Rays ink minor league deals with Shelley Duncan, Jamey Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have agreed to minor league contracts with outfielder Shelley Duncan and right-handed pitchers Jamey Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo.

Duncan batted just .203/.288/.388 in 264 plate appearances last season with the Indians. The 33-year-old does have some power but seems highly doubtful to crack the Rays’ Opening Day roster.

Wright, on the other hand, could find a spot in middle relief. He posted a 3.72 ERA (aided by an impressive 67.3% groundball rate) in 67 2/3 innings last summer with the Dodgers. The 38-year-old faced a total of 306 batters in 2012 and allowed only two home runs.

Oviedo — formerly known as Leo Nunez — underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last September and is not expected to be fully recovered from that procedure until the very end of the 2013 campaign. His particular minor league deal includes a club option for the 2014 season.

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.