Mariners release oft-injured reliever Hong-Chih Kuo

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Hong-Chih Kuo has been a mess all spring as he attempts to come back from elbow surgery and anxiety issues. Today the Mariners decided they’d seen enough, releasing the once-dominant left-hander.

When healthy Kuo has been one of the best relievers in baseball, logging 170 innings with a 1.96 ERA and 201 strikeouts from 2008-2010, but he coughed up 29 runs in 27 innings last season before going under the knife and got knocked around for 14 runs in 6.2 innings this spring.

Kuo’s one-year, $500,000 deal with Seattle would have jumped to $1 million if he cracked the Opening Day roster and included several million dollars in potential incentives. He was good enough recently enough that several teams will likely still be interested in taking a flier on Kuo, but he’ll almost surely have to settle for a minor-league deal and work his way back to the majors.

His most recent elbow surgery was the fifth of his career and Kuo has bounced back in the past, but at age 30 he’s a bigger question mark than ever and showed diminished velocity this month.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.