.

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.