Cardinals sign Eugenio Velez to minor league contract

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From Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch comes word that the Cardinals have inked utilityman Eugenio Velez to a minor league contract. They also signed left-hander R.J. Swindle to a similar deal.

Velez collected no hits in 40 plate appearances this past year for the Dodgers and posted a brutal .164/.246/.309 batting line in 29 games for the Dodgers in 2010. The 29-year-old is not expected to crack the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster and is likely to function merely as organizational depth.

Swindle, 28, has only nine major league relief appearances to his name. He registered a 4.15 ERA and 36/17 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings this past season for the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham, North Carolina.

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.