MLB Notes: Royals and Kevin Herrera agree to a one-year deal

MLB Notes: Royals and Kevin Herrera agree to a one-year deal

The Royals and closer Kelvin Herrera have agreed to a $5,325,000, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration with one of the top relievers in baseball.

Herrera can also earn $50,000 for making the All-Star Game, which he has done the past two seasons.

The 27-year-old right-hander is assuming the closer job after the Royals traded Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs this offseason. But Herrera has plenty of experience in the role, saving 12 games last season when Davis was dealing with some lingering injuries.

Herrera has a 2.63 ERA over parts of six seasons, and has appeared in at least 70 games each of the past three. His strikeout-to-walk ratio last season was also the best of his career.

Kansas City has signed all of its arbitration-eligible players for this season.

Twins: Byung Ho Park taken off 40-man roster
The Minnesota Twins have designated Korean slugger Byung Ho Park for assignment following a disappointing major league debut as a designated hitter.

The move was made on Friday to clear space on the 40-man roster for right-handed reliever Matt Belisle, who finalized a $2.05 million, one-year contract after posting a career-best 1.76 ERA last season for Washington.

The 30-year-old Park batted .191 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in 62 games last season. The Twins paid his South Korean club, the Nexen Heroes, $12.85 million for negotiating rights to Park, who signed a $12 million, four-year contract with Minnesota.

Belisle pitched 46 innings in 2016 for the Nationals, missing seven weeks in the first half of the season with a strained calf muscle in his right leg.

Rays: Weeks, Carpenter, Rasmus agree to deals
Infielder Rickie Weeks and right-handed relievers Cory Rasmus and David Carpenter have agreed to minor league contracts with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The deals announced Friday include invitations to major league spring training.

The 34-year-old Weeks was the second overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft and is a .247 career hitter over parts of 13 big league seasons with Milwaukee, Seattle and Arizona. He batted .239 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 108 games with the Diamondbacks last year.

Rasmus is the brother of outfielder Colby Rasmus, who also joined the Rays this offseason. In 2016, he went 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA in 19 appearances with the Los Angeles Angels.

Carpenter, 31, last pitched in the majors in 2015 with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals.

Mets: Flores is team's first arbitration hearing since 2008
Infielder Wilmer Flores has become the first New York Mets player to go to salary arbitration since Oliver Perez in 2008.

Flores asked for a $2.2 million salary, and the Mets argued for $1.8 million during Friday's hearing. A decision is expected Saturday from arbitrators Mark Irvings, Sylvia Skratek and Robert Herzog.

Originally slated to serve as a backup last season to second baseman Neil Walker, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, third baseman David Wright , Flores appeared in 103 games, had 335 plate appearances and saw time at all four infield positions. He hit .267, matched his career high with 16 homers and had 49 RBIs.

Flores made $526,014 last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Perez won his hearing in 2008 and made $6.5 million instead of the team's offer of $4,725,000.

Cardinals: No more smokeless tobacco
Baseball players with big wads of chewing tobacco in their cheek are now a thing of the past at Busch Stadium.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted Friday to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco, dip and snuff at all sports venues, including Cardinals games at Busch Stadium. The measure provides no exemption for players or anyone else on the field or in the dugouts.

The bill's sponsor, Alderwoman Dionne Flowers, says it sends a message that tobacco shouldn't be associated with sports.

Busch Stadium becomes the 14th Major League Baseball venue where smokeless tobacco is banned. Last month, the city council in St. Petersburg, Florida, banned smokeless tobacco products at all organized sporting events, including Tampa Bay Rays games.

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Mariners 2

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Mariners 2

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- Aaron Nola pitched well and Maikel Franco came up huge with his bat and his glove in leading the Phillies to an 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners in an interleague game on Tuesday night.

Nola won his second straight start to improve to 5-5.

Franco gave Nola a 3-2 lead with a tiebreaking, leadoff homer in the top of the seventh then preserved the lead with a sensational diving play to end the bottom of the inning.

