Gregor Blanco gets two-year, $7.5 million deal from Giants, avoiding arbitration

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By signing Norichika Aoki the Giants pushed Gregor Blanco into a backup role, but they also avoided arbitration with the 31-year-old outfielder by signing him to a two-year, $7.5 million contract.

Blanco will make slightly less than Aoki, who gets $4 million in 2015, and the two-year deal covers his final two seasons of arbitration eligibility. He’ll be eligible for free agency after 2016.

Blanco has been a regular for the Giants in each of the past three seasons, logging 453, 511, and 444 plate appearances while playing all three outfield spots and hitting .257 with a .336 on-base percentage and .691 OPS in 428 total games.

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.