6:10pm: Smolinski has been granted his release by the Rays, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times.
10:00am: Korea’s NC Dinos are engineering some mid-season changes to their slate of foreign players. The club has wrapped up a deal with the indy ball New Britain Bees to purchase the contract of lefty Christian Friedrich, as first reported by the ALPB News Twitter account (link).
It seems the Dinos have eyes on another former major leaguer as well. Outfielder Jake Smolinski, who has been playing with the Rays’ top affiliate, is nearing a deal with the KBO club, according to baseball writer Sung Min Kim (Twitter link).
Teams in the Korea Baseball Organization are limited to three foreign players, among other regulations on spending. Accordingly, the Dinos will need to part ways with some existing players to facilitate these moves. Former big leaguers Christian Bethancourt and Eddie Butler will evidently be released to make way.
Friedrich, 31, has thrown nearly three hundred MLB innings, but the former top-100 prospect hasn’t cracked the bigs since 2016. He sat out all of last season but had shown well in the Atlantic League, posting 63 frames of 3.00 ERA ball with one strikeout per inning and 2.1 BB/9.
As for the 30-year-old Smolinski, he faced a tough path up to the majors in Tampa Bay. But the five-year MLB veteran has been hitting well this season at Triple-A, where he carries a .270/.360/.504 slash with a dozen home runs in 286 plate appearances.