Rays name Chris Archer as Opening Day starter

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Making official what was assumed, Rays manager Kevin Cash announced that right-hander Chris Archer will start Opening Day for the second straight season.

Archer was an All-Star for the first time last season, throwing 212 innings with a 3.23 ERA and 252/66 K/BB ratio. Through age 26 his career ERA is 3.33 and he’s whiffed 562 batters in 565 innings.

Not bad for a pitcher who was traded from the Indians to the Cubs for Mark DeRosa and from the Cubs to the Rays for Matt Garza. And thanks to a long-term contract signed in April of 2014 he’s under the Rays’ control through 2021, when he’ll be 32 years old.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.