Nationals sign Alex Cora to a minor league contract

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Last week the Nationals were said to be targeting Jerry Hairston Jr. as their utility man replacement for Willie Harris, who signed a minor-league deal with the Mets.

However, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com they turned their attention to Alex Cora because “some in the organization believe [Hairston’s] asking price would be too steep” and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Cora has agreed to a minor-league contract that would be worth $900,000 plus $600,000 in potential incentives if he makes the team.

Of course, the reason Cora’s asking price isn’t as steep is that he isn’t as good. Or good, period.

Cora hit .210 with a .266 on-base percentage and .278 slugging percentage in 194 plate appearances for the Mets and Rangers last season, and also batted just .251/.320/.310 in 308 trips to the plate for the Mets in 2009. And at age 35 he’s no longer a reliable option defensively at shortstop, making him a bottom-of-the-barrel utility man target.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.