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Hunter Pence signs with the Giants

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UPDATE: Jon Heyman reports that the deal between Pence and the Giants is done.

10:55 AM: I am not a scoop guy by any stretch of the imagination. My habit of never leaving my house and my existential dread of talking on the phone with people prevents that from ever really being my gig. I’ll leave that to the Jeff Passans and Ken Rosenthals of the world.

Still, I’ve gotten a couple of scoops over the years. A random contract extension here. A random signing there. If you hang around baseball and baseball people long enough stuff falls into your lap.

Some of that stuff is more random than other stuff, of course. Like, one of my more notable scoops was when the Braves signed A.J. Pierzynski. Know how I learned about that one? Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was in line at a Honeybaked Ham Company, picking up his Christmas ham, and was talking about it too loudly on the phone. A reader’s dad was behind him in line, told the reader and the reader and sent me a message about it. Viva journalism.

We have another one of those today. [Super serious voice]: NBC SPORTS HAS LEARNED that free agent outfielder Hunter Pence is in agreement with the Giants on a contract. He’s on his way up to San Francisco as we speak to take a physical. Pence, NBC SPORTS HAS LEARNED, turned down offers from the Padres and Astros to sign with the Giants.

Most journalists will never tell you their sources, but I’ll let you in on mine: some random guy in the airport in San Diego, where a few minutes ago he overheard Pence, who was getting ready to board a flight to San Francisco, talking about all of this quite loudly on his cell phone. I’m not gonna say that’s Woodward and Bernstein stuff, but I feel like it’s pretty solid as far as these things go. If it’s not I promise to write a 2,000-word essay about how getting it right is better than passing along hilarious crap from dudes who talk too loud on their cell phones in public spaces. I won’t believe that necessarily, but I’ll write it.

Anyway: Pence hit a surprising .297/.358/.552 in about a half season’s worth of work for the Rangers last year, and even made the American League All-Star team, but had his season cut short with back issues. It’s hard to expect a repeat of that or even a full season from him given that he has managed to play in more than 110 games just once dating back to 2015, but the Giants are in rebuilding mode, he’s well-liked from all of his years in the Bay Area, and this is no doubt going to be a low-leverage signing for the club.

Anyway: keep your voices down, folks. You never know who might be listening. I got spies everywhere, apparently.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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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.