The time Edinson Volquez tricked Joaquin Benoit and Vicente Padilla out of $600

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Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star is one of baseball’s best beat reporters in part because he often passes along stories like this one, about the time Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez tricked then-Rangers teammates Joaquin Benoit and Vicente Padilla out of $600:

One day during spring training in 2005, Rangers officials informed him he needed to shave his dreadlocks to conform to their minor-league policy. Volquez sensed an opportunity.

Earlier in camp, veterans such as Vicente Padilla and Joaquin Benoit scolded him about his hair. So Volquez asked Padilla, who was unaware of the team’s edict, how much he would pay for Volquez’s haircut. Padilla offered $300. Volquez balked, only to see Benoit double the bid.

“I was like ‘$600? I can do it for $600!’ ” Volquez said Monday, a day before he would face his old club at this stadium, now christened Globe Life Park in Arlington. “And I did it. I took the money, and I got my hair cut.”

Did he pay them back? Volquez shook his head and cackled.

Ending a story with a cackle is always a great idea.

And since I looked this up: Their respective career earnings are $33 million for Volquez, $39 million for Benoit, and $51 million for Padilla.

Braves sign reliever Will Smith to three-year, $39 million contract

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The Braves announced on Thursday that the club has inked lefty reliever Will Smith to a three-year, $39 million contract with a club option for the 2023 season worth $13 million. Smith received a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million from the Giants, so he opted for a lower average annual value for a longer contract.

Smith, 30, was an All-Star last season with the Giants, finishing with 34 saves, a 2.76 ERA, and a 96/21 K/BB ratio across 65 1/3 innings. Across parts of seven seasons in the majors, he has a 3.53 ERA.

Smith, the top free agent left-handed reliever, will join a strong Braves bullpen which already includes Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, and Sean Newcomb.