Bobby Abreu

Mike Scioscia sticks with Bobby Abreu as No. 3 hitter despite .199 average since July 1

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Bobby Abreu struck out four times Wednesday and came into last night hitting just .199 with four homers in 59 games since July 1, but as usual he was in the Angels’ lineup as the No. 3 hitter.

It was the 94th time this season that manager Mike Scioscia has had Abreu in the third spot, which is remarkable for a 37-year-old who’s been awful for going on three months and is hitting just .252 with a .360 slugging percentage overall this season.

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register asked Scioscia about the decision to stick with Abreu in the lineup and leave him in the middle of the batting order, and the manager replied that “he’s still giving us good at-bats.”

Abreu has long been one of the most patient hitters in the league and his .397 career on-base percentage ranks 10th among active players, but along with the .199 batting average since July 1 he’s also gotten on base at a putrid .281 clip.

If the Angels end up missing the playoffs by a couple games–and right now it looks like they will–the manager’s faith in Abreu will be one of the reasons. And he’ll be back next season after his $9 million option vested.

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.