Wade Davis is no longer in the running for a rotation spot

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The Royals gave Wade Davis a chance to win a rotation spot this spring even after he struggled as a starter last season, but Royals manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star this morning that the 28-year-old right-hander is out of the fifth starter competition and will pitch out of the back end of the bullpen in 2014.

It’s the right call, as Davis posted a 5.67 ERA in 24 starts last season before being yanked from the rotation. The 28-year-old immediately saw a velocity spike after being moved back to the bullpen and allowed just one run in 10 innings in September. He posted a 2.43 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 70 1/3 innings as a reliever with the Rays in 2012, so the hope is that he can help make up for the absence of Luke Hochevar, who is set to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Davis was a long shot to win a rotation spot anyway, but the fifth starter job will now come down to Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy. James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, and Bruce Chen will fill out the first four spots.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.