Monday evening signings: Blue Jays, Marlins, A's

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*’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Blue Jays and Ramon Castro have come to terms on a one-year deal worth about $1 million.
The Blue Jays will get nice pop from their $3 million catching duo of John Buck and Castro. The two combined for 15 homers and 61 RBI in 341 at-bats last season. Of course, defense is a question mark, though both have decent enough arms. Castro should have been a starter in his prime, but he was never all that motivated to make it happen. He turns 34 in March, and he hasn’t started more than 40 games in a season since 2005. The Jays will want more from him, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he comes to play.
*The Marlins added RHP Clay Hensley, RHP Scott Strickland, RHP Matt Peterson, INF Brian Barden and INF Donnie Murphy on minor league deals.
All rather familiar names here. Getting Hensley re-signed was something of a priority. The former Padre had a nice 3.24 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque last season, and he should have a real chance of making the Marlins as a middle reliever. The other candidate to make the team is Barden. He served as a utiltyman for the Cardinals early last season, and he’d make sense as a replacement for Alfredo Amezga next year. The Marlins, though, might go with Emilio Bonifacio as a reserve and decide not to carry a true backup shortstop.
*The A’s signed five minor league free agents: LHP Cedrick Bowers, RHP Fernando Hernandez, RHP Marcus McBeth. RHP Matt Wright and 1B Matt Whitney
McBeth is the pride of this group and the only one to see major league action last season, as he pitched briefly for the Red Sox. The former outfielder was originally an A’s prospect, but he was traded to the Reds for Chris Denorfia in 2007. He had a .269 ERA and a .189 average against as a Triple-A reliever last season, and he’ll probably see some time in the Oakland bullpen next year.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.