Winter meetings notes from day two: Giants, Brewers, Astros

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– Giants GM Brian Sabean said there’s no way Bengie Molina would be returning to the team. “That ship has sailed,” he told the San Jose Mercury News.
The Giants don’t want to turn over the job to Buster Posey, so Molina would still make sense if he can’t get a multiyear deal elsewhere. However, the Giants appear to be focused on Yorvit Torrealba or, perhaps, Ryan Doumit.
– The Brewers are close to re-signing free agent right-hander Claudio Vargas, presumably to a one-year deal.
Vargas, a starter for the Brewers in 2007, did a great job in low-leverage situations after being reacquired from the Dodgers on July 31, amassing a 1.78 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. He’ll need to take on a bigger role in next year’s pen, particularly now that Mark DiFelice is expected to miss the season.
– The Nationals have brought back Jerry Owens on a minor league contract, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.
Owens was the Nationals’ second-round pick in 2003. He was traded to the White Sox for Alex Escobar a year and a half later and hit .262/.319/.305 in 393 at-bats over four seasons for Chicago. He should be Triple-A fodder for the Nats, but perhaps there’s the chance that he’ll make the team as a bench player if Willie Harris is traded.
The Astros have signed eight players to minor league deals with spring training invitations: RHP Roy Corcoran, RHP Ryan Sadowski, RHP Casey Daigle, RHP Gary Majewski, 1B Chris Shelton, INF Drew Meyer, INF Oswaldo Nararro and OF Alex Romero.
If you’re a pitcher and a minor league free agent, the Astros would seem to be a prime team to sign with. Corcoran had a 3.22 ERA in 722/3 innings for the Mariners in 2008 and would seem to be the player here with the best chance of making the Astros out of spring training. Shelton is also deserving of another opportunity, though he’s less likely to get it. He hit .314/.396/.509 for Triple-A Tacoma last season.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.