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Padres, Robbie Erlin avoid arbitration

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Padres and pitcher Robbie Erlin have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. The lefty was in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Erlin, 28, pitched both out of the rotation and out of the bullpen for the Padres last year, making 12 starts and 27 relief appearances. Altogether, he posted a 4.21 ERA with 88 strikeouts and 12 walks in 109 innings. It was his first season back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2016. Erlin’s workload was managed as a result.

The Padres have a handful of candidates at the back end of the rotation and Erlin is among them. Needless to say, if he doesn’t capture a rotation spot at the end of spring training, he’ll work out of the bullpen once again.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.