Report: Cardinals interested in Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris

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Now that Rafael Furcal is done for the season following Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, it’s not surprising to hear that the Cardinals are asking around about shortstops. But this report from MLB Network’s Peter Gammons indicates that they are also in the market for a starting pitcher.

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher, as the Cardinals have more starters than rotation spots at the moment, even after the loss of Chris Carpenter. While Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook are set to occupy the first four spots in the rotation, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller are currently competing for the fifth spot. Trevor Rosenthal was sent to the bullpen last week, but he’s also capable of starting. And that’s not even including top prospects like Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, who could be options later this year. Still, if the Cardinals wanted either pitcher, they certainly have the prospect inventory to get a deal done.

Harrell, 27, posted a 3.76 ERA and 140/78 K/BB ratio over 193 2/3 innings last season and won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2015. Norris has shown some potential at times, but he’s coming off a disappointing 4.65 ERA in 29 starts last year. The 28-year-old right-hander was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and can become a free agent after 2015. As I noted on Twitter earlier this week, Norris has a 2.74 ERA in 15 career starts against the Cardinals and a 4.77 ERA in 83 games against everybody else.

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.