National League first baseman Fielder of the Brewers watches three-run home run in fourth inning during Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in Phoenix

Fielder states the obvious, calls it his ‘last year’ with Brewers

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Quick everyone, raise your hand if you expect Prince Fielder to sign a huge free-agent deal this offseason to return to the Milwaukee Brewers.

(… waits …)

Nobody?

Well I can’t say that I’m surprised. Neither apparently, does Prince Fielder, who told TBS on Wednesday that this would likely be his last season in Milwaukee.

The Chicago Tribune has the goods:

Fielder made a reference to teammate Ryan Braun and regrets that the duo won’t stick together after this season.

“It’s been great, unfortunately, this is probably the last year of the one-two punch,” Fielder said. “But I think it’s been good, five years, him and me. Hopefully, we can go out with a blast.”

The Brewers are in position to win their first division title since 1982, when Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and co. went all the way to the World Series before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. They will not be favored to get that far this fall, not with the powerhouse Phillies ruling the National League.

The Brewers say they will make Fielder an offer after the season, and maybe a deep playoff run (along with the champagne parties that go with it) will convince ownership to open it’s wallet. But with big money committed to Ryan Braun ($61 million), Rickie Weeks ($34 million) and Corey Hart ($20 million) beyond this season, expected raises coming for arbitration-eligibles like Shawn Marcum and John Axford, as well as the question of what to do with Zack Greinke (a free agent after 2012), a serious play for Fielder seems unlikely.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Brewers will cease to be a contender after 2011. After all, it was an improved pitching staff that led to their rise this season, with only the Phillies, Braves and Giants allowing fewer runs per game in the NL this season.

That being said, it sure is fun to watch the big guy hit a baseball. Players like Fielder don’t come along too often. Enjoy him while you’ve got him, Brewers fans.

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Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:

Rays and Braves reportedly interested in Welington Castillo

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits an RBI double in the third inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.

The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.

Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.