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Rays sign Dustin McGowan to minor league deal

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After re-signing Sergio Romo to a one-year deal on Friday, the Rays continued to deepen their bullpen reserves with fellow free agent right-hander Dustin McGowan. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that McGowan has agreed to a minor league deal, which includes an invitation to spring training.

McGowan, 35, completed a two-year stint with the Marlins in 2017. He didn’t have the most productive season, skidding to a 4.75 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 7.4 SO/9 and -0.3 fWAR in 77 2/3 innings, but proved capable of shouldering a heavy workload and extended an impressive four-year streak without a trip to the disabled list.

The righty is poised to enter camp with right-handed relievers Nathan Eovaldi, Chih-Wei Hu, Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz and Ryne Stanek. There’s still some uncertainty surrounding the exact configuration of the bullpen; as’s Bill Chastain noted earlier this week, the Rays expect Eovaldi to compete for a rotation spot in 2018 and could look to righties Andrew Kittredge, Chaz Roe and Hunter Wood for additional support. While he may not be the sub-3.00 ERA hurler of years past, McGowan could provide a stabilizing veteran presence to a young bullpen, one that might be facing the departure of established closer Alex Colome later this year.

MLBPA proposes 114-game season, playoff expansion to MLB

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association has submitted a proposal to the league concerning the 2020 season. The proposal includes a 114-game season with an end date on October 31, playoff expansion for two years, the right for players to opt out of the season, and a potential deferral of 2020 salaries if the postseason were to be canceled.

Passan clarifies that among the players who choose to opt out, only those that are considered “high risk” would still receive their salaries. The others would simply receive service time. The union also proposed that the players receive a non-refundable $100 million sum advance during what would essentially be Spring Training 2.

If the regular season were to begin in early July, as has often been mentioned as the target, that would give the league four months to cram in 114 games. There would have to be occasional double-headers, or the players would have to be okay with few off-days. Nothing has been mentioned about division realignment or a geographically-oriented schedule, but those could potentially ease some of the burden.

Last week, the owners made their proposal to the union, suggesting a “sliding scale” salary structure. The union did not like that suggestion. Players were very vocal about it, including on social media as Max Scherzer — one of eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee — made a public statement. The owners will soon respond to the union’s proposal. They almost certainly won’t be happy with many of the details, but the two sides can perhaps find a starting point and bridge the gap. As the calendar turns to June, time is running out for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on what a 2020 season will look like.