Pirates sign Cody Eppley to minor league contract

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As first reported by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates have reached agreement with right-hander Cody Eppley on a minor league contract with a non-roster invite to spring training.

Eppley had a solid season out of the Yankees’ bullpen in 2012, posting a 3.33 ERA in 46 innings. But he spent the majority of 2013 at Triple-A and the results there weren’t great. The 28-year-old owns a 4.61 ERA in 56 2/3 career major league frames.

The Pirates also signed catcher Nevin Ashley to a minor league contract on Tuesday.

Ashley also received an invitation to spring training.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?