If the Pirates are going to maintain their position near the top of the National League Central standings down the stretch, most would agree that they’ll probably need to make a couple of notable additions before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Well, good news. That hunt for an injection of talent has already begun in Pittsburgh.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the surprising 48-44 Pirates have contacted the Oakland front office about corner outfielder Josh Willingham.
Willingham, an eight-year major league veteran, has posted an unremarkable .247/.322/.439 batting line in 286 plate appearances this season for the A’s. But he hit 16 home runs alongside an .848 OPS in 2010 for the Nationals and slugged 24 dingers in 2009.
The 32-year-old would join a Pirates outfield rotation that’s been without Jose Tabata (quad) since late June and short on consistent production outside of All-Star Andrew McCutchen and a hot start from 25-year-old Alex Presley. Garrett Jones has a .749 OPS.
Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and starter Marco Estrada are nearing an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is expected to be for one guaranteed year, Morosi adds.
Estrada, 34, was set to become a free agent after the season. He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015. While the right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings and has looked much better since the end of July. Between July 31 and his most recent start on Saturday, Estrada owns a 3.75 ERA.
J.A. Happ is the only other starter technically under contract with the Jays next season. Marcus Stroman will be eligible for his second year of arbitration and the Jays will certainly agree to give him a raise on his $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. The Jays will likely be active this offseason in adding rotation help and they’re starting early by locking up Estrada.
Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. robbed Orioles first baseman Chris Davis of his 25th home run on Tuesday evening, leaping at the fence in center field to make the catch and keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Davis swung at the first pitch he saw from Drew Pomeranz, a slider that crossed the middle of the plate.
This game has potential playoff implications, as the first-place Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the Yankees in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are still in the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Twins by 5.5 games for the second Wild Card slot.