30-year-old slugger Luis Jimenez gets his first major league start

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I first became aware of Luis Antonio Jimenez in 2002, when, as a 2o-year-old Orioles farmhand, he tore up the Appy League to the tune of a .375 average, eight homers and 42 RBI in 211 at-bats. The especially curious thing about it was that the A’s had released him the year before.

Although Jimenez seemingly came out of nowhere, Baseball America thought enough of that 51-game campaign to make him the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect entering 2003, placing him behind Erik Bedard, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Cabrera. But that ranking turned bust in a hurry. Jimenez hit .244 with just one homer in low-A ball that year. Let go again, he quickly turned into a journeyman minor leaguer, spending one year apiece in the Dodgers, Twins and Red Sox systems. He rejoined the Orioles in 2007, moved to the Nationals system in 2008 and then gave Japan a try in 2009.

Once Jimenez washed out as a Nippon Ham Fighter, it figured he was done for good. However, he showed up again in the minors in 2011, hitting .294 with 16 homers between the Mariners’ top two farm clubs. Back with Triple-A Tacoma this season, he hit .310/.394/.514 with 20 homers, earning him his first major league callup this month.

Now Jimenez is getting his first start tonight as the Mariners’ DH and No. 8 hitter against the A’s. I’m not really expecting much of anything, but he certainly deserves credit for perseverance. Jimenez played in nine different leagues in 11 seasons before getting his callup this week. Hopefully he manages to hit one homer before the year is out.

Braves sign reliever Will Smith to three-year, $39 million contract

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The Braves announced on Thursday that the club has inked lefty reliever Will Smith to a three-year, $39 million contract with a club option for the 2023 season worth $13 million. Smith received a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million from the Giants, so he opted for a lower average annual value for a longer contract.

Smith, 30, was an All-Star last season with the Giants, finishing with 34 saves, a 2.76 ERA, and a 96/21 K/BB ratio across 65 1/3 innings. Across parts of seven seasons in the majors, he has a 3.53 ERA.

Smith, the top free agent left-handed reliever, will join a strong Braves bullpen which already includes Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, and Sean Newcomb.