Japan threatens boycott of World Baseball Classic

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Unsatisfied with its current share of World Baseball Classic revenues, two-time champion Japan is threatening to sit out the 2013 event, Reuters reports.

“We are not saying we don’t want to take part,” stated union president Takahiro Arai. “But we will not be able to compete under the current conditions, which are unfair.”

Japan won both the inaugural 2006 and the 2009 World Baseball Classics, but the players took home only 13 percent of the revenue generated from the last tournament.  MLB and its players received 66 percent of the revenue, so there’d clearly seem to be some room for negotiation here.

Japan’s club owners are also looking for a better deal with MLB.

The 2013 tournament is expected to expand from 16 teams to 28 teams, with new additions like Great Britain, France, Brazil and New Zealand.  There will be a play-in round in Fall 2012 in which 16 teams will compete for four spots.  The four winners will join the 12 automatic qualifiers — the U.S., Japan, the Dominican Republic and others — in a tournament set for March 2013.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.