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Report: Blue Jays to sign Bud Norris

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Not about to be outdone by the Phillies on Thursday, the Blue Jays have signed free agent pitcher Bud Norris, SiriusXM’s Craig Mish reports. It’s a minor league contract, per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.

Norris, who turns 34 years old on Saturday, worked out of the bullpen for the Cardinals last season, amassing 28 saves with a 3.59 ERA and a 67/21 K/BB ratio across 57 2/3 innings. He was a starter for most of his career but was converted to a reliever starting in 2015.

The Blue Jays are already set at closer with Ken Giles, but Norris will presumably help bridge the gap to him along with Ryan Tepera and Joe Biagini. Norris will also serve as emergency rotation depth.

Norris made headlines last year for “mercilessly riding” and “badgering” then-teammate Jordan Hicks, the Cardinals’ young flame-throwing reliever. He has also gone on record telling foreign-born players, “If you’re going to come into our country and make our American dollars, you need to respect a game that has been here for over a hundred years.” Hopefully the veteran has cleaned up his act.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.