Craig Kimbrel
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Report: Rays are still interested in Craig Kimbrel

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays are still in communication with free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, for whatever that’s worth at this point in the season. Topkin doesn’t reveal exactly how far along any potential discussions between the two sides might be, but it’s probably safe to say the Rays aren’t close to offering a formal deal just yet.

Kimbrel, now approaching his age-31 season in the majors, has been linked to the Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Brewers this spring, though no one team has emerged as a clear frontrunner so far. Previous reports from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman indicated that the right-hander was willing to lower his asking price from a five-year contract to a three-year deal, which may still be too hefty a commitment for some of his potential suitors.

Last season, the veteran righty earned his seventh career All-Star nomination, rounding out a three-year stint with the Red Sox and pitching to 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 13.9 SO/9 across 62 1/3 innings of relief. There’s no question the Rays could stand to benefit from Kimbrel’s proven experience, even as they already boast the third-best bullpen in the majors (per FanGraphs). Like their competitors, however, they may be waiting to make a play for the free agent until the MLB amateur draft concludes on June 5 and they no longer need to sacrifice their third-highest draft pick to do so.

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.