What we're watching: Nats go for ninth straight win

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– Junichi Tazawa will make his first major league start in front of a home crowd at Fenway as the Red Sox play the Tigers tonight. Fortunately, Boston was able to halt its six-game losing streak last night, taking some of the pressure off the 23-year-old import. The Tigers will also be starting a rookie in Rick Porcello, who lost to the Red Sox after giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings on June 2. He’s 10-7 with a 4.30 ERA.
– Also making their first career starts tonight are Seattle’s Doug Fister and Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin. Fister stands 6-foot-8, but command is his forte, as he walked just 11 batters in 106 1/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma this season. He’ll be relying heavily on Seattle’s league-best outfield defense when he faces the White Sox. Chacin, a far superior prospect, is going to make a spot start against the Pirates with Aaron Cook out. He’s allowed one run and struck out nine in five innings since joining Colorado’s bullpen last month.
Game of the Night
Washington vs. Atlanta – The Nationals go for a ninth straight victory with ace John Lannan on the mound tonight. Lannan, who has gone 8-8 for a 40-72 team, ranks 15th in the NL in ERA despite recording just 64 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings. He’s going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Braves this season. Trying to cool off the Nats will be young Tommy Hanson, who outpitched Lannan in his July 4 start only to see the Braves bullpen blow a two-run lead. He’s 6-2 with a 3.22 ERA.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.