Kris Bryant scratched, still hits fifth and sixth spring homers

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Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant was scratched from Saturday’s Cactus League exhibition against the Athletics due to right shoulder fatigue. He pinch-hit for Anthony Rizzo in the DH spot in the third inning and took Jesse Hahn deep for a two-run home run. In his next at-bat, Bryant went yard against Evan Scribner for a solo home run. The Cubs went on to win 3-1, with Bryant accounting for all three runs.

Bryant, 23, leads the majors in spring home runs with six. Randal Grichuk and Alex Rios entered the afternoon tied in second place with three dingers. Bryant is currently 9-for-20 (.450) with nine RBI along with the six long balls.

The Cubs plan to have Bryant start the season in the minor leagues. Mike Olt will be the club’s regular third baseman, but Bryant should earn a promotion in late April or early May. In 594 plate appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, Bryant hit a robust .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.