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Scott Kazmir Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Dodgers Pitcher

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a crowded roster heading into the meat of their offseason and are reportedly shopping left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir to create additional space, per Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine.

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Trading Kazmir Would Help Dodgers Add Hill

Sunday, Dec. 4

Olney noted Los Angeles couldn’t sign free agent Rich Hill and other players with a 40-man roster already at 39 without making some moves, such as trading Kazmir.

Los Angeles eventually signing Hill appears to be approaching as reality, as Bill Plunkettof the Orange County Register said the two sides were “closing in on [a] multiyear deal.”

Clayton Kershaw served as the anchor for the Dodgers rotation in 2016, but Hill was a major reason they reached the National League Championship Series and took the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs to six games.

The southpaw made six starts for the team down the stretch after beginning the season on the Oakland Athletics and posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 34.1 innings. He also finished with a solid 3.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in three playoff starts.

If trading Kazmir will help Los Angeles bring that type of production back, it is probably worth it.

However, Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors said moving Kazmir would be about more than just clearing roster space since it would directly impact the team’s rotation plans with Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias as the only surefire options at this point.

Polishuk pointed to candidates such as Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jose De Leon who could emerge in the race for spots, especially since Olney noted the Dodgers were also shopping Brandon McCarthy.

Kazmir comes with some risks, since he will be 33 years old throughout the entirety of the 2017 campaign. He also dealt with thoracic spine inflammation in 2016 in his first year with the Dodgers and pitched just one inning after Aug. 22.

The journeyman has played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics and Dodgers throughout his career and finished the 2016 campaign with a 4.56 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 136.1 innings. The recent numbers don’t exactly turn heads, but he is a three-time All-Star (2006, 2008 and 2014) with six seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA on his resume.

The injury problems are a concern considering he made a mere one start in 2011 and didn’t pitch in 2012, but he did tally 26 or more starts in each of the last four seasons.

He is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor who could attract teams looking for starting pitching depth on the trade market instead of through free agency.

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Matt Holliday to Yankees: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Matt Holliday struggled to find his previous All-Star form throughout an injury-marred 2016 season, but the New York Yankees reportedly took a chance on him Sunday.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Bronx Bombers signed the slugger to a one-year deal worth $13 million. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports confirmed the signing. 

Heyman, citing Sweeny Murti of CBS New York, said Holliday will serve as the designated hitter for the Yankees. 

This comes after the St. Louis Cardinals declined the remaining option year on his previous contract on the heels of a 2016 season in which he played just 110 games and slashed .246/.322/.461 with 20 home runs and 62 RBI. He also fell short in the outfield and was responsible for minus-eight defensive runs saved above average, per FanGraphs.

Holliday played for the Colorado Rockies from 2004 to 2008, the Oakland Athletics for 93 games in 2009 and the Cardinals from 2009 to 2016.

He was an All-Star his final three years with Colorado, as well as his first three full seasons with St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star also made the team in 2015 and has four Silver Slugger Awards and the 2007 National League batting title on his impressive resume.

USA Today ranked him as the 46th-best free agent in this offseason’s class and pointed to some of his decline as he ages: “Once one of the game’s most consistent power hitters, Holliday has begun to show his age over the past two seasons as injuries have become more of a problem. His career-low .246 average and .783 OPS in 2016 confirm the decline.”

Holliday played just 73 games in 2015 because of a right quadriceps injury and dealt with a fractured thumb that required surgery and a facial abrasion after being hit by a pitch in 2016.

He still managed to reach the 20-homer plateau for the 10th time in his career:

In addition to his raw power, Holliday brings postseason experience to his new team. He has 72 playoff games and the 2007 National League Championship Series MVP under his belt and will look to help lead the Yankees to the playoffs in 2017.

He was confident in his abilities heading into the offseason, per Jenifer Langosch of “I have a lot of good baseball left in me.”

That may be the case, but he will be 37 years old throughout the 2017 campaign. The power was still there when healthy in 2016, and he won’t be a liability in the outfield as a designated hitter.

Between his veteran leadership, postseason mettle and pop he brings to the order, Holliday can develop into an impact signing for New York.

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Albert Pujols Injury: Updates on Angels Star’s Recovery from Foot Surgery

Los Angeles Angels star Albert Pujols‘ status for Opening Day in 2017 could be up in the air after undergoing surgery on his right foot.

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Latest on Pujols’ Timeline to Return

Friday, Dec. 2

The Angels issued a statement announcing Pujols underwent surgery on his right plantar fascia, and the normal estimated recovery time is four months.

