Nationals to designate right-hander Yunesky Maya for assignment

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The Nationals thought they were getting a potential rotation staple when they signed Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya to a four-year, $6 million deal back in 2010, but they are now prepared to turn the page.

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, the Nationals will designate Maya for assignment in order to make room for infielder Jeff Kobernus on the active roster. The 31-year-old right-hander was called up from Triple-A Syracuse this week when the Nationals needed a fresh arm for their bullpen and allowed the walkoff homer to Pablo Sandoval on Tuesday night.

The Nationals haven’t gotten much bang for their buck out of Maya, as he owns a disappointing 5.80 ERA and 27/21 K/BB ratio in 59 innings in the majors and a 4.41 ERA over 63 starts in the minors. Because of his salary, he’ll almost certainly pass through waivers unclaimed, but the Nationals will have the option to send him back to their rotation at Triple-A or cut him loose.

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.