UPDATE: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times confirms that the deal is done.
12:10 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Angels are on the verge of trading catcher Jeff Mathis to the Blue Jays for left-hander Brad Mills.
The Angels acquired Chris Iannetta from the Rockies earlier this week, which made Mathis a virtual lock to be non-tendered. The 28-year-old backstop stands to make close to $2 million in his second year of arbitration, so it’s a wonder why the Blue Jays didn’t just wait to see if he hit the free agent market. I could be wrong here, but I can’t imagine teams were falling over themselves for a .194 career hitter whose defensive contributions can be overstated at times. Anyway, he’ll serve as the backup to J.P. Arencibia next season.
Mills, who turns 27 in March, has an 8.57 ERA and 45/31 K/BB ratio over 48 1/3 innings in brief stints with the Blue Jays over the past three seasons. He has regularly posted impressive numbers in the minor leagues, but barely cracks the mid-80s with his fastball. Perhaps he’ll have a better chance to succeed in the more favorable pitching environment in Anaheim. Hey, at least Dipoto got something of value in return for someone who was going to be non-tendered. That’s a win in my book.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.