This is yet another physical setback for Pujols, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, which jeopardized his status for the start of the 2016 campaign. He also had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2012 and suffered through plantar fasciitis in 2013.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register noted before the 2016 season that Pujols seemed “more open to DHing now,” given his injury history.

Pujols played a career-high 123 games at designated hitter in 2016 because of his foot problems and declining skills in the field. He did hit 31 home runs, but his .323 on-base percentage was the second-lowest mark of his career. 

When healthy, Pujols has been one of the best players in baseball over the course of the last 15 years, and the 10-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, three-time National League MVP and two-time Gold Glove winner gives the Angels power in their lineup alongside Mike Trout. 

Despite that sterling resume, Pujols hasn’t been the same dominant force for the Angels as he was with the St. Louis Cardinals during his prime:

Injuries and age have been factors in the decline in production, and it’s unlikely he will ever return to being anything close to what he was at his peak or even when he had an .859 OPS in his first season with the Angels.

The Angels can use a combination of Jefry Marte and C.J. Cron at first base or designated hitter if Pujols is unable to be back before the season starts in April. 

While the Angels at least have some pieces to help them remain afloat without Pujols, they are a more dangerous offense when he is in the lineup and producing behind Trout.

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Jaime Garcia to Braves: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia has spent his entire MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Atlanta Braves announced on Thursday they acquired the southpaw in exchange for prospects John Gant, Chris Ellis and Luke Dykstra. 

Mark Saxon of first reported the trade. Gant and Ellis are each right-handed pitchers, while Dykstra is an infielder. ranked Ellis, Gant and Dykstra as Atlanta’s 17th-, 21st- and 29th-best prospects, respectively, in 2016.

Garcia is the headliner in the trade, though he had mixed results in 2016. On one hand, he appeared in 32 games, which tied for his career high and represented significant strides after an injury-marred stretch. He made 20 starts in 2012, nine in 2013, seven in 2014 and 20 in 2015.

He underwent season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome and suffered partial labrum and rotator cuff tears during that span. He also dealt with groin issues in 2015.

While Garcia proved he can handle the rigors of an entire season in 2016, he was nowhere near as effective as he was in 2010 and 2011, when he posted 2.70 and 3.56 ERAs, respectively.

He finished the 2016 campaign with a 4.67 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, which were his highest marks since he made 10 appearances as a rookie in 2008. Home runs were one of the biggest problems for the southpaw, who allowed 26 on a Cardinals team that finished 86-76 and missed out on the playoffs.

However, his strikeout totals increased with more innings of work:

Garcia represents the latest veteran addition for the Braves pitching staff, which has also added 43-year-old Bartolo Colon and 42-year-old R.A. Dickey in the offseason.

At 30 years old, Garcia is younger than those two righties, but injuries have to be a concern as he racks up additional mileage on his arm.

Still, Atlanta needed to make changes to its starting rotation after finishing 28th in the big leagues with a 4.87 ERA. Atlanta has plenty of ground to make up in the National League East after finishing in last place at 68-93, but addressing the woeful starting rotation was an ideal place to start.

Garcia comes with risks, but he also has a track record that includes a handful of notable seasons.

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MLB CBA Negotiations: Latest News, Rumors on Labor Talks

Major League Baseball owners and players are discussing a new collective bargaining agreement ahead of the Dec. 1 expiration of the current deal.

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Latin American Players Reportedly Set to Fight Potential International Draft

Monday, Nov. 28

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported a “significant number” of Latin American players are expected to be at Monday’s bargaining session to fight the international draft.

Passan noted that “Latin representation at union meetings has been an issue in the past,” but the divisiveness of the issue “spurred interest.” Passan called the move a “bold play” by the players’ union, saying “the implication is it is putting a line in the sand” on the international draft.

MLB, Union Reportedly Make Progress in Talks

Wednesday, Nov. 23

Jayson Stark of reported negotiations “have progressed this week, to the point where sources finally are expressing optimism that an agreement can be reached before owners impose a lockout.

“Two sources who had spoken with both sides told on Wednesday that they now sense there is ‘a path to a deal,’ following negotiations Tuesday that stretched into the night.” 

On Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the owners were considering locking out the players if the two sides failed to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement before the current deal expires on Dec. 1.

Multiple Sticking Points Holding Up New CBA

Rosenthal noted such a move would end baseball’s streak of 21 straight years of labor peace.

