Pirates also working on long-term contract with Neil Walker

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This morning Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported that the Pirates and Jose Tabata are close to agreeing to a six-year contract and now Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review says they’re also working on signing Neil Walker to a similar long-term deal.

According to Biertempfel the Tabata deal will cover six seasons and include three team options that would allow Pittsburgh to buy out his early free agent seasons, which makes the Pirates’ motivation a little easier to understand than this morning’s report.

They’re trying to get Walker locked up with a similar deal, but apparently aren’t quite as close to completing negotiations.

Also of note is that Biertempfel says attempts to engage Andrew McCutchen in long-term contract talks “have stalled” with “no movement for weeks. McCutchen is under team control through 2015, so there’s no big rush for the Pirates, but unlike with Tabata and Walker he’s already established himself as a star player.

Tabata has hit .285 with a .348 on-base percentage and .385 slugging percentage through 175 career games, while the 25-year-old Walker has hit .280 with a .338 on-base percentage and .420 slugging percentage in 247 games. Good, solid young players, but committing upfront money to players already under team control for many years to come is a risky strategy with non-stars.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.