In which Yamaico Navarro netted the Red Sox their two best shortstops

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Bear with me for a minute, please.

Pedro Ciriaco  impressed once again Sunday, stealing two bases immediately after entering the game as a pinch-runner and then doubling in a run as part of Boston’s 5-1 win over Minnesota. He’s hitting .415/.442/.659 with seven steals in eight attempts this spring. His one homer was a walkoff job against the Marlins on March 12.

If you haven’t heard of Ciriaco, you’re hardly alone. There wasn’t much reason to know him until a couple of weeks ago, but now he seems poised to claim a spot on Boston’s bench. Ciriaco was signed to a minor league deal by the Red Sox on January 3, three weeks after he was non-tendered by the Pirates.

This is where Yamaico Navarro comes in.

The Red Sox surrendered Navarro to land Mike Aviles from the Royals at the trade deadline last year. Aviles is now Boston’s starting shortstop. The Royals, though, quickly soured on Navarro and decided he was the most expendable player on their 40-man roster when they needed to clear a spot in December. As a result, he was traded to the Pirates for two prospects who probably won’t ever make the majors, thus making Ciriaco expendable in Pittsburgh.

Of course, Ciriaco isn’t nearly this good. In fact, he was brutal in Triple-A last year, hitting .231/.243/.300 in 277 at-bats, and he’s managed a .700 OPS just once in seven minor league seasons. He is a clear step up from Aviles with the glove, though, and he could be pretty useful as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily expect either Aviles or Ciriaco to be Red Sox in 2013 and beyond, but it is pretty interesting to see Boston filling two of its 2012 roster spots with a couple of pieces they only have thanks to a guy the Royals took one look at and quickly dismissed.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.