A lockout in the offseason would impact roster decisions, such as free-agent signings and trades. Rosenthal did say the winter meetings could still happen from Dec. 4-8, but there wouldn’t be “the usual frenzy of major league activity.”

The threat of the lockout looms over Tony Clark, who heads the players’ union, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in their first time in their current roles. Clark replaced the late Michael Weiner, but Rosenthal noted Manfred served as the lead negotiator for MLB in the last three collective bargaining agreements before taking over as commissioner.

Fans hoping the two sides can avoid a lockout can look toward Manfred’s recent history of serving as lead negotiator in times of labor peace as something of a positive. What’s more, the commissioner told Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “In terms of trying to make a deal, 10 days is plenty of time.”

Sherman also said the two sides negotiated until late Tuesday afternoon and will continue doing so while the players attend their annual meeting from Monday through Wednesday in Dallas.

According to Rosenthal, owners are frustrated with how slow the discussions from the players’ union have been, noting “a number of significant issues remain unresolved.” He also quoted an anonymous player who said, “We are not afraid of a lockout.”

Rosenthal broke down a few of the issues holding up negotiations, including draft-pick compensation and the potential implementation of an international draft.

In the current system, teams lose a draft pick when they sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer. If draft-pick compensation were removed, there would be unrestricted free agency and teams would theoretically be more willing to sign marquee players without fearing the loss of a draft pick.

According to Rosenthal, the owners offered to eliminate the draft-pick compensation if they could implement an international draft, but the players opposed the draft “in part because foreign-born amateurs do not have the same leverage and opportunities as their U.S.-born counterparts, including college.”

Rosenthal also pointed to the competitive-balance tax and the Joint Drug Agreement as other issues the two sides are “at odds over” as negotiations continue.

Despite the potential for a lockout, Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew cautioned that a week before the Dec. 1 deadline is the ideal time for a source on the owners’ side to leak the threat in hopes of players caving on some demands.

Cwik also acknowledged there is plenty of money at stake that could help a deal get done sooner rather than later. 

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Andrew Cashner to Rangers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Andrew Cashner turned in arguably the worst season of his career in 2016, but the Texas Rangers took a chance on him Friday to the tune of a one-year, $10 million contract.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the terms of the agreement. TR Sullivan of also passed along word of the free-agent signing.

Cashner started his career with the Chicago Cubs and pitched down the stretch of the 2016 season for the Miami Marlins after they acquired him from the San Diego Padres via trade. He posted a 5.98 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 12 appearances for Miami, which both would have represented career-worst numbers throughout an entire season.

However, Cashner flashed his potential as a No. 2 or 3 starter in 2013 and 2014 with the Padres. He posted a 1.13 WHIP in each season and appeared to be coming into his own as an impact pitcher at the major league level. Still, there was a drastic decline in performance the next two years:

Injuries are part of the concern, as he went on disabled list in 2016 with a strained neck and dealt with a shoulder injury and elbow injury in 2014 that limited him to just 19 starts. Considering he hasn’t been the same since that 2014 campaign, it is not hard to speculate his health impacted his overall performance.

At his best, Cashner’s fastball often exceeds 95 mph, per FanGraphs. If he can remain healthy in 2017 and tap into the effective power pitcher he was from 2013-14, the Rangers will end up with one of the better under-the-radar signings of the offseason. 

He’ll likely join a rotation headlined by Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Finding more mid-rotation options to bolster the group behind those co-aces was one of the biggest things on the team’s offseason to-do list. A bounce-back year from the newest addition would be a key step in the right direction.

He is still just 30 years old and should be relatively fresh considering he has never pitched more than 184.2 innings in a season throughout his career. Cashner’s new team hopes that translates into an effective 2017 effort.  

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MLB MVP 2016: Predictions for AL and NL Awards

The Chicago Cubs already won their first World Series in 108 years, but they probably aren’t done collecting hardware in 2016.

Kris Bryant is the front-runner to bring the National League MVP award to Wrigleyville but will have to stave off Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals and NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On the American League side, Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox, Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels are finalists for the MVP.

The two awards will be unveiled on MLB Network Thursday. Here is a look at predictions for two of the top individual awards for the 2016 campaign.


National League MVP Prediction: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

Bryant has taken the league by storm in his first two seasons with an NL Rookie of the Year, two All-Star Game appearances, two playoff appearances and a World Series trophy the Windy City desperately longed for since 1908.

Now he will add an MVP to that sterling resume.

