Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos to be retained for 2015

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Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun has the story:

Alex Anthopoulos, the much-maligned general manager of the Blue Jays, will return for his sixth season running the club, a bevy of major-league sources have confirmed.

Apparently, there is no temperature at all to remove Anthopoulos from his job — in fact, quite the opposite sentiment exists — with an appreciation internally for the manner in which he has conducted his business.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is also expected to be brought back, no matter what happens over the final 38 games of 2014. Toronto has fallen 6 1/2 games back of the Orioles in the American League East and Anthopoulos was heavily-criticized for failing to upgrade the major league roster at the July 31 trade deadline. But Simmons writes Sunday that club ownership is “pleased that Anthopoulous has put the club’s future in good pitching hands with a potential rotation down the road that includes Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchison and minor-league stalwart Daniel Norris — all of whom are 23 years old or younger.”

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.