Reds sign Cesar Izturis to minor league deal

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Cesar Izturis will be in camp with the Reds after agreeing to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training.

Izturis, who spent last season as a utility man for the Brewers and Nationals, is one of 15 non-roster invitees to spring training for the Reds. He remains a good defensive infielder at age 33, but was always a bad hitter and hasn’t topped a .600 OPS since 2009.

Considering how much manager Dusty Baker loves veterans and doesn’t seem to mind utility types who can’t hit, I’d be surprised if Izturis doesn’t make the Opening Day roster.

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.