Freddy Galvis had three singles and drove in two important runs late in the game.

The win was just the Phillies' 11th in 42 games on the road this season. They are 25-51 overall.

Starting pitching report
Nola reached a career-high of 113 pitches over seven gutsy innings. He gave up five hits and two runs and got a bunch of big outs with men on base. He walked four and struck out nine.

Nola got out of jams with two men on base three times, including in the bottom of the seventh when he preserved a one-run lead by striking out Mike Zunino and getting Jean Segura on a ground ball to third. Franco made a tremendous diving play on the ball to end the inning and prevent the tying run from scoring.

Nola has won two straight starts. He has pitched 14 1/3 innings over that span, allowed just three runs and racked up 17 strikeouts.

Lefty James Paxton did not give up a hit until the fifth inning. He allowed three runs in seven innings of work. He gave up Franco's go-ahead homer.

Bullpen report
Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless eighth inning to preserve a two-run lead.

The Seattle bullpen allowed five runs in two innings.

At the plate
Franco ignited a game-tying, two-run rally in the top of the fifth. He led off that inning with a double, the Phillies' first hit. Cameron Perkins followed with an infield hit and Cameron Rupp drew a walk. The Phillies then scored a pair of runs on consecutive sacrifice fly balls by Ty Kelly and Daniel Nava. Galvis followed with a single and third-base coach Juan Samuel got a little too aggressive in sending Rupp from second base. Rupp was cut down at the plate.

Franco's go-ahead homer in the seventh was his 10th of the season. Galvis pushed home an insurance run in the eighth. He followed Nava's leadoff double with an RBI single. Galvis drove home another run with a hit in the top of the ninth and Aaron Altherr put it out of reach with a two-run homer, his 13th of the season.

Segura smacked a two-run homer in the third to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.

In the field
Franco made a diving stab on Segura's smash down the third-base line to end the seventh inning and keep the Phils up by a run.

A night off
Odubel Herrera, he of several recent miscues and lapses in concentration, did not start Tuesday night. Manager Pete Mackanin said it was night off, not a benching. Herrera said he has to start playing smarter baseball (see story).

Health check
Jerad Eickhoff, on the disabled list with an upper-back strain, will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. That will help determine if he's ready to return in the coming days.

Up next
The two-game series concludes on Wednesday afternoon. Rookie right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. (1-0, 3.60) pitches against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (3-2, 4.68). Leiter pitched six scoreless innings in his first big-league start Friday in Arizona.

Scott Kingery pops 2 homers in second game with Triple A Lehigh Valley

Scott Kingery pops 2 homers in second game with Triple A Lehigh Valley

Scott Kingery's power didn't take long to transition to Triple A.

In his second game since being promoted from Double A to the IronPigs, the Phillies' second base prospect belted two homers in Lehigh Valley's 14-5 loss to Pawtucket on Tuesday night.

Arguably the most exciting player on the Phillies' farm this season, Kingery caught everyone's attention by blasting 18 home runs in 69 games at Reading. That, along with a .313/.379/.608 batting line and 19 stolen bases, earned him a highly anticipated jump to Triple A and Coca-Cola Park, home of the IronPigs.

"It looks like you can get one out to left," Kingery said ahead of his Triple A debut on Monday. "But it looks real deep to center."

Kingery was right — both of his shots Tuesday went to left field. He finished 2 for 5 with three RBIs in the leadoff spot for Lehigh Valley, hitting in front of a loaded lineup of J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cozens, Nick Williams and Andrew Pullin.

The IronPigs are an International League-best 49-29 and that should only improve with Kingery now in the fold.

"I know what I'm capable of and I know what I need to improve on," Kingery said Monday. "Wherever I'm at, I'm going to come out here and try to work on whatever I think I need to improve on and to give myself the best shot to get moved up."

In his debut, Kingery made a dazzling, over-the-head diving catch that was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter (see story).

On Tuesday, he was back to the long ball.