According to, Bryant led the NL in runs scored (121) and position-player WAR (7.7). He was also third in home runs with 39 and sixth in RBI with 102 and slashed .292/.385/.554.

Bryant will win the MVP for more than just his offensive prowess.

His defensive versatility allowed manager Joe Maddon to mix and match his lineup cards on a daily basis, which is one reason the team was fresh enough to win 103 regular-season games and the World Series.

Bryant appeared at third base, first base, shortstop, left field, center field and right field this season and was responsible for 10 total defensive runs saved above average, per FanGraphs.

In addition to the fielding and offense, the well-rounded Bryant was a force on the basepaths for the Cubs. According to FanGraphs, Bryant posted a BsR total of 7.3, which was second in the NL behind only Wil Myers of the San Diego Padres (7.8).

FanGraphs explained: “Base Running (BsRis FanGraphs‘ all-encompassing baserunning statistic that turns stolen bases, caught stealings and other baserunning plays (taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases, etc.) into runs above and below average.”

Considering Bryant tallied only eight stolen bases this year, his high ranking is a testament to his ability to make things happen on the basepaths beyond the traditional metrics.

The stats are there for Bryant, and so were the memorable MVP moments during Chicago’s World Series run.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune noted Bryant set a franchise record on June 27 against the Cincinnati Reds with 16 total bases when he went 5-for-5 with three home runs and two doubles. He was also the first player in MLB history to hit three homers and two doubles in a single game.

As if that wasn’t enough, Bryant became the second player in league history to tally two five-hit, five-RBI games in a season when he went 5-for-5 with two homers and five RBI on Aug. 18 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bryant also drilled a home run in the first inning of the All-Star Game against Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox and continued his magic in the Fall Classic with a game-tying homer in Game 5 at Wrigley Field and a go-ahead homer in Game 6 at Progressive Field.

Teammate and fellow slugger Anthony Rizzo discussed what makes Bryant so dangerous at the plate, per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago: “He’s that talent. It’s his ability to adjust pitch to pitch, which is not easy to do, at-bat to at-bat, game to game. His head is still all the time. He’s got the same swing every single time.”

That steady swing made Bryant the best player in the National League this season.


American League MVP Prediction: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

The only real argument against Trout is the fact his Angels won just 74 games this season as the fourth-place team in the American League West. However, the five-time All-Star and 2014 AL MVP was an all-around force again this year and will capture the second MVP of his career.

According to Baseball-Reference, Trout led the AL in runs scored (123), walks (116), on-base percentage (.441) and position-player WAR (10.6).

Jonah Keri of CBS Sports made the case for the center fielder with his MVP pick and discredited the notion he can’t win the award for a losing team:

Trout has been the best player in the league for each of the past five years (this year included), and trying to dance your way to other candidates because it’s boring to keep backing the same guy makes no sense. …

Players getting rewarded based on how good or bad a job their team’s general manager did in building a roster is a silly premise, especially in a sport that’s more one-on-one-matchup-focused than just about any other team sport.

In addition to his league-leading numbers, Trout slashed .315/.441/.550 with 29 home runs and 100 RBI. He also finished second in the AL with a BsR of 9.3 behind only Betts’ 9.8, per FanGraphs.

Bryant largely racked up his baserunning total doing some of the unheralded things, but Trout finished with 30 steals in addition to his willingness to take an extra base while avoiding costly outs.

Trout also used that speed in center field to finish with six total defensive runs saved above average, per FanGraphs. He also made quite a few appearances on the highlight reel with some spectacular catches.

Trout, like Bryant, is the rare player who can take over a game at the plate with power while also providing stellar fielding and baserunning. He was the best player in baseball this season, even if the Angels were far from matching his individual brilliance.

That alone is enough to merit his second MVP award.

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Kate Upton Comments on Fiance Justin Verlander Not Winning MLB Cy Young Award

Major League Baseball announced Boston Red Sox ace Rick Porcello won the 2016 American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday, which left Detroit Tigers hurler Justin Verlander in second place.

His fiancee, supermodel Kate Upton, was not pleased with the results (Warning: NSFW language):

As Upton mentioned, Verlander finished in second place despite garnering the most first-place votes. She was wrong, however, about Porcello’s failing to receive any first-place votes, as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America shared:

Upton wasn’t the only one upset with the results. Verlander’s younger brother, Ben, weighed in on the Cy Young voting:

Verlander has a case that extends beyond the first-place votes he received. He finished with a slightly better WHIP than Porcello (1.00 to 1.01) and threw more innings (227.2 to 223.0) in the process. He also posted a better ERA and comparable numbers to Porcello and fellow finalist Corey Kluber in other categories, per FanGraphs:

However, the numbers were close across the board, and Porcello enjoyed advantages in some of the statistics as well. His Red Sox also won the American League East at 93-69, while Verlander’s Tigers were left on the outside of the playoffs looking in at 86-75.

