Blue Jays sign George Kottaras

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Released by the Cardinals when they signed A.J. Pierzynski, journeyman catcher George Kottaras has joined the Blue Jays on a minor-league contract.

Kottaras has a solid .740 career OPS in 309 games, which is actually above average for a starting catcher and very strong for a backup, but his poor defense and low batting averages have caused him to endlessly bounce around from organization to organization.

Since the end of last season he’s been with the Royals, Cubs, Indians, Cardinals, and now Blue Jays, and previously the 31-year-old also played for the A’s, Padres, Red Sox, and Brewers.

For now he’ll head to Triple-A, where Kottaras has logged 1,124 career plate appearances in parts of six different seasons.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.