Yu Darvish, David Freese lead “Final Vote” balloting

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With one day remaining in the “Final Vote” contest for All-Star spots Rangers starter Yu Darvish leads the AL balloting and Cardinals third baseman David Freese leads the NL balloting.

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones had been leading in the NL, but yesterday he was removed from the “Final Vote” ballot after being named the injury replacement for Matt Kemp. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper ranks second to Freese, followed by Braves outfielder Michael Bourn and Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill.

White Sox starter Jake Peavy ranks second to Darvish in the AL, followed by Orioles starter Jason Hammel, Royals reliever Jonathan Broxton, and Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri.

Voting on MLB.com ends at 4:00 p.m. eastern time tomorrow.

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.