The Rangers tried to pry Andrelton Simmons away from the Braves

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In the same story that mentioned the Dodgers’ interest in Torii Hunter, Bob Nightengale of USA Today also noted that the Rangers recently tried to acquire shortstop Andrelton Simmons from the Braves.

Why would the Rangers do this? Well, general manager Jon Daniels isn’t interested in giving up either Elvis Andrus or top prospect Jurickson Profar in a trade for Diamondbacks’ outfielder Justin Upton, so the plan was to flip Simmons to Arizona. Interesting idea, but the Braves didn’t bite.

It’s not clear what the Rangers offered for Simmons, but Mike Olt’s name likely came up in conversations since the Braves could be in the market for a new third baseman following Chipper Jones’ retirement. So far the Diamondbacks have been reluctant to accept Olt as a centerpiece of a deal for Upton, instead preferring either Andrus or Profar. We heard last night that if the Rangers can’t find a match with the Diamondbacks, the Rays may be positioned as to emerge as front-runners.

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.