Andy LaRoche signs minor league contract with Athletics

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Funny I mentioned Andy LaRoche just a short while ago, because he has signed a minor league deal with the Athletics, according to the team’s Twitter feed. He’ll be a non-roster invitee during spring training.

LaRoche, now 27 years old, was designated for assignment by the Pirates in November after batting just .206/.268/.287 with four home runs and 16 RBI over 271 plate appearances last season. He became a free agent after going unclaimed on waivers.

Once regarded as one of the game’s top prospects, LaRoche has a lowly .224 batting average to go along with a .304 on-base percentage and .338 slugging percentage across 1,228 plate appearances in the major leagues. He’s unlikely to overtake Kevin Kouzmanoff for the starting third base job, but could make the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder now that Adam Rosales is working his way back from foot surgery.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.