While team performance isn’t necessarily a final determinant of individual awards, that Porcello’s team made the playoffs likely helped his cause.

The Cy Young results were more personal to Upton given her relationship with Verlander, but this isn’t the first topic from the sports world she discussed on her Twitter page. For example, she was not pleased when Arian Foster and other NFL players knelt during the national anthem earlier this year, either:

Upton isn’t happy her fiance missed out on the Cy Young, but she can take solace in knowing he already has the award on his resume. Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young the same year he captured the AL MVP when he won the pitching version of the Triple Crown by leading the AL in wins (24), ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (250).

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Bartolo Colon to Braves: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Bartolo Colon will pitch again in 2017 after the Atlanta Braves reportedly signed him to a free-agent contract Friday. 

Mark Bowman of first reported word of the agreement. Robert Murray of FanRag Sports confirmed the report. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports passed along the financial details, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted there is not an option attached.

Rosenthal also reported another detail about Colon’s upcoming salary:

This comes after the 43-year-old Colon helped anchor the New York Mets staff in 2016 on the way to the postseason even though they lost Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz to season-ending injuries.

Colon appeared in 34 games in 2016, which tied a career-high mark (2001, 2003 and 2004). He finished the year with a 3.43 ERA and 1.21 WHIP and reached his fourth All-Star Game.

The right-hander was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league in his prime. He won the 2005 American League Cy Young Award with the Los Angeles Angels behind a 3.48 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. It was one of 10 seasons in which he posted an ERA below 4.00 in his impressive major league tenure:

Age is something of a concern with a new contract at 43 years old, but he finished with head-turning numbers in 2015 at age 42. There is no reason to think he cannot at least be a solid innings-eater again after pitching more than 190 innings in each of the last four campaigns.

He also has plenty of postseason experience with 17 appearances and 10 starts. He has a 3.49 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in those games and can provide veteran leadership for a team with playoff aspirations in 2017. 

The Dominican Republic native becomes the second veteran starter to join the Braves in as many days. On Thursday, Atlanta announced the signing of 42-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey as it looks to add some leadership to a young team preparing to turn the corner after an extensive rebuild.

While Colon may not be the most vital member of the Braves staff, which is led by Julio Teheran, he gives them formidable depth and a playoff-tested arm should the team finally start to climb back up the standings in 2017.

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Andrew Bailey Re-Signs with Angels: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Andrew Bailey was an All-Star closer early in his career, and the Los Angeles Angels hope he can become a bullpen force once again after re-signing him to a new contract.  

The Angels announced they signed Bailey to a one-year contract on Wednesday, and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reported the deal is worth $1 million with incentives.

Bailey has played for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Angels and Philadelphia Phillies in his career. He was a dominant force in his first two seasons with Oakland and made the 2009 and 2010 All-Star Games.

He won the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year behind a 1.84 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 83.1 innings. He also notched 26 saves in the process. He followed that up with a 1.47 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 42 strikeouts and 25 saves in 49 innings in 2010.

However, injuries sapped him of much of his effectiveness after those initial two years.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe chronicled his physical ailments before the 2012 season and said Bailey underwent thumb surgery in 2012, suffered a forearm injury in 2011, had elbow surgery in 2010 and had knee surgery after the 2009 season.

What’s more, he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2013 and didn’t make a single appearance in 2014 as a result. He pitched in just 8.2 innings in 2015. 

Bailey’s numbers were still solid in 2011, but he was plagued by inconsistency and a couple of lackluster seasons after that:

The silver lining for Bailey is his performance with the Angels last year. His overall numbers left much to be desired because of a 6.40 ERA in 33 appearances for the Phillies, but he sported a 2.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and six saves in 11.1 innings down the stretch for Los Angeles.

While they weren’t pressure-packed appearances for a team well out of playoff contention, the positive results were a welcome sign for the 32-year-old veteran.

The hope for Los Angeles is that foreshadowed a return to prominence for the two-time All-Star and wasn’t just a small-sample blip. The injury concerns are still quite real, but the chance Bailey finds his form again makes this a high-upside deal.

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