Hisanori Takahashi agrees to minor league deal with Cubs

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According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Cubs have agreed to sign left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to a minor league contract. The deal includes an invite to spring training.

Takahashi posted a lousy 5.54 ERA over 51 relief appearances this season between the Angels and Pirates. However, he compiled solid secondary numbers, including a 52/14 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings.

Takahashi had a 3.44 ERA with the Angels in 2011 and a 3.61 ERA with the Mets during his first season stateside in 2010, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him win a bullpen spot. The southpaw turns 38 in April.

Mariano Rivera awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump on Monday. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor to “individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Babe Ruth was posthumously awarded the medal last year. Yogi Berra got it posthumously in 2015, and Willie Mays and Vin Scully were also awarded it the same year.

Trump and Rivera are close. Rivera, who is from Panama, has been criticized for his relationship with Trump. Defending that relationship, Rivera said on Fox & Friends in July, “Mr. President Trump to me, he was a friend of mine before he became president. So, because he’s president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he’s doing the best for the United States of America.”

Rivera, 49, served on Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission in 2017. In 2018, Rivera co-chaired Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Rivera also co-hosted a fundraiser dinner for the America First Action PAC, which supports Trump and was also hosted by Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle.

This past January, Rivera became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously. He is the all-time leader in saves with 652 as well as adjusted ERA (also known as ERA+) at 205. He retired with a 2.21 ERA and 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings, spanning 19 seasons with the Yankees.