Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league contract

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From Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News comes word that the Yankees have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Matt Diaz.

It includes an invitation to spring training, where Diaz will be in the hunt for an Opening Day roster spot.

Diaz batted just .222/.280/.333 with two home runs and 13 RBI across 118 plate appearances this past season for the Braves. But he can play both corner outfield spots and the 34-year-old right-handed hitter owns an outstanding .324/.364/.498 career slash line against left-handed pitching.

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UPDATE, 6:57 PM: Marc Carig of Newsday says Diaz could make up to $2 million if he cracks the major league roster, remains on it for the entire season and triggers certain performance-based incentives.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.