Left-hander Jeff Locke is recovered from an oblique injury and off the disabled list, but rather than adding him to the active roster the Pirates have demoted him to Triple-A.
Locke made the All-Star team as a (not quite technically) rookie last season after starting 8-2 with a 2.15 ERA, but posted a 6.12 ERA in the second half and was dumped from the rotation in September.
Pittsburgh just doesn’t have room for him in the rotation, as Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and Wandy Rodriguez aren’t going anywhere and Edinson Volquez was signed for $5 million to fill the fifth spot. And while going from rookie All-Star to Triple-A in less than a year is extreme, Locke never projected as a front-end starter, didn’t have the peripheral numbers to match his fast start last year, and is already 26 years old.
Announcement: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
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.