Nationals release Michael Gonzalez

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Washington’s bullpen is tough one to crack and Michael Gonzalez wasn’t able to so on a minor-league contract, so the Nationals have released the veteran left-hander.

Gonzalez is 35 years old, but still seems capable of helping some teams as a middle reliever after posting a 4.68 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 50 innings for the Brewers last season.

He’s always been able to generate a lot of strikeouts, but he struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark last season and got knocked around in the second half. Gonzalez has pitched for six teams in 11 seasons and this was actually his second go-around with the Nationals after doing a nice job for them in 2012.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.