Nationals general manager downplays interest in Carl Pavano

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Carl Pavano has been linked to the Nationals for nearly the entire offseason, with recent reports suggesting that he’s basically narrowed his choices down to Washington or Minnesota, but in talking to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post yesterday general manager Mike Rizzo surprisingly downplayed the Nationals’ interest:

I hear we are “the finalist” along with the Twins. We’ve never spoken to Pavano and we haven’t talked to his agent since the winter meetings.

The “we’ve never spoken to Pavano” part is essentially meaningless, because as Rizzo indicated any contract talks would technically go through his agent. However, the notion that the Nationals “haven’t talked to his agent since the winter meetings” in early December is hugely surprisingly given the constant stream of reports since then linking Pavano and the Nationals.

Rizzo is either playing coy and being intentionally misleading regarding the Nationals’ pursuit of Pavano or the Twins should be considered heavy favorites to re-sign the 35-year-old right-hander.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.

Video: Blue Jays walk off against the Athletics again, this time with a grand slam

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The Blue Jays completed a four-game series sweep against the Athletics on Thursday afternoon and won their second consecutive game in walk-off fashion. Last night, the Jays went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, but a two-run home run by Justin Smoak followed by a solo home run from Kendrys Morales led to a 3-2 walk-off victory.

Thursday’s game was already interesting enough as starter Marcus Stroman, catcher Russell Martin, and manager John Gibbons were all ejected by home plate umpire Will Little. Despite the adversity, the Jays battled the A’s, tying the game at four apiece when Morales blasted a solo home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the 10th inning, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Steve Pearce. Pearce worked the count full before pulling a fastball down the left field line for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Jays an 8-4 victory to complete the sweep.

Before Pearce, the last Jays hitter to hit a walk-off grand slam was Gregg Zaun on September 6, 2008 against the Rays, per SportsNet Stats.