Cardinals acquire reliever Steve Cishek from Marlins

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Cardinals have traded for Marlins right-hander Steve Cishek, who’s been working as a setup man after being demoted from the closer role.

As a side-armer with modest velocity Cishek is far from a prototypical closer, but he did a fine job in the role with 34 saves in 2013 and 39 saves last season. However, when he struggled early on this year the Marlins sent him to the minors and then brought him back up as a setup man.

Since rejoining the bullpen in mid-June he’s thrown 12.2 innings with a 0.71 ERA and 11/4 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .239 batting average, so Cishek should be a nice fit working the seventh or eighth inning in front of All-Star closer Trevor Rosenthal in St. Louis. He has a 2.86 ERA and 312 strikeouts in 290 innings, allowing a total of just 12 homers.

In exchange for Cishek the Marlins get Double-A reliever Kyle Barraclough, a 2012 seventh-round draft pick with good strikeout rates and very bad control. St. Louis takes on the $3 million or so remaining on Cishek’s contract for this season and he’s also under team control via arbitration for 2016, although the high salary makes him a non-tender candidate.

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.