Roberto Hernandez/Fausto Carmona close to joining Indians six months after false identity arrest

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Fausto Carmona is now known as Roberto Hernandez following his January arrest in the Dominican Republic for falsifying his identity, but Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that he may soon be cleared for a work visa.

Leo Nunez of the Marlins was suspended eight weeks after it was revealed that his actual name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, but Indians general manager Chris Antonetti explained that he’s hopeful Hernandez/Carmona will avoid a suspension in large part because he agreed to re-work his contract and refund the team millions of dollars.

In an effort to speed up the visa process the Indians petitioned the State Department and Hernandez hired a lobbyist to work on his behalf. Bastian also notes that Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman “have also been involved in the case.”

All of which doesn’t necessarily mean Hernandez would be ready to jump right back into the Indians’ rotation once cleared for the work visa, but he’s been throwing regularly at the Indians’ complex in the Dominican Republic and his impending arrival may convince the team not to pursue starting pitching help at the trade deadline.

Carmona struggled last season, starting 32 games with a 5.25 ERA, but was an All-Star in 2010 and the 31-year-old right-hander has a 4.59 ERA in 150 career starts.

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.