Rays release Erik Bedard

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Erik Bedard has said throughout spring training that he wouldn’t accept an assignment to Triple-A if he didn’t win a spot in the Rays’ rotation and sure enough after choosing rookie Jake Odorizzi for the fifth-starter job Tampa Bay released Bedard.

He might still end up at Triple-A, or at least that’s what manager Joe Maddon is hoping for. Bedard will go looking for a big-league gig elsewhere and, assuming the 35-year-old left-hander can’t find one this close to Opening Day, the Rays would welcome him back on another minor-league deal to provide some organizational rotation depth.

Bedard had a 4.78 ERA over the previous two seasons, but 256 strikeouts in 277 innings during that time suggest he still has a little something left in the tank.

Report: Astros, Alex Bregman agree to five-year, $100 million extension

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Fox 26’s Mark Berman reports that the Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman have agreed to $100 million contract extension. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart confirms a deal has been reached and adds that the deal is actually for five years, beginning after the 2019 season. The contract will cover all three of Bregman’s arbitration years and two years of would-be free agency.

Bregman, who turns 25 years old later this month, has quickly become one of the best third basemen in baseball. Across parts of three seasons, he has hit .282/.366/.500 with 58 home runs, 208 RBI, 224 runs scored, and 29 stolen bases. FanGraphs credited him with 7.6 Wins Above Replacement, tied with Francisco Lindor and Christian Yelich for the fourth-best mark among position players in baseball, trailing only Mookie Betts (10.4), Mike Trout (9.8), and José Ramírez (8.0).

This is obviously a smart move for the Astros, as this contract extension will secure Bregman’s age 25-30 seasons. With second baseman José Altuve also locked up through 2024, and presumed extensions to come for Carlos Correa and possibly Gerrit Cole and George Springer, the Astros have a core that they can build around for years to come.