Davey Johnson says there are “positive signs” Adam LaRoche will re-sign before Christmas

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The Nationals were expressing confidence during the Winter Meetings that they would be able to strike a contract with free agent slugger Adam LaRoche.

Over a week later no deal has been struck, but the Nats still feel pretty good about the whole thing.

According to beat writer Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, manager Davey Johnson said on Wednesday afternoon that he’s been seeing “positive signs” that an agreement will soon be reached.

LaRoche hit .271/.343/.510 with 33 home runs and 100 RBI in 154 games this summer for Washington and won a Gold Glove for his defense at first base. He began the offseason hoping for something fairly long-term after such a productive 2012, but the Nationals and other teams have only made him two-year proposals. Maybe that’ll change for him after a few more big-ticket free agents find landing spots.

LaRoche, who turned 33 last month, is a .268/.338/.482 career hitter in the major leagues.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.