Jake Diekman
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Royals trade Jake Diekman to Athletics

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The Athletics have acquired lefty reliever Jake Diekman from the Royals for minor league right-hander Ismael Aquino and outfielder Dairon Blanco, the teams announced Saturday.

It figures to be a big get for the Athletics, whose bullpen already ranks second-best in the majors behind that of the Yankees. Diekman, 32, inked a one-year, $2.75 million pact with the Royals back in January, and has since turned in a 4.75 ERA, 5.0 BB/9, 13.6 SO/9, and 0.8 fWAR over 41 2/3 innings of relief. Through Friday, his 63 strikeouts rank seventh-most among qualified relievers in the American League.

Aquino, 20, signed a minor league contract with the A’s in 2016 and is currently working through an assignment with the rookie-level AZL Athletics Green. He’s logged 10 appearances so far in 2019 with a 4.58 ERA, 5.6 BB/9, and 10.2 SO/9 across 17 2/3 innings.

Blanco, 26, signed an agreement with the Athletics during the 2017 offseason. The outfielder made his Double-A debut in 2019, batting .276/.342/.468 with seven homers, 27 stolen bases (in 34 chances), and an .811 OPS through his first 334 plate appearances of the season.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds that the A’s ‘do not figure to stop with Diekman’ and have explored the possibility of adding another starting pitcher to their ranks. Both the Mets’ Zack Wheeler and Reds’ Tanner Roark are currently on their radar, though they’ll have competition for both with the trade deadline right around the corner. This is the second trade the Athletics have orchestrated with the Royals after exchanging infielder Kevin Merrell for right-hander Homer Bailey earlier this month.

Nationals virtually unveil 2019 World Series rings

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On Sunday evening, the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals unveiled their championship rings online. The Nats took down the Astros in seven hard-fought games last October to win their first Fall Classic in franchise history, with starter Stephen Strasburg winning MVP honors.

As the video highlights about the ring, the Nationals honored “Baby Shark,” a children’s song that became part of the team’s identity last year thanks to reserve outfielder Gerardo Parra. The ring also has all kinds of mementos referencing the Nationals’ triumphs throughout the years, including a reference to 2006, when the Lerner family bought the franchise.

It is a shame that, due to the global pandemic, the Nationals haven’t been able to properly get their rings like past championship winners. But they will, in due time. For now, the players can look forward to receiving their rings in the mail.