Pirates options: Rod Barajas declined, Pedro Alvarez picked up

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Pittsburgh made a pair of expected option decisions, declining a $4 million deal with catcher Rod Barajas and exercising a $700,000 deal with third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Barajas knew the move was coming after he hit just .206 this season and has said he’d be willing to take less money to remain in Pittsburgh, but there’s little indication that the Pirates are interested in bringing back the 36-year-old.

Alvarez’s option is part of the original contract he signed after being drafted second overall out of Vanderbilt in 2008 and he’s under team control through 2016.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin a throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.