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Rangers avoid arbitration with Jake Diekman for $1.255 million

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Jon Heyman reports that the Rangers and reliever Jake Diekman have avoided arbitration in the lefty’s first year of eligibility, agreeing on a one-year, $1.255 million contract for the 2016 season. Diekman had filed for $1.55 million while the Rangers countered at $975,000. As some amount of math will show, Diekman settled for slightly under the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The Rangers acquired Diekman along with ace starter Cole Hamels from the Phillies in a blockbuster trade at the non-waiver trade deadline last season for five minor leaguers and starter Matt Harrison. The 29-year-old finished with an aggregate 4.01 ERA, 69 strikeouts, and 31 walks across 58 1/3 innings. He struggled with the Phillies and turned things around with the Rangers, however. In Texas, he posted a 2.08 ERA with 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 2/3 innings.

Diekman features a blazing fastball, clocking in at 96.5 MPH on average, tied with former teammate Ken Giles as the 11th-fastest average fastball last season. He’ll figure to be an important piece in the Rangers’ bullpen for the next few seasons.

Ramon Laureano’s suspension reduced from 6 games to 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano had a six-game suspension reduced to four games Friday after appealing the penalty for his role in a benches-clearing brawl with the rival Houston Astros.

Major League Baseball said a settlement had been reached and the A’s were informed of the decision. Laureano was set to begin the four-game suspension Friday night and will miss a three-game weekend Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. After sitting out Monday at Arizona, he will be eligible to play Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in the fracas at Oakland last Sunday. Laureano also received a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory – the third time he got hit in the series and the fifth time overall for an A’s batter. Houston players weren’t plunked at all. He pointed at Castellanos and began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two teams in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.