Rays make room for Jeff Keppinger by dropping Triple-A MVP Russ Canzler

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This hasn’t been a good couple weeks for Russ Canzler.

Last season he won the International League MVP award after hitting .314 with 18 homers, 40 doubles, and a .930 OPS for Durham, made his big-league debut in September with a handful of at-bats, and for a while at least it looked like the 25-year-old first baseman might get a chance as the Rays’ starter.

Then last week Tampa Bay signed Carlos Pena, ruling out that possibility, and now they dropped Canzler from the 40-man roster altogether to make room for Jeff Keppinger. From atop the depth chart to on the waiver wire in less than a week.

Keppinger, who was non-tendered by the Giants last month, finalized a one-year, $1.525 million deal with the Rays and they designated Canzler for assignment. It’ll be interesting to see if Canzler is claimed off waivers, because while certainly not a top prospect he’s had back-to-back big seasons in the minors and would seemingly be a nice bench bat at worst.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.