Phillies clinch fourth straight NL East title

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It was Nats Park in name only on Monday night. In front of thousands of their rain-soaked fans, the Phillies just defeated the Nationals by the score of 8-0, putting a bow on their fourth straight National League East title.

Roy Halladay allowed just two measly singles as part of a complete-game shutout. He struck out six, walked none and faced one batter over the minimum. The big offseason prize is now 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA over 33 starts this season. This includes an MLB-leading nine complete games and four shutouts. He’s a virtual lock for the National League Cy Young award at this point, but he’s also headed to the postseason for the first time in his 13-year career.

The Phillies have the National League’s best record for the first time since 1977, securing them home-field advantage in the NLDS and the NLCS, if they make it that far. Of course, because the National League won the All-Star Game, the Phillies would also have home-field advantage should they make it to their third straight World Series. With Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels dealing, they will be awful tough to beat.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.