Pirates bolster bullpen, pick up Joakim Soria from Tigers

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UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Tigers will receive prospect infielder-outfielder JaCoby Jones in return.

6:11 p.m. ET: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Pirates and Tigers have agreed to a deal. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that medicals still need to be reviewed before the trade becomes official.

The Tigers will receive one minor leaguer in return, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

6:09 p.m. ET: After dealing ace David Price to the Blue Jays earlier today, the Tigers are now close to moving their closer. According to James Schmehl of MLive.com, the Pirates are nearing a deal to acquire Joakim Soria.

Soria, an impending free agent, has posted a 2.85 ERA and 36/11 K/BB ratio over 41 innings this season. The 31-year-old has been very solid since taking over the closer role in Detroit, going 23-for-26 in save chances.

The Pirates already have an All-Star closer in Mark Melancon, so Soria would presumably function in a set-up capacity. Pittsburgh’s bullpen is currently fourth in the majors with a 2.71 ERA, but they are about to get even better.

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.