Phillies, Astros and Red Sox pursue Polanco

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polanco tigers.jpgMLB.com reporters are connecting Placido Polanco to the Phillies, Red Sox and Astros one day after the Tigers declined to offer the Type A free agent arbitration, allowing teams to sign him without surrendering a draft pick.
Todd Zolecki claims the Phils have been “very aggressive in their pursuit” of Polanco as their top choice to replace Pedro Feliz at third base. Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa have also been discussed as possibilities there. Zolecki believes that the Phillies are the favorites to land the 34-year-old, who played for Philadelphia from mid-2002 to mid-2005.
Brian McTaggert has the Astros as “seriously interested,” even though they’ve been crying poor and they’re on the hook to Kaz Matsui for another $5 million in 2010. Houston has been hoping that Matsui would take the Kenji Johjima route back to Japan, but there’s been no indication that it’s a real possibility. Matsui remains an above average defensive second baseman, but he’s often hurt and he hit just .250/.302/.357 last season.
The Red Sox could use Polanco at second base if they moved Dustin Pedroia to shortstop, though that’s probably not their preferred option. Polanco has seen his OPS drop from 846 in 2007 to 768 in 2008 and 727 last season, and while he’s more attractive now that he won’t cost teams a draft pick, that doesn’t give him any extra advantage over Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez.
Polanco could also be an option for the Dodgers, Twins or Cubs at second base. The Tigers won’t re-sign him, as they need to save money and have an internal replacement ready in Scott Sizemore.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.