Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported that the Rangers and reliever Shawn Kelley were nearing an agreement on a contract. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the deal is worth $2.5 million over one year and includes a club option for a second year. The option is for $2.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.
Kelley, 34, began the 2018 season with the Nationals, but his relationship with the team took a turn for the worst when he threw a tantrum pitching in a mop-up role and allowed a home run to Austin Jackson. The Nationals designated him for assignment and ended up trading him to the Athletics. It came out later that Kelley reportedly almost got into a physical confrontation with GM Mike Rizzo.
Kelley put up a respectable 3.34 ERA in 32 1/3 innings for the Nationals and got even better upon arriving to Oakland. In 16 2/3 innings through the end of the season, he posted a 2.16 ERA. Between both teams, he struck out 50 batters and walked only 11 in 49 innings.
Jose Leclerc handled save situations for the Rangers in the final two months of last season and will likely begin the 2019 season as the closer. Kelley will likely set up for him.
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.