Baseball free agents will play two exhibition games this week against a Japanese amateur team.
The Major League Baseball Players Association says the games against JR East will take place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The games will be open to media and scouts but not the public.
More than four dozen players remain unsigned among the 166 who exercised their right to become free agents last November. The players’ association opened a training camp for free agents at the IMG Academy two weeks ago.
JR East is sponsored by Japan Railway, and players are considered amateurs who are paid as company employees.
The players’ association announced the games Monday.
Sources — Jon Lester, Washington Nationals agree to 1-year deal with mutual option
Lester rejoins his bench coach from Chicago as Nationals manager Davey Martinez has now added two players from his time with the Cubs. Left fielder Kyle Schwarber was signed as a free agent last week.
Toward the end of a successful six-year run with the Chicago Cubs, Lester’s numbers began to go south. But every time he was counted out, he showed he could adjust and produce.
That includes in the shortened 2020 season when he started out hot, then took about a five-game dip before fixing his mechanics. He finished with a deceptive 5.16 ERA. Three of his final four starts produced a 1.06 ERA though he never got a chance to pitch in the postseason as the Cubs got swept in two games to the Marlins.
Overall, the 36-year-old left-hander was 3-3 in 61 innings and 12 starts for the Cubs last season with 42 strikeouts and 17 walks. He earned a prorated $5,555,556 from his scheduled $15 million salary.
Lester is in the final stages of his career and is old school in the sense that pitcher wins still matter to him. He has 193 career victories but the times where he’s really shined in his career have come in October where he’s produced a 2.51 career postseason ERA.
Two hundred wins and a chance at another title while cementing his Hall of Fame credentials are what’s on Lester’s mind as he begins the final phase of his career. He won’t do it with velocity or pure stuff but he hasn’t forgotten how to pitch, the ultimate need for an older hurler.
San Diego Padres to acquire Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove, sources say
The trade for Musgrove is pending medical reviews, per sources, and will be sending a large package of prospects back to the Pirates. Hudson Head, a well-regarded center fielder, is expected to be among the group heading to Pittsburgh.
Musgrove, 28, was 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA in eight starts for the Pirates in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Musgrove, the team’s Opening Day starter in 2020, is set to make $4.45 million in 2021 after he and the Pirates agreed to a contract last Friday to avoid arbitration.
He is 29-38 with a 4.33 ERA over 108 appearances in five major league seasons, including 83 starts.
Musgrove is the third starting pitcher acquired via trade by the Padres this offseason. San Diego acquired left-hander Blake Snell and right-hander Yu Darvish in separate blockbuster trades last month with the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs, respectively.
Sources — Boston Red Sox to be cautious with Chris Sale’s rehab from Tommy John surgery
Chris Sale is under contract for four more years with the Boston Red Sox — plus an option for 2025 — and with the team hoping that he can contribute throughout the length of the contract, the pace for his return from Tommy John surgery is expected to be deliberate, according to sources.
Sale had the elbow reconstruction on March 30, his 31st birthday, and typically pitchers require 12 to 15 months to recover from that procedure. There was speculation in December that within that timeline, Sale might be back sooner rather than later — which would fit the pitcher’s aggressive personality.
But Sale is about to embark on Year 2 of his five-year, $145 million deal that was finalized early in the 2019 season, and so both the team and the pitcher have reason to take a long view on his recovery. The bulk of the left-hander’s production for the Red Sox will happen in the last three years of the deal, and while sources say the team would love for Sale to come back and be a factor at some point in 2021, the Red Sox are apt to take a conservative approach.
The New York Mets and pitcher Noah Syndergaard however are taking a more aggressive approach. Though Syndergaard had his Tommy John surgery two weeks apart from Sale, both he and the Mets want to push the timeline on recovery.
Syndergaard will be eligible for free agency in the fall and stands to immediately benefit from a productive season, and the team, in control of Syndergaard for only 2021 before he hits the open market, could use some return on investment from a homegrown player making $9.7 million this year.
The Red Sox acquired Sale in a trade with the White Sox during the 2016-17 offseason, and in the three regular seasons that followed, he made 84 starts and generated a 3.08 ERA, with 763 strikeouts in 519 2/3 innings. Arm trouble forced him to the disabled list late in the 2018 season, but he wound up finishing Boston’s championship-clinching win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, spinning hard sliders. After battling more physical problems in 2019, Sale tried to come back in spring training of 2020 before breaking down once and for all.
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