Nationals sign Ivan Rodriguez to head-scratcher of a two-year deal

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Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nationals and Ivan Rodriguez have agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract. To which I say … huh?
Rodriguez is not without value despite declining significantly in recent years, but committing to him for two seasons seems crazy given that he’s 38 years old and hit .249/.280/.384 in 2009. He managed just a one-year, $1.5 million deal as a free agent last offseason and had arguably the worst season of his career, so suddenly now he’s worth four times as much for twice long?
And then there’s the fact that the Nationals have a good young catcher in Jesus Flores, who despite being a question mark for the start of 2010 thanks to shoulder surgery is a superior player and still just 25 years old. Between the unlikelihood that they’ll be anywhere close to contenders in 2010 or perhaps even 2011 and Flores’ presence Washington seems like one of the least sensible destinations for Rodriguez.
Perhaps the Nationals still have faith in Flores as the long-term answer behind the plate and are merely bringing Rodriguez in to be a backup, in which case the question becomes why a non-contender needs to pay $3 million per season for a 38-year-old backup catcher. And if instead they’re planning to hand Rodriguez the starting job while either benching or trading Flores … well, I’ll give general manager Mike Rizzo the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not completely crazy. For now at least.

Video: Aledmys Diaz hits a grand slam in remembrance of Jose Fernandez

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Aledmys Diaz #36 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single against San Diego Padres in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was childhood friends with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, so it was expected when Diaz took time away from the team on Monday to visit Fernandez’s family in Miami. They grew up on the same street in Cuba and played for the same youth baseball team and both would ultimately wind up playing Major League Baseball in the United States.

In the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Reds, Diaz hit a 2-1 Robert Stephenson fastball out to left-center field for a no-doubt grand slam. Teammate Yadier Molina gave Diaz a tight hug as he crossed home plate.

Before Tuesday’s game, Diaz said that the best way to honor Fernandez was to play with his passion, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Diaz said, “I only play for [Fernandez’s] family right now.”

Here’s the video.

AL East still mathematically undecided as Red Sox lose, Blue Jays win

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:  David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 27, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox would have clinched the AL East if one of two things happened on Tuesday night: the Red Sox themselves beat the Yankees, or the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays. Neither happened.

The Jays soundly took down the Orioles 5-1 behind six strong innings from Aaron Sanchez. Josh Donaldson went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and a pair of walks and leadoff batter Ezequiel Carrera went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, an RBI single, a walk, and three runs scored.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox for a 6-4 win, responding to both two-run innings the Sox had in the sixth and seventh with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. Gary Sanchez hit his 20th homer of the season. Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin also contributed dingers. Starter Luis Cessa pitched well, limiting the Sox to two runs over six innings on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Red Sox starter David Price struggled, yielding six runs in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard got into trouble in the ninth inning but was able to wiggle out of trouble to finish out the game.

Once again, the Red Sox will be able to clinch the AL East on Wednesday with a win over the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles.