First baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever Sean Burnett are officially free agents after both players declined their half of mutual options with the Nationals.
LaRoche turned down $10 million and Burnett turned down $3.5 million after the team previously exercised its half of both options.
LaRoche will have no trouble securing a multi-year deal on the open market and may end up re-signing with the Nationals for significantly more than $10 million, so it was an easy call for him.
Burnett seems like less of a sure thing to snag a big multi-year deal considering he dealt with elbow problems in the second half and underwent surgery to remove a bone spur after the season. On the other hand Burnett is a 30-year-old lefty with a 2.81 ERA in 202 innings since joining the Nationals, so he won’t struggle to find work and probably started drooling along with every other reliever when he saw Brandon League’s contract with the Dodgers.
Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.
According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.
It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.
The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.