Blue Jays sign Andy Dirks

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Blue Jays have agreed to a minor-league contract with veteran outfielder Andy Dirks, whom they claimed off waivers from the Tigers on October 31 only to non-tender him last month.

By non-tendering Dirks and then re-signing him to a minor-league deal the Blue Jays avoid paying him any guaranteed money. Instead he gets an invitation to spring training, where he’ll compete for a part-time role.

Dirks had a rough 2013 for Detroit and then missed all of 2014 following back surgery, but he’s a 27-year-old career .276 hitter with a .745 OPS in 297 games as a big leaguer.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.