UPDATE: The Braves just announced that they have signed Garcia to a one-year major league contract.
7:11 p.m. ET: It’s done. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Braves are signing Harang. He’ll presumably begin the year with a rotation spot.
6:30 p.m. ET: The Braves made a surprising decision earlier today when they cut veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia loose, but it appears that they already have a potential replacement in mind for the rotation.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves have interest in free agent right-hander Aaron Harang. The 35-year-old was granted his release by the Indians earlier today after he was informed that he would not make the team’s Opening Day roster.
Harang pitched well in a small sample this spring, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks over nine innings of work, but he’s coming off a rough 5.40 ERA and 113/40 K/BB ratio over 143 1/3 innings last season between the Mariners and the Mets. This would be a lateral move at best for pitching-starved Atlanta, so letting Garcia go today continues to look like a head-scratcher.
Didi Gregorius will wear a mask during games this year. That’s what the Phillies infielder tells the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“We are trying to go through the guidelines and trying to do everything we can do to stay safe, so, that’s why people see me walking around with a mask on and stuff. I am keeping myself safe, wearing a mask everywhere I go. So, I have to keep it on me all the time.”
Gregorius will wear a mask both while batting and out in the field, he said.
A big reason for it is that he has a chronic kidney condition which makes him “high risk” under Major League Baseball’s safety protocols. He could opt out if he wanted to but Gregorius, who signed a $14 million deal with the Phillies last winter, is a free agent again this coming offseason. He is coming off of a down year in 2019, having hit .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI across 344 plate appearances. Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and didn’t make his 2019 season debut until June 7. A big reason he took a one-year deal was to reestablish his value for next season’s go-around on the free agent market and he doesn’t want the long layoff going into what could be his last significant payday.
Major League Baseball is not requiring players or umpires to wear masks on the field during games or practices, though it is reportedly looking into clear face shields for home plate umpires to wear under their usual protective masks.
Gregorius will wear a mask to keep himself safe, he said, but he also notes in the article that “I think it adds safety for everybody, for me and people around me.” Here’s hoping, given his vulnerability, everyone around him is being as safe as he is.