The Pirates are a finalist to sign Josh Johnson

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In an offseason when players are making a lot more money than we thought they might, a guy with a of recent injuries who is probably only in the market for a one year, make-good deal might be worth the risk. Exhibit A: Josh Johnson, who is said to have interest from three or four teams.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was told by Johnson’s agent that the Pirates are one of the finalists to sign his client. The other teams aren’t known, but he has been linked in reports to the Giants and Padres, presumably on the basis of taking the “head to the NL West and remake your career in pitcher-friendly parks” cure.

Johnson had a pretty crappy 2013, with a 2-8 record and 6.20 ERA in 81.1 IP. But his velocity was fine and his strikeout rate was actually good when he was healthy, so he’s definitely worth taking a chance on, right?

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.