Saigon

Escape from Queens

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Leaving Citi Field wasn’t a ton of fun for most fans last night. Just as the Home Run Derby was ending a fire broke out at the 103rd street station on the 7 train, stopping subway service back to the city.

While this stranded thousands, at least temporarily, we elite members of the media had nothing to fear, for there is a media shuttle bus. A few fellow scribes and I made our way to the bus, giving lip service to how dreadful it was for those poor, poor people stuck at Willets Point, but really thanking our lucky stars that we had an air conditioned bus waiting to ferry us back to Manhattan.

But they weren’t all poor, poor people. Some were resourceful. As we were getting on the bus several people wearing Mets and All-Star gear, some with kids, subtly inquired where the bus was going and, when they heard “Midtown,” just walked on board. The idea was clearly to make someone kick them off rather than ask if they could ride. No one was checking credentials.

Can’t lie: really loved this. Partially because I was near the front of the line getting on the bus and knew I had a seat. Partially because it presented the possibility that some member of the sporting press would get stuck on the sidewalk when the driver said the bus was full. I was hoping against hope that some seasoned columnist would be left shaking his fist at the driver, shouting “don’t you know who I am?!”

Alas it didn’t come to that. Much of the media was still back at the park writing stories. The bus left with four empty seats. My hopes of seeing something akin to the last helicopter leaving the American embassy in Saigon were dashed.

Still: it was kind of fun to see New Yorkers doing what they do best: pretty much what they want unless and until someone or something stopped them. It’s the only way to be in this city, I figure. Otherwise you’re probably going to be toast.

Heading up to Connecticut and the NBC Sports mothership this morning. Back at Citi Field for the All-Star Game this afternoon. Between now an then I’ll be making my escape contingency plans for tonight.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report: