Pirates designate Ernesto Frieri for assignment

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Here’s how far Ernesto Frieri’s stock has fallen in a short time: He opened the season as the Angels’ closer. Then, after struggling, he was stripped of closing duties and traded to the Pirates for Jason Grilli in a swap of relievers needing a change of scenery. And now he’s been designated for assignment by the Pirates.

In between all of that Frieri posted a 7.34 ERA in 48 appearances, which is shockingly bad for a 28-year-old who came into this season with a career 2.76 ERA and 315 strikeouts in 231 innings.

Plenty of teams should seemingly be willing to take a flier on Frieri, who was one of the better setup men in baseball for several years and has still managed 48 strikeouts in 42 innings this season while struggling overall.

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.