Yankees skipping Hiroki Kuroda’s turn in the rotation

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Hiroki Kuroda is the last pitcher standing in the Yankees’ injury wrecked original starting rotation, but now the team has decided to skip the 39-year-old’s next turn in the rotation.

However, it’s apparently not injury related, as general manager Brian Cashman revealed to George King of the New York Post that manager Joe Girardi “told me that he wanted to give him some extra rest.”

Kuroda faded down the stretch last season and has already logged 147 innings at age 39, so “extra rest” is certainly plausible. On the other hand, last month Girardi hinted that they’d be counting on Kuroda to assume a normal workload due to the team’s other veteran starters going down with injuries.

Kuroda finished last season by going 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA, but this year he has a 3.66 ERA since July 1 and has thrown 110 or more pitches just once all season.

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Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.