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Cubs sign Michael Roth to minor league deal

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports that the Cubs have signed free agent left-hander Michael Roth to a minor league deal. Roth elected free agency from the Rays last November and projects as left-handed bullpen depth for the Cubs’ system.

The 27-year-old is two years removed from his last major league gig, when he pitched just 3.2 innings in a blowout 12-5 loss for the Rangers. Despite a few cups of coffee with the Angels in 2013 and 2014, he’s never been able to stick for long at the big league level, though that hasn’t stopped him from putting up solid numbers in the minors. In 2017, he split his time between the Giants’ and Rays’ farm systems, producing a cumulative 4.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in 111 2/3 innings at Triple-A Sacramento and Triple-A Durham.

The Cubs, meanwhile, still have their sights set on a big-name acquisition before the offseason officially draws to a close next month. Recent reports continue to pair them with free agent right-handers Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, all of whom are expected to face stiff competition for their services as Opening Day draws near.

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.