Jason Jaramillo, Corey Patterson

The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: The Yankees beat Seattle, Boston is idle. It’s a four game lead for New York.  The Rays, meanwhile, won again, so they are only three back in the wild card.

The skinny: The Red Sox now have Joey Gathright. So they totally got this, right?

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers won their tenth in a row, trouncing Chicago. The lead is 11.5

The skinny: I think Detroit’s goal should be to have a larger lead over the second place team in the division than the second place team has over the last place team. Right now Chicago and Cleveland are 14 games ahead of the Twins.  I think the Tigers can do it.

AL WEST

The spread: The Angels fall to Oakland, Texas was idle. The lead is now three.

The skinny: I was going to say something pithy about how you gotta win the games against the Oaklands of the world if you’re going to win the division, but I think the Angels know that already.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies and Braves both lose. But since St. Louis did too, Atlanta’s lead in the wild card remains at 4.5 games.

The skinny: The Astros went to town on Roy Oswalt. I’ve asked it before, but really, is he going to be the Phillies’ fourth starter in the playoffs?  Assuming they really need one in a critical game anyway?

NL CENTRAL

The spread: The Brewers were idle an the Cards lost, so Milwaukee’s lead is six and a half games. St. Louis remains four and a half back of the Braves for the wild card.

The skinny: Braves panic aside, it’s not enough for the Cardinals to keep pace with them. On nights Atlanta loses, the Cards have to win. The math is the math and there aren’t a lot of games left.

NL WEST

The spread: The Diamondbacks and Giants both win. The lead remains at eight and a half games.

The skinny: I saw someone in the comments make a case for Charlie Manuel as manager of the year. Kirk Gibson and his inevitable unanimous or near-unanimous vote total in that category chuckle at you in amusement.

Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.

Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.

The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.