Red Sox expected to pick up Marco Scutaro’s option for 2012

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New Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has plenty of important decisions awaiting him this offseason, but the status of Marco Scutaro looks like an easy call.

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald was told by “a source familiar with the Red Sox thinking” that the club is leaning toward picking up Scutaro’s $6 million option for 2012.

Scutaro, who turns 36 on Sunday, batted .299/.358/.423 with seven home runs, 54 RBI and a .781 OPS over 445 plate appearances this season. While the Red Sox collapsed down the stretch, Scutaro certainly did his part to keep them afloat, batting .387 with two homers, 21 RBI and a 1.019 OPS in September. Jed Lowrie was bothered by a lingering shoulder injury this season while Jose Iglesias struggled in the minors, so bringing Scutaro back would allow the Red Sox to focus on upgrading in other areas.

The Red Sox would owe $1.5 million in the form of a buyout if they decline the option, but Scutaro also has a $3 million player option to return in 2012.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.