Astros agree to trade Carlos Lee to Marlins for prospects

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UPDATE: Olney says the deal is done and Houston is getting minor leaguers Matt Dominguez, a third baseman and one-time top prospect whose stock has dropped, and Rob Rasmussen, a 2010 second-round pick with a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. All in all not a bad haul considering the Astros were just happy to shed Lee, although they’re likely paying a big chunk of his remaining money.

UPDATE #2: Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Lee’s locker in the Astros’ clubhouse is now empty, so it looks like the trade is all but official.

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Carlos Lee turned down a trade to the Dodgers last week, but the Astros have continued to shop the veteran first baseman/left fielder and Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that they’re “deep into talks” with the Marlins.

According to Olney “he has indicated a willingness to play for Miami” and a deal could be very close.

Miami first basemen have combined to hit just .206 with five homers and a .565 OPS that ranks dead last among MLB teams. In fact, no other team is below .600. They’ve turned back to Gaby Sanchez as the primary first baseman after demoting him to Triple-A earlier this season, but he’s hit just .190 with one homer in 18 games since returning to the big leagues.

Lee’s production has hardly been spectacular for a first baseman, including just five homers and a .412 slugging percentage in 65 games, but as with the Dodgers and James Loney the Marlins and Sanchez are certainly one of the few situations in which he’d represent a potential upgrade.

Lee is being paid $18.5 million in the final season of six-year, $100 million contract, so the Astros won’t be getting much in return and may have to eat a big portion of that salary.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.