Rockies sign LaTroy Hawkins to one-year deal to serve as closer

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LaTroy Hawkins had to settle for a minor league deal with the Mets last offseason, but he has found a new home as a closer just one year later.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Rockies have signed Hawkins to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, pending a physical. The Mets, Braves, and Indians were the other teams in the mix, but he jumped at the chance to close games for Colorado. His addition means that the hard-throwing Rex Brothers will slide back into a set-up role.

Hawkins, who turns 41 in December, is coming off an excellent season in which he posted a 2.93 ERA and 55/10 K/BB ratio over 70 2/3 innings. He was impressive while filling in for the injured Bobby Parnell late in the year, going 13-for-16 in save chances. He hasn’t had that many saves since his age-31 season with the Cubs in 